Extra-Long Rig Will Move on U.S. Highway 12

Motorists may experience traffic delays as long as 15 minutes, as an extra-long rig makes its way across Idaho on U.S. Highway 12 tonight and Friday morning.

The 163-foot-long truck will carry a generator skid from the Port of Lewiston to the Montana border between 10 pm today (Thursday, December 20) and 5:30 am on Friday if weather permits, according to a news release from the Idaho Transportation Department.

The National Weather Service is predicting a wide range of weather on the route.  Temperatures in Lewiston are expected to be 35 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain.  Snow is likely at Powell near the Montana border, with temperatures in the low 20s.

The shipment is 15 feet wide, 16 1/2 feet tall, and 242,800 pounds and will need two lanes of traffic to negotiate corners, according to the transportation department.  It is also set to cause a delay for vehicles on U.S. Highway 95 near the Spalding bridge.

Many details about the cargo were not disclosed by the transportation department on Wednesday.  A news release announcing the shipment was issued after the agency’s close of business.

(By The Lewiston Tribune)

WIRT Newsletter: Solstice Party, Coal Export Comments, Hearings, & Other News

Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day OutlawsHappy Winter Solstice, Brave Comrades!


Wednesday, December 19: Palouse Transition (to a post-fossil fuel world!) meeting, including possible working groups addressing food, transportation, and energy, at 5:30 pm in the lower room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse

Thursday, December 20: Public comment period deadline, which should be extended upon your request, for Australian coal company Ambre Energy’s applications for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality air and storm water pollution permits to operate the proposed Coyote Island coal terminal at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon

Friday, December 21: Winter Solstice Party Core Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) radical Cass Davis personally invites you and all of his local fellow activists and friends to his shared home on the south side of Paradise Ridge, for a kid-friendly winter solstice party on Friday, December 21.  He and his partner Erika are providing fried fish – crappie caught in north Idaho lakes – and french fries grown in their garden on the ridge, cooked between 4:30 and 6:00 pm, after which they hope to light a bonfire.  Although not necessary, they encourage guests to bring their drinks of choice and other potluck food, but no dogs.  They have two of their own dogs and their visiting friends have another two, so the chaos of constantly watching additional dogs could mar the party enjoyment of both hosts and guests.  But if snow still covers the ground on Friday, please come early for skiing and sledding during daylight hours before the fish fry.  Engaging in plenty of political discussion around the table and fire, the party will last until the end of the world or until we all run out of steam.

Thursday, January 3, 2013: Comment period conclusion for Coyote Island port proponent Ambre Energy’s removal-fill permit application to the Oregon Department of State Lands, extended to a third thirty days thanks to the Yakama Tribe’s alleged notification exclusion and 16,000 dissenting petition signatures (website includes other comments)

For more information and comment suggestions on these Morrow Pacific Project proposals, fast-tracked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with only an environmental assessment, not a full environmental impact statement (EIS) like for the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal near Bellingham, see the Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and WIRT websites, listen to Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky of Columbia Riverkeeper on the Monday, December 3, Climate Justice Forum radio program, and read the following articles and attached three documents (DEQ Hearing Talking Points, Memo Re Land Use at Port Westward, and Coalition Public Comment on Removal-Fill Permit Application).  With your submitted remarks, request comment period extensions, public hearings in Idaho and Montana, and a region-wide programmatic EIS examining the cumulative impacts of ALL associated coal mines, trains, and ports, as advised by the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Jesse Cardinal 12-17-12

On the Monday, December 17, Climate Justice Forum radio program, Wild Idaho Rising Tide again gratefully welcomes Jesse Cardinal, the downriver coordinator for Keepers of the Athabasca and co-organizer of the annual Tar Sands Healing Walk near Fort McMurray, in Alberta.  Jesse will talk about First Nations resistance through protests and court cases to tar sands exploitation and through an emerging movement against recently passed Canadian federal legislation that would degrade indigenous rights.  Broadcast on KRFP Radio Free Moscow between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST live at 92.5 FM and online, and later aired on KMEC in Ukiah, California, the show also covers regional and continent-wide dirty energy developments and climate activism news.  Thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as his KRFP DJ!

Palouse Prairie Foundation’s Tim Hatten Speaks about Rare Ecosystem Threatened by U.S. Highway 95 Realignment Plans

KRFP Radio Free Moscow features an interview with Tim Hatten of the Palouse Prairie Foundation, between 15:29 and 6:09 of the Thursday, December 13, 2012, Evening Report, Palouse Prairie & U.S. 95.  Tim describes this rare grassland ecosystem and Highway 95 realignment threats to its integrity.

Highway 95 Section Needs Fix Sooner than Later

Murf Raquet (for the editorial board), Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 12/13/12

Realignment, reroute, fix, or upgrade, whatever term you prefer, it looks as if a treacherous portion of U.S. Highway 95 is finally getting the attention it has needed for a long time.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has issued a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for its selection of a new route for Highway 95 between Thorn Creek Road and south Moscow.  ITD has picked the E2 route to the east of Highway 95 on Paradise Ridge.

