Round 3: Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests!


Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests Flyer 2 Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), 350 Boise, and Occupy Boise are again organizing megaload protesting and monitoring activities at Marsing, Mountain Home, Timmerman Junction, Arco, and Salmon, Idaho, and supporting blockades organized by Indian Peoples Action, Blue Skies Campaign, and Northern Rockies Rising Tide in Missoula and other Montana locations [1, 2].  Based on the ever-changing schedule of transports in transit, WIRT will regularly update the tentative dates, times, places, and carpool arrangements of these events on the WIRT website and facebook pages.  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.

* Boise carpools to Marsing and Mountain Home: Contact Ann Ford of 350 Boise at annkeenan4d@gmail.com or 208-344-4675.  Meet at the Shopko sign/parking lot at 2655 South Broadway Avenue, at 8 pm MST on Thursday, February 20, for Marsing carpools, and at 9 pm MST on Friday, February 21, for Mountain Home carpools.

* Marsing protest: Also meet at the Marsing Elementary/Middle School parking lot, 205 Eighth Avenue West, Highway 78, at 9 pm on Thursday, February 20.

* Mountain Home protest: Also meet at the Pilot Travel Center, 1050 Highway 20 at Interstate 84 Exit 95, at 10 pm MST on Friday, February 21.

* Wood River Valley/Timmerman Junction protest: Meet to carpool in the Atkinsons Market parking lot, 757 North Main Street in Bellevue, at 9 pm MST on Saturday, February 22, or at the Timmerman Junction rest area, on the southwest corner of the U.S. Highway 20 and Idaho Highway 75 intersection, at 10 pm MST on Saturday, February 22.

* Pocatello/Blackfoot area carpools to Arco: Contact Levi Shoemaker at Facebook.com/Levi.Shoemaker2.  Meet at the Big Kmart sign/parking lot at 3945 Pole Line Road in Pocatello, at 8 pm MST on Saturday, February 22.

* Salmon protest: Meet at the Skate Park in Island Park, at 10 pm MST on Thursday, March 6.

* Missoula protest: Meet at the Rosauers parking lot at 2350 South Reserve in Missoula, at 12 midnight on Thursday/Friday, March 13-14.

* Spokane, Washington, and Moscow, Idaho, carpools to Missoula and Montana actions on Thursday, March 13: Contact Terry Hill of Spokane Rising Tide at Facebook.com/Terry.Hill.509.  Montana activists have arranged lodging for participants visiting Missoula.

* Megaload monitoring at various locations: Contact WIRT at 208-301-8039 and wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com.

* Contributions for organizer, monitor, and protester travel and potential legal expenses: Donate through WePay at WePay.com/Donations/907347297 and via mail to P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, ID 83843.

Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests Flyer 2

The next week offers perhaps the last opportunity for southern Idahoans to rise up against looming tar sands megaloads within 50 miles of their homes, engaging minds, hearts, and bodies on the frontlines of a continental struggle against expanding production and use of tar sands and other fossil fuels currently brewing climate chaos in every region of the Earth.  On Friday, February 14, Big Oil sweetheart, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), sent Oregon-based megaload hauler Omega Morgan a valentine, as its third tar sands transport skates across above-freezing road conditions in Oregon, without a court injunction or road-blocking activists to stop it [3].  The first two shipments of mining equipment slipped hundreds of miles through Idaho and Montana since December 23, encountering six protests in Marsing, Mountain Home, Timmerman Junction, and Missoula [4].  The size, strength, and duration of shared regional resistance to Omega Morgan megaloads has broadened since their first trip up Highway 12 in October 2012: Twelve transports have incurred 30 direct confrontations, 49 arrests, and two citations.  Residents of four states have protested over 100 times, resulting in 60 arrests and four citations, against ExxonMobil and other tar sands shipments that have traversed the region since February 2011.  Despite an Oregon media blackout about current megaload locations since Port of Umatilla departure on Tuesday, February 11, Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allies anticipate strong and spirited activists taking to the streets when the convoy reaches Idaho this weekend.

Omega Morgan is transporting an oversize shipment, measuring 382 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 19 feet tall and weighing 794,000 pounds, across eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana to the Athabasca tar sands region in Alberta, Canada.  Moving between 8 pm and 6 am in Oregon, but between 10 pm and 6 am in Idaho, the megaload could enter Idaho late Saturday night or Sunday morning, February 15-16.  Weather and road conditions and visibility less than 500 feet could slow its travel along a 475-mile circuitous route through Idaho, starting near Homedale, along the Snake River on Highway 78, to a Hammett area bridge [5].  On its way to Mountain Home via Interstate 84, the megaload will use the Exit 112 off-ramp and eastbound I-84 lanes, to move west for a quarter mile until its crosses over to the westbound roadway at an emergency vehicle pull-out.  The industrial parade will continue east on Highways 20 and 33 through Arco, then northwest on Highway 28 to Salmon, Highway 93, and 7,014-foot-high Lost Trail Pass into Montana.  Accompanying pilot, flagger, and Idaho State Police vehicles will re-route other traffic and purportedly limit its delays – usually considered full stops not slowed speeds – to 15 minutes.

