Climate Justice Forum: Al Smith & Chris Wahmhoff 2-10-14

Free the MI CATS

The Monday, February 10, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by WIRT features Al Smith of Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) and Chris Wahmhoff of Occupy Kalamazoo.  Al is the husband of Vicci Hamlin, who with Barb Carter and Lisa Leggio locked-down to construction equipment last summer, to protest expansion of the Enbridge pipeline that leaked the largest, non-marine, (tar sands) oil spill in U.S. history into the still unremediated Kalamazoo River.  Likewise, Chris skateboarded deep into the same pipeline in June, to stall its development.  All four are facing charges, some felonies with years in prison, and/or are being unjustly held in a Michigan jail.  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.

Concerns and Comments about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route

February 6, 2014

John Perry, Field Operations Engineer/Team Leader

Brent Inghram, Environmental Program Manager

Federal Highway Administration Idaho Division

3050 Lakeharbor Lane, Suite 126

Boise, Idaho 83703

Jason Minzghor, District 1 Operations Manager

Scotty Fellom, District 1 Business Manager

Idaho Transportation Department

600 West Prairie Avenue

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

Sent via email and attachment

Concerns and Comments about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive Temporary Overweight Truck Route

Mr. Fellom, Mr. Inghram, Mr. Minzghor, Mr. Perry, and all,

On behalf of concerned Idaho and Washington citizens, potentially impacted human and non-human residents along the proposed Mammoet USA South, Inc. (Mammoet) transportation corridor, members and allies of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and air, water, and soil quality, we the undersigned submit for the public record the enclosed and attached comments about the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive temporary overweight truck route and ramp (“project”) currently under review by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), per National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements.

According to ITD documents, we understand that Mammoet has requested ITD permits to haul three overweight equipment shipments (“megaloads”) three to four weeks apart, starting in February 2014, from the Port of Wilma, Washington, to Great Falls, Montana [1].  To nominally minimize the disruption of rolling, night-time, route closures guided, if not guarded, by pilot and perhaps police vehicles, Mammoet’s latest 1.6-million-pound, 472-foot-long, 27-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall behemoths would again travel U.S. Highway 95 north to Interstate 90 (I-90), then move east through Coeur d’Alene on the interstate to the Sherman Avenue exit.  Averting undue stress to the Veterans Memorial Centennial Bridge, the transports would alternatively drive 5.5 miles along East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive for approximately one hour, pass under the currently blocked I-90 overpass near Higgens Point, and re-enter Interstate 90 in the wrong direction, along a temporary on-ramp proposed for construction on the north side of the interstate.

Public records explain that this project would entail no construction along Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive or publicly accessible roadways, and that it would temporarily close I-90 for about ten minutes and remove six interstate concrete barriers on both sides of the westbound lanes, to facilitate access to the eastbound lanes after transport entry onto westbound lanes.  Apparently, ramp creation would necessitate “minor” grading of a 300-foot by 100-foot area north of Higgens Point and the interstate.  Surfacing this ramp with only gravel would bear the heaviest load ever attempted on this cross-Idaho route.

Because we the undersigned have been opposing transportation of tar sands and fossil fuel infrastructure components throughout the Northwest/Northern Rockies region since May 2010, we have directly experienced many of the detriments to our public resources and rights that these pursuits, especially by Mammoet, engender.  Our state transportation department and responsible elected and appointed officials have not been responsive to our concerns about these transports.  We are therefore co-writing and addressing this letter of concern to government agencies and representatives who may better consider and act to prevent the implications of this proposed Mammoet move and on-ramp construction for air and water quality, wildlife and habitats, the regional environment and inhabitants, and global climate.

Besides FHWA and ITD personnel in Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and Lewiston, Idaho, we the undersigned are sending this statement to Idaho Governor Otter, Kootenai and Latah county commissioners, the mayor and city councilors of Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, the Idaho departments of Environmental Quality and Fish and Game, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. departments of the Interior and Transportation, and two attorneys well-versed in transportation and megaload issues.  Some of these agencies and citizens have advised against other highway expansion projects proposed by ITD, due to likely environmental impacts.  We urgently encourage their response while Mammoet’s and ITD’s proposal package remains under review.

Construction and use of the Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive temporary overweight truck route would have significant impacts on the environment, which would directly challenge our interests, both as organizations and as American, Idaho, and Washington citizens, including but not restricted to the following impacts. Continue reading

Highway 12 Megaload Update, Michigan & Oregon Solidarity

Weather and road conditions will likely stop the Everett transport and/or a crane from moving WEST on Highway 12 tonight.  Barely under the 16-foot-width limitations for Highway 12 megaloads established by the Forest Service, one or more singular shipments could regretfully move sometime this week or on Saturday, February 8, as originally projected.  Friends of the Clearwater, Idaho Rivers United, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) are communicating with the Idaho Transportation Department, to obtain more information.  WIRT is working with allies to convince federal agencies to not allow the proposed three Mammoet 1.6-million-pound loads to travel on Highway 95 and Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive.

