WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Calls to Action on Tuesday in Moscow, Missoula, & Beyond


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 [1].  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 [2].  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 [3]?

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degraded highways with washboard ruts in lane centers, and pummeled saturated road beds, crumbling shoulders, and outdated bridges [4].  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 [5].

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 [6]?  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 [7].  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.

Private Profit at Public Expense

Why should Idaho taxpayers of relatively meager means, instead of wealthy, multinational oil, gas, and tar sands exploiters and producers, be burdened with payments for broken bridges, damaged roads, or smashed property imposed by Omega Morgan and other megaload haulers?  Even the most fiscally conservative Idahoan can see that these ventures are a raw deal for state citizens.  In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United decision, Idahoans wonder about state government corruption by large campaign donations during an election year for the Idaho legislature and governor.  Moreover, these evaporator cores and heat exchangers ruining our roads will cause even more human health and environmental degradation at their destinations [8].  Integral to in-situ tar sands mining operations, they recycle mining waste fluids for underground re-injection as chemical-laced steam, as in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” at high pressures and temperatures up to 570 degrees Fahrenheit.  This steam assisted gravity drainage process can loosen – and extensively leak – the 80 percent of Alberta tar sands deposits more than 250 feet below the boreal forest and bog surface, too deep to surface mine and only starting to be tapped.  Poisoned watersheds, sullied air quality, and diminished public and wildlife health ensue.  The fiscal responsibility of remediation falls to people and places plundered by these practices that Idaho highways accommodate.

Southern Idaho Protests & Presentations

In response to such blatant misuse of our shared resources, 350 Idaho, Occupy Boise, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allied and visiting activists have recently traveled Idaho to engage in peaceful and civil megaload protesting and monitoring activities and to provide megaload slide show presentations, an Alberta tar sands documentary, and non-violent direct action workshops.  On December 28, we stood our ground in Marsing, as Omega Morgan squeezed its behemoth through a tight turn and mostly supportive crowd [9].  Timmerman Junction saw two lively protests on December 30-31 and January 7, as the convoy of flaggers, pilot and police vehicles, and the huge transport crossed the Wood River Valley [10, 11].  Concerned citizens staged another demonstration in Mountain Home and followed the megaload a short distance up U.S. Highway 20, to monitor the shipment’s movements in response to public traffic, early on January 7 [12].  A coalition of climate change resistance groups hosted public education meetings with slides, films, and discussions in Hailey on January 4 and in Boise on January 5 [13].  As WIRT confronts dirty energy transportation projects along two Idaho corridors that supply components for tar sands mines and a Great Falls tar sands refinery, we continue to reach out to fellow Idahoans and public representatives and officials from our desks, the halls of government, and the streets, earnestly encouraging them to halt this industrial juggernaut invading the remote and rural landscapes of Idaho [14].

Oregon Megaload Lawsuit

As Omega Morgan invades Montana with another tar sands megaload at a third entry point, applying 1,000 gallons of de-icing fluid to free its ice-bound tires at Lost Trail Pass, a citizen lawsuit looms in Oregon [15].  It will argue that the Oregon Department of Transportation did not act in the public interest when providing megaload permits without substantive public participation processes and tribal consultation.  Such accommodation of corporate over citizen interests could lead to potential harms to public infrastructure, tribal treaty lands, and global climate.  Plaintiffs range from a traditional leader and strong activist of two tribes to a community organizer combatting climate change to a rural resident concerned about road damage.  Awaiting overlegal permit issuance to the third Omega Morgan transport seeking passage from the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, before they file their case, the plaintiffs will not seek an initial injunction, so the third load could possibly roll even during hearings.

Call to Action

Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allies invite the public to get involved in these significant ways:

1) Contact Idaho Governor ‘Butch’ Otter and ITD Director Brian Ness, and demand that they not only stop granting overlegal load permits to Omega Morgan, Mammoet, and other megaload haulers, but that they immediately request a bond, as required of the four 2010 ConocoPhillips half cokes drums on U.S. Highway 12.  Insist that they ban megaloads from tribal reservations, wild and scenic river corridors, and backcountry, historic, and scenic byways in Idaho.  Reach the Governor through this form and ITD Director Ness at brian.ness@itd.idaho.gov.

