HIGHWAY 95 MEGALOAD HEARINGS, RECORDS, & PHOTOS
Wednesday City-Hosted Public/Partner Workshop on Oversize Loads
The City of Moscow, Idaho, is seeking community input prior to an “open” public meeting about the three Mammoet-hauled oversize loads proposed for Highway 95 passage. Moscow, Latah County, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), state and local law enforcement, and Mammoet officials will participate in the information sharing session from 3 to 5 pm on Wednesday, January 15, in the Moscow City Hall Council Chambers, 206 East Third Street. New Mayor Bill Lambert has disallowed direct opportunities for public engagement concerning the widest (27 feet), longest (472 feet), and heaviest (1.6 million pounds!) proposed overlegal loads that could traverse Moscow, Highway 95, and Interstate 90. Even if the workshop planners accepted verbal public testimony and transparent interchanges, they conveniently scheduled this “hearing” during most people’s working hours.
Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is concerned about the lack of opportunities to not only interact with our public representatives on this advantageous occasion to ask some tough questions and receive dubious answers, but to also interject some likely side-lined concerns, especially targeted at our first official encounter of Mammoet officials. We are nonetheless encouraging everyone to send your exasperated, preferably concise, written statements, comments, and questions in advance to the appropriate city council members and officials via their individual email addresses or email@example.com or the channels described in the following media releases. The public and press deserve and maintain the right to attend this essentially closed-door hearing among obvious vested interests (considering that megaload protesters earned $20,000 for City of Moscow constraints of First Amendment rights). But if citizen and media insights, ideas, and queries arise in the midst of meeting discussions, they cannot be shared.
To re-assert some direct democracy among elected corporate lackeys, WIRT has foregone the option to boycott this whole fiasco and intends to not only participate but decry this instance of lack of direct public involvement with an “action” involving taped mouths and carried/worn posters with comments. We and all of Earth’s life are literally “sick” of such apparent crony civilization that favors paper-pushers over the sounds of shared humanity. While our own city will not listen, we will continue to encourage people around the region to rise up in creative, non-bureaucratic ways. Please review the following megaload situational summary and recently received public records enclosing talking points and take action!
1) Write detailed letters opposing Mammoet incursions, directed to ITD District 1 employees (Jason Minzghor, ITD, firstname.lastname@example.org, 600 West Prairie Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815), and objecting to temporary Interstate 90 on-ramp construction, sent to Federal Highway Administration personnel (Kyle Holman, FHWA Idaho Division, email@example.com, 3050 Lakeharbor Lane #126, Boise, Idaho 83703). While WIRT and allies work to halt this onslaught in the courts and streets, ask for an extension of the comment period about these megaloads that could cross Moscow in late January.
2) Post comments on the pertinent City of Moscow media release pages and offer letters to editors and interviews about problems with megaloads and public processes, provided to local newspapers and radio and television stations.
3) Gather at the WIRT Activists House in Moscow at 2 pm on Wednesday, January 15, to create props for megaload workshop participation.
Oversized Loads Expected to Travel through Moscow, Idaho (December 20 City of Moscow)
Oversized Loads Anticipated to Travel through Moscow – City Hosts Partner Workshop (January 10 City of Moscow)
Community Input Requested Prior to Scheduled Public Workshop (January 13 City of Moscow)
Mammoet Megaloads 2013-14 Public Records (January 10 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)
This WIRT website page provides links to all currently available public records about the proposed Mammoet Highway 95 megaloads, obtained by Friends of the Clearwater and WIRT to assist further public input, including transportation, traffic control, and emergency plans, transport diagrams and schematics, and various public comments. We are especially heartened that ITD responses to our obstructed late-December inquiry included a letter from Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman Allan to ITD Director Ness, after seemingly endless, isolated nights of Moscow and allied Nez Perce resistance to previous Mammoet-hauled ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands equipment shipments on Highway 95.
WIRT Newsletter: Highway 95 Megaload Meeting, Oregon-Washington Protests, Other Megaloads (December 19 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)
WIRT covered this issue in our last newsletter, under the heading Three 1.6-Million-Pound Highway 95 Megaloads?