More than a decade ago, Idaho officials had planned to build a straighter and safer 6.5-mile stretch of the state’s major north-south road.  They had proposed numerous options to the west and east of the curvy part and one that improved the existing section.

An alternative that rerouted the highway over parts of Paradise Ridge was then also favored by the state.  Residents on the ridge and others objected, saying the road would have a disastrous effect on portions of Palouse prairie that manage to exist in patches on the ridge.

A lawsuit was filed in 2003 saying the state did not properly conduct a DEIS for the route.  (Some folks even tried to save the beleaguered prairie by tying it to the giant Palouse earthworm, but the grassroots movement gained little traction.) Continue reading

Bakken Oil Field Equipment on Idaho Roads?

…In other business, Lewiston Port Commissioners on Wednesday also discussed another possibility for hauling machinery or supplies to the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.

The port has already received an inquiry from a business that wants to barge supplies up the Columbia and Snake rivers and load them onto trucks at Lewiston for the last leg of the journey, Port Manager David Doeringsfeld said.

The port’s staff is drafting an ad to appear in North Dakota newspapers that would promote how the Port of Lewiston is less than 900 miles from the oil fields, Doeringsfeld said.

Haulers who want to send regular and oversized shipments through the port could be among the new customers the port generates through the promotion, Doeringsfeld said.

(Excerpt from Food Processing Facility for Multiple Ventures Proposed by Elaine Williams, The Lewiston Tribune)

Jury Trial of Highway 95 Megaload Monitor

Helen Mug Shot Half Size

At 8:30 am on Thursday, December 13, the Kootenai County Court in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will hold a full jury trial of Highway 95 tar sands megaload monitor Helen Yost, community organizer of the Moscow, Idaho-based climate change activist group, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT).  Idaho State Police (ISP) Corporal Ronald Sutton charged Yost with an infraction for failure to use a vehicle safety restraint and a misdemeanor of resisting and obstructing an officer early on August 27, 2011, when she refused to present ID and identify herself, citing Idaho codes regarding passenger IDs and seat belts in non-moving vehicles.

The incident occurred as Sutton covered his regular patrol route on Highway 95, about ten miles south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, just before midnight on August 26.  When he noticed a Toyota 4Runner parked for a few minutes near milepost 421, he approached its four female occupants who had been traveling for about an hour in the vicinity of an ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands transport and convoy of a dozen pilot trucks, flagger vehicles, and state trooper cars.  On the previous night, six WIRT activists had sat, stood, laid down, and effectively blocked the same 200-foot-long, 413,000-pound, two-lane-wide megaload for a half hour, as it traversed a gauntlet of 150 protesters in downtown Moscow, Idaho.

Corporal Sutton accused driver and WIRT member Sharon Cousins of the infraction of stopping a vehicle in an emergency lane of a controlled access highway, a charge that a Kootenai County prosecutor dismissed on November 18, 2011.  Sutton noticed that WIRT spokesperson Helen Yost and visiting activist Cici Claar were not wearing their seat belts in the back seat and requested their identification.  Both passengers refused to present their IDs or give their legal names, stating that they had not violated any laws.  Two ISP troopers on the scene issued infraction citations to all three women and arrested and jailed Claar and Yost for alleged obstruction. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition Member Critical of ITD Decision in Favor of Eastern U.S. 95 Alignment South of Moscow

KRFP Radio Free Moscow airs an interview with Al Poplawsky of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, between 18:11 and 8:30 of the Monday, December 10, 2012, Evening Report, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, describing the many potential impacts to native Palouse Prairie habitat and wildlife, highway traveler safety, and area resident aesthetics of a Highway 95 eastern re-alignment south of Moscow, as proposed by a citizen-contested 2002 environmental assessment and a 2012 draft environment impact statement advanced by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Spokane Coal Train Hearing: Oral Testimony & Interviews

KRFP recorded all except the first 15 minutes of the Tuesday, December 4, public scoping hearing for the environmental impact statement assessing a proposed new coal export facility at Cherry Point north of Bellingham.  As one of up to six new planned West Coast terminals, it could increase sales of Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming to China and other Asian markets.  At the meeting held in Spokane by the Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Whatcom County, most of the first 30 speakers reflected pro-coal objectives, because the Northwest Alliance for Jobs and Exports paid temporary workers to wait in line from 8 am until the start of the hearing and reserve the numbered cards that indicate the sequence of speakers.  In Spokane Coal Train Hearing – Full – Part 1, KRFP Radio Free Moscow presents the first two-hour block of the three-hour hearing.  It provides the rest of the recording, plus a few interviews done in the hall outside the hearing, in Spokane Coal Train Hearing – Full – Part 2.