Idaho Gas Lease Auction Protest, Petition, & Preparatio​n


Smoke Ranch Well 7-9-13

Smoke Ranch Well, Payette County, Idaho 7-9-13 (Alma Hasse photo)

On Thursday, April 17, 2014, beginning at 9:30 am MDT, the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners will offer oil and gas leases of state lands and sub-surface mineral rights for sale to the highest bidder, at the director’s office of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), 300 North Sixth Street, Suite 103, in Boise, Idaho [1]. IDL periodically conducts these public auctions and administers subsequent leases, with oversight and approval by the Land Board. The 12.5-percent royalty derived from extracted oil and gas raises funds from lands held for the public trust and state wildlife and transportation departments and for specified beneficiary institutions through the state endowment trust. Of the 150 tracts in Ada, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties, 36 parcels are located under or adjacent to the Boise and Snake Rivers and many involve the split estates of private landowners and state mineral holders [2].

Minimum, competitive bids by drilling companies at the oral auction open at only $0.25 per acre for the 17,700-plus acres available for leasing. Successful bidders must pay their bid and the first year’s annual rental of $1.00 per acre for leases lasting up to ten years. If the lease is not drilled or productive, IDL assesses an additional drilling penalty of $1.00 per acre per year starting in the sixth year. The state requires a $1,000 bond for exploration on each lease, which increases to $6,000 prior to drilling, in addition to a drilling permit bond issued by the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Before entry on state lands for seismic exploration, the company must acquire an IDL permit costing $100 per mile across contiguous tracts or a minimum of $100 per section.

The last state lands and minerals auction on January 16, 2014, in Boise, Idaho, generated $694,000 in bids for the state of Idaho [3, 4]. The Idaho Department of Lands leased 8,714 acres for oil and gas drilling – including 4,130 acres in and alongside the Boise, Payette, and Snake river beds – for an average of $80 per acre to the lone bidder, Alta Mesa Idaho. The April 17 auction will double this previously largest amount of Idaho public lands and minerals leased in one period, bringing the total to nearly 98,000 state acres, leased for as low as $2.35 per acre on average, besides the thousands more private acres leased in six southwestern counties [5]. Fourteen drilled but capped wells, awaiting pending pipelines and processing infrastructure, have prefaced the first producing well in Idaho in February 2014, on the Teunissen Dairy near New Plymouth. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality found toluene from drilling mud in a water well several hundred feet away in fall 2012 [6].

If the people of Idaho own all of these myriad acres of public trust and endowment trust state lands and minerals auctioned for oil and gas exploitation, which respectively “benefit” the general fund and public schools, how can Idahoans influence and determine how our state stewards these shared resources? Allowing the same agency – the Idaho Department of Lands – to both regulate and lease oil and gas development on state holdings seems like a conflict of interest, especially because the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that oversees industry regulation is politically appointed and receives a 1.5-percent severance tax on oil and gas production for its “responsibility.” At least Idahoans can vote out of office the state’s highest elected officials on the Land Board, for leasing and selling off our precious, impacted lands, resources, and waterways for bargain basement prices.

Because the last five years of frenzied oil and gas rule-making, legislation, drilling, and exploration, centered primarily in Payette County and the Boise halls of government, represent industry’s first forays into Idaho’s still relatively pristine, and thus increasingly valuable, watersheds, the time has now arrived for communities across the state to organize and resist looming drilling, fracking, and acidizing of oil and gas wells. Historic and current fossil fuel development in the state infers that major portions of Idaho are ripe for development and could eventually suffer in the boom-and-bust crosshairs of dirty energy corporations [7]. Please participate in one or hopefully all of these opportunities for citizen protection of our clean air, water, and lands: Continue reading

Northwest Protests of Omega Morgan-Hauled Tar Sands Megaloads


12 Transports, 39 Direct Confrontations, 52 Arrests, 2 Citations

Megaload One: Full Evaporator

1) Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) & Allied Protest & Monitoring: October 22, 2012 (Lewiston/Highway 12, Idaho)

2) WIRT & Allied Monitoring: October 23, 2012 (Highway 12, Idaho)

Mini-Megaloads Two & Three: Cylinders

WIRT Missed: December 3 & 4, 2012 (Highway 12, Idaho)

Megaload Four: Full Evaporator

3-6) Nez Perce Tribe & Allied Protests: August 5 to 8, 2013 (Highway 12, Idaho) 28 Arrests

7) Northern Rockies Rising Tide & Allied Protest: August 12, 2013 (Reserve Street, Missoula, Montana)

