They're still ignoring rising temperatures in the Arctic, but Shell is clearly starting to feel the heat in the US. After more than three hundred thousand of you emailed them asking them not to gamble with the Arctic, the oil giant has resorted to draconian legal action to try to silence opposition to their plans to drill in the frozen north.
Shell has hired an army of lawyers and applied for an unprecedented set of legal restrictions to prevent the growing movement from challenging its plans, both physically and through the courts.
Yesterday, a federal judge in Alaska granted Shell a preliminary injunction against Greenpeace USA. The injunction is intended to keep Greenpeace US volunteers and protestors at least a kilometre away from Shell’s two main drill ships until the end of Shell’s ‘drilling window’ in Alaska, October 31st 2012.
Shell is also attempting to prevent legal challenges to their so-called 'oil spill response plan' (three dogs, a mop and a LOT of lawyers). This case will be heard later this year - possibly as soon as next month.
The injunction will make it much more difficult for Greenpeace USA to peacefully protest Shell's reckless plans. But, as Dan Howells, Deputy Campaign Director of Greenpeace USA, has blogged:
"When an oil company with billions of dollars employs an army of lawyers to undermine your right to peaceful protest and free speech, then you know you're doing something right... Greenpeace is just one part of a growing movement which will continue to oppose Arctic drilling peacefully and vigorously this year and in the future. It's time we start protecting the best interests of the 99% instead of a handful of corporate executives pursuing the next billion dollars in profit."
The Arctic ecosystem is unique in many ways, with unique species and human cultures, and it's uniquely vulnerable to marine pollution. An Arctic spill would be catastrophic - and won't confine itself to US waters - just as the greenhouse gases from burning the oil don't stay in US airspace.
As yet another oil company tries to silence Greenpeace and our supporters (remember Cairn’s gagging order?), people all over the world need to stand shoulder to shoulder with American activists - and stand up to Shell.
The injunction 'enjoins', or bans, Greenpeace or anyone acting 'in concert' from a number of activities. Breaching the order could result in fines and jail time on top of the possible penalties that already exist for these offenses.
These activities include:
- Breaking into or trespassing on the vessels
- “Tortiously” or illegally interfering with the operation, movement or progress of the vessels
- Barricading, blocking or preventing access to or egress from the vessels
- “Tortiously” or illegally endangering or threatening any employee, contractor or visitor of Shell or any of its affiliates who is present on, or as they enter or exit the vessels.
Greenpeace USA is now banned from going within one km of Shell's two main drilling vessels, and a 500-meter safety zone (1000 m during towing) is also in place for support vessels and other equipment. These safety zones will be reduced to 100 meters for vessels transiting through narrow channels.
The restrictions apply to Shell's vessels while they are in US territorial waters (up to 12 miles from shore). The judge is still considering extending this to include the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) 200 miles offshore.