Superhero Helps Block Arctic Drilling
In February New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless (aka Xena the Warrior Princess) and Greenpeace jubilantly celebrated Shell oil’s announcement that they wouldn’t drill the Arctic in 2013, as previously announced.
Coincidentally Lawless was sentenced the same month for her four day “occupation” of the rig of Shell’s oil exploration vessel, The Noble Discoverer, while it was docked here in New Plymouth. Lawless and six other Greenpeace activists were sentenced to 120 hours community work and ordered to pay Port Taranaki $651.44 each in reparations.
Clearly the highly publicized February 2012 protest, which persuaded two million people to sign onto the Greenpeace campaign to block Arctic drilling, had a major influence over Shell’s decision. However according to Greenpeace, it was also the first in a comedy of errors plaguing Shell’s billion-dollar Arctic drilling scheme.
In April Lloyd’s of London insurance company dismissed Shell’s oil spill response plan as inadequate for the fragile Arctic ecosystem. In June Greenpeace teamed up with the Yes Men to spoof the Arctic drilling plan with “Arctic Ready”, a giant Internet hoax mocking polar bears for interfering with oil exploration. In July the US Coast Guard declared a key vessel in Shell’s oil spill response fleet unseaworthy and The Noble Discoverer itself ran aground in Alaska. In November the ship’s engine caught fire. In December Shell’s oil rig, The Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska while being towed to harbor in Seattle.
Lawless is extremely proud of her participation in the protest action. “For my part I feel I owe it to my children to be counted among those demanding immediate action on climate change. If we don’t stand up to companies like Shell and call them to account for their reckless pursuit of oil into the farthest unspoiled reaches of the world, who will?”