These “evaporator” megaloads will assist in-situ, steam-injection, tar sands mining processes similar to fracking Alberta bitumen deposits too deep to surface-mine.  Expanding tar sands refineries in Montana, requiring 1.6-million-pound megaloads to traverse Highways 95 and 200 and Interstate 90, and three new North Dakota refineries, the first built in the U.S. in decades, will process tar sands crude into diesel fuel burned in the trucks supporting mining of the Bakken shale oil carried across the country in exploding rail cars [6].  First Nations in present-day Canada are increasingly litigating instead of negotiating against corporations and governments expanding Alberta tar sands exploitation, as its mines and tailings ponds spew pollution visible from space into the air, water, wildlife, and communities of one of the largest and last unspoiled watersheds on Earth [7, 8].

The multiple harms caused by these huge transports affect everyone in several ways.  WIRT’s years of megaload observations have revealed that unless, and even when, citizens and activists are watching and reporting their every move, megaload haulers will take risks and cause problems, despite – or as a result of – transportation department oversight.  They often blatantly and arrogantly violate the terms of their permits and transportation plans in plain sight.  Remember the August 2013 night when Omega Morgan held back scores of trailing Nez Perce vehicles on Highway 12, to avoid further blockades?  WIRT understands that common folks are driving, escorting, and guarding megaloads AND standing in front of these big rigs.  Although Big Oil has us all bent over a barrel, none of us should tolerate oversize loads breaking the law, moving in inclement weather, and damaging public infrastructure built by taxpayers.

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in eastern Idaho released an early January statement denouncing lack of tribal consultation before ITD megaload permitting and passage and expressing deep concerns about possible adverse megaload effects or accidents near the Salmon and Snake rivers and tributaries of their aboriginal homelands, where they practice treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather [9].  The tribes “expect a full and complete mitigation of any damages or incidents that may impact the environment in the shipping corridors.”  Apprehensive about possible megaload impacts to city streets and buried utilities, such as water and sewer lines, the Nyssa City Council denied a proposed alternative route skirting Clark Boulevard, also contested for megaload use as a sub-standard, non-state route in Malheur County, Oregon [10, 11].  Heavy haulers and facilitating state agencies should also not menace other drivers with police patrols and traffic tickets or foul nearby forests and rivers with toxic de-icer and human waste, much less expedite through their work climate chaos and consequent destruction of our shared planetary home [12-14].

Oregon Megaload Updates

Unlike the first two Omega Morgan megaload movements on the same route this winter, this shipment has moved swiftly across Oregon from the Port of Umatilla.  The first transport embarked on December 2, arrived in Idaho on December 23, and, impeded by weather and Montana permitting, did not pass into Montana until January 20 [15].  After leaving the Oregon port on December 22, the second shipment entered Idaho on January 5, and reached Montana on January 22.  To reconfigure its first Oregon-originating load for Canadian specifications, Omega Morgan removed its frame and other supporting gear at the former Stimson mill site in Bonner, near Missoula, Montana, and is re-using it for its third megaload [16].

On Thursday, February 6, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) permitted the third Omega Morgan megaload to move across the state, as our Oregon comrades stood poised to file a lawsuit in Salem and to stage another strong anti-megaload demonstration at the Port of Umatilla [17-20].  But eastern Oregon winter weather advisories and storm warnings, heavy snow falling as far west as Portland and Seattle, and record-breaking sub-zero temperatures in Montana, during the first weekend in February, kept all three megaloads in Oregon and Montana.

The third Oregon Omega Morgan-hauled tar sands transport left the Port of Umatilla at 9:40 pm on Tuesday night, February 11, accompanied by almost 20 state and county police officers and cars, a paddy wagon, and undercover vehicles [21].  Portland Rising Tide and allies made strong, advance appeals for well-arranged carpools and protests, which WIRT supported via facebook and email, but people did not show up [22, 23].  Two Umatilla tribal activists protected their homelands by monitoring the megaload frontlines on the first night, videotaping and documenting infrastructure and traffic abuses, and texting their publicly reported observations, displayed as WIRT and Portland Rising Tide facebook and website notes.  Allies may utilize their information as evidence in the next phases of court actions to stop megaloads and tar sands development.  The most recent behemoth moved on Highway 395 and Interstate 84, taking 40 minutes to turn sharply left from a bridge onto the interstate.  Proceeding from Umatilla through Hermiston, Stanfield, and Pendleton, it parked just outside Pilot Rock before 3 am, obviously avoiding more of the scrutiny and nightly, load-side ceremonies of Umatilla tribal members in Pendleton.

