The Monday, January 27, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) features Montana climate activist Carol Marsh, one of three grandmothers who twice sat down and blockaded an Omega Morgan tars sands megaload in Missoula’s Reserve Street on the nights of January 22 and 24. 71-year-old Carol talks about past and recent Missoula tar sands megaload and pipeline protests, her and our comrades’ associated arrests and citations, Alberta tar sands mining operations, impacts, and regional overlegal shipments, and global climate change. Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST live at 90.3 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.
12 Transports, 39 Direct Confrontations, 52 Arrests, 2 Citations
Megaload One: Full Evaporator
1) Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) & Allied Protest & Monitoring: October 22, 2012 (Lewiston/Highway 12, Idaho)
2) WIRT & Allied Monitoring: October 23, 2012 (Highway 12, Idaho)
Mini-Megaloads Two & Three: Cylinders
WIRT Missed: December 3 & 4, 2012 (Highway 12, Idaho)
Megaload Four: Full Evaporator
3-6) Nez Perce Tribe & Allied Protests: August 5 to 8, 2013 (Highway 12, Idaho) 28 Arrests
7) Northern Rockies Rising Tide & Allied Protest: August 12, 2013 (Reserve Street, Missoula, Montana)
Mini-Megaloads Five to Eight: Dismantled Evaporator Outer Parts
8) WIRT & Allied Protest: October 15, 2013 (Washington Street, Moscow/Highway 95, Idaho)
Megaload Nine: Dismantled Evaporator Core
9) WIRT & Allied Protest & Monitoring: November 10, 2013 (Washington Street, Moscow/Highway 95, Idaho)
10) WIRT & Allied Protest & Monitoring: November 11, 2013 (Sherman Avenue, Coeur d’Alene/Interstate 90, Idaho)
11) WIRT & Allied Protest & Monitoring: November 12, 2013 (Front & Bank Streets, Wallace/Interstate 90, Idaho) Continue reading
At 12:30 am on Friday morning, January 24, a convoy of pilot and flagger vehicles, state, county, and city police escorts, and a 804,000-pound transport of tar sands mining equipment hauled by Portland, Oregon area-based Omega Morgan hesitantly rolled down Reserve Street in Missoula, Montana, and ground to a halt. For a third night, about sixty mostly indigenous people from Missoula, Butte, Helena, and all over Montana and Canada sprang from the sidewalk near Central Avenue and filled the five-lane width of Reserve Street with singing, drumming, and round dancing. Police respectfully backed off and stood by, letting the ceremony symbolizing solidarity and friendship continue for 10 to 15 minutes, while dozens of the vehicles and workers facilitating ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos idled all around the beautiful circle. Together with the spirits of the Earth, ancestors, and elders, the strong prayers and actions of the Salish, Cree, Anishinabe, Blackfeet, and Cheyenne people who participated in person or from afar impressed everyone who heard the songs and watched the round dance. A handful of drummers and singers – Amanda, Charles, Lionel, Q.J., and others – led two rounds of dancing around them, before the joyous blockaders slowly vacated the street.
As police encouraged the protesters to move toward the sidewalk, Charles stepped forward toward the convoy vehicles and police to speak for a few moments. Three heroic grandmothers and friends, Claudia Brown, Gail Gilman, and Carol Marsh, stayed behind and sat in the road. Police cited and released Gail and Carol, and arrested, booked, and released Claudia on bail, all on charges of disorderly conduct. They had also arrested Carol on Tuesday night, when she bravely sat down in front of a megaload, blocking its path. As the tar sands megaload convoy resumed progress toward the most destructive and expensive, fossil fuel extraction project on Earth, a young Native woman smudged its passage, and drumming, singing, and praying blessed the cool night air with hope that the injustices, devastation, and resulting climate change of tar sands exploitation will soon stop. After Reserve Street cleared, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) videotaped Missoula city police issuing citations to two of the grandmothers, and interviewed Carol and Gail, to discern and share their motivations for responsibly blockading tar sands supply shipments. Their courageous acts mark almost four years of similar on-the-ground resistance staged by tribal, climate, and conservation activists in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington since April 2010. Continue reading
State highway signs tell travelers that Idaho is too great to litter.
But apparently not all users – or managers – of Idaho roadways have gotten the message.
In a roadside pullout north of Salmon that drains to the North Fork of the Salmon River, a giant rig loaded with oil field equipment bound for the tar sands of Canada sat for two weeks. After it was gone, several locals and environmentalists raised concerns about what was left behind.
The megaload got moving again with some help from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), which applied 1,000 gallons of de-icer on ice at the pullout, to help get the load moving again.