Port of Wilma Mammoet Megaloads 2014 (January 10 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)
A thousand thanks to core WIRT activists Brett, Ellen, Helen, Herb, Jeremy, Mike, and Zach for scouting and alerting the northern Idaho and regional community to the latest Mammoet megaload news. As documented in Christmas Eve photos at the Port of Wilma, Big Oil “barged” its way into north Idaho again, as the former ExxonMobil hauler Mammoet shipped three megaloads up the Columbia and Snake rivers via a private barge company. Even before the December 29 deadline of the paltry ten-day public comment period, in the wake of the ITD divide-and-conquer, dog and pony show, informational open house on December 19 in Coeur d’Alene, the 1.6-million-pound megaloads of equipment bound for a tar sands refinery in Great Falls, Montana, arrived at the Lewiston area port.
Ideally, considerations of public input to ITD decisions on load permits for Idaho road use should preface any preparations for shipments. But, not surprisingly, Mammoet appears confident of ITD approval, and both simply refuse to accept “no” as the will of the people. By bringing these behemoths to the port without a prior travel permit or even an application, Mammoet essentially insulted the people of Idaho with its assumption that our state transportation department would grant passage, despite dozens of past street and court confrontations with the same company and agency. Demonstrating improvement over previous ignorance of the Highway 95 megaload issue, at least The Oregonian in Portland ran a story about the offloaded shipments. Where will these obnoxiously obvious monsters go, if lawsuits banish them from Highways 12 and 95?
Latest Megaloads Arrive in the Valley (December 27 Lewiston Tribune)
GREAT FALLS MEGALOAD-BUILT TAR SANDS REFINERY
Refinery Report: Great Falls (Oil Change International)
The destination of three 1.6-million-pound, Mammoet-proposed, Highway 95 megaloads, the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls, is the closest U.S. refinery to Alberta tar sands mining operations. This wholly owned subsidiary of Calumet Specialty Products Partners uses heavy sour cracking to produce Rockies transportation fuels from its 95 percent feedstock received via pipelines and rail cars: 10,000 barrels per day of Canadian heavy tar sands crude! On Christmas, allied climate activist Maxwell Powers of Oregon said:
I was born 96 years ago in Great Falls, Montana, just across the river from the smelter that this tar sands project now occupies. It is with great sadness that I see my birth city contributing to the climate change disaster that my great grandchildren will face during their lifetimes. My generation failed to predict the atmospheric carbon pollution problem. And later we failed to counter the lust for profit and power that exacerbated the problem. For that, I am sad. And now, at my age, I can only urge those in the following generations to take up the banner and march courageously against the powerful, morally-blind, fossil fuel corporations, whose god is capitalism and profit, no matter the cost to life on Earth.
Updated Continental Maps: Tar Sands and Associated Pipelines (Oil Sands Truth)
During the Northern Rockies Rising Tide/Earth First! Rendezvous confrontation of Governor Schweitzer at the Montana Capitol in July 2011, we distinctly recall him saying, during his conversation with activists, that Montana already has several tar sands pipelines.
Calumet Refinery Plans to Triple Capacity in Great Falls (October 12 KRTV)
“The company is planning on tripling its operational capacity at its Great Falls facility…The expansion project would mean an increase of the fuels capacity at the refinery from 9,500 barrels per stream day (BPSD) crude throughput to 30,000 BSPD,” all reliant on the three parts of the tar sands-processing hydrocracker at the Port of Wilma.
Montana Refining Company, Great Falls, Montana (January 11 Google Map)
Tar sands refining produces piles of petroleum coke, a toxic, coal-like, airborne dust full of heavy metals and carcinogens. Residents of typically windy Great Falls could already be breathing this byproduct, and Mammoet megaloads will only expand their agony. On Saturday evening, January 11, while intense winds raged across Montana, two core WIRT activists discussed this possibility and searched Montana Refining Company facilities for exposed pet coke piles via Google Maps.
Winds Damage Tank at Calumet Montana Refinery in Great Falls (January 12 KRTV)
On the next day, Sunday, January 12, Montana news outlets reported that high winds collapsed a new, flexible tank under construction at the Calumet Great Falls refinery, like an uninflated balloon without interior tension. Some believe that the work of recent wind and snow is Mother Nature’s answer to the true-hearted prayers and conversations of Umatilla tribal members and allies. We wonder if the empty tank was being built to hold pet coke.
