Bigge Stages the Last Calumet Megaload

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Bigge Stages the Last Calumet Megaload 7-24-14 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Thursday, July 24, two Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists scouted the Port of Wilma, across the Snake River from Clarkston, Washington, to document with photos and ascertain any changes at the fenced compound where Bigge Crane and Rigging stores the last of three rusty, cylindrical, hydrocracker sections stranded since mid-December 2013.  Participants in the Nez Perce Environmental Summit on Saturday, July 19, discovered the two other, larger, megaload parts vanished, with crews still in the port lot leased by Omega Morgan in late 2013, for its two massive evaporator cargoes [1].  Last observed on short, 12-axle trailers at the port on Tuesday, July 15, the two heavier, missing loads, 573,000 and 661,000 pounds each, likely departed by barge downriver or by train on the Watco Companies Great Northwest Railroad to the Tri-Cities, Washington [2].  According to late-May newspaper articles that suggested megaload rail travel, haulers could have transported the shipments on Schnabel train cars as oncoming traffic to potentially explosive, West Coast-bound, unit “bomb trains” of fracked Bakken shale oil.  The behemoths could currently be moving across eastern Washington and northern Idaho on either Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, then eastward on the BNSF railroad to a spur line heading south from Shelby to the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls.  The hydrocracker column formed by stacking the three purportedly irreducible components upright constitutes equipment essential to tripling Calumet Specialty Products Partners’ refinery production of Alberta tar sands, Bow River crude, and Bakken shale oil.

Activists noticed on July 19 that heavy hauler Bigge had left a white and red crane, a heavy-duty, white semi-truck, a small, orange truck, several flatbed trailers, and some white trailer pieces resembling the steel suspension systems seen around other, huge, fossil fuel contraptions in the region since February 2011.  The San Leandro, California-based company also abandoned the 504,000-pound, lightest, bottom part of the hydrocracker.  Its largest diameter of the three modules may have deterred its passage by train through tunnels, close, two-way tracks, or other rail line impediments, while its weight and length, when combined with interlocked trailers and trucks, could forebode the heaviest and longest megaload to ever traverse rural northern Idaho highway routes.  On Thursday evening, July 24, WIRT comrades saw additional Bigge gear that alerted them to imminent megaload movement, perhaps within a week.  A second, white semi-truck occupied the southwestern corner of the lot, while the orange truck, previously parked next to the hydrocracker piece, sat behind it, attached to the white trailer.  Absent during prior scouting forays, long, dark-blue, trailer sections loomed in front of the module, and a colossal, dark-blue, metal bar on a specialized semi-trailer, like the top of megaload lifts seen at the Ports of Pasco and Umatilla, crowded the eastern pavement outside the fence, along with a uniformed security guard in an older, white and red pickup truck. Continue reading

Northwest Protests of Omega Morgan-Hauled Tar Sands Megaloads

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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

Emergency Tuesday Meeting, Weekly Thursday WIRT Potlucks, & August Events


WIRT Co-Activists,

Please attend the emergency, potluck, protest-planning meeting at the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) Activists House at 7 pm on Tuesday evening, July 29, instead of on Thursday this week.  Thanks to the vigilance of four WIRT scouts over the last five days, including today (Monday, July 28) at 2 pm, we have obtained photos of Bigge Crane and Rigging crews loading on trailers one of the three Port of Wilma megaloads, a hydrocracker section essential to production expansion of its Great Falls refinery destination [1].  WIRT anticipates that heavy haulers, including prior nemesis Mammoet, may attempt to move the half-million-pound module, via similarly heavy, on-site trailers and three semi-trucks, up Highways 95 and 200 before WIRT receives Idaho Transportation Department public records about the transports, due by Thursday, July 31.  WIRT activists and our community must prepare for this onslaught with more than a sign-waving protest…

With plenty of potential road and rail blockades on the near horizon, Wild Idaho Rising Tide is holding weekly potluck meetings every Tuesday at 7 pm at the WIRT Activists House in Moscow.  Please see the WIRT Events Calendar and recent newsletters posted on the WIRT website, for further information about these topics of upcoming strategizing and planning sessions [2, 3].

