The Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has extended the deadline for public input on the recently released 73-page Environmental Assessment (EA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Port of Lewiston Dock Expansion and Storage Area Development. It lengthened the comment period to a more appropriate 30 days ending on Friday, March 30, rather than on Friday, March 16. Both documents are available for your examination on the left side of the Corps’ Port of Lewiston Dock Expansion and Storage Area Development web page. The project proposed by the Corps’ preferred Alternative 2 would expand the existing dock from its present 100 feet to 250 feet parallel with the north bank of the Clearwater River, along the Corps-owned flood protection levee and adjacent shoreline land. It would also move a mooring pillar downstream in the river and develop two acres as a graveled storage area at current port facilities, among a half dozen other associated modifications.
Because this construction within the port’s easement for “industrial purposes” would impact federal Corps structures and property at the top of the Lower Granite Dam reservoir, the Corps must review the expansion project and consider approval. Numerous environmental and economic detriments could occur from this expensive endeavor, including, as the FONSI admits, “an adverse effect on several fish species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act or their critical habitat.” One of the most significant, previously stated purposes of these actions is the accommodation of larger-sized cargo, such as tar sands megaloads, that could further degrade Interstate 90, Highway 95, and perhaps Highway 12 in Idaho (besides precipitating dramatic climate change!). This overlegal traffic has already incurred substantial administrative costs for the Idaho Transportation Department, not to mention the yet uncalculated expenses of repairing road damages documented by megaload monitors. Add to these disadvantages the exorbitant tax dollars poured into remodeling a port that has been operating below cost for more than a decade as well as the extensive but rarely considered environmental devastation wrought by industrial development: citizens have good causes to reject this port expansion fiasco.
Please scrutinize the Environmental Assessment and FONSI for other potential impacts of this proposed venture and urge the Corps to adopt the “No Action” Alternative 1 before the comment deadline of midnight on March 30, 2012. Why “throw good money after bad”? ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil has apparently abandoned the Port of Lewiston as its launching point for Asian-made, tar sands-bound equipment, but the seaport 465 river miles inland from the Pacific Ocean has proven a tempting target for other industrial traffic to the continent’s interior. Take effective aim at another link in a tar sands tentacle and email your brief but meaningful comments with your name, address, and phone number to PortofLewistonDock@usace.army.mil or postmark and mail them to the Corps Walla Walla address at the above website, for inclusion in the public record. WIRT will compose and distribute talking points and submit comments for the Corps’ consideration and our legal standing over the next few weeks.
(From WIRT Newsletter)