Climate Justice Forum: Al Smith & Chris Wahmhoff 2-10-14 (website excerpted)

Share Solidarity with Jailed MI CATS

WIRT shares deep respect and sadness with our valiant anti-tar sands comrades.  On Friday, January 31, after a four-day trial of three brave and peaceful female activists, a jury found them guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and felony resisting/obstructing an officer.  Judge Collette’s disdain for the defendants and their supporters refused to allow expert witnesses and documentation and revoked their bond.  The increased police presence in the courtroom on Friday immediately took all three women into custody until their March 5 sentencing of possibly years in jail.  Their acts of love, protection, and courage do not deserve such harsh treatment and felony charges.  Vickie became a great grandmother last week, and Lisa expects a new grandchild this week.  Visit the MI CATS website and facebook pages to find ways to share strength and solidarity with them.  Please send to them handwritten, 4-by-6-inch postcards/index cards without images, mailed to the Ingham County Jail, 640 N. Cedar Street, Mason, MI 48854.  Continent-wide resistance to tar sands, fossil fuels, and unfair corporations and “justice systems” will continue to grow! Continue reading

Monday Highway 12 Megaload Alert

Mammoet Truck 2-1-14While Big Oil is hitting the region on all sides with megaloads these days, admired Nez Perce allies have been saying since Wednesday morning, January 29, that shipments hauled by Everett (Emmert that transported ConocoPhillips half coke drums?), not Omega Morgan, will attempt Highway 12 travel on February 8, through the Middle Fork Clearwater/Lochsa river corridor. Local people will assist by contracting their services, like Terry Jackson, the big, bad-tempered guy with the “Keep Idaho Green $$$” sign in Syringa, who raises wires and lines over the highway for thousands of dollars per job.

Groups like Friends of the Clearwater and Idaho Rivers United, who have been submitting ongoing public records requests, conveyed no awareness of this incursion when asked on Friday. The Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC), mostly arrested during August protests, has also said nothing about megaload plans. No one knows if these likely mammoth trucks are heading to purportedly cheap sources of oil and gas in the Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale fields. It is also unclear whether Everett is moving during the day, like the Vietnamese cylinder, or at night. Thus, planning street parties, human barricades, and civil disobedience with Nez Perce warriors, at the Clearwater River Casino or beyond, has been difficult. But people are mad as hell, willing to stand up to and/or chase the next interloper, while expecting tribal police to defend the Nimiipuu people and lands. Continue reading

Highway 95 Damage South of Moscow 4-2-12

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Highway 95 Damage South of Moscow 4-2-12 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

Between April 11, 2011, and March 6, 2012, Mammoet hauled over 70 transports weighing up to 500,000 pounds on U.S. Highways 12 and 95 and Interstate 90 through northern Idaho, between the Port of Lewiston and Lolo or Lookout Pass and into western Montana.  Expensively and dangerously facilitated by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), state police, and private contractors, its risky Imperial Oil megaloads imperiled the safety and schedules of travelers, while delaying, confusing, and blocking public highway access and traffic with their 16- to 24-foot, two-lane widths and lengthy, glaring cargoes and convoys.  Transport operations caused personal injury and property damage through numerous accidents and collisions with vehicles, tree branches, and power lines, as they degraded highways with washboard ruts in lane centers, and pummeled saturated road beds, crumbling shoulders, and outdated bridges [1-3].  Concurrent, colossal transportation ventures through the region, imposed by other haulers, crashed into cliffs and impeded public and private emergency services [4, 5].

As Mammoet again targets Highway 95 with the heaviest (1.6-million-pound), longest (474-foot), and widest (27-foot) tar sands megaloads ever to traverse Idaho, perhaps in February 2014, Wild Idaho Rising Tide releases these photos taken heading north like transports on the seven-mile stretch of the highway south of Moscow, Idaho, on April  2, 2012.  They depict washboard grooves in the middle of lanes, rippled center lines and areas, and cracked and stripped pavement layers on Highway 95, all inflicted by Mammoet’s Imperial Oil transports between July 2011 and March 2012.  Most recently – and significantly for water quality along the proposed Mammoet Coeur d’Alene lakeside megaload route – ITD authorized application of 1000 gallons of de-icing fluid of unknown chemical composition, to assist the re-start and passage of an Omega Morgan shipment hindered for weeks by weather and permit complications on the Idaho side of Lost Trail Pass [6]. Continue reading