Ruling backs Shell's use of Seattle homeport for its fleet

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle hearing examiner says city officials erred when they told the Port of Seattle it couldn't host Shell's Arctic drilling fleet under its current permit.

Hearing Examiner Anne Watanabe ruled Wednesday in favor of the port and Foss Maritime, whose client is Shell, in their appeals against the city.

In May, Mayor Ed Murray said the port needed a new permit before it could host Shell's drilling fleet at Terminal 5. City planners had determined the proposed activities weren't allowed under the current permit for a cargo terminal.

Watanabe said the city's interpretation is "clearly erroneous" and said the activities are cargo terminal uses.

Murray said in a statement that he's disappointed but will respect the ruling. The port and Foss both said they were pleased with the decision.

Earthjustice, which represents several environmental groups, says it is considering whether to appeal.

Shell decided this week to abandon its quest for oil in the Arctic waters off Alaska.