(9:44 PM UPDATE: Foss’s appeal document added, after coverage of 75 speakers at Port Commission meeting, followed by commissioners passing both motions – as Shell drillship Noble Discoverer arrived in Everett)
12:58 PM: Just as Seattle port commissioners are about to start their meeting on the controversial Terminal 5 lease to Foss/Shell, we received that photo of one of the Shell offshore-drilling rigs that is expected to wind up here for a while: The Noble Discoverer, which, as we reported earlier, entered Washington waters early today. Jason Mihok photographed the ND (and Foss tugs) as they passed Port Townsend – he was on board the Victoria Clipper. Meantime, we’re at Pier 69 (steps from the Clipper’s HQ, in fact), where the commission chambers are overflowing – we in fact are sitting on the floor in the back of the room. We’ll be chronicling the meeting as it unfolds.
1:05 PM: The meeting has begun. Commissioner Stephanie Bowman is leading it; her co-president Courtney Gregoire is absent “for health reasons.” Bowman urges civility, saying her 70-year-old mom is in the front row so if you’re rude to the commission, you’re rude to her mom. This will start with public comment, and #1 is the one elected official Bowman has mentioned as being here – Alaska State Senator Cathy Giessel, who chairs the Senate’s Resources Committee and “the special committee on the Arctic.” She urges the commission to “stand firm” on the lease with Foss/Shell.
…and the other half of the meeting room. pic.twitter.com/uhvdoXBUME
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 12, 2015
#2 – a speaker who says he’s from a faith-based community: “Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing … It is my hope and prayer that this commission will … find a sustainable path leading to the right side of history.” Drilling in the Arctic “is not on the right side of history,” he continues.
#3 – Anthony Edwardson from Barrow, AK, chair of Arctic Inupiat Offshore, “asking the commission to honor (the lease). … We have partnered with Shell to be sure they do right in our waters.”
#4 – Mohawk, a speaker who urges the commission to “follow the Seattle city laws” in terms of the DPD interpretation that said the drilling vessels’ docking is not allowed under existing port permits.
#5 – Hugh, who also has come from Alaska, “imploring you to understand the far-reaching effects of your decision to our communities on the North Slope.” He too chairs an Alaska Native corporation, he says. “The environmental community doesn’t have a plan for our people. … We are the people of the Arctic – we live it, day by day. They would like to place us in a diorama in a museum.”
#6 – John Hobson from Wainwright, Alaska; he and we believe all of the Alaskan Natives who have spoken so far spoke to the Seattle City Council yesterday as it considered its resolution opposing drilling and asking the Port Commission to reconsider the T-5 lease. “There are people involved who want the same things you have -” like education and sanitation. “We want to impress on you that the Arctic isn’t just a place of polar bears.”
#7 – Stu Yarfitz. He is a Seattle resident who says he has two questions: How will the commission respond if the city DPD issues a stop-work order? And he asks about Terminal 5’s future – why is the modernization work not happening now, when that was the reason it closed last year?
/AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE CONTINUES/ – click ahead if reading this from WSB home page)
#8 – Theresa Emm, who says she has worked on North Slope issues for years and wants the commission to honor its lease. She says it’s important that the drillships be able to load what they need to operate safely when they are in the Arctic.
#9 – Scott, a Seattle resident/activist/union member (as self-identified): “Nobody has directly said that climate change means everything changes.” He says there are enough oil reserves already without Arctic offshore drilling, reserves enough to burn before it’s too late and a 2-degree temperature increase is unavoidable. He says he’s committed to being here fighting the lease for the next 2 years if need be.
#10 – Chris Hladick, commissioner of Alaska’s department of commerce, community, economic development. He calls the possible denial of T-5 for this use “shocking to Alaskans,” and details the economic benefits the energy industry has brought to his state.
#11 – Fred Felleman of Friends of the Earth – he starts by saying he wishes the lease itself had had this kind of public review/comment period. He urges the port not to appeal the DPD interpretation saying this kind of use would need a different permit. He says no amount of income is worth the environmental cost of the activities this lease would enable. He also criticizes the drill rigs themselves as “secondhand” and calls it “slipshod operations from a company that can afford to do better.”