News of the state’s use of de-icer along a stream with designated critical habitat for threatened fish, such as Chinook salmon, surfaced earlier this week after the megaload, hauled by Oregon shipper Omega Morgan, crossed Lost Trail Pass and entered Montana.
The 901,000-pound load of General Electric equipment had been parked in a pullout on U.S. Highway 93 North near Gibbonsville, waiting for proper permits and cooperative weather on the last leg of a weeks-long journey through Idaho that saw it cut through such cities as Arco, Leadore, and Salmon. Continue reading
A smaller and faster mystery megaload, transported by Action Specialized of Lynden, Washington, on the same route as the Omega Morgan-hauled loads, moved on Wednesday night, January 22-23, from Lolo through Missoula to the Bonner Town Pump Truck Plaza by early Thursday morning.* Because it is also headed to Alberta to expand tar sands mining, eight brave protesters, including three drummers and two children, staged an action to temporarily halt the destruction of boreal forests and bogs and indigenous life ways and health that this ‘mini-megaload’ will impose. With only one Missoula police car in sight and both lanes of Reserve Street open to regular traffic, the tribal and climate activists stopped vehicles with the street light for the Reserve Street crosswalk between Central and Kent Streets, near C.S. Porter Middle School. At about 12:30 am, the megaload convoy was traveling slightly slower than the normal speed of about 40 miles per hour, as the front pilot vehicles paused and the following oversize transport without highway patrol escorts slowed down almost to a stop. Instead of dangerously spreading across the five-lane street to block all traffic, the eight protesters prepared to round dance on one side of the road. Suddenly, the evaporator, about a third of the size of the Omega Morgan cargoes, drove around the blockade into the oncoming traffic lanes! Police cars with flashing lights passed after the overlegal load and support vehicles, skirting the swiftly unfolding scene where no one was injured or arrested.
* Missoula Woman Arrested for Blocking Megaload; Equipment Reaches Bonner (January 22 Missoulian)
Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Missoula 1-22-14 (January 22 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)
Montana, Idaho, and Washington tribal and climate activists are meeting again for two more Missoula tar sands megaload protests at the Rosauers at Reserve and South Streets, at 12 midnight on Wednesday/Thursday, January 22-23, and Thursday/Friday, January 23-24!
Montana Indian Peoples Action, along with Blue Skies Campaign, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, protested, prayed, and round-danced against a “megaload,” a colossal piece of tar sands processing equipment that Omega Morgan hauled on Reserve Street through Missoula, Montana, on Wednesday morning, January 22 [1-4]. Bringing together residents of Missoula and other communities in Montana, Idaho, and Washington affected by tar sands transportation projects, the approximately 50 protesters stood in solidarity with the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes in Idaho, the Confederated Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes in Oregon, and especially the First Nations people in Canada, who oppose tar sands mining and its pollution and devastation of their ancestral homelands in present-day Alberta.
Exploitation of bitumen oil deposits drives the largest, most environmentally destructive, industrial operation on Earth. The groups involved in Wednesday’s protest of Omega Morgan-hauled evaporators and heat exchangers, used in-situ/steam assisted gravity drainage extraction of tar sands, expressed their deep concerns about the impacts of tar sands development on global climate, air and water quality, and human, wildlife, and ecosystem health. Like ordinary citizens throughout North America who prefer clean, sustainable energy, not dirty fossil fuel production, they can no longer ignore the irreversible harms imposed by the oil, gas, coal, and tar sands industries. Continue reading
No Idaho Megaload Bond
On January 3, 2014, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) issued a permit for a second Omega Morgan-hauled oversize tar sands equipment load to travel across southern and eastern Idaho, from the Homedale area to Lost Trail Pass . Dissimilar to Oregon and Montana megaload policies but like the prior first of three such shipments, bound for mining operations in northeastern Alberta, Canada, the state did not require a bond from Omega Morgan, to offset possible accidents and damages to Idaho taxpayer-financed, public highways, bridges, and associated structures . Neither did Idaho mandate reimbursement by the shipper of additional costs borne by the state agency, including extra administrative expenses that have previously spurred the legislature to raise permitting fees. These massive transports, composed of three pull and push trucks, several trailers, and a huge evaporator core/heat exchanger, weigh between 800,000 and 900,000 pounds, stretch out to 376 feet long, crowd both sides of 24-foot-wide, two-lane highways, and tower up to 19 feet, too high to fit under 16-foot-tall interstate overpasses. Traveling through foggy farmlands, icy river canyons, and over snowy mountain passes, what could possibly go wrong ?
