Stop the Tar Sands Megaloads in Oregon!


Stop the Tar Sands Megaloads in Oregon!

We are calling on your stalwart perseverance in leading frontline efforts to halt Cascadia-wide tar sands megaload shipments to further stop the creation of a new Northwest industrial corridor and all new fossil fuel infrastructure construction.  To meet these goals, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies are advocating direct action opportunities in challenging but exhilarating circumstances – during consecutive, dark, cold, winter nights along a remote 315-mile route.  Please join 350, No Keystone XL, Oregon All Against the Haul, Portland Rising Tide, and WIRT, and Northwest activists of Deep Green Resistance, Earth First!, Idle No More, and Occupy on Sunday, December 1, to make a stand, a difference, and history.  We plan to confront the first of purportedly three tar sands megaloads traversing Oregon, national forest, and Umatilla and Warm Springs tribal lands this winter.  Currently parked at the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, near McNary Beach Recreation Area, the first Omega Morgan-hauled transport will encounter our rally in Umatilla on Sunday evening and further protesting and monitoring activities during the six or more nights when it crosses Oregon, before its two-week trip across southern Idaho and western Montana.  Everyone is welcome to participate in any of the direct and solidarity actions that people in Portland and throughout the region are coordinating, as we follow and observe the shipment and demonstrate our outrage with the Alberta tar sands mining expansion that it facilitates.

Sunday, December 1 Rally Schedule:

4 pm: Scout the megaload route in daylight from the Port of Umatilla, Roxbury Road, Umatilla

6 pm: Meet for an information session at the Desert River Inn conference room, 705 Willamette Avenue, Umatilla

7:30 pm: Rally at the Port of Umatilla and beyond, Roxbury Road, Umatilla

If you are attending, please respond to WIRT and fill out this RSVP form, to stay well connected to happenings.

As megaload locations and situations unfold, organizers will update information in this event description and at associated website and facebook pages:

All Against the Haul: The-Haul: The-Heavy-Haul

Facebook: All Against the Haul

Coal March: Megaloads

Coal March: Megaload Videos

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Facebook: Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Background Information

(Also see these WIRT reports and action alerts.)

No Tar Sands Megaloads in Oregon! (November 23)

Eastern Oregon Megaload Public Meetings (November 15)

On Sunday night, December 1, at 8 pm, gargantuan megaloads of tar sands processing equipment will begin rolling from the Port of Umatilla down Oregon highways, en route to Idaho, Montana, and Alberta [1, 2, 3].  The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) issued a permit at 5:30 pm on Friday, November 22, for Hillsboro-based hauler Omega Morgan to move its 901,000-pound, 376-foot-long transport of specialized trailers, push and pull semi-trucks, and 96-foot-long cargo down two-lane highways and interstates crowded out by its 23-foot width and 19-foot height [4, 5, 6].  In Oregon, it will travel from the Port of Umatilla down U.S. Highway 395 to Interstate 84 and south and east on U.S. Highways 395, 26, and 20, and Oregon Highway 201.  On its 315-mile trek through eastern Oregon, this metal monster will pummel the winding, scenic, fish and wildlife corridors of the John Day and Snake Rivers and the indigenous treaty territories of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and Warm Springs Reservations.  Its powerful symbolism of Big Oil’s reckless profit motives and tyranny and consequent destruction of the natural world could not be more garish.

Hundreds of passionate citizens, representing dozens of organizations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, are traveling to Umatilla this weekend, to invest their energies and resources in actively opposing this oversize-load invasion of state and federal highways.  Because Oregon is not a colony of the fossil fuel industry, they object to the state lending their roads to the Earth’s worst greenhouse gas polluters – the oil extraction corporations – as a “pipeline” for tar sands equipment to Canada.  Once installed in Athabasca Oil Corporation steam assisted gravity drainage mining facilities in Alberta, these evaporator components will enable the release of millions of tons of carbon dioxide, heavy metals, and carcinogens into the lands, waters, and atmosphere surrounding Fort McMurray and the globe.  They will thus acidify the oceans, amplify super storms, melt glaciers, desiccate rivers, and harm the planet and future generations.  December presents multiple opportunities to confront tar sands mining expansion, as it invades our home region and raises clear moral issues and violations.

Public Input?