#12 – Paul Stevens, Foss president, says “I know there are many opponents of this … and we are trying to be as sensitive to them as we can be.” He thanks the commission for its statement last Friday supporting the lease. “When we negotiated this lease with port staff, we laid out details (of what would be done)” and were assured that would fall within the scope of current permits. He says the Polar Pioneer will arrive later this week. “Our customer needs us to do this work now and we intend to complete it.” He runs out of time before he can speak about what he was going to call a “dangerous precedent” set by the city in going after the lease.
#13 – A woman identifying herself as a local resident: “I don’t hear a great difference between the two sides.” She says it’s not environment vs. jobs – but “it’s unfortunate that this process was not made public in a timely fashion so you could consider the public before you made a decision on the lease in January.” And she says the fact it was negotiated in secret has led to the division.
#14 – The president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association says he’s here because he’s worried that “similar interests” (to the offshore-drilling opponents) could target his industry. “Turning down one industry” could put pressures on others, in terms of covering port costs, he says.
#15 – Mike Dash, 50-year resident of Seattle/small business owner. He calls this a “transformational moment,” regarding climate and fossil fuels. “You made what you felt was a business-as-usual decision, and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a storm of controversy … the catastrophe that’s coming is real, and (the onus to do something) is on your shoulders. … We’re on your side, we have your back, do it.”
#16 – Former Dutch Harbor, AK, mayor Paul Fuhs, urging commission to honor the lease. “There are actually people living in (the Arctic) … that’s why we’ve flown down to meet with you.” He is now a leader in a port authority there and says he’s speaking to them, port authority to port authority. “You need to treat your customers equally … you can’t pick and choose on a political whim who you want to serve.”
#17 – Zarna Joshi, anti-drilling activist, saying that listening to the people is about democracy. She cites Shell’s history in Nigeria, where she says “Shell ravaged their lands, destroyed their waters …” She is wearing a T-shirt promoting the upcoming on-sea protest (Saturday, from Seacrest), “Paddle in Seattle.” She says the forthcoming drilling “will push us into climate chaos” and speaks about plankton extinction, as she did at the Seattle City Council meeting yesterday.
#18 – Harold, an ILWU/PMA contract arbitrator. He says that not honoring lease to Foss would leave the door open to “gentrification” such as the arena proposed near port land in SODO, threatening, he says, the maritime industry. He also speaks warmly about Foss. “If it was any other company … leasing this, we’d probably have to step back and take a look at this.” He says holding Foss and Shell accountable is what’s important.
#19 – Harmony, a Seattle resident, speaks about the environmental choices made daily, and yet, she says, the choices are in the hands of the rich and powerful, making decisions for those who are not. “I don’t believe .. that the loudest voice is necessarily the one that must be listened to …” Her voice continuing to crescendo, she speaks about the power of hope and optimism – as well as the despair she feels over climate change. She too mentions plankton. “We are fed the myth that food has to be grown for us by huge corporations and mysterious synthesized inputs.”
#20 – Roger, also from Alaska, says he came here from Prudhoe Bay to speak in support of the T-5 lease.
#21 – Zoe Buckley Lennox, an Australian who was one of the six Greenpeace activists who boarded the Polar Pioneer in the middle of the North Pacific, gets up to speak and gets an ovation of sorts (Bowman has asked people to snap, not applaud). “What you decide to do, what you can stand against, is huge,” she tells the commission. “These fossil fuel companies are going to collapse anyway – no matter what you decide today, they are going down. … Be on the right side of history, because you can, and not everyone can make the decision that you can.” (Added, turns out she is tweeting live on Greenpeace’s account for the occasion:)
— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) May 12, 2015
#22 – Kate Blair from the Alaska Oil/Gas Association, supporting the lease. North Slope crude production supports “an estimated 12,000 jobs annually here in Puget Sound,” she says. “Arctic oil and gas is the next generation of exploration,” she says, drawing scattered boos (including from Zoe, who is sitting next to me on the floor now in the back of the room, post-comment).