Ongoing Megaload-Inflicted Damages
In northern Idaho, megaloads have imperiled the safety and schedules of travelers, delayed and blocked traffic with their 16- to 24-foot widths and lengthy convoys, impeded public and private emergency services, caused personal injury and property damage through numerous collisions with vehicles, power lines, cliffs, and tree branches, degraded highways with washboard ruts in lane centers, and pummeled saturated road beds, crumbling shoulders, and outdated bridges . Citizens concerned about the lax state oversight and myriad impacts of these overlegal loads, who have monitored, documented, and protested dangerous convoy practices and conditions, have additionally faced unwarranted targeting, surveillance, intimidation, harassment, and arrest by state troopers and county and city police sworn to serve public safety, but who instead protect corporate interests that challenge Idahoans’ civil liberties and risk the health and wellbeing of people, places, and the planet .
Omega Morgan on Six Scenic Byways
If Idaho, according to Karen Ballard of the Idaho Department of Commerce, is the “scenic byway state,” why is ITD allowing hauling companies like Omega Morgan, Mammoet, and other extreme energy facilitators to impact our most cherished routes with repeated, heavy loads on older, decrepit infrastructure, particularly during harsh, brittle winter months ? During their forays across southern Idaho, Omega Morgan transports trampled two miles of the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway on Idaho Highway 78, six miles of the Oregon Trail Backcountry Byway and 62 miles of the Peaks to Craters Byway on U.S. Highway 20, which also traverses or abuts 21 miles of Craters of the Moon National Monument . In eastern Idaho, almost the entire megaload route consists of not only scenic but historically significant routes: 105 miles of the Sacajawea Historic Byway and two miles of the Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway on Idaho Highway 28, and 46 miles of the Salmon River Scenic Byway on U.S. Highway 93. Of the 476 miles that tar sands convoys rumble over in southern and eastern Idaho, almost half – 223 miles – cover these federally designated highways. Idaho could not find a swifter way to dissuade visitors and new residents or to reduce tourism and recreation revenues to the state coffers than to transform beautiful byways into industrial corridors for dirty energy extraction and transportation. Continue reading
City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Meeting 1-15-13 (January 16 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)
On Wednesday, January 15, from 3 to 5 pm, during most people’s working hours, the City of Moscow, Idaho, held an “open” public meeting about three Mammoet-hauled oversize loads proposed for Highway 95 and Interstate 90 passage. Moscow, Latah County, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), local and state law enforcement, Mammoet, and other officials participated in the information-sharing session in the downtown Moscow City Hall Council Chambers. New Mayor Bill Lambert facilitated the discussion that primarily posed questions to ITD, Mammoet, and police representatives and viewed a brief Mammoet slide show about the venture.
Although the city sought written community input prior to the “hearing,” it disallowed opportunities for direct engagement through verbal public testimony and queries. Two Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists re-asserted some direct democracy among the corporate lackeys, decrying this instance of lack of public involvement by occupying the front row near the chambers door, with mouths covered with tape reading “No Tar Sands” and with protest signs declaring “Stop Tar Sands,” “Idaho Says No! to Dirty Energy,” and “Wild Idaho Rising Tide Stands in Solidarity with ACFN” (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation). Continue reading
Local officials hear about plan to move 1.6 million pound loads through Moscow
The Moscow City Council chambers on Wednesday afternoon were nearly filled with people interested in a plan to route three “megaloads” of oil field equipment through the community.
Local government officials learned how the transportation company, Mammoet USA South Inc., intends to move the loads that are 441 feet long, 27 feet wide, 16 feet tall, and weigh about 1.6 million pounds each through Moscow, en route to a refinery in Great Falls, Montana.
Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert opened the workshop by thanking the government and transportation company participants. He said the purpose of the meeting was for local officials to address any concerns they might have about the potential impacts accompanying movement of such large cargoes.
Residents providing public testimony is “not why we’re here today,” but they can make their opinions known through the city, Lambert stressed after he thanked them for coming as well. Continue reading
The first megaload has still not left the state.
A giant load of oil field equipment bound for the tar sands of Canada was to remain in a pullout north of Salmon on Tuesday night. But a second megaload was expected to travel through Arco and enter Lemhi County early this (Wednesday) morning, state highway officials said.
The first of three outsized loads by Oregon shipper Omega Morgan crawled through downtown Salmon on January 5 and traveled another 35 miles north on Highway 93, before parking about ten miles below Lost Trail Pass and the Montana border.
The 901,000-pound shipment, which needs two lanes for travel and is 76 feet longer than a football field, gained permission on Friday to travel through Montana. But forecasts of icy roads and blowing snow so far have prevented the rig from completing the final leg of its 470-mile journey through Idaho – following a route that cut through Arco, Leadore, and Salmon.
Weather permitting, state transportation officials said on Tuesday, the megaload may get underway as early as this evening – travel through Idaho is allowed from 10 pm to 6 am. Continue reading