WIRT Newsletter: Mammoet Withdraws Megaload Permits, But Perkins, the People, & the Ports Push On

Mammoet Withdraws Megaload Permits

For months during 2014, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and eight allied Idaho, Montana, and Washington groups have remained uncertain of the status of the long-standing, region-wide, tar sands ‘megaload’ onslaught advanced by hauler Mammoet USA South Inc. [1].  More than three years of controversy and citizen resistance have surrounded the Vancouver, Washington-based company’s tar sands mining and refinery equipment transports through the sacrifice zone of court-blocked U.S. Highway 12 – U.S. Highway 95 through Moscow and other northern Idaho routes.  In 2011 and 2012, Mammoet moved 350 ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil components of the Kearl Oil Sands Project across Washington, Idaho, and Montana, including 70-plus modules through relentless WIRT and allied protests and convoy monitoring in Moscow and along Highway 95, in Spokane, Washington, and on U.S. Highway 395 and Interstate 90.  During intensive civil disobedience against Mammoet equipment shipments, resulting in 13 arrests, citations, and court cases arising from sit-in and critical-mass-bike blockades and monitoring, allied campaigns and lawsuits declared “conquest” of the re-routed modules of one-fifth of an Alberta tar sands processing facility, overshadowing the region’s efforts to halt the climate change wrought by fossil fuel corporations and unaccountable, facilitating governments.

On Thursday, May 15, and Monday, May 19, WIRT and allies received Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) public records indicating that Mammoet has abandoned its most recent plans to transport three hydrocracker parts from the Port of Wilma, Clarkston, Washington, across north Idaho via Highway 95 and either Interstate 90 or Idaho Highway 200, to a Great Falls, Montana, tar sands refinery expansion [2].  In response to April 28 and 29 written WIRT requests and a May 14 phone message, ITD District 1 staff in Coeur d’Alene denied the existence of any April 2014 public records about Mammoet’s proposal [3].  On at least four occasions since the mid-December 2013 public revelation of Mammoet’s recent scheme to haul three 1.6-million-pound, 441-feet-long megaloads up Highway 95 to Montana, ITD has obviously (with supporting evidence) withheld or denied and otherwise provided late or incomplete public records requested by WIRT.

But WIRT allies asked for the same April 2014 information from ITD headquarters in Boise on April 30, and inexplicably obtained and forwarded it, validating that the Boise ITD office did not share some of this material with Coeur d’Alene ITD employees and that the latter purposely withheld public documents from WIRT.  Among various bridge weight-bearing analyses and ID-Mammoet communications, an April 23 email message from Warren “Chip” Kachel of Mammoet to ITD District 1 operations manager Jason Minzghor, Doral Hoff and Reggie Phipps of ITD, Chris Schenck of the Idaho State Police, Cynthia Heinert and Brad Marten of the Montana Department of Transportation, Sonja Clark of the Washington Department of Transportation, and Richard Zondag declared a “termination of permits” with its subject line.  The terse note states, “Please cancel all permits involving Mammoet USA routing to Great Falls, Montana, from the Port of Wilma, Washington, via Idaho U.S. 95/Idaho 200” [4].

Wild Idaho Rising Tide extends our deepest gratitude and congratulations on this issue development to the many WIRT activists and allies in four states who have scouted and documented megaload ports and routes, researched and provided government files and newspaper articles, offered legal advice and defense, attended and protested at public meetings, and participated in discussions and direct action workshops.  As big oil, coal, and gas companies increasingly struggle to maximize their profits though extraction, production, and transportation of marginally lucrative, difficultly obtained extreme energy, grassroots resistance to consequent ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos grows around the world:

For decades, backlash has been thought to be both limited and ineffectual, but new evidence suggests that protests from local people are effective, extremely costly for the companies, and often lead to substantive changes to or total abandonment of a project…Perhaps not surprisingly, protests were most successful when they took place early on, during feasibility and construction phases of a project [5]. Continue reading