#23 – Dan Cannon – “Big oil, and in this case Shell oil, is literally buying our democracy.” But, he says, “the people at the local level” will stop that. He cites the 75 percent risk of an oil spill that’s been mentioned before, and says that if a plane had a 75 percent chance of crashing, he would not get on board. “Rescind the lease and wipe your hands clean of big oil.”
#24 – Rick Rogers, executive director of Resource Development Council of Alaska, says he is here to support “upholding the lease.” If the commission were to follow the “request of the city and reverse this lease with Shell, what would be next? Would we have a litmus test for the aerospace industry? What about the fisheries? …”
#25 – Heather McAuliffe, who says she is “opposed to the lease.” She alludes to the longtime partnership between Seattle and Alaska but says it’s had bad effects too, such as the gold prospecting in the 19th century. “A lot of people flew here from Alaska to testify today, but I’m betting there’s a lot of people who couldn’t afford to do so. … I think the Port needs to rescind the lease because (the lease) goes against the Port’s values and Century Agenda (which) supports a healthier Puget Sound.” And she notes that “many green jobs” are happening here in Seattle.
#26 – Chuck Wendt, president of ILWU/Alaska Longshore Division, here to support the lease. “This is a huge economic boon to Alaska – this work is huge to Alaska longshoremen … these are good jobs, family living-wage jobs.” He calls the controversy “a political football in Seattle.”
#27 – Mark Hennon, who starts by saying, “Seems to me 2/3 of the support is from Alaska, I wonder who paid for that?” He calls the drillrigs the equivalent of something “flip(ping) off Seattle,” and uses the strongest language yet in decrying the lease having been negotiated in secrecy, calling it a dirty deal and “the Devil’s work.” He urges the commission to “break the deal with Shell, whatever it costs.” He too mentions plankton and its role in the food chain and planetary life support. “If (life on Earth) goes extinct, the jobs won’t matter, a million jobs won’t matter. … We’ve dug ourselves into a hole and it’s time we stop digging.”
#28 – Vince O’Halloran from the Sailors Union of the Pacific. He supports the lease and says the US is not the only nation planning offshore energy exploration in the Arctic.
#29 – A woman who says that the commission must rescind the lease, and notes that it’s “illegal on top of being immoral and complicit in the destruction of the Arctic” because of the Seattle DPD ruling. She notes that “Mother’s Day has just passed and as a mother” she worries about the future of life, “the possible extinction of the human species.”
#30 – Joe, president of the South Sound Port Council, says he is here to support the lease. “The project will … create an estimate 470 good paying middle class local jobs …”
#31 – The Raging Grannies are speaking now, and the photographers are rushing to the front of the room. “We are imagining a future where people are saying, ‘Do you remember the courage of the Seattle Port Commissioners'” for rescinding the lease. Then they break into song. And dance. Then they have the audience shout along with them, “RESCIND THE LEASE!”
Commissioner Bowman says they’re about a third of the way through the speaker list and will be taking a break in a few minutes.
#32 – A woman is speaking along with her son, who is wearing a FIRE CHIEF jacket.
Child accompanying anti-lease speaker pic.twitter.com/MhyHJuRN3Q
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 12, 2015
She says he knows about the fires in California, the lack of mountain snow for skiing, and more. “Think productively – that is what children are asking you to do.”
#33 – Longtime local political candidate Goodspaceguy speaks now. He says he would “like to welcome Shell Oil to the Port of Seattle.” He says (his) home, “Spaceship Earth,” has “always had climate change.”
#34 – A woman says she’s commenting on the lease and how it was arrived at. She says it’s been hard to find information – because there’s often months of lag between meetings and minutes, and the Foss lease situation “seems to have taken this to an extreme degree.” She says the Foss/T-5 idea surfaced in June of 2014. She cites “dramatic differences” in the way the commission handled business “since Foss made its interest known.” She says “very few” meeting minutes were approved between last fall and February 2015, when the lease was signed. She runs out of time.
