Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Tells KRFP ITD & Omega Morgan are Writing Plan that May Allow Giant Tar Sands Megaloads on Highway 12


Between 16:36 and 4:59 of the July 17, 2013, Evening Report, Brazell on Megaloads, KRFP Radio Free Moscow interviews Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell about Omega Morgan-hauled evaporators that are seeking Idaho Transportation Department permits and Forest Service approval to move through the Highway 12 wild and scenic river corridor to Alberta tar sands operations.  Brazell describes a proposed study of the intrinsic values of the corridor and the protocol for considering megaload approval based on interim Forest Service criteria and Nez Perce Tribe consultation.

Upcoming Events, Early July News


Fellow activists, friends, and supporters,

UPCOMING WIRT/ALLIED EVENTS

Fearless Summer is boldly unfolding as one of the most active seasons of direct actions against dirty energy in American history.  Join us in supporting, organizing, and staging some of the following initiatives instigated by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and our courageous comrades across the continent.  WIRT is coordinating regional carpools departing Moscow, Spokane, Boise, and Missoula for all of these events.  Because we will be traveling to these great convergences throughout July and August, please RSVP preferably by phone (208-301-8039) or email (wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com).  Peruse our constantly updated Events Calendar page of the WIRT website and contribute what you can toward our ever-expanding and escalating resistance campaigns.

July 18: WIRT Monthly, Third Thursday Potluck Meeting (Thursday 7 pm, WIRT Activist House, Moscow, Idaho)

July 18-20: Rising Tide Continental Gathering (Thursday to Saturday, Green River, Utah)

July 24-29: (Utah Tar Sands) Canyon Country Action Camp (Wednesday to Monday, Green River, Utah) (facebook page)

July 26: Gutting the Heartland – Traveling Art Gallery (Friday 5:30 to 7:30 pm, Community/Saranac Building, 25-35 West Main Avenue, Spokane)

July 27: Summer Heat: Columbia River Climate Action (Saturday 10 am to 4 pm, Portland, Oregon, part of continent-wide 350.org Summer Heat) (facebook page)

July 31-August 5: Localize This! Artful Activism Organizer Training (Wednesday to Monday, Vashon Island, Washington)

August: Compassionate Earth Walk (Eastern Montana Keystone XL pipeline route)

August 23-25: Montana Moccasins on the Ground (Friday to Sunday, near Butte, Montana)

With mountain camping on beautiful private lands near the continental divide and Butte, the Montana Moccasins on the Ground nonviolent direct action camp, planned and prepared by Indian People’s Action and Montana environmental justice allies, will be led by Debra White Plume and Owe Aku.

September 15-16: September Showdown, Coal Export Action (Sunday and Monday, Helena, Montana) (sign-up)

September 17-October 17: Millennium Bulk (Coal Export) Terminals Longview Public Scoping Hearings (9/25 Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, 10/1 The Trac Center in Pasco)

October 19: Global Frackdown (Saturday, across Idaho, continent-wide) Continue reading

WIRT Comments on Draft Oregon DEQ Permits


June 12, 2013

DEQ: Comment Coal Export

475 NE Bellevue Drive, Suite 110

Bend, Oregon 97701

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality staff:

On behalf of the 1600-plus members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), we respectfully submit and request inclusion in the public record of these comments on three draft permits recently issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for Ambre Energy’s controversial Morrow Pacific Project, to regulate air, water, and storm water quality at the proposed Coyote Island coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow near Boardman.  For the record, we also ask that you integrate with this statement the comments of our allies, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Sierra Club, Spokane Riverkeeper, and other regional organizations opposing coal export.

WIRT activists are outraged by Ambre Energy’s proposed industrial rampages beyond the geographically limited scope of rushed Oregon hearings and comment periods on these draft air and water pollution permits.  We thus demand that the Oregon DEQ further extend environmental review of this dirty energy scheme.  As DEQ has never before permitted a coal export terminal, it should support and await a more stringent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mine-to-port programmatic environmental impact statement analysis than the Corps’ current environmental assessment.