Oregon megaloads continue the corporate oppression resisted for almost four years by hearty Idaho and Montana conservationists and activists fighting off 350 similar transports abusing their state infrastructure.  Without advanced warning and a public comment process, ODOT has been expediting megaload permitting, rushed by contractual terms between Omega Morgan and its customer, General Electric subsidiary Resources Conservation Company International.  Two public relations presentations and forums held by evasive and unaccountable Omega Morgan, posing as a “mom and pop,” Oregon-based company (with a Calgary office!), have accommodated neither public feedback nor knowledge, serving only to create the illusion that vested, business-as-usual, corporate and government authorities listen and care [7, 8, 9].  ODOT has not considered the Oregon public’s best interests during an insufficient time frame to ensure safe transportation processes.  Community members along the route have voiced concerns about transport emission impacts on human and agricultural health, risks to traveler, livestock, and wildlife safety, damages to roadbeds, bridges, rivers, and wildlife habitat, and harms to real estate values and farming economies reliant on rural roads.  For instance, the heavy, eastbound load must cross two precarious Interstate 84 bridges on its inaugural night – the Highway 395 span over the interstate and a bridge over a railroad, road, and ravine – which could cause another catastrophe like the Interstate 5 bridge collapse into the Skagit River in May.  State and federal regulatory agencies have not done adequate research to mitigate these possible outcomes.  Ignoring valid concerns only yields greater strength to a citizen lawsuit against bureaucratic mismanagement.

Tribal Consultation?

The company and state have either not or only nominally consulted the Umatilla and Warm Springs Tribes in decisions about this colossal venture through their ceded lands [10, 11, 12].  The Umatilla Tribe unofficially stated that they oppose megaload passage.  When Omega Morgan and ODOT staff met with officials of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) in person and by phone, to discuss the intended project and route, tribal leaders requested that Omega Morgan provide a written narrative of megaload movement logistics, to assist them in responding to any tribal member inquiries.  Omega Morgan also agreed to hire CTUIR contractors, to provide security and traffic control during transport travel.  But ODOT and the hauler have apparently failed to conduct any conversation until Monday, December 2, with the elected or legal representatives of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.  The megaload would invade the tribe’s Forrest Conservation Area surrounding Highway 26 in Prairie City, an ecologically and culturally sensitive land tract critical for salmon recovery and restoration efforts [13].

Industrial Corridor?

Years ago, WIRT pledged to resist tar sands transports everywhere in the four-state region, because no place should ever be sacrificed to accommodate a supply route to extreme energy exploitation.  As the first of three announced huge loads, this Omega Morgan shipment could test and establish a viable “high and wide” corridor for Pacific Rim imports through the Columbia River basin, along a path of least political resistance.  Hundreds of future convoys could frequent the route to destructive, outmoded, fossil fuel extraction in the North American West, like the Bakken shale field and Alberta and Utah tar sands mines.  The ODOT method of issuing singular permits does not address long-term degradation of public infrastructure or acknowledge the need to fully inform potentially affected residents of corporate intentions.  Despite easily exposed weaknesses in this transportation scheme, ODOT has not collected any baseline assessments, such as pavement conditions and bridge stress capacities, before megaload transit, work that should underpin hefty state bonds for accidents and damages.  Such regulatory stop-gap measures should expand to include stronger stipulations for permit qualification.  But when hurried “time is money,” delays can significantly reduce narrow profit margins, contrary to corporate statements.

Oregon Megaload Protest Report

As the Oregon movement against tar sands expands, about 20 dedicated activists from Albany, Bellingham, Corvallis, Eugene, Moscow, Portland, and Spokane converged in Umatilla on Sunday, November 24, to stop the first Oregon megaload [14].  After watching the Omega Morgan crew work all afternoon on the behemoth parked in a Boise Cascade lot at the Port of Umatilla, they met to strategize and prepare resistance at a nearby hotel and returned before the 8 pm launch time.  On that cold night, representatives of Wild Idaho Rising Tide and various groups in Oregon and Washington mobilized against the 901,000-pound, 376-foot-long instrument of ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos, and told Omega Morgan, in no uncertain terms, that “We don’t want your megaload!” [15].  Local media interviewed and took photos and videos of protest organizers and participants, resulting in nationwide coverage through at least 23 articles published by news outlets in Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington [3, 11, 12, 16, 18-25].  But for unknown reasons the hauler admitted days later, the load did not roll as monitors watched it until 2 am, before finally retiring [16].