#35 – Cameron Williams, president of ILWU Local 19. He support the lease and cites the jobs it supports.
#36 – Allison, who works for the Alaska Wilderness League. She urges “rejecting this illegally passed lease.”
#37 – A man who identifies himself as a local merchant mariner who long towed oil barges is speaking in support of the lease. He says this job will provide his members “with a year full of income … When you throw a hand grenade in a room, you have collateral damage,” which he says would be “my members’ livelihoods.”
#38 – Jeff says our society must be able to question the direction it’s moving in if it is to move ahead. He says scientists urge that fossil-fuel consumption be reduced immediately. “Based on these facts, what would an intelligent, sane person do?”
#39 – Chris, a lease supporter, is speaking now. He says that “overwintering vessels in a seaport” is not a new use. He also notes that King County taxpayers support the port, not just Seattle, despite its name, “and the jobs are of the utmost importance to the taxpayers of King County.”
2:43 PM: The commission took a break about 15 minutes ago and should re-convene at any time. You can watch the live video feed here, by the way. Regarding the names and lack of them above, there is no list available of speakers’ names, so we are beholden to whether they identify themselves and if there is enough information for us to try to find them (and correct spelling of their names) via Google. Doing our best. Speaker #40 will be next when the meeting resumes.
#40 – Raging Granny says they figured the Port Commission was for sale so they’ve had bake sales to try to “buy (it) back.” Four bake sales so far, she says, “and we will continue doing them until you commissioners come to your senses.” They have a large banner they describe as a “check” with names of anti-Shell petition signers – 49,000, they say.
#41 – Dan McKisson of the ILWU is speaking. He says the lease is before the port commission “only for political reasons. … The decision to drill in the Arctic was not made in Seattle, it was made in the other Washington.” He calls this “an opportunistic attack on the port.”
#42 – James from Socialist Alternative says that supporting Shell’s lease is a political matter. He says that while he’s honoring the request for civility, “Shell hasn’t been civil” by causing pollution elsewhere in the world. He cites the problems with Kulluk and Noble Discoverer in 2012. “This is not where a sustainable world is headed,” he says, citing the port’s marketing motto – “this is where a sustainable world is running away from, as fast as possible.”
#43 – Mike Elliott, who says he’s with two unions and that they are in favor of the temporary lease agreement. He says they have many decades of experience, “handling every commodity known to man, we remain commodity-neutral, and we favor safe transportation of all commodities.”
#44 – Curtis Stengler, who opens, “Commissioners, I’m worried about you” and draws laughter by saying the commissioners have seemed “like children stubbornly bracing themselves for punishment when they know they’ve done something wrong but refuse to admit it …” But he lauds them for “having done more to shine a light on Arctic drilling than any activist” ever could. “If you never would have signed the lease in the first place, what kind of lesson would that have teaching us?” he says, tongue in cheek, “…you just may have sparked a movement capable of not only saving the Arctic, but liberating the people from the greed” of corporations.
#45 – Mary Nicol, who says she moved here early this year to “work on this for Greenpeace.” She reads what she describes as a “statement of gratitude” from “climate warriors” and talks about an action opposing a coal terminal on the other side of the world. She says “science tells us” this oil must be “kept in the ground.”
#46 – Gail McCormick from the Inlandboatmen’s Union says he “stand(s) before you today to emphasize the need for good family-wage jobs created by partnerships” between companies such as Foss and Shell. He lauds Foss’s safety rating.
#47 – Lori says she is a business owner and she is grateful for the Port Commission and for maritime businesses. She says this is not a political battle but a battle for the future. She mentions the drought declaration and low snowpack. “Our temperatures are at levels not expected until the year 2070. … This is not politics. These are facts. The city of Seattle and the port cannot be complicit in Arctic drilling which will exacerbate and accelerate” climate change. She notes that the “only arguments we have heard in favor of the lease today” are in favor of jobs. She says she supports leasing T-5 to Foss, but not for this.
#48 – Joshua Berger of the Washington Maritime Federation speaks now. He says those he represents support NOT rescinding the lease, and consider this a “critical” moment. He says rescinding it could “derail” efforts of coordinating the various aspects of the industry.