Additional 1.5-mile-long, uncovered coal trains, each with 125 cars carrying almost nine million metric tons of strip-mined Montana/Wyoming coal per year across lands and along water bodies in Montana, Idaho, and Washington to the port, would spew toxic coal dust, diesel fumes, derailed loads, and incessant noise, disrupt local transportation, businesses, emergency responses, and economies, and degrade public health, quality of life, property values, and regional identity.  The Morrow Pacific Project open coal transfer dock and storage buildings, covered coal barges through the critical, high quality Columbia River habitat of endangered salmonid species, and exposed Port Westward docks for ocean‐going coal ships – all constructed and/or utilized to transport coal to Asian markets for combustion – would increase river traffic, compromise air and water quality, jeopardize aquatic ecosystems, fisheries, wildlife, and recreation, and significantly exacerbate global climate change.  Substantial taxpayer investments across four states would support the required infrastructure and mitigate the predictable damages of this corporate onslaught.

But the Oregon DEQ draft permits do not adequately address or circumscribe these numerous impacts of the Northwest’s first coal export terminal, sought by an inexperienced, untrustworthy, financially unstable Australian company that has never operated such facilities with unproven technologies [1].  Is DEQ aware that Ambre officials have misled Washington state and Cowlitz County personnel about the size of the proposed Millennium Bulk Logistics coal port near Longview, Washington, while obtaining permits for a much smaller export terminal than its plans for moving 60 million tons of coal per year out of the region?  How will DEQ protect the air, water, lands, wildlife, and communities of four Northwestern states from this disreputable corporation, if Oregon administrators insist on fast-tracking draft state permits before federal decisions on this project, while ignoring its full impacts and waiving their authority over them?  DEQ and the State of Oregon should consider the following contingencies and revisions, prudently require a full, rigorous analysis of coal port impacts (like the Oregon Department of State Lands did), and coordinate their presently piecemeal coal facility permits, before issuing any permits to Ambre Energy. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Chris Nerison 7-15-13


The Monday, July 15, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) welcomes small business owner and lifelong activist Chris Nerison of Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution (SMAC).  Chris has been advancing the Clean and Fair Elections ordinance that is currently facing an injunction lawsuit by a group of business interests.  This qualified and approved city ballot initiative would prohibit corporate lobbying, involvement in initiatives, donations to city candidates, and communications between corporations and the city beyond open forums.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT live at 92.5 FM and online, the show covers 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.

Kamiah: Bring on the Megaloads


Residents at chamber session express few concerns about plans for oversized loads on U.S. Highway 12.

The next time megaload shipments pass through the area on their way to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, they’re likely to get a warm reception in Kamiah.

About 30 people turned out at a Kamiah Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday night to hear Matt C. Pierce of Omega Morgan, a Portland, Oregon-based industrial shipping company, talk about plans to move ten pressure vessels along U.S. Highway 12 through Idaho and eventually to Canada over the next seven months.  The shipments would first be barged to Lewiston.

Although the proposal is still under discussion with the Idaho Transportation Department and the U.S. Forest Service, Pierce speculated the first shipment could begin as early as the end of this month. Continue reading

ITD, National Forests Chief Discuss Future of Megaloads


Parties agree to work on memorandum of understanding covering oversize loads on U.S. 12.

Officials from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) met with Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell in Grangeville on Monday to discuss megaloads and the future of the massive cargo shipments along U.S. Highway 12 as it passes through the forest.

Last month, Brazell sent a letter to ITD Chief Deputy Scott Stokes, outlining what he called interim criteria to deal with the shipment of massively oversized loads through the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River and Lochsa River Wild and Scenic River Corridor.

According to the criteria, Brazell and the Forest Service won’t support any loads that require traffic to be stopped to facilitate passage, those that can’t make it through the corridor in 12 hours or less, and those that would require the physical modification of the roadway or adjacent vegetation.

Stokes and ITD Chief of Operations Jim Carpenter flew into Grangeville for a 75-minute meeting and, according to Brazell, agreed the two agencies should work on a memorandum of understanding that covers a number of highway operations, including megaloads. Continue reading

Gas Exploration Benefits Southwest Idaho Farmers


Snake River Oil and Gas officials explain details of gas exploration in southwest Idaho last fall, during a legislative tour.  Many farmers and ranchers stand to benefit from the drilling and exploration taking place in the region (Capital Press/industry photo).

Snake River Oil and Gas officials explain details of gas exploration in southwest Idaho last fall, during a legislative tour. Many farmers and ranchers stand to benefit from the drilling and exploration taking place in the region (Capital Press/industry photo).

Now that seismic testing has proven what folks in this area have known for decades – there is a substantial amount of natural gas below them – farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in this region are beginning to reap the benefits.