Increasingly eager to stage planned protesting and monitoring activities, over a dozen Umatilla tribal members and Oregon, Washington, and Idaho activists demonstrated against the transport to Alberta again on Monday night, November 25.  East Oregonian and Hermiston Herald reporters interviewed Umatilla, WIRT, and other activists huddled against the cold and dark, chanting anti-megaload slogans and playing musical instruments [17].  Amidst the festivities, news arrived from media, police, and ODOT that the Omega Morgan-hauled tar sands wastewater evaporator would not depart the Port of Umatilla on the second evening in a row, and would postpone travel until Sunday, December 1 [18-25].  But climate and tribal activists publicly vowed through over a dozen news stories that they will continue to protest and monitor every tar sands megaload in the region.  On the following day, Omega Morgan dismissed such citizen influences on its decision to delay transport departure for a week, citing corporate goodwill for their convoy personnel spending the Thanksgiving holiday with their families [25].  These climate chaos facilitators inadvertently also endowed megaload resisters with gratitude that industrial colonization had spared the Earth and all of its good life from tar sands exploitation again, whether by industry’s failure or activists’ success.

Moving Forward

Big Oil and its lackeys may have the money, but Wild Idaho Rising Tide and our allies have the army!  We challenge our strongest anti-megaload warriors, Northwest tribal, climate, and forest activists, and all people of good conscience to gather with us in Umatilla on Sunday, December 1 and beyond, to bring on the Oregon megaload protests!  We are, and hope that you are also, committed to resoundingly deliver a regionally shared message, in any way that we can: “Tar sands transports are not welcome in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana!”  A coalition group is appealing for funding for a highly recommended environmental attorney, familiar with Oregon law, who is willing to research and review legal options for stopping this and future megaloads from passing over roads and highways in Oregon [26].  Before this potentially pending lawsuit obtains another small megaload victory, we need you to express your disapproval to the Oregon Department of Transportation via phone, email, and your feet in the streets [27].

[1] Oregon Megaload Route (Oregon Department of Transportation)

[2] Map: Proposed Megaload Route Will Wind Across Southern Idaho’s Backroads (November 26 Boise State Public Radio)

[3] Oil Refinery Megaload to Pass through Fairfield, Carey (November 25 Times-News)

[4] Omega Morgan Oregon Travel Plan and Documents (Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[5] ODOT Issues Permit for Megaload (November 23 Blue Mountain Eagle)

[6] Mega-Load Will Roll Tonight, Heading Toward Treasure Valley (November 24 Boise Weekly)

[7] Megaload Presentation is Monday (November 24 Argus Observer)

[8] Communication Sparse on Megaload Issues (November 25 Blue Mountain Eagle)

[9] Little Public Input on Megaloads (November 26 Argus Observer)

[10] Megaload on the Road Again (November 22 East Oregonian)

[11] Megaload Trip to Start Sunday, Oregon Tribal Officials Object (November 26 KTVB)

[12] Oregon Objections: Not Enough Megaload Notice (November 26 Associated Press)

[13] Forrest and Oxbow Conservation Areas (Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon)

[14] No Tar Sands Megaloads in Oregon! 11-24&25-13 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

[15] No Oregon Megaloads (November 24 No Oregon Megaloads video)

[16] Protesters Show Up, Megaload Doesn’t Budge (November 24 East Oregonian)

[17] No Tar Sands Megaloads in Oregon until December! (November 25 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video)

[18] Another Megaload No-Go (November 25 East Oregonian)

[19] Protesters Challenge Megaloads (November 25 Hermiston Herald)

[20] Megaload is Parked until Sunday, December 1 (November 26 Blue Mountain Eagle)

[21] Controversy Follows ‘Megaloads’ through Oregon-Idaho Route (November 25 KUOW)

[22] ‘Megaload’ En Route to Canada Blocks Oregon Roads (November 25 KGW TV)

[23] Mega-Load, Delayed One Day, Starts Rolling Across Eastern Oregon (November 26 Boise Weekly)

[24] Update: Protesters Delay Oregon Megaload Departure until 1 December (November 28 Earth First! Newswire)

[25] Omega Morgan Explains Delay (November 26 East Oregonian)

[26] Megaloads Donations (Oregon All-Against-The-Haul Network)

[27] Call to Action: Be the First Line of Defense Against Megaloads in Oregon! (November 21 Earth First! Newswire)

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One thought on “Stop the Tar Sands Megaloads in Oregon!

  1. Pingback: Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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