#49 – Now 3:10 pm.
Christina from Alaska says she came here to speak against Arctic drilling and says that Shell “did a great job” of bringing drilling supporters from her state. She notes that most of them are older than she is and says it’s her generation that’s going to have to deal with the consequences of drilling. She cites the Native activism slogan “Idle No More” in saying there are those in Alaska who won’t stand for this.
#50 – Justin Hirsch, longshoreman, speaks now. He says that if the Port Commission were to revoke the lease, other ports would be “happy to pick up the work instead.” He says he and the environmental community agree that T-5 should be a container terminal again as soon as possible.
#51 – Kelly speaks against the lease and is backed by people holding up the “check” to which the Raging Grannies had alluded earlier.
#52 – Charles acknowledges that this is happening on Native territory, including that of the Duwamish. He mentions having gone to a protest in 2012. He speaks of going to an event with Plant for the Planet kids earlier this year, and being sad to encounter a depressed 13-year-old. He tries to get through a literary quote before he is gaveled for running overtime.
#53 – A man who represents ferry and Water Taxi crew members says they support the lease.
#54 – Samantha Corbin, who says she’s from New York, which hasn’t recovered from Superstorm Sandy. She says she’s been told it’s important for everyone to have their say here, and yet it seems to be “a done deal.”
#55 – Sara, 18 years old and a “resident since birth,” says Shell cannot buy the Port of Seattle but “the system is broken.” Arctic offshore drilling “is madness,” she says, citing places where the effects of climate change are being felt – rising seas, dwindling snowpacks, and more. “We have to be courageous enough to deny the broken system we cling to.” She says she is “terrified” for her future.
#56 – John Lockwood of the Marine Business Coalition says, “I don’t have a song but I’m a ‘raging granddaddy’ in favor of the lease … We urge you not to allow the Mayor and City Council’s wrongheaded politicization of this issue to deter your focus on growing and bringing business to the Port of Seattle. … We urge you to stand tall and continue to support the lease.”
#57 – Carol Isaac, who says she’s been in Seattle since 1969, and recalls being assigned to read Rachel Carson‘s “Silent Spring.” She became a scientist and has been retired a few years. “I’ve been following and following what’s been going on …” both in this and at the UW, where she worked for a quarter-century. She says people were there for “power, prestige, and money,” and that is what she sees the Port Commissioners as here for – “if the planet makes it.”
#58 – BJ Cummings, founder of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, says people haven’t heard the alternatives and wants the port to release documents on all the other bids it got for use of T-5.
#59 – Charles, who says he’s in support of the lease and disappointed in other local leaders who are not. He says, “Real working people have already benefited from this project.” He suggests opposition is “elitist” and “NIMBY.”
#60 – Michael, who identifies himself as a ‘restoration ecologist,’ says he wants to talk about the technical aspects – and is sad that we don’t currently have “sufficient technology” to truly clean up disasters like oil spills. “We can only clean them up in a very superficial way.” A spill *will* affect jobs, he says.
#61 – KC Golden of Climate Solutions says he wants to “respond to some of the things I’ve heard today,” such as allegations that this is “political” or that drilling is “inevitable.” He says, “The science on this is clear, it’s brutal, it’s indisputable and has not been disputed in this room, interestingly.” So, he says, “do we have a choice” to truly find our way to a sustainable future? He says Shell is saying no, there’s no choice. But Seattle, Golden suggests, is all about saying “we do have a choice, and the port itself is all about asserting a choice .. All I ask today is that you stand up for that, stand up for us.” He says they want to support the port in building a future of “sustainable prosperity.”
#62 – Dave Gering of the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle: “Drilling in the Arctic has been under way for 35 years, both onshore and offshore,” preceded by a debate over it. He said it was foreseen as the “end of everything” but has not turned out that way. He suggests the commissioners research for themselves, and he notes that the feds have the ultimate say on drilling, not the commission. The reason the oil is needed is because we consume it, he adds.