On the previous day, Monday, February 10, Oregon anti-megaload comrades rallied at the Marion County Courthouse in Salem, Oregon, to support the legal megaload challenge of our amazing allies Walla Walla Chief Yellow Bird (Carl Sampson) and Peter Goodman of Act on Climate [24, 25].  On Tuesday morning, they filed a Petition for Review of Agency Order against the Oregon Department of Transportation in Marion County Circuit Court, asking the court to require ODOT to follow state laws obliging it to act in the public interest [26-29].  Goodman and Sampson assert that ODOT permitting of tar sands megaloads on state highways disregards and disrespects the concerns and consent of the sovereign Umatilla tribes and Oregon citizens and hastens global climate change.  Because the associated bond would cost them millions of dollars if they lose their case, the petitioners could not request a temporary restraining order or injunction to stop the third Omega Morgan megaload from crossing Oregon.

ODOT does not think that it needs to consult the Oregon public in its decisions to grant megaload permits.  It previously denied “party status” to Carl and Peter, who are now fighting for standing in court, to forward their lawsuit arguing that megaloads cause Oregonians harms and that permitting them is not in the public interest.  They need (but cannot as plaintiffs ask for) many Oregonians to write and send public comments opposing megaloads to ODOT, Governor Kitzhaber, and state legislators, and to post those comments on their webpage ActOnClimate.net or email them to jim@actonclimate.net, so they can deliver them to ODOT and other officials.  Please spread the word!

On the same day as ODOT issued the third megaload permit, February 6, earth protector and climate justice heroine Cathy Sampson-Kruse, a Walla Walla tribal elder and daughter of Chief Yellow Bird, successfully resolved her Umatilla County Circuit Court case regarding her act of nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the first Oregon Omega Morgan transport of tar sands equipment to Alberta [30].  The ongoing courage, activism, and leadership of this grandmother and her sisters have inspired vigilance of megaload invasions and dozens of confederated Umatilla tribal protection ceremonies near parked transports in Pendleton and Umatilla.

[1] Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! (December 15 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! (December 15 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[3] ITD Issues Permit for Third Megaload through Southern Idaho (February 14 Idaho Statesman)

[4] Northwest Protests of Omega Morgan-Hauled Tar Sands Megaloads (January 25 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[5] New Megaload Route through Southern Idaho (Idaho Statesman map)

[6] Oil Patch Drives Local Demand Diesel (January 28 Big Sky Business Journal)

[7] Alberta Oilsands Facing Aboriginal Legal Onslaught in 2014 (January 2 Canadian Press)

[8] Alberta Tar Sands Operations (A) and Pollution Influxes to Lake Athabasca (B), Lake Claire (C), and Great Slave Lake (D) (February 11 Google Maps)

[9] Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Concerned of Megaload Shipment (January 2 Idaho State Journal)

[10] Council Won’t Let Megaloads Use Nyssa City Streets (February 12 Argus Observer)

[11] Can Clark Boulevard Handle the Megaload? (December 15, 2013 Argus Observer)

[12] Idaho Deputy Gets the Boot for Criticizing Megaload Ticket Blitz (January 21 LewRockwell)

[13] Deputy Fired after Questioning Mass Ticketing during Traffic Jam (January 21 OpposingViews)

[14] Mega Mess Left at North Fork (January 24 Post Register)

[15] The Tortoise Trail (January 16 Advocates for the West)

[16] Third Megaload Starts Trip to Canada (February 7 KPAX)

[17] Oversized Load May Begin Moving Soon in Eastern Oregon (February 6 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)

[18] Here We Go Again – Third Megaload Ready to Roll (February 6 Blue Mountain Eagle)

[19] Last Megaload Headed from Oregon to Canadian Tar Sands Region is Ready to Go, Weather Permitting (February 7 Oregonian)

[20] Third of Three Megaloads Set to Leave Port of Umatilla Friday Night (February 7 KNDU)

[21] Oregon Megaload Rally TONIGHT (Tuesday)! (February 11 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[22] Rally Against the Third Megaload (February 6 Portland Rising Tide)

[23] Third Tar Sands Megaload Fuels Ongoing Controversy; Citizens to Confront Shipment (February 10 Common Dreams)

[24] Salem Stop the Megaloads Rally – Court Filing at the Marion County Courthouse (February 7 Act on Climate)

[25] Rally and Court Action Against Third ODOT Megaload Permit (February 10 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[26] Megaload Opponents Take Oregon to Court, Demanding Public-Interest Test (February 11 Oregonian)

[27] Tribes’ Court Action Could Halt Megaload (February 11 Argus Observer)

[28] ODOT Megaload Permit Violates International Indigenous Peoples’ Consent Right (February 12 Last Real Indians)

[29] ‘Megaloads’ of Tar Sands Equipment Face Legal Challenges in Oregon (February 12 ClimateProgress)

[30] Port of Umatilla Megaload Blockader Charges Resolved (February 10 Civil Liberties Defense Center)

6 thoughts on “Round 3: Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests!

  1. Pingback: Root Force » Blog Archive » Round 3: Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests!

  2. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: February through June WIRT and Allied Events | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  3. Pingback: Letter to Eastern Oregonians: Megaload Road Damage Informatio​n and Solidarity | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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

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

  6. Pingback: Missoula Megaload Protest on Thursday Night! | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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