If Seattle doesn’t want Shell, head north to the future

  • Tuesday, June 2, 2015 4:48pm
  • Opinion

On May 25, a woman hanging on the anchor chain of an oil-drilling support ship finally left her post of protest with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The fact is, if Alaskans thought standing on an anchor chain was enough to convince Shell to leave Seattle, flights south would be booked solid. We suspect they’d have a different goal than student activist Chiara D’Angelo.

Alaska’s economy is tied to oil. Directly (through oilfield jobs) and indirectly (through government jobs paid for with oil taxes), Alaskans benefit from oil. Oil is a means to an end. We need to drill for it and produce it to maintain our standard of living.

It isn’t risk-free — anyone who lived through the Exxon Valdez oil spill or saw the Kulluk aground on Kodiak Island knows this. But this state long ago decided that oil was worth the risk. The drilling takes place in our back yards (in the case of North Slope residents, their front yards), and we’ve come to accept that.

When we see Outside protesters blockading Shell drill ships in Seattle, we’re put on edge. They’re protesting drilling, but if those protests are successful, the effects will be felt on Alaska’s tables. It’s difficult to be alarmed by abstract concerns when your job, your pay, your family’s livelihood is threatened.

If Shell is having a hard time in Seattle, we see no reason why it shouldn’t simply pack up and head north. Alaskans understand the pros and cons of drilling, and we’ve come to accept it.

Set up shop in Dutch Harbor if you need a deepwater port. Don’t have enough facilities shoreside? Ketchikan or Seward have marine terminals that might work.

Alaska wants the business. If Seattle balks, the doors should stay open here.

— Juneau Empire,

May 27

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