2) Because Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert and city, county, and state officials refused to accept spoken public commentary for the record at the January 15 workshop about impending Mammoet megaloads, please speak out about problems with such transports and associated public processes, during the 15-minute public comment/mayor’s response period at the next (7 pm, Tuesday, January 21) and successive (7 pm every other Monday) City Council session in the Moscow City Hall Council Chambers [16].  That time is reserved for three-minute citizen remarks addressing matters not currently pending before the Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Adjustment, etc.  The Mayor responds to these comments at the next meeting (February 3).  Ask him when the public can formally offer verbal input at a megaload proposal hearing attended by pertinent officials.

3) Participate in megaload protesting and monitoring activities in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.  As two Omega Morgan tar sands megaloads approach Missoula, Montana, Indian Peoples Action, Blue Skies Campaign, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, and allies (such as Spokane and Wild Idaho Rising Tides) are planning, staging, and participating in an indigenous ceremony and non-violent protest with drumming, singing, and dancing.  They welcome everyone to join them in inter-tribal and international unity and friendship, as they together express their intent to stop tar sands and megaload exploitation of shared air, water, and Earth.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide intends to demonstrate on these occasions in solidarity with people everywhere who face tar sands-related destruction of their communities, especially the residents of Oklahoma and Texas impacted by the purported January 22 start-up of the southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.  Please contact Indian Peoples Action at 406-479-3949, indianpeoplesaction@gmail.com, or through facebook, to ascertain the Missoula location and time to meet, likely on Tuesday night, January 21.  Send a message to Terry Hill of Spokane Rising Tide at facebook.com/terry.hill.509, for northern Idaho and eastern Washington carpools to and from Missoula on Tuesday/Wednesday, January 21-22.

Assist Umatilla and Warm Springs tribal members, Portland Rising Tide, and allies in halting the third and hopefully final tar sands megaload at the Port of Umatilla, as it anticipates an Oregon travel permit potentially issued between January 16 and 31 [17].  Our amazing Oregon comrades are coordinating strong turn-outs at actions that will continue to show Big Oil that every megaload it attempts to move will meet resistance.  Sign up with the Rapid Response Network, and join Oregon anti-megaloaders for a rally in Umatilla, or come with a friend to the next Rising Tide orientation gathering.

On the WIRT website and facebook pages, we will regularly update the tentative dates, times, places, and carpool arrangements of megaload protesting and monitoring activities confronting the third southern Idaho Omega Morgan megaload in Marsing, Mountain Home, Bellevue, Arco, and Salmon.  Please bring your family, friends, and neighbors, and come prepared with protest signs, banners, and equipment, musical instruments, voices, and chants, audio and video recorders, cameras, notepads, and your spirit of solidarity, regional resistance, and freedom of expression [18].

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org

Facebook.com/WildIdaho.RisingTide

Twitter.com/WildIdahoRT

208-301-8039

[1] ITD Issues Permit for Another Megaload through Southern Idaho (January 3 Idaho Statesman)

[2] Megaload Traveling Megaslowly (December 13 Idaho Statesman)

[3] Rurally Speaking: Are Your “Planners” and Your Department Ready for a “Mega-Load”? (January 20 Fire Apparatus and Emergency Equipment)

[4] Megaload Facts (Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[5] Media Release: More Charges Brought Against Tar Sands “Megaload” Protesters in Moscow, Idaho (March 10, 2012 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[6] Idaho’s Scenic Byways (2014 Idaho Public Television)

[7] Discover Idaho’s Scenic Byways (2014 Idaho Department of Commerce)

[8] Oil Has Been Spilling Near Cold Lake, Alberta, for Almost Nine Months, and No One Knows Why (January 17 Vice)

[9] Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Marsing 12-28-13 (December 29 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[10] Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 12-30-13 (January 1 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[11] Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 1-7-14 (January 9 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[12] Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Mountain Home 1-7-14 (January 9 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[13] Megaloads, Tar Sands, and Direct Action: A Slide Show, Documentary, and Discussion or Workshop (January 2 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[14] City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Meeting 1-15-13 (January 16 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[15] Megaload Rumbles into Montana from Lost Trail Pass (January 20 Missoulian)

[16] Agenda: Moscow City Council Regular Meeting, Tuesday, January 21, 2014 (January 17 City of Moscow, Idaho)

See agenda item 4.

[17] Action Alert: Stop the Third Tar Sands Megaload! (Portland Rising Tide)

[18] Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! (December 13 Wild Idaho Rising Tide) (facebook event)

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2 thoughts on “WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Calls to Action on Tuesday in Moscow, Missoula, & Beyond

  1. Pingback: Third Omega Morgan Megaload Southern Idaho Report | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  2. Pingback: Root Force » Blog Archive » Megaload Resistance Update

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