Mini-Megaloads Five to Eight: Dismantled Evaporator Outer Parts

8) WIRT & Allied Protest: October 15, 2013 (Washington Street, Moscow/Highway 95, Idaho)

Megaload Nine: Dismantled Evaporator Core

9) WIRT & Allied Protest & Monitoring: November 10, 2013 (Washington Street, Moscow/Highway 95, Idaho)

10) WIRT & Allied Protest & Monitoring: November 11, 2013 (Sherman Avenue, Coeur d’Alene/Interstate 90, Idaho)

11) WIRT & Allied Protest & Monitoring: November 12, 2013 (Front & Bank Streets, Wallace/Interstate 90, Idaho) Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Gary Dorr 4-14-14

The Monday, April 14, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes Nez Perce activist Gary Dorr from the South Dakota frontline of the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline path.  A veteran of many of the Moscow and Highway 12 megaload protests of 2011-13, Gary will talk about indigenous resistance to tar sands pipelines and megaloads in the Great Plains, including updates on the ongoing Rosebud Sioux Spirit Camp and Cheyenne River Sioux megaload blockades and the April 26 Reject and Protect demonstration against the KXL, led by Natives and ranchers in Washington DC.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide dirty energy developments and climate activism news, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

Thanks for a Successful Third Year & Celebration!

WIRT activists, friends, and supporters,

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) extends our gratitude to everyone who so effectively and passionately organized and participated in our successful Third Annual Celebration and Benefit Concert on Saturday evening, March 29, at the 1912 Center in Moscow. We heartily thank Jeanne McHale, who coordinated musical performers and circulated event flyers in Moscow and Pullman; Erik Jacobson, who created and revised beautiful posters for the occasion; Rob Briggs and Alan Solan, who served as bartenders; Ellen Roskovich, who hauled event materials and washed dishes; and several volunteers who diligently prepared tablecloths and napkins, provided potluck food, cleared tables and chairs, and assisted other arrangements. We greatly appreciate the talented musicians who exuberantly offered all of us an inspiring night of music: the Moscow Volunteer Peace Band, Matti Sand and John Fershee, Zack Degler and Bill Tracy of Mother Yeti, and Henry C and the Willards bandmates Terri Grzebielski, Donna Holmes, Jeanne McHale, Doug Park, Nels Peterson, and Henry Willard. We especially thank the Wine Company of Moscow for donating beer, wine, and a liquor service permit, and these 17 Moscow and Pullman businesses, which generously provided silent auction items together valued at $500.

B&L Bicycles: A bicycle pump

BookPeople of Moscow: A birthday party with pizza, cake, a movie, and reading

Brused Books: One gift certificate

Cowgirl Chocolates: Six assorted chocolate bars

Deadbeat Records: One gift certificate

Glasphemy: Four pairs of decorative Sock It To Me socks

Howard Hughes Video: Two movie rental gift certificates

Hyperspud Sports: A one-watt Luxeon LED flashlight

Maria Maggi: Four hand-painted watercolor greeting cards

Nectar: Dinner for two with an appetizer and two salads, entrees, and dessert

One World Café: Organic Landgrove coffee

Paradise Creek Bicycles: A Camelbak water bottle and a bike tune/rentals coupon

Paradise Creek Brewery: A beer growler, glass, and gift certificate

Patty’s Mexican Kitchen: Two gift certificates

Rico’s Pub: Two gift certificates

RicoShay: A hand-carved, wooden hand statue/cell phone holder

Tye Dye Everything: A tye-dye shirt Continue reading

Mammoet Megaloads/Keystone XL Pipeline Gatherings & Trainings

Mammoet 2014 Routes

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies invite concerned regional citizens to attend four tar sands megaload/pipeline-oriented events planned for this week, between April 2 and 6.  On the evenings of Wednesday, April 2, and Friday, April 4, community organizers with offer presentations and inter-community discussions among Sandpoint and Plummer residents, Coeur d’Alene and Kalispel tribal members, and Moscow climate activists about the three heaviest, longest, and widest megaloads to ever travel on U.S. Highway 95 and either Idaho Highway 200 or Interstate 90 and East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive, hauled by Mammoet USA South.**  On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, April 5 and 6, we will provide condensed workshops sharing non-violent direct action skills with people eager to learn about and confront these transports and/or who have signed the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance.  These convergences could feature a regional issue slide show, documentary screening, and/or action-planning conversations, depending on participant interests.

Citizen, Tribal, & Climate Activists Gatherings about Mammoet Megaloads

* Wednesday, April 2, 5:30 to 7:30 pm: East Bonner County Sandpoint Library Rooms 103 & 104, 1407 Cedar Street, Sandpoint, Idaho

* Friday, April 4, 5:30 to 7:30 pm: Benewah Wellness Center Conference Room B, 1100 A Street, Plummer, Idaho

Direct Action Training Sessions for Mammoet Megaloads/Keystone XL Pipeline

* Saturday, April 5, 12 noon to 4 pm: Coeur d’Alene Library Community Room, 702 East Front Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

* Sunday, April 6, 12 noon to 4 pm: The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho Continue reading

March 2014 Highway 95 Mammoet Megaload Updates

Issue Background

Dutch heavy hauling company Mammoet plans to move three 1.6-million-pound industrial shipments, measuring 441 feet long, 27 feet wide, and 16 feet high, from the Port of Wilma, Washington, near Lewiston, Idaho, to the Calumet-owned Montana Refining Company in Great Falls, Montana [1-4]. At this closest U.S. refinery to Alberta tar sands mining operations, these megaloads would contribute to tripling refinery conversion of 10,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands crude into Rockies transportation fuels. These pieces of a desulfurization reactor, a “hydrocracker,” would travel through Moscow, Plummer and Worley on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Reservation, Coeur d’Alene, and perhaps Sandpoint before entering Montana [5, 6]. They would traverse 20th Street in Lewiston to avoid the rock face where Highways 12 and 128 intersect, and would only cross Moscow between 11 pm and 1 am on Sunday through Thursday, requiring removal of street light poles at the Washington Street curve, where the sidewalk would be closed between First and C Streets.

Since first public notice on December 13, 2013 – six weeks after initial Mammoet project proposal to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and after November 26 rejection by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) – until late February 2014, Mammoet intended to traverse Highway 95 and Interstate 90, exit at Sherman Avenue, and take East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive for 5.5 miles, to detour around the Veterans Memorial (Bennett Bay) Bridge, a span too tall and long to withstand these megaload weights [7-9]. At an Interstate 90 interchange at the end of the drive near Higgens Point, previously abandoned when the ground collapsed under earth movers during construction, the behemoths would cross under the freeway and mount a temporary, gravel on-ramp between two wetlands. The colossal shipments would access the westbound interstate lanes while traveling east for a short distance, before crossing to the eastbound lanes and over the 1319-foot-long Blue Creek Bay Bridge built in 1951, and then driving off the highway between Pinehurst and Smelterville. Between mid-January and mid-February, the ITD District 1 office in Coeur d’Alene and FHWA personnel in Boise exchanged and revised various documents including a draft environmental evaluation based on a categorical exclusion, per National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements [10, 11]. Without FHWA review and approval of this transportation project, called the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route, Mammoet and ITD could not construct the likely reusable “temporary” Interstate 90 on-ramp, which would accommodate megaload passage while endangering natural resources and public infrastructure.

On February 6, 2014, a day after final ITD documents submittal to FHWA, five regional conservation- and climate change-oriented groups including WIRT co-wrote and sent a letter of concern about these proposed Mammoet megaloads to FHWA, ITD, and other responsible city, county, state, and federal representatives and transportation, wildlife, and environmental agencies [12]. Wild Idaho Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, Kootenai Environmental Alliance (KEA), Friends of the Clearwater, and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) strongly recommended that these agencies “better consider and act to prevent the implications of this proposed Mammoet move and on-ramp construction for air and water quality, wildlife and habitats, the regional environment and inhabitants, and global climate.” The grassroots organizations formally requested that the appropriate cooperating agencies comply with NEPA mandates, extend and expand their project review and public involvement processes and periods, and delay and deny project approval based on further analysis. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Alma Hasse & Tina Fisher 3-31-14

The Monday, March 31, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes Alma Hasse and Tina Fisher of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE), from ground-zero of Idaho oil and gas exploration and development, Payette County.  Alma and Tina will provide updates on citizen observations, documentation, and resistance in four counties, Payette County “baseline” water sampling requirements, seismic testing invasions and risks, proposed processing and pipeline facilities, IRAGE water testing outreach, and oil and gas leasing of state lands under rivers.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide dirty energy developments and climate activism news, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her/his KRFP DJ.

Mammoet Megaloads Public Records 3-24-14

Selected, incomplete but ongoing posts of 95 public documents belatedly provided by the Idaho Transportation Department District 1 (Coeur d’Alene), in response to Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s third public records request for information and communication about Mammoet USA South’s proposed 2014 transport of three 1.6-million-pound megaloads on U.S. Highway 95 and Interstate 90 or Idaho Highway 200 to a Great Falls, Montana, tar sands refinery tripling its production:

Calumet Refinery CH2M Hill Great Falls Traffic Plan US95 HWY200

CDA Lake Drive Truck Route Draft Environmental Evaluation 1-9-14

FHWA Decision about CDA Temporary Truck Route 2-13-14

FHWA Letter about Mammoet Oversize Loads 11-26-13

Letter from Doug Ball SCRA

Pinehurst to Smelterville Route Revision

Re-Route Shoshone County

Transport Plan 3-18-14

WIRT Newsletter: Upcoming & Rescheduled Events

Dear comrades,

Wednesday to Sunday, April 2 to 6: Mammoet Megaload Meetings

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies are postponing plans from tomorrow, Wednesday, March 26, until next week, April 2 to 6, to meet and offer presentations, as described in the March 20 WIRT newsletter, about the proposed Highway 95/200 Mammoet megaloads [1]. We are working hard to confront these monsters, but the Coeur d’Alene Idaho Transportation Department office did not respond to our public records request by Monday, as required by Idaho law. WIRT is rescheduling our Plummer and Sandpoint convergences and adding Coeur d’Alene and Moscow training sessions during next week and weekend, and will send a full report/announcement about the situation soon.

Tribal & Climate Activists Gathering about Mammoet Megaloads

* Wednesday, April 2, 5:30 to 7:30 pm: East Bonner County – Sandpoint Library Room 103-4, 1407 Cedar Street, Sandpoint, Idaho

* Friday, April 4, 5:30 to 7:30 pm: Benewah Wellness Center Room B, 1100 A Street, Plummer, Idaho

Direct Action Training Sessions for Keystone XL Pipeline/Mammoet Megaloads

* Saturday, April 5, 12 noon to 4 pm: Coeur d’Alene Library Community Room, 702 East Front Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

* Sunday, April 6, 12 noon to 4 pm: The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho

Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Jeanne McHale & Henry Willard 3-24-14

The Monday, March 24, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) features Henry Willard and Jeanne McHale of the regional blues and rock band Henry C and the Willards, who are headlining the benefit concert at the Third Annual Celebration of WIRT this Saturday evening, March 29, at the 1912 Center in Moscow, Idaho. Jeanne and Henry will share some new, original songs from their recent unreleased, band recordings and talk about their music over the last few years. Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide dirty energy developments and climate activism news, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as his KRFP DJ.

WIRT’s Third Year: Cause for Celebration!

During our third year as a direct action collective confronting the root causes of climate change by asserting direct actions and promoting locally organized solutions, WIRT has produced myriad protests, rallies, direct action workshops, solidarity journeys, potluck meetings, presentations, public comments, issue alerts, action reports, newsletters, radio shows, videos, and photos.  Expanding integration of our strategies and tactics with our friends among nine regional Rising Tide collectives and a dozen tribes has achieved coordinated, regional demonstrations of opposition to the fossil fuel extraction and and transportation foisted on the environmentally robust Northwest by explosive shale oil trains, dusty coal cars, toxic oil and gas wells, and colossal tar sands equipment, pipelines, refineries, and tankers.  In solidarity with frontline communities of resistance and our international, volunteer, grassroots network of activists, we will continue our steadfast defiance of the corporate and government forces of exploitation and death, in defense the ultimate, sacred dignity of the Earth, its life, and all humans.

Early in April 2013, two activists of newly formed Rising Tide Seattle successfully locked down inside the Canadian consulate in Seattle, Washington, demonstrating solidarity with other tar sands resistance struggles and bringing the total of brave anti-tar sands arrests and charges in four Northwest states to 20 over the prior two years.  Amongst the enduring angst of frontline Idaho and Montana residents over the 2011-12 unstoppable, regional passage of 350 enormous facilities modules of Imperial Oil’s Kearl Oil Sands Project, the mining operation commenced production in Alberta around WIRT’s second anniversary, despite delays and cost escalations.  Palouse region academics and activists welcomed three highly knowledgeable Alberta tar sands experts to the University of Idaho: award-winning author Andrew Nikiforuk, Pembina Institute program director Jennifer Grant, and industry veteran Don Thompson.  For Mr. Nikiforuk, WIRT and anti-megaload allies co-sponsored a book promotion open house at BookPeople of Moscow, a Washington State University workshop about dirty energy dilemmas, and a tour of the Highway 12 wild and scenic river/wildlands corridor in Idaho threatened by tar sands equipment transports.  But multiple WIRT activists held anti-tar sands signs in the back of the auditorium during Mr. Thompson’s presentation, and posed difficult, oppositional, audience questions.  As WIRT contemplated a statewide ballot measure banning fracking and waste injection wells, the Idaho legislature passed a bill requiring signatures of six percent of the registered voters in half of Idaho’s legislative districts, to qualify a citizen initiative or referendum for the ballot.  Idaho lawmakers also let any non-freeway routes in the state be designated for extra-heavy trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds, with input from local highway jurisdictions and public hearings.  With other regional groups in mid-April, WIRT gratefully reached out to the Pullman community at the Earth Week Environmental Occupation of Terrell Mall on the Washington State University campus.  On the next Saturday, WIRT staffed a minimal booth at the Moscow Hemp Fest in East City Park.  At the Kenworthy Performing Arts Center in Moscow and 35 other locations on Earth Day, April 22, WIRT and anti-tar sands allies hosted a nationwide, simultaneous screening of the documentary Bidder 70  and a live-streamed conversation with Tim DeChristopher, the Utah climate activist recently released from federal prison, who stopped an unjust federal oil and gas lease auction.  We established a Twitter account and website events calendar to more actively involve WIRT members in our many initiatives.

In May 2013, WIRT honored the outstanding community spirit and service of core WIRT members and tar sands megaload blockaders Bill and Dianne French, as Moscow Renaissance Fair King and Queen, with Moscow Volunteer Peace Band march onto the East City Park grounds.  We also celebrated previous ‘Ren’ Fair royalty among our ranks with the fortieth annual fair parade.  On the next weekend, we traveled to Spokane, Washington, to give a guest speech about critical climate issues, educate our neighbors through an outreach booth, and enjoy some live music, tribal drumming, and round dances the Word to Your Mother event held in Riverfront Park.  Moscow climate activists also interviewed for two extensive articles in The Fig Tree about the regional megaload campaign and climate change.  Kinder Morgan withdrew its planned investment in the proposed Port Westward coal export facility in early May, after the ports of Grays Harbor and Coos Bay had similarly dropped plans since the previous August, thus halving the six originally planned coal ports across the Northwest.  During mid-month, we commenced our Moscow outreach every Saturday until November at the WIRT Moscow Farmers Market table, and threw a WIRT Activists House Party to stimulate creative ideas for Fearless Summer actions among core WIRT activists.  As a partner organization and board member, WIRT also participated in the Paradise Ridge field tour led by the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, exploring the implications for rare, native Palouse Prairie remnants and wildlife habitat of the Idaho Transportation Department’s proposed realignment and expansion of Highway 95 south of Moscow.  On the Thursday evening before Memorial Day, a southbound Edmonton-area Mullen Trucking driver, hauling an oversize Alaska drilling equipment box with a $10 online permit and following a pilot car with a height-indicator pole too closely, struck steel framework trusses and a cable of an Interstate 5 bridge near Mount Vernon, Washington.  The “functionally obsolete” span and three people in two vehicles collapsed into the icy Skagit River without the truck, ahead of tens of thousands of disrupted holiday vacationers.  Although mainstream media steered the conversation away from such inappropriate vehicles toward aging infrastructure replacement, the incident may have finally catalyzed Washingtonians toward resistance to fossil fuel extraction transports on their roads, in a state that has originated the bulk of tar sands megaloads.

June 2013 not only witnessed songwriter Roy Zimmerman’s Moscow performance premiere of his song co-written with Melanie Harby for WIRT, The Tide is Rising, but a robust, expansive, allied campaign against renewed oil and gas drilling in Payette County.  With Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE) comrades, we coordinated Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! protests at Idaho Department of Lands offices at Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Deary, Kamiah, Orofino, and Saint Maries, confronting the director outside the Boise headquarters about drilling and potential fracking of a natural gas well in the floodplain confluence of two water bodies, near a riparian wildlife refuge, upriver from a city water supply intake, and under state lands and rivers.  The continent-wide, early-June week of action grew into a month of action that caused the oil and gas development leasers and regulators at IDL to admit to allowing impending fracking in Idaho and to issue media counter-releases and public disinformation fact sheets.  WIRT traveled twice to Boise to demonstrate at the state agency and to educate the public about oil and gas and other dirty energy issues at the Community Progressive III convergence of community outreach booths and information workshops in Julia Davis Park.  Against three of four new well drilling permit applications over the next year, we wrote comments that IDL posted but dismissed, despite possible legal repercussions. Continue reading