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Kayakers in the Boston Harbor paddle in protest of Arctic drilling. (Photo: Tim Havel/Twitter)

Kayakers in the Boston Harbor paddle in protest of Arctic drilling. (Photo: Tim Havel/Twitter)

Kayaktivists Across the Country Paddle in Protest of Arctic Drilling

Shell oil exploration could begin any day now, activists warn

Lauren McCauley

Environmentalists furious with President Barack Obama's continued support for Arctic drilling on Saturday descended on the White House and paddled onto waterways across the United States united in a call to end this dangerous expansion of our fossil fuel energy system.

In a display of solidarity with Seattle's 'kayaktivists'—who through repeated direct actions have tried to thwart Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic drilling plans—activists in Minnesota, Florida, Boston, Detroit, and elsewhere launched floating protests to denounce what they say is a "fool's journey" to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C.'s Lafayette Park, protesters donned polar bear and walrus suits and held signs calling on the president to suspend Shell's permit. The oil giant's drilling fleet is currently making its way from the Port of Seattle to the Alaskan coast, where it could begin exploratory drilling as soon as next week, activists warn.

Environmentalists have repeatedly criticized Arctic drilling as one of the most dangerous and extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction, as it threatens one of the world's most pristine ecosystems while concurrently ensuring even greater carbon emissions.

"The fossil-fuel industry wants us to believe we’re stuck with oil and all the damage, danger, and destruction it brings," Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote this week. "That we have no choice but to accept that 30 years from now we might need Arctic oil — based on demand assumptions, which the International Energy Agency says would result in an average global temperature increase of at least six degrees Celsius — three times what science states the planet can sustain."

"Well, we’re not stuck with oil," Suh continued. "We can do better than assume climate failure."

The Day of Action was organized by citizen activists with support from national environmental groups including 350.org, Alaska Wilderness League, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club.

Those who couldn't paddle out were encouraged to take to social media to share their disapproval over the drilling plan. Images of the actions were shared online with the hashtag #ShellNo.


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