* Coordination and tactics for scouting, protesting, monitoring, and solidarity demonstrations against the three Mammoet/Bigge Crane and Rigging-hauled hydrocracker parts embarking in late July/early August from the Port of Wilma via river, rail, and/or road, through Moscow, Spokane, and Sandpoint to Great Falls

* Carpools and registration with the Occupy Spokane Scholarship Fund for the Tuesday through Tuesday, August 5 to 12, sixth annual Northwest Localize This! direct action training camp hosted by Backbone Campaign allies on Vashon Island, Washington

* Local publicity and participation in the 6 pm Tuesday, August 12, Fight or Flight Northern Rockies Tour stop and direct action training workshop co-sponsored by The Bunny Alliance, Earth First! Journal, Resistance Ecology, and WIRT at the Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow

* Regional support and involvement in the Saturday, August 16 coordinated direct actions against coal export, Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports, organized by Idaho and Montana groups in Bozeman, Missoula, Sandpoint, and possibly Spokane, Oregon, and Washington locations Continue reading

Refinery Says Megaloads to Go by Rail


But Calumet official won’t disclose when heavy machinery will leave Port of Wilma for Montana

Two of the three megaloads bound for a Calumet refinery in Great Falls, Montana, will leave the Port of Wilma by rail, not truck.

Exactly when the shipments will depart the Port of Wilma is not being disclosed, said company spokesman Noel Ryan.

Calumet will provide an update on the Great Falls project, which is doubling the capacity of the refinery, in its quarterly earnings report in early August.  Ryan said the company will not get into the details of how the machinery at the Port of Wilma is being transported.

Ryan’s statements came after days of heavy speculation by megaload opponents that two pieces of the equipment have left the port.  The machinery is so large that it would take up two lanes of highway, if it went by road.

The crude unit and hydrocracker that were taken to the Port of Wilma are key components in the expansion of the refinery, and Ryan said they will separate crude oil into products such as gasoline, diesel, and asphalt. Continue reading

Support the Land Defenders Arrested on Monday at the Utah Tar Sands!


On Monday, July 21, about 80 climate justice land defenders peacefully expressed their First Amendment right to free speech, by staging a massive direct action at the site of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip mine at PR Springs in the Book Cliffs, Utah.  The protest that blocked mining facilities construction culminated a week-long direct action training camp held within two miles of the mine.  Participants of Climate Justice Summer Camp traveled from numerous organizations, states, and sovereign tribal nations to learn direct action skills and build networks.  These inspiring heroes left the comfort of their homes, the company of their families, and the security of their jobs to fight for the future of this beautiful, historical area.

Early in the morning, activists and supporters of Canyon Country Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, and Utah Tar Sands Resistance locked themselves to equipment, and a fenced storage cage around it, used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands mining company’s processing plant.  Other protesters formed a physical blockade with their bodies, to halt construction work and to protect their locked-down comrades.  They hung and displayed banners off the cage that read: “You Are Trespassing on Ute Land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.” Continue reading

Oil and Gas Rulemaking Public Meeting on Tuesday, July 22


In April 2014, the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted to enter into negotiated rulemaking, to improve and clarify the existing Rules Pertaining to Conservation of Crude Oil and Natural Gas, IDAPA 20.07.02.  The commission published a notice of intent about this process in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin on June 4, 2014.  The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is holding four negotiated rulemaking public meetings in the Idaho Capitol at 8:30 am MDT on June 6 and 18 and on July 2 and 22 [1].  Purportedly state-initiated, but primarily industry-instigated, changes to the rules governing oil and gas development in Idaho are open to oral and written public comments and eventual hearings on the final draft of the proposed rules.  IDL oil and gas program manager Bobby Johnson has managed these rulemaking sessions that have drawn the attendance of agency staff, industry representatives, and stakeholders from Alta Mesa, the Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Conservation League, IDL, Idaho Department of Water Resources, and Idaho Petroleum Council, and concerned county commissioners, Gem and Payette county residents and landowners, and Boise citizens.

Much that Idahoans cherish is at stake through this rulemaking and associated legislative approval of revised Idaho oil and gas rules and other related laws.  As Gem County activist Joe Morton asserts, the new IDAPA rules and prerogatives advanced by Governor Otter’s appointed Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are eroding, if not eliminating, Idaho private property rights [2].  The state legislature mandated legal clauses proclaiming that the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission shall have “authority over all persons and property, public and private” concerning oil and gas extraction.  Idaho lawmakers also removed local government control of oil and gas exploitation with passage of House Bill 464 in 2012, which states that “No ordinance, resolution, requirement, or standard of a city, county, or political subdivision, except a state agency with authority, shall actually or operationally prohibit the extraction of oil and gas.”  Besides many other troublesome rule changes favoring industry, state agency and commission members are currently displaying corporatism at its best: Writing new IDAPA rules that could force pool 45 percent of non-participating private property owners into relinquishing their rights to minerals taken from under their lands.  Like landowners who do not own their subsurface minerals and accompanying rights in “split estates,” the state of Idaho would allow extraction of oil and gas regardless of property owners wishes. Continue reading

Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma


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Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma 7-19-14 (July 19, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

According to at least four Saturday, July 19, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) eyewitnesses, two of the three Calumet tar sands refinery hydrocracker sections stranded at the Port of Wilma, Washington, since mid-December 2013 have vanished [1].  During the week of July 20, Bigge Crane and Rigging of San Leandro, California, is likely hauling these megaloads via river, rail, or road, from the port on the Snake River near Clarkston to the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls.  Last observed and described (but not documented with photos?) on short, heavy-duty, 12-axle trailers at the port on Tuesday, July 15, the loads were missing when a Saturday morning scout noticed crews still in the port lot previously leased for storage and staging of Omega Morgan “water filtration units.”  Questions about whether the hydrocracker parts departed by barge or rail downriver still linger, but after only a few days of travel, these megaloads may not have gone far.

In the fenced port compound, Bigge left white trailer pieces resembling the steel suspension systems seen around other huge fossil fuel extraction contraptions in the region since February 2011.  The company also abandoned the half-million-pound, lightest weight piece of the hydrocracker, the bottom part of the column formed by stacking the three components upright.  Its largest diameter, not weight, may have proved the critical factor restricting its passage by train through tunnels, close bi-directional tracks, or other rail line impediments [2].  Megaload owners and haulers cannot further downsize the three rusty, cylindrical sections and, as announced by late-May newspaper accounts, are probably shipping them to a trans-loading facility for transport on Schnabel train cars [3].  They could be moving the megaloads to the Port of Umatilla on the Oregon side of the Columbia River and attempting the previously permitted eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana heavy-haul route pummeled by three almost-as-massive Omega Morgan loads last winter, especially while forest fires close eastern Oregon rural routes. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Alma Hasse & Tina Fisher 7-21-14


The Monday, July 21, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide gratefully welcomes Alma Hasse and Tina Fisher of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, from ground-zero of Idaho oil and gas exploitation, Payette County.  Alma and Tina will provide updates on Idaho oil and gas negotiated rulemaking sessions, rule revisions, and disputes, especially forced pooling and minimum setbacks, as well as Bureau of Land Management mineral leasing decisions and public meetings and premature state permits.  Among other topics, they will also talk about Gem County opposition to private property rights compromised by oil and gas rules, and current industry infrastructure developments and practices in Payette County, including tapping irrigation water for operations.  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 also covers continent-wide climate activism news and dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her/his KRFP DJ.

WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Movements, Nez Perce Summit, Transportation Board U.S. 95 Tour


Port of Wilma Megaloads on the Move!

Borg Hendrickson of the People of Highway 12 Fighting Goliath wrote this week that observers noticed on Tuesday, July 15, that California heavy-hauler Bigge Crane and Rigging has placed two of the three megaloads parked at the Port of Wilma on relatively short, 12-axle trailers.  The third behemoth continues to rust on jacks.  Originally proposed for transport by Mammoet, from the port to the Calumet tar sands refinery in Great Falls, Montana, via U.S. Highway 95 and either Interstate 90 or Idaho Highway 200, the tremendously heavy but not particularly large or long parts of a hydrocracker have remained stalled at the port across the river from Clarkston, Washington, by logistical problems and regional resistance since December 2013.  Mammoet had planned to carry them each on interconnected trailers propelled by one pull truck and two push trucks, together stretching over 450 feet and weighing 1.6 million pounds, the longest and heaviest megaloads to ever crush Highway 95.

As chronicled by late-May, Idaho newspaper articles and June WIRT scouting trips, photos, and newsletters, two of these loads could possibly travel by rail and the other by road through the Moscow, Idaho, sacrifice zone for all failed Highway 12 attempts [1].  Because the short Bigge trailers under two colossal loads likely do not meet state requirements for distributing load weights over numerous axles during cross-state highway journeys, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies anticipate that Bigge is preparing them for their departure either by rail, on Watco Companies’ Great Northwest Railroad, or by barge, shipped back down the Snake River probably to the Tri-Cities, Washington, for transport by rail or highway through eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

On Thursday, July 17, WIRT unsuccessfully tried to reach by phone Jason Minzghor, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 1 operations manager in Coeur d’Alene, because he was curiously in Sandpoint, Idaho.  So, in response to Port of Wilma megaloads on the move, WIRT sent another public records request to ITD director Brian Ness, public involvement coordinator Adam Rush, and Mr. Minzghor, asking for “information about proposals to transport three loads currently parked at the Port of Wilma, Washington, on any highway, street, or rail route in Idaho to Great Falls, Montana, or alternative destinations,” dating back to April 2014 material that ITD refused to acknowledge and release to WIRT.  Please stay alert to movement of these megaloads on regional rivers, roads, or rails, remain prepared for last-minute calls to stage a riverside bon voyage celebration and rally, and share any updates or photos that may quickly arise from this situation. Continue reading

