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].

Perkins, the People, & the Ports Push On

But while compiling and posting these public records on the WIRT website for this media/member news release, a previously overlooked email message and two attached public documents emerged [6].  They disclosed that, since late April, Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting of Northfield, Minnesota, is replacing Mammoet but plotting the same route for the three hydrocracker parts, between the Port of Wilma and the Great Falls Calumet refinery expansion [7].  WIRT cannot offer explanations about why ITD denied public records or why Calumet switched heavy haulers, except that WIRT and allies hold plenty of prior, derogatory evidence against Mammoet.  Reminiscent of the twin of the Omega Morgan-hauled evaporator that encountered Nez Perce resistance in August 2013, broken into five huge sections and snuck (with police assistance) through Moscow and northern Idaho on two October and November 2013 trips, with barely a whimper from the press and public, Perkins has been moving dismantled tar sands evaporators to Alberta through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan [8].  These evaporator pieces have gone to the same Cold Lake, Alberta, area rife with the underground, steam-assisted, tar sands mining/fracking operations contested by the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation lawsuit, where oily bitumen has been seeping to the surface of indigenous lands and lakes for over a year [9].

As witnessed by Omega Morgan transporters of tar sands cargo during the winter of 2013-14, opposition throughout the region will remain vigilant and resistant to this latest fiasco and all similar scenarios and alternative river and road routes pursued by megaload haulers, including the Port of Umatilla and eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana highways as well as Alberta tar sands and fracked Bakken shale oil equipment fabrication and assembly facilities in Montana [10, 11].  Citizens also intend to further report state and possible federal violations of public records laws precipitated by ITD malfeasance, and to comment on and challenge any state permits required by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and other agencies, for expansion of the Montana Refining Company destination of the currently abandoned Port of Wilma megaloads, both owned by Calumet Specialty Products Partners [12].

Meanwhile, Clearwater and Snake River