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Greenpeace Ends UK Oil Rig Occupation

Greenpeace activists Monday ended their occupation ...

Greenpeace activists Monday ended their occupation of a U.S. oil rig off Scotland -- the first major protest by the group since President Bush pulled out of the Kyoto accord on global warming.

Police said protesters abandoned their action after U.S. oil giant Conoco, who chartered the rig, obtained legal authority to force them to leave.

The environmental group occupied the rig Sunday morning in protest against Bush's decision to reject the Kyoto pact, which seeks to tackle climate change by limiting industrial nation emissions of greenhouse gases.

The 180-ft semi-submersible rig had been due to leave the Cromarty Firth, about 20 miles north of Inverness, to drill for oil in the North Sea when the occupation began.

Speaking from the scene, Greenpeace activist Rob Gueterbock said he had mixed feelings about the protest. ``It was a success in that we managed to stop the rig moving for 24 hours, but at the same time we're angry (that we had to get off).''

Seventeen Greenpeace activists who were arrested Sunday appeared in court in Inverness Monday charged with breach of the peace. All pleaded not guilty. The case was adjourned until July 19.

Gueterbock said Greenpeace's campaign would continue. ``It can only get bigger,'' he said. ``Our only hope of stopping global warming from careering out of control is to keep the oil and gas underground.''