#63 – Peter Goldman, an environmental lawyer from West Seattle, is the first to speak to the two motions that are on their agenda. He urges approval of 6a, with the terminology that this T-5 work “must” be delayed rather than “should” be delayed as written. 6b, he says, should not be passed – it would be “a finger in the city’s eye.” Let Foss appeal the city interpretation, Goldman says, not the port.
#64 – Bill says he supports the lease.
#65 – Emily Johnston of 350.org says Shell has continued to hear bad news but “just kept going. … What kind of company behaves like that? A company with complete contempt” for others. She urges passage of motion 6a.
#66 – Ellen says she knows people are urging support for the lease, but she urges that the commission support Seattle’s well-being instead and rescind the lease. She, like a few others, says the contention that it would be a “slippery slope” toward withdrawal of support for other port businesses is incorrect – instead, we are on a “slippery slope” toward climate catastrophe, she says.
#67 – Monty Anderson of Seattle-King County Building Trades says the people he represents “care about the environment, I think we all care about the environment,” and he thinks it’s important that people respect the decisionmaking of the commissioners. If people don’t agree with elected officials’ decisions, they remove them from office.
NOW 3:49 PM – speaker #68 – Amber, who now lives in San Francisco but felt she needed to be here for this. She says few are speaking of the “living, breathing Mother Earth … look at our planet not as a resource field to be exploited, but as Mother Earth.” She speaks several names of Mother Earth, from Gaia to Papatūānuku (the Maori name), and says she’s glad to be here with “people who see themselves as guardians.”
#69 – Benjamin Smith, who says he’s Amber’s husband. He says the drought in California is ravaging people’s livelihoods and affecting the food supply. “It’s not just about us, not just about Alaska, not just about Seattle … I need to be here to make my voice heard, from the kayaks to the streets.”
#70 – Michael, who says he’s thanking the commission in advance for choosing resolution 6a and saying no to Shell. He then shows an exhibit he says is what four feet of sea-level rise will look like, four feet that would all but put the port out of business. “We need plan B, we need solar, we need other choices, but we don’t need Shell.”
#71 – Ed Mast is one of the last few speakers, says co-president Bowman. He says the commission made a bad choice, but “we’re here to beg you to not make the bad choice work … please don’t double down on it by refusing the opportunity that has been given you by the city … to rescind the lease, to listen to your constituency after all.” He says he wasn’t going to speak but he’s outraged “by how Shell has run this meeting” – “… flying people down from Alaska,” people Mast alleges are being “(held) hostage” by Shell, “and they’re holding you hostage right now – don’t negotiate with these terrorists.”
#72 – Kenan Block says he’s a fifth-generation Seattleite and that it’s “arguably the greenest city in North America.” He beseeches the commission to rescind the lease, and saying having Shell drill rigs “at our front door … is such a disconnect.” He urges the port not to fight the city, and says the world is watching.
#73 – Bob speaks, recalling changes of the past and saying “things change … the world is not going to end if you rescind this lease. The world as we know it COULD end if you allow Shell on its reckless path … There are no jobs on a planet that does not sustain human life.”
#74 – Michael Foster from Plant for the Planet; he says the group’s kids aren’t here today because they are “doing their homework” in advance of asking City Councilmembers to put warnings on gas pumps, and suing the Ecology Department, and preparing to join the kayak flotilla, and then – at the end of his long list of what they’re doing, two will go to Germany to take action. “So you can decide to rescind the lease – or you can wait a week and be yesterday’s news, because this lease is not going to be operable, they are not going to drill the Arctic, the children will not allow it.”
#75 – An Alaskan Native whose name we did not get says Shell and oil are not a boon to all Natives and their communities. He says the state of Alaska is “doing nothing to protect” Native communities and the wildlife on which their livelihoods depend – including the last few wild salmon runs. “Billions of dollars in fisheries” are at stake, he says.
4:09 PM: Bowman thanks everyone for their civility. A break will now ensue, 15-20 minutes or so, before they discuss and vote on the motions.