Navajo Refining Company, L.P. and Montana Refining Company Civil Judicial Refinery Settlement (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
The EPA fined the Montana Refinery Company for Clean Air Act violations in 2001.
Refining Profit: Lower-Priced Canadian Crude Could Expand Income for Calumet’s Great Falls Facility (January 5 Great Falls Tribune)
Earlier news reports noted that the equipment currently waiting at the Port of Wilma, near Lewiston, Idaho, for three separate ITD permits for shipper Mammoet to transport it, would maintain operations of the Calumet Refinery in Great Falls, Montana. However, this huge cargo is integral to new fossil fuel processing infrastructure that Calumet intends to construct to double or triple production. This expansion will impart the capacity to refine crude from Alberta tar sands and fracked Bakken shale oil, both forms of the dirtiest energy. Recently re-emerging Spokane Rising Tide will join WIRT and other activist groups to confront these transports soon, at undetermined dates, times, and locations.
MAMMOET MEGALOAD TRAVEL
Since the City of Moscow issued an alert about impending megaloads in late December, WIRT has returned to Moscow, after the sixth and seven rounds of Omega Morgan versus the people since October 2012. We are continuing communication with various activists, public officials, organizations, lawyers, etc., knowing that citizens must do what state agencies in cahoots with corporations can/will not. As of Saturday, January 11, several much appreciated, vigilant WIRT scouts in the Coeur d’Alene area have confirmed that no temporary Interstate 90 on-ramp construction has commenced in the targeted, saturated, small area with pools of standing water near Higgens Point along Lake Coeur d’Alene.
However, ITD must first finish their on-ramp proposal document by mid- to late-January, and obtain Federal Highway Administration approval of their plan, before they can turn a single shovel. Decisions by a federal authority with power over ITD imply a litigative hook: “The project involves some input in oversight from the Federal Highway Administration.” Megaload travel along East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive may require permits separate from the ones issued for highways in Idaho. Despite all of these obstacles, some insist that the only effective impediment to further Mammoet damages of Idaho roads and rights is a court injunction. Many Idahoans would love to see the tar sands refinery equipment stranded at the port, accruing rent and accumulating rust.
If their travel timelines converge, the Mammoet and Omega Morgan megaloads could cross paths all the way from the Missoula Reserve Street exit to Sun River, Montana, primarily on Highway 200. A narrow, winding route, initially along the treasured Blackfoot River memorialized in A River Runs Through It, Highway 200 could turn treacherous for both transport companies in the winter, where icy conditions in the high country from Ovando to Rogers Pass on the continental divide may graciously inflict many delays.
Three Megaloads Headed Our Way (December 19 Lewiston Tribune)
Montana-Bound Megaloads Would Use Abandoned Higgens Point Interchange (December 19 Spokesman-Review)
“Terry Hill of Spokane Rising Tide, an environmental group, said, ‘I’m just really here to gather information, because it’s kind of scary stuff – this is over a million pounds going over our roads.’”
North Idaho Homeowners Uneasy About Lakeside ‘Megaload’ Route (December 19 Northwest News Network)
Megaloads Proposal Gets Mixed Reaction (December 20 Coeur d’Alene Press)
Here Comes a Megaload of Trouble (December 20 Coeur d’Alene Press)
The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, of which WIRT is an organizational and board member, has consulted attorney Scott Reed extensively over the last year, in preparation for possible refutation of ITD’s looming final environmental impact statement (EIS) about its proposed Thorn Creek to Moscow expansion and re-routing of Highway 95 south of Moscow, as WIRT suspects, to accommodate megaloads among other commercial and industrial corridor traffic. Scott secured a legal victory for the coalition a decade ago, which forced ITD to conduct a full EIS examination of its scheme.
441-Foot-Long Megaloads Bound for Montana through Coeur d’Alene (December 20 Spokesman-Review)
Megaload Planned to Travel on Highway 95 through Moscow in January (December 24 KLEW TV)
Other Shipments Planned (December 24 Argus Observer)
Mammoet Loads at Port of Wilma in Limbo during Permit Application Process (December 28 KLEW TV)
Megaloads to Travel through County (January 6 Shoshone News Press)
Wild Idaho Rising Tide
P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843