Idaho Counties, Gas Drillers Reach Agreement on Legislation

A group representing Idaho counties and a group representing companies interested in tapping natural gas in the state announced an agreement on Sunday on legislation they plan to introduce into the Idaho Legislature next month, the Associated Press reports. The Idaho Association of Counties and the Idaho Petroleum Council said the guidelines will allow counties some control over natural gas development, while natural gas wildcatters will have a clearer path to tapping fields; but a conservation group said the agreement appears to reduce local control over industries by allowing state lawmakers to create rules that counties and cities wouldn’t be able to exceed with their own ordinances. Click Gas Drillers, Idaho Counties Reach Agreement for the full story from Associated Press reporter Keith Ridler.

(By Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise, The Spokesman-Review)

Canadian Oil Pipeline Would Be Path to China

National Energy Board panelists, back row, stand with Haisla First Nation Hereditary Chiefs during the opening day of hearings for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project in Kitamaat Village, British Columbia, on January 10. Several hundred people gathered for hearings on whether a pipeline should be laid from the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific Ocean (Associated Press photo).

Alternate route hits familiar obstacles

KITAMAAT VILLAGE, B.C. – The latest chapter in Canada’s quest to become a full-blown oil superpower unfolded this month in a village gym on the British Columbia coast.

Here, several hundred people gathered for hearings on whether a pipeline should be laid from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific in order to deliver oil to Asia, chiefly energy-hungry China. The stakes are particularly high for the village of Kitamaat, south of Kitimat, because the pipeline would terminate here and a port would be built to handle 220 tankers a year and 525,000 barrels of oil a day.

But the planned Northern Gateway Pipeline is just one aspect of an epic battle over Canada’s oil ambitions – a battle that already has a supporting role in the U.S. presidential election, and which will help to shape North America’s future energy relationship with China.

Read more: Canadian Oil Pipeline Would Be Path to China

(By Rob Gillies, Associated Press, The Spokesman-Review)

(Link provided by Tom Hansen)

Climate Justice Forum: Jo Bohna & Lin Laughy 1-30-12

Listen to the audio-streamed Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) radio show Climate Justice Forum on Mondays between 7:30 and 9:00 pm PST.  Tonight’s program on January 30 includes conversations with regional megaload protesters Jo Bohna and Linwood Laughy and updates on Idaho fracking rules, laws, and the Idaho Fracking Forum in Moscow.  Support this listener-sponsored, progressive broadcast by contributing to KRFP Radio Free Moscow as you adopt WIRT as a DJ for only ten dollars per month!

Hundreds Turn Out to Launch Bellingham Anti-Coal Train Initiative

BELLINGHAM – With a musical kickoff from bandZandt singing “No Coal Trains,” local activists launched their “Coal-Free Bellingham” campaign for a citizen initiative to outlaw coal trains through a city ordinance.

Stoney Bird, a retired corporate attorney who is one of the key organizers, said it may be a week or two before signature-gatherers hit the streets. The language for the ballot title needs to be worked out with the City Attorney’s office. But judging from the Thursday, January 26, turnout of 200 or more enthusiastic supporters, the signature-gathering process won’t lack for volunteers.

Read more: Hundreds Turn Out to Launch Bellingham Anti-Coal Train Initiative

(By John Stark, The Bellingham Herald)

ITD Losing Half a Million-Plus a Year on Oversized Load Permit Program

Idaho has been losing $645,000 a year administering oversize-load permits including those for so-called megaloads, Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence reported today; the news came out when an ITD official briefed a legislative committee on pending ITD rules, which include fee increases designed to try to wipe out that deficit. “We’re required to recoup the administrative cost of running the program,” ITD official Regina Phipps told the Senate Transportation Committee; you can read Spence’s full post of ITD Loses $645,000 Annually on Oversize Load Permits at his “Political Theater” blog.

(By Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise, The Spokesman-Review)

As Megaloads Ebb, Tar Sands Flow

[Update: Adverse weather conditions caused ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil and its hauler Mammoet to postpone the two shipments scheduled to leave the Port of Lewiston on Tuesday, January 24.  If the climate that they disrupt does not again (hopefully) impede their movement, an 80,000-pound and 240,000-pound megaload will travel north on Highway 95 after 8 pm on Wednesday, January 25.  Please see the following, revised, previously posted action alert and join Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists in monitoring and protesting these Alberta tar sands processing modules.] Continue reading

Idaho Transportation Department Documents Megaload Bills

One of many Imperial Oil megaloads sits at the Port of Lewiston last summer (The Lewiston Tribune/Barry Kough photo).

Idaho has spent nearly $200,000, but more than half will be reimbursed

The Idaho Transportation Department has disclosed $190,012 in expenses related to megaloads during 2011, a year where 79 of the shipments traveled on U.S. highways 12 and 95.

More than half the total expenditures, or $107,490, was for snow and ice removal and is being reimbursed by the companies that hired the megaload trucking firms, according to an email from ITD spokesman Adam Rush.

The companies hauling the oversized loads also paid $27,158 for permits.

The first of four ConocoPhillips megaloads dwarfs a large highway sign, as it snakes its way east on the frontage road along U.S. Highway 12 in North Lewiston last year (The Lewiston Tribune/Kyle Mills photo).

But it’s not clear how many resources the agency has used monitoring the megaloads, processing paperwork, examining roads, and inspecting bridges.

ITD indicated it was impossible to segregate expenses in at least two key areas. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Aaron Malgren 1-23-12

Starting on Monday, January 23, between 7:30 and 9:00 pm PST, Wild Idaho Rising Tide is hosting a 1 1/2 hour radio show entitled Climate Justice Forum, aired at 92.5 FM and audio-streamed by KRFP Radio Free Moscow.  On our inaugural broadcast, we will host Aaron Malgren, one of two cyclists arrested during the critical mass Bikes, Not Bitumen! protest against Imperial Oil tar sands transports through Moscow on October 6.

In every one of our programs sandwiched between Flashpoints and Occupy Wall Street, we plan to intersperse our regional and national dirty energy news and interviews with activists and academics with coverage of the work of our fellow Rising Tide colleagues across the country.  Besides announcing direct actions and educational events that people in the Northern Rockies/Northwest could attend, we would greatly appreciate talking with each of you by phone on the air about your admirable initiatives and successes in confronting climate change challenges.  Please contact us soon to arrange a Monday evening conversation!  If we do not hear from you, expect an invitation soon…

Time Running Out for Kearl Module Deliveries

Imperial Oil photo of a truck hauling a prefabricated module used in the construction of the Kearl tar sands plant

Imperial counting on April arrival of stalled equipment

CALGARY — Imperial Oil says getting its $10.9-billion Kearl oilsands mining project started by the end of 2012 as scheduled depends on delivery in the next three months of 85 modules delayed in the United States.

On a webcast from a conference in Whistler, B.C., Imperial president and chief executive Bruce March said Thursday he’s optimistic the project will start on time.

“The Kearl initial development is now about 87 per cent complete and we continue to be on track for a start-up in late 2012,” he said.

Read more: Time Running Out for Kearl Module Deliveries

(By Dan Healing, Calgary Herald)

Four More Months of Megaloads


Megaloads are currently held in a Wallace parking lot, and recent snowy weather will impact how quickly they can be transported from the Silver Valley (Shoshone News Press/Kelsey Saintz photo).

WALLACE — Megaloads will rest in a parking lot across from the Wallace visitors’ center for about four more months, depending on weather, said Mayor Dick Vester.

“It’s a welcome, positive economic impact across the valley,” he said, because drivers and crews are having to stay and utilize local resources. “That’s been a help to some of the businesses, restaurants, and hotels.”

During a special city council meeting December 1, members unanimously gave Vester the authority to enter into a contract with Mammoet Canada Western, a company specializing in heavy lifting and transport, to use the space for megaload parking and maintenance. Continue reading