4:33 PM: Port staff is briefing the four present commissioners about the permit and previous discussions with the city, before getting to two motions, one of which would direct port staff to join Foss in appealing the city interpretation that mooring of the drill rigs is not covered. They’ve mentioned that Seattle DPD director Diane Sugimura is here.
4:39 PM: Sugimura is speaking now. She mentions a meeting with port reps at which relevant points were discussed. She says that the city understood that T-5 has been closed, and set about to review the moorage of one drillrig and two support vehicles in the prism of whether that would be allowed under the existing permits. “We looked at the definitions (of cargo terminal in new and old code) … ‘a transportation facility in which quantities of goods or container cargo are stored without undergoing any manufacturing processes … or stored outdoors in order to transfer them to other locations.” Their interpretation had to depend on “adopted” definitions from the code. “Based on this analysis, we do not believe the oil rig or the tugboats are here to pick up cargo.” Could it be an accessory use to the main use? Not in their determination, she said. She stressed a point that the city has been trying to make – that this is applicable only to this one use: “We do not intend to go after other terminals, other facilities .. we have no reason to believe they are out of compliance.” She also says nothing is to say that this wouldn’t be a permitted use under a different type of permit – perhaps “commercial marina.” Or, maybe “cargo terminal” needs a better definition, she said, and they’re willing to look at that in the next few months.
4:45 PM: Commissioner John Creighton is first with a question for her, going back to the “what about setting a precedent” issue. Commissioner Bill Bryant asks about the criteria for evaluation – environment? land use? – of what a cargo terminal does. Sugimura says that right now they don’t believe a cargo terminal is in operation there in the first place. So it’s OK to have a tug at Terminal 18? presses Bryant. Is Terminal 18 a cargo terminal? asks Sugimura. Yes, says Bryant, seemingly incredulous, wondering why a tug would be allowed at Terminal 18 but not at Terminal 5. Andy McKim joins Sugimura and talks about the potential broadening of definition of “cargo terminal.” Then they go on to discuss the two-week appeal period that opens once something like the interpretation is issued.
Would they enforce the ruling if it were appealed? McKim says they hadn’t made that decision yet.
4:57 PM: Commissioner Tom Albro now brings up the modernization project at T-5: “Can we pursue that under our current use permits – do we need any other temporary use permits?” This eventually gets around to Sugimura noting that a separate permit process is under way for that and that Port and city staff have been in consultations as recently as an hour ago.
Now they get to the point that explains why the city only thinks there’s one drill rig and a couple tugboats – a rendering they saw at some point. “Are there other vessels that will be using T-5?” asks Bowman.
The answer requires Linda Styrk, seaport director, to come in. Yes, she says. After explaining some of what else has been going on at T-5 – the ro-ro dropping off vehicles, for example – she says 8 vessels in all, is her understanding. The city says it wasn’t aware of the other vessels. (Editor’s note – At least 3 Shell-related vessels already have visited T-5, Aiviq and two Harvey vessels.)
Port lawyer Tracy Goodwin now says they respectfully disagree with the city regarding what’s permissible at T-5. “Diverse cargo uses have always occurred.” She says Terminal 5 has always been a terminal permitted for various cargo uses. She says even though Foss is going to appeal, the port should too, because then it can be present “to protect its rights.”
If Foss doesn’t comply, the port could send it an order to comply, Goodwin says.
Next, Bowman asks Sugimura to explain the city process for reviews. Was this a normal time frame for the interpretation? she was asked. Actually, this was fast, said Sugimura and McKim. How often do the mayor/council request interpretations? they were asked next. Fairly unusual, they agree. Sugimura said the council was hearing from the community, and then the mayor jumped in.