“You talk to any farmer or rancher whose family has been over there for a couple of generations, and everybody has stories of methane in their well water or bubbling up from a creek,” John Foster, a spokesman for the Idaho Petroleum Council, said.

While it’s been clear for many years that there is natural gas in that area of southwest Idaho, the infrastructure never existed to retrieve and transport it to market economically.  But a major seismic exploration project by Snake River Oil and Gas last year is changing that.

The company says there are substantial natural gas deposits in an area known as a “play” that stretches from part of Canyon County through New Plymouth, Fruitland, and Payette in Payette County, and up into Weiser in Washington County.

It’s is beginning to drill wells, and the gas will be transferred via a major, multi-state, gas pipeline that passes near New Plymouth.

Read more: Gas Exploration Benefits Southwest Idaho Farmers

(By Sean Ellis, Capital Press)

Protester Arraignments, Coal Port Hearing and Demonstration


Spokane Coal Export Activists’ Arraignments

Over the next week, Tony Dellwo and Ziggy face arraignment hearings on second degree criminal trespass charges for walking toward the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad bridge over North Division Street near Sprague Avenue, during the Fearless Summer: Coal Export Sacrifice Zone Uprising in Spokane, Washington, on Thursday, June 27.  During rush-hour traffic on North Division Street in Spokane on that evening, over 20 people waved protest signs to denounce Northwest coal export and increased fossil fuel rail traffic through northern Idaho and Spokane.  Seeking higher activist visibility on the bridge temporarily blocked by a loaded coal train, Tony and Ziggy noted that they did not see “No Trespassing” signs posted near the BNSF tracks and that they received no warnings to leave the area before BNSF patrols cited them.  Even when both defendants offered to leave the railroad tracks, BNSF personnel ordered them back onto the coal export route.  Moreover, BNSF officers touched one of the activists’ pants two or three times, while inquiring about identification documents, an illegal action forbidden more strictly under Washington codes than by federal laws.  In response to these improprieties, Tony and Ziggy are considering possible counter-lawsuits against BNSF.  Meanwhile, Tony will appear for arraignment and further case arrangements in Spokane district court, 1800 West Broadway, at 9 am on Friday, July 5; Ziggy appears at the same time and place on Thursday, July 11.  Please support these fellow coal export opponents by attending their hearings, to display regional resistance and solidarity.

Boardman Coal Port Hearing, Rally, & Comment Period

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently issued three draft permits for Ambre Energy’s controversial Morrow Pacific project, to regulate air, water, and storm water quality at the proposed Coyote Island coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow in Boardman.  DEQ is holding a comment period until 5 pm on July 12 and will host public hearings on Tuesday, July 9, at Blue Mountain Community College in Hermiston and at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.  With several regional organizations, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists are coordinating a demonstration outside the Hermiston hearing starting at 5:30 pm, upon our return from the Tar Sands Healing Walk (July 5-6 in Fort McMurray, Alberta).  We are grateful to work with Oregon groups to plan this rally, integrate it with other hearing activities, and recruit passionate rail route residents, speakers, and protesters from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, Spokane, northern Idaho, and Montana. Continue reading

July 2 Pre-Tar Sands Solidarity Journey Potluck


Dear Friends,

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is hosting a potluck at the WIRT Activist House (call for address) tonight, Tuesday, July 2, at 7 pm, for everyone to meet Doug Grandt and John Pappan, who came from Nebraska to join our journey to the Tar Sands Healing Walk.  Fellow traveler James Blakely will arrive from Boise later this evening.  John of the Omaha Tribe will offer a pipe ceremony as we gather for our departure at 7 am on Wednesday morning, July 3.  We will travel and document the industry-preferred megaload route on one leg of the trip, as part of our shared regional activism against Alberta tar sands exploitation.

Second Tar Sands Solidarity Journey

The Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide are coordinating a carpool/caravan to Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, Canada, to join with hundreds of indigenous and grassroots allies and activists from across the continent and the world in the Fourth Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk on Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6.  The eight Idaho and Nebraska participants in the Second Tar Sands Solidarity Journey will depart Moscow, Idaho, just before the Fourth of July weekend, on Wednesday morning, July 3, and return on Tuesday afternoon, July 9.  They offer opportunities to share expenses and supplies during a summer camping trip to and from the largest industrial project on Earth, retracing routes of tar sands megaloads. Continue reading