Judge OKs Lawsuit on Shell’s Plans for Seattle Port

A Washington state judge says a lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle’s decision to lease one of its terminals as a homeport for an Arctic oil-drilling fleet can go forward.

Environmental groups say the port broke state law in February when it signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime Co. to rent 50 acres near downtown Seattle. Foss’ client is Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which plans to base its Arctic fleet there.

The groups said the port should have conducted an environmental review before granting the lease.

King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman issued a decision Friday allowing the case to proceed. She agreed with a key argument made by the environmental groups, that basing a drilling fleet at the terminal is different from its prior use as a cargo terminal.