Now they’re discussing the first motion. Creighton speaks first. “I don’t think there are any climate deniers in these chambers today” – it’s about the lease, he said. And then: “This lease has become an increasing distraction to the Port of Seattle Commission doing our business – we have so much on our plate this year …” He lists some of what else they’re working on, in other lines of business including cruise ships, airport growth, etc. “I don’t believe we have the time to get into a prolonged spat with the city of Seattle.” He says he doesn’t believe the city is playing politics. He says environmental community and city have said they want to help the port, to grow the maritime business, so he has a list of things he wants them to do to help grow the “35 percent of the tax base of the city that comes from the maritime business”:
*Land use policies that value industrial uses and don’t place event centers on freight corridor
*Lander Street Overpass
*Heavy haul designation for primary freight corridor
*Tax policies to encourage companies to locate here
*Education policies in the broader region to allow young people to acquire skills to go into these good-paying maritime/industrial jobs
Commissioner Albro reads letter from Gregoire, who apologized and said she was absent because of medical issues related to her pregnancy. “Our focus should be on modernizing Terminal 5 rather than relying on short-term revenues tied to significant environmental threats.” She supports motion 6A, the letter said, giving everyone a “chance to step back.”
Then on his own behalf, Albro said he also supports motion 6A. “I have opposed this use from the very beginning,” he said. “But it’s not so easy.” And, he said, he supports the second motion too. (The timing, we should not, is rather breathtaking – as this nears a vote, Noble Discoverer is almost to Everett – see the tweet below:)
A cell phone pic of Noble Discoverer. pic.twitter.com/9CFd94hD86
— MyEverettNews.com (@MyEverettNews) May 13, 2015
“This port has no chance of succeeding (economically) without partnership with the city … and I don’t believe that Shell Oil is part of that,” Albro said.
Bowman now asks, “The port cannot just unilaterally declare a tenant in default?” Goodwin says yes, that’s true. “As long as the matter is under appeal, it’s not a final decision, and that would put the port in a difficult (place) legally.”
Vote – 3-1, motion 6A passes (Bryant opposed). It begins:
The Port Commission hereby directs the Chief Executive Officer to notify the Foss Maritime Company that according to a zoning code interpretation issued by the Director of the Department of Planning and Development of the City of Seattle, the proposed moorage of the Royal Dutch Shell exploratory drilling rig and two accompanying tugboats at Terminal 5 is not consistent with the legally established use of Terminal 5 as a cargo terminal under applicable zoning laws. This interpretation was formally issued on May 7, 2015.
5:38 PM: Creighton says he’s “conflicted” on the next motion, officially known as 6B. Bowman says the same thing. Lawyer Goodwin says they also could talk with the city about expanding the cargo-terminal definition, while the appeal is pending. Albro says he doesn’t think they have much choice but to file an appeal, and he doesn’t see it as a “hostile act.” He said it would be disingenuous not to support their customer in a use they agreed to. Creighton says he would rather work through this with the city but he does support the motion. Albro reads another statement from Gregoire, saying she has “mixed feelings.”
Motion 6B starts like this:
On May 7, 2015, the City of Seattle Director of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) issued DPD Interpretation No. 15-001, which concluded that the proposed moorage of the Royal Dutch Shell exploratory drilling rig and two accompanying tugboats at Terminal 5 would not be consistent with the legally established use of Terminal 5 as a cargo terminal. Because this Interpretation is inconsistent with the Port’s historic operation of its cargo terminals and raises significant questions about the legality of long pre-existing diverse cargo activities at Port of Seattle cargo terminals, the Port of Seattle Commission directs the Chief Executive Officer to appeal Interpretation No. 15-001 with the City of Seattle Hearing Examiner.
Filing an appeal would NOT keep the port from working out other options with the city, lawyer Goodwin says. Bowman says she’ll support the appeal but that they need to start working with the city IMMEDIATELY regarding what’s accepted uses, etc. The motion passes unanimously. And with that, the meeting is over. What now? Not entirely clear. The Noble Discoverer is arriving in Everett; the Polar Pioneer is still in Port Angeles, and a round of protests is scheduled to start in West Seattle as of Thursday.
9:42 PM: We didn’t speak with Foss’s president post-meeting but he’s been quoted by multiple sources as saying this won’t change their plan to bring Noble Discoverer and Polar Pioneer to T-5 shortly. Meantime, even as the meeting continued, Foss filed its appeal with the city Hearing Examiner today, and they provided the document at our request:
We’ll be watching for a hearing date.