Alaskan Natives Support Arctic Drilling; Seattle City Council Opposed

Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling plans for the Arctic have hit a snag in Seattle. Shell is planning to dock oil rigs at the Port of Seattle before they head north to drill in the Chukchi Sea.

The city council and mayor have come out against that deal. And that got the attention of a group of Alaskans, who showed up to tell Seattle’s leaders to get out of the way.

The resolution the council passed doesn’t really have any teeth, but it was enough of a statement that several Alaska Native leaders traveled for days from remote areas in the Arctic to oppose it.

They say they desperately need the jobs and revenue that drilling will bring to their communities.

“We left our homes at a critical time. We have come off the ice from whaling to speak to you,”

John Hobson Jr. came from Wainright AK, about 70 miles east of where the Arctic offshore drilling will take place, said.

He said the journey at this time was “a huge imposition.”

“But we felt it is important to our long-term livelihood that you understand that there are people involved who want the same things you have: flush toilets, good health care, quality schools for our children,” Hobson said.

Shell has just received conditional approval from the U.S. interior Department, getting them one step closer to a sure bet that their Arctic drilling plan can go ahead off the Alaskan coast this summer.