Almost exactly one year after the Shell No protests against Arctic drilling made global headlines, kayaktivists were at it again, in Anacortes, WA, the site of Shell Oil’s oldest American refinery.
Shell wants to build one of the largest oil train tanker terminals on Earth at its Anacortes facility, bringing mile-long trains full of explosive crude and dirty Tar Sands up along the shores of the Puget Sound. Shell itself admits they expect at least 1 derailment every few years.
Climate activists in the region are pushing to begin shutting down Big Oil’s critical infrastructure to keep fossil fuels safely in the ground and to speed the just transition to a clean energy economy.
So it was only natural that kayaktivists would set their sights on Shell again in the Pacific Northwest. A kayaktion team called the Mosquito Fleet launched an Indiegogo campaign to buy used kayaks, paddle gear, life vests, radios and even a 24 foot sailboat to to engage in civil disobedience on the water. They raised almost twice their original $12,000 goal.
Then the Mosquito Fleet and hundreds of kayaktivists took to the water to enforce a naval blockade of Shell’s tanker terminal from May 13-15, forcing the company to suspend all incoming and outgoing tankers for three days.
Kayaktivism is a game-changer. Oil companies have operated with impunity on the water for decades, but they don’t know how to handle a swarm of teeny boats blocking their path. Last year members of the Mosquito Fleet helped enforce a 3-day blockade of Shell’s Arctic Icebreaker “Fennica” in Portland 2015.
Ordinary people are getting out of their chairs and into tiny little boats and facing down the biggest perpetrators of climate change. And it’s working.