Ruling backs Shell’s use of Seattle homeport for its fleet

Shell's Fennica vessel. Photo: John Ryan/KUCB.
Shell’s Fennica vessel. Photo: John Ryan/KUCB.

A hearing examiner says Seattle officials erred when they said the Port of Seattle couldn’t host Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet under its current permit.

Mayor Ed Murray said in May that the port needed a new land use permit to host Shell’s drilling fleet. City planners had decided the proposed activities weren’t allowed under the existing permit.

After an appeal, the hearing officer ruled Wednesday that the city’s interpretation is “clearly erroneous” and the activities are proper uses for a cargo terminal.

Murray says he’s disappointed but will respect the ruling.

Earthjustice, which represents several environmental groups, says it’s considering whether to appeal.

The dispute arose as Shell was considering exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast. Shell decided this week to abandon its quest for oil in the Arctic waters.