Stephanie Kalasz, City Clerk
Moscow City Hall
206 East Third Street
P.O. Box 9203
Moscow, Idaho 83843
At the June 15, 2011, special topic session of the Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC), Chair Scott Fedale requested that you circulate to SEC members the attached comments respectfully submitted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT). City Councilman Tim Brown also expressed his interest in obtaining an electronic version of this document. We ask that you also share this email message, attachment, and following video link with not only SEC commissioners but with all City Council members and our mayor, Nancy Chaney, as well as city staff who are assessing oil company proposals to transport oversized loads of tar sands equipment (“megaloads”) along Highway 95 through Moscow to the Kearl Oil Sands Project in northern Alberta.
Moscow residents and officials have diligently worked together over the years to build a community that both envisions and embodies the most fundamental and far-reaching principles of sustainability, as we meet the present needs of Moscovites without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Our shared, enlightened vision for the continuing health of the landscapes that surround and sustain us is evident in the many innovative and effective “green” programs and initiatives that the city has sponsored, such as the Sustainable Environment and Tree commissions. We all enjoy the benefits of our city’s extensive open spaces and parks, beautiful tree-lined streets, handsome historic buildings, and economically vibrant downtown, as well as our enthusiasm for diverse arts, cultures, and education and our strong community spirit.
As active participants in our international, grassroots network of groups and individuals who take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change and to promote local, community-based solutions to the climate crisis, WIRT members justifiably object to the ecological and social repercussions of megaload passage through Moscow. By allowing just one of these shipments to travel through our beloved home place and rural back roads and to ultimately expand tar sands extraction and consumption, we grant our complicit consent and become personally responsible for the vast deforestation and pollution of subarctic wetlands and boreal forests, the sickness and death of tens of thousands of birds, fish, and animals, and the poisoning and genocide of First Nations communities now ravaged in the remote reaches of Canada.
Scientists have assured us that other myriad hardships loom on our collective horizon if we exploit the tar sands and facilitate its single greatest contribution of greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere. Relinquishing any further capacity to constrain this excessive carbon release and thus avert worldwide climate change crises, Idahoans and our global neighbors will suffer the adverse impacts of a destabilized climate and extreme weather events, recurring heat waves and prolonged droughts, diminishing ice packs, glaciers, and freshwater supplies, pest and disease vector outbreaks and native species extinctions, agricultural damages and reduced food production, warming, expanding oceans and inundated cities and coasts, economic and cultural instability, and mass migrations of displaced and health-challenged plant, animal, and human refugees.
In the northern Rockies and on the Palouse, our refreshingly cool and moderate climate will also be ransacked by our ongoing addiction to oil, dirty energy, and disastrous carbon emissions. We will experience warmer winters and hotter, more humid summers, reduced winter snow packs and summer river flows, more frequent and severe forest and range wildfires and their smoke and haze, as well as increased precipitation rates, flooding risks, and erosion of steeply sloped soils. These relatively rapid changes will affect all aspects of our lives, as the air, land, and water surrounding us strains to adapt to fluctuating temperature and moisture conditions.
We urge city staff and officials to recognize the full significance and magnitude of the ominous consequences posed by the destructive Kearl Oil Sands Project to current and future generations of Moscovites. Please premise your deliberations on ExxonMobil’s proposal to use our city streets as a path to tar sands development with the utmost attention to the profoundly ethical dimensions of your decision in this matter. Whether you believe that control and resolution of the issues addressed here lie within your authority or not, we expect you to protect and uphold the interests of even the youngest members of our community, as is your mission, from the predictable effects of megaloads on our global environment.
Considering the profuse, well-documented threats of climate change to overall human well-being, as well as how disproportionately its damages will be borne by our children, grandchildren, and distant inhabitants of our planet and century, the City of Moscow could never support even the smallest, most pragmatic role in such an immoral and dubious corporate enterprise as tar sands development. Future Moscovites will also seek to meet their needs sustainably but may be compromised in their prospects unless you take a principled stand against this megaload proposal and provide the traditionally courageous civic leadership that Moscow citizens deserve.
The future and the world are watching. (Since May 27, 2011, over 13,000 people have already viewed this linked film about our regional struggles in this dilemma: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoKW771tG_Q) Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our concerns.
Wild Idaho Rising Tide
P.O. Box 9817
Moscow, Idaho 83843
WildIdahoRisingTide.org and on facebook