June 13 – Oil and Industry

What is the future of Seattle’s industrial base? Does it even have a future as we embrace the new economy?

Chris Hansen’s arena proposal increases redevelopment pressure on SODO. Airport Way is looking to become a new auto row. Nitze – Stagen is drawing up plans to convert Pier 46 from containers to condos, while NBBJ is working with the Port to turn Interbay into the Palo Alto of bio-technology.

Many outposts of industry such as Vitamilk at Green Lake, Wonder Bread on Jackson, and Furon in Columbia City have long since shut their doors. Pepsi Bottling on MLK, and Darigold on Rainier have been similarly up zoned to commercial possibilities, and are not expected to thrive.

The widened Panama Canal may reduce our container traffic despite coordination between Seattle and Tacoma. Failure to support trade schools offers little incentive to repatriate jobs lost to overseas. What is to become of the traditional blue collar jobs and the families they supported?

Enter Seattle’s Manufacturing Industrial Council, champions of preserving and enhancing a traditional pillar of the middle class. Swimming against the tide seems to be their specialty since their latest campaign is to submerge the kayaktivists in a wave of welcome for Shell Oil’s proposed despoliation of the Chukchi Sea. Arguing that we need the jobs – as well as the oil, they state that the alternative is continued exploitation of the Bakken Field and Alberta’s Tar Sands.

Would this be a deal with the devil as our planet heats up and the ice caps melt? If escaping the worst consequences of climate change requires that some hydrocarbons be left underground, isn’t a pristine and fragile part of the Arctic a good place to start? Or should we prioritize the micro and macro benefits that would accrue to our local economy by once again becoming the mercantile of Alaskan exploration?

Arguing for the latter will be this month’s guest speaker, Dave Gering, Executive Director of the MIC. Dave brings a respected career in journalism and government.

Dave makes the point that the permits for Arctic drilling were approved by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Sally was an SNC speaker when she served as CEO of REI. Her credentials as an environmentalist were further burnished by her receiving the Audubon Society’s 2009 Rachel Carson award. Given that some level of petroleum use is unavoidable for the near term future, might Shell’s endeavor represent the least bad scenario?
[by Bob Rosenberger, 6/9/2015]


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