Report & Further Work on the Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains


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No Idaho Bomb Trains! March & Protest 7-12-14 (July 12, 2014 Spokane and Wild Idaho Rising Tides photos)

Among over fifty coordinated, local, and continent-wide demonstrations against explosive oil trains, dozens of Spokane Rising Tide (SPORT) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) climate activists from eastern Washington and northern Idaho participated in five events during the Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains [1, 2].  In the spirit of Big Oil resistance and solidarity with the thousands of frontline communities who live along railroad sacrifice zones across the continent, citizens gathered to honor and commemorate the 47 residents of the still-recovering, devastated town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, who lost their lives when a unit train transporting fracked Bakken shale oil in outdated DOT-111 railcars derailed and exploded on July 6, 2013.  On the  solemn, one-year anniversary of this terrible tragedy, despite dozens of additional oil train disasters, oil-by-rail shipments continue to increase in the U.S. and Canada, and similarly risky tanker cars carry crude Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil around and over northern Idaho lakes, through flammable, forested, mountain valleys, and across the urban core of Spokane, Washington.

On Monday evening, July 7, a dozen people learned and discussed tactics and strategies for staging non-violent civil disobedience on railroad property during the Railroad Direct Action Skill-Share and presentation at the East Bonner County Library in Sandpoint, Idaho.  As part of a series of skill-shares in communities along Northwest coal- and oil-transporting rail lines, Blue Skies Campaign volunteers from Missoula, Montana, talked about their recent experiences and insights drawn from two direct actions on or near train tracks in Helena and Missoula.  Conversations in the library’s Rude Girls Room and later over pizza covered railroad security and law enforcement responses, coal train movements, protest logistical considerations, and opportunities for future, inter-group, regionally coordinated actions.  If you would like to engage in these mostly coal train protests and upcoming conference calls arranging them, please contact WIRT or Blue Skies Campaign.

WIRT participated in the Spokane Rising Tide action, Demand Safer Railcars, at the downtown Spokane office of Washington Republican Congressional Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (CMR), beginning at 12 noon on Tuesday, July 8 [3-5].  About a dozen protesters gathered on the North Post Street sidewalk below the fourth floor suite, with props representing an angry mob – cardboard and wooden pitchforks and torches provided by SPORT.  They delivered a great letter written by SPORT’s Terry Hill that sadly could serve as a template for letters to hundreds of other so-called elected officials installed by corrupt industries to ensure their ruthless regimes of continued destruction of the planet and countless lives.  The letter asked how the Congresswoman would protect the safety of her constituents and communities endangered by bomb trains, while she compromises her public interests by taking big campaign contributions from the oil and dirty energy industry and railroad companies.  It requested that she and Congress ensure the security of rail line residents by removing outdated DOT-111 train cars from service.

From within the potential Spokane blast zone of such trains, CMR’s staff members acted congenially, respectfully, and professionally towards the concerned citizens.  They stated that they would forward the letter to CMR, and, when asked by the protesters, promised everyone who left contact information a response specific to their addressed concerns, not the anticipated, vapid, form letter filled with conciliatory comments.  The visitors questioned CMR’s staff about the regularity and accessibility of the Congresswoman’s appearances in Spokane.  The staff members suggested that the group of voters request a “coffee with Cathy” meeting as early as August.  Returning to the street, the comrades energetically repeated five chants that Moscow and Spokane activists devised, hopefully audible in CMR’s office: “Rolling downhill, oil trains kill, 47 slain, no bomb trains!” “Pipelines spill, but bomb trains kill!” “While Cathy takes bribes, bomb trains take lives!” “Big oil bribes, railroad ties, Cathy’s corruption risks our lives!” and “Spokane oil trains, more every day, Cathy’s voters say no way!”  The climate activists then huddled, noticed police entering the building, talked for a while, and dispersed. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Herb Goodwin 7-14-14


The Monday, July 14, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes Herb Goodwin, a core WIRT and Occupy Bellingham activist resisting coal export and tar sands megaloads throughout the Northwest.  Herb will talk about the oil industry end run around the U.S. crude oil export ban by eight proposed refineries with 80,000-barrel-per-day production capacities in Montana, North Dakota, and elsewhere.  He will also discuss rapidly emerging megaload assembly plants and transports on the Montana Rocky Mountain Front, which build Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction infrastructure.  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 climate activism news and dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.