WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Court Cases, Highway 95 Re-Route, & WIRT Fundraising

Dear dirty energy resisting comrades,

Highway 12 Omega Morgan Megaloads

On last Monday night, December 3, the first of two smaller Omega Morgan-hauled components of a wastewater evaporator traveled between 10 pm and 1:30 am, from the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Washington, along U.S. Highway 12 to Kooskia.  The second shipment moved on Tuesday night along the same route to mile 160, just 12 miles west of the Montana border.  Although the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) expected both 20-foot-wide, two-lane blocking megaloads to cross Idaho in single nights, its spokesperson Adam Rush could not explain the reason for the early stop near Kooskia or the owner and destination of the modules.  While initially favorable weather conditions on Monday and Tuesday nights predictably worsened near Powell, on the steep, icy approach to snowy Lolo Pass, both transports entered Montana on Wednesday night, the second and third tar sands modules to ever successfully traverse Highway 12.  See November 30 through December 7 posts and links to news stories about this progression, from our previously mentioned media allies and Idaho County Free Press, KLEW TV, KRFP Radio Free Moscow, and The Lewiston Tribune, on the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) website at Omega Morgan Megaloads.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide reached out to our regional community weeks in advance and soon after megaload permit issuance, via email messages and website and facebook posts, which also appeared on the Tar Sands Blockade website on December 1 as Wild Idaho Rising Tide Announces Protests Against Megaloads and on the November 30 Earth First! Newswire as Update on Tar Sands Megaloads in the Northern Rockies, both widely read by tar sands opponents across the continent.  Even in the midst of intensive organizing of carpools and oral testimony for the Spokane coal export hearing on Tuesday, December 4, while nature cornered two tar sands weapons of mass destruction up the wild, wet, and white Lochsa River valley, we again called for the protesting and monitoring participation of our friends and members.  Nonetheless, core WIRT organizers could barely recruit three people to resist parts of the largest carbon bomb on Earth, as they slithered up the Highway 12 wild and scenic river corridor.  Deep anguish overcame us again, as we watched our region relinquish physical opposition, after all the passionate words shared in defense of Highway 12 and the relentless protests, even in winter, in Moscow and Spokane over the last few years.  Although our conservation group allies have graciously provided pertinent megaload information, even when ITD omitted all of our email addresses from its last Omega Morgan press release, they have either asked Wild Idaho Rising Tide to NOT protest tar sands transports on Highway 12 or have denied us email communication.  This tar sands war will not be won by obstructing the earnest efforts of peers, for reasons as trivial as public perception.

Consider our last regional confrontation with industrial invasions: ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil’s tar sands megaload rampages.  Over almost three years, five court cases, a dozen arrests, and about 50 protests in Moscow, Spokane, Missoula, Lewiston, Coeur d’Alene, and Potlatch, people fought hard against a detrimental project as it loomed and commenced, but as it progressed over time, the fickle press and public and its overworked, underpaid conservation leaders abandoned the battles or even marginalized the valiant activists who continued to cry foul.  We cannot together expect court cases to substitute for the civic responsibilities of thousands of citizens, as “civilization” relentlessly sullies every vestige of wildness and its crucial fresh air around the planet.  The Northwest/Northern Rockies has a second chance to banish climate-wrecking corporations from our public resources, after failing to stop 350 pieces of new Alberta tar sands infrastructure on our highways.  We are heartened by our communities’ anti-coal sentiments and will fight morose coal export schemes, as well as ongoing megaload incursions, with our very souls and bodies, but cannot decide if American lassitude or corporate greed is the real villain in these scenarios.  It’s all enough to make one want to lie down in the path of any of these machines, in deep despair of both the toxic legacy of persistent, pervasive industrialization and the slippery slope to the lowest common denominator of American character.  Because we try to function as a mutually supportive grassroots group, please offer your suggestions for how you personally and collectively intend to halt climate-wrecking dirty energy enterprises in our region.

Idaho Rivers United & Nez Perce Tribe Court Filings

Just before the Omega Morgan megaloads started up Highway 12 on Monday, December 3, Advocates for the West filed final briefs with the U.S. District Court in Boise on behalf of Idaho Rivers United (IRU), in its Highway 12 anti-megaload case against the Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration.  On the same day, attorney Mike Lopez filed a motion for amicus (friend of the court) status and an amicus brief for the Nez Perce Tribe.  (Review the litigation timeline and case filings on the Idaho Rivers United website.)  In this precedent setting case, IRU and Advocates are asserting the responsibility and authority of both federal agencies to uphold various protective Highway 12 and surrounding wild and scenic corridor designations that should prohibit megaload transports through the Middle Fork Clearwater/Lochsa river corridor.  Litigants anticipate review of these final briefs and oral arguments before Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on February 6 in Boise, in a hearing that WIRT and our comrades plan to attend.  In explanation and celebration of these latest case developments, IRU conservation director Kevin Lewis sent the following message:

“Our federal court case seeking to protect the Clearwater and Lochsa river corridor from destructive megaloads received a boost earlier this week when the Nez Perce Tribe filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of IRU’s claims.  The tribe’s filing also coincided with filing of our own final briefs, which will lead to oral arguments in U.S. District Court in Boise on February 6.

This lawsuit is about protecting the wild and scenic values of the Clearwater/Lochsa corridor by preventing the state of Idaho from converting it into a high-and-wide corridor for some of the biggest loads to ever be trucked on a highway – and certainly through a federally protected wild and scenic river corridor.  While we succeeded at stopping the 207 loads proposed by ExxonMobil, that does not mean the threat is gone.  In fact it persists; the state of Idaho permitted several megaloads on U.S. Highway 12 in September and October of this year.

The Nez Perce Tribe’s brief is welcomed support from a sovereign nation with clear vested interest in maintaining the aesthetic qualities of the river corridor, protecting cultural resources, and maintaining safety on U.S. Highway 12.

With the tribe’s added support, our case seeks to establish that the U.S. Forest Service has the authority to manage for wild and scenic values in the Clearwater and Lochsa corridor.  While the Forest Service indicated its opposition to the conversion of the corridor into a high-and-wide shipping route, officials declined to get involved because they believe the agency has no authority.  Our case, in short, seeks to confirm the agency’s authority.

If we’re successful, however, our work will continue.  Once we clarify that the agency has authority, we’ll have to nudge the Forest Service toward actually implementing its powers and working to protect one of the nation’s first and finest wild and scenic river corridors.”

Megaload Monitor Jury Trial

The Kootenai County Court (324 West Garden Avenue in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) scheduled a full jury trial of Highway 95 tar sands megaload monitor Helen Yost for 8:30 am on Thursday, December 13.  If the jury does not appreciate the precedents for civil liberties violations that they would establish by siding with Idaho State Police Corporal Ron Sutton, who searched, seized, and jailed this parked vehicle passenger without just cause, Magistrate Judge Robert Caldwell may (immediately, like Sutton) impose jail time, fines, and probation.  As corporate interests and government facilitators insidiously erode American rights to our public resources and private security, this instance of a megaload imposed police state on our highways illustrates a disturbing ongoing trend that targets citizens and activists alike (Please peruse the December 4 AlterNet article They Can Do That?! 10 Outrageous Tactics Cops Get Away With).  WIRT will distribute a press release describing this extended case soon.  A full-length interview of co-arrestees Cici Claar and Helen Yost aired between 24:51 and 1:16 on the September 2, 2011, KRFP Radio Free Moscow Evening Report, Mayor Chaney on Megaloads, Police.

ITD (Again) Proposes Highway 95 Eastern Alignment

On November 26, the Idaho Transportation Department and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) approved and signed a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) favoring an eastern realignment of U.S. Highway 95 between Thorn Creek Road and Moscow.  They will likely publish the DEIS in late December or early January and have scheduled a public hearing between 2 and 8:30 pm on January 23 at the Best Western University Inn and a full public comment period ending on February 23.  The preferred DEIS alternative shifts about ten miles of the highway 2,000 feet east, starting near the Primeland Cooperative grain elevators south of Moscow to the top of Reisenauer Hill.  Similar to 2002 environmental assessment proposals legally contested by concerned citizens, the recently announced DEIS plans, advanced by the Idaho Transportation Department, could impose many adverse impacts on some of the last remaining native habitat and wildlife of the Palouse Prairie and on highway traveler safety and area aesthetics.  Explore the WIRT website under Highway 95 Re-Route, for recent and archived, local news stories and interviews on this issue around which we plan to co-organize community resistance.

Rising Tide North America Newsletter

Check out and share the December monthly newsletter of our network, Rising Tide North America, offering dispatches from the front lines of climate activism!  In this issue entitled December Update: Climate Action Rocks 2012, Get Ready for 2013!: Climate Justice Activists Launch Hunger Strike with Blockade at Houston Refinery, Raising Resistance: Action across North America in Solidarity with Unist’ot’en, Rising Tide Vermont Disrupts Shell Oil Exec, Days of Action Against the Keystone XL Pipeline, Keep Rising Tide North America Going in 2013.  On the Newswire: Wild Idaho Rising Tide Takes Action on Next Round of Tar Sands Megaloads…and more, including upcoming actions and events.

Year-End WIRT Fundraising Online and at Public Events

Wild Idaho Rising Tide volunteers engaged our community, friends, and comrades with educational materials and opportunities for activism at three public events last week.  Requesting support for our direct action and outreach work, operational costs, travel and demonstration supplies, and legal and court fees, we raised awareness and funds on Wednesday evening, December 5, outside the Prichard Art Gallery in Moscow, during the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse and the Light up the Night Holiday Parade.  On the next night, Thursday, December 6, we withstood wet snow and cool winds to similarly distribute WIRT brochures and donation envelopes outside the fifth annual WinterFest held by Buy Local Moscow.  During Winter Market on Saturday, December 8, we hosted an information table on the 1912 Center balcony (412 East Third Street in Moscow), where we will also participate in ongoing markets between 10 am and 2 pm on January 12, February 9, and March 2.

Please visit our website, Winter Market booth, and the WIRT Activist House during this season of community warmth, compassion, and generosity, to contribute physically and/or fiscally to our shared endeavors.  We offer information and involvement in our many climate activism campaigns that are already, in our first few years as a collective, fostering formidable citizen resistance to tar sands ventures, Northwest coal export schemes, and the first fracking in Idaho – the core causes of climate chaos.  For megaload protesters, we are reserving the last few of WIRT’s commemorative, collectors’ item T-shirts from among the 40 off-white, large-size originals selling for $20 apiece.  Support our group efforts with a donation of $5 to $50 to $500 by mailed check or through the donation button on our website.  We will also soon send an email letter appeal for your year-end contribution and launch an Indiegogo anti-fracking campaign.  Thanks for your solidarity and support!

More (belated) tar sands, coal, and fracking news and activism prompts soon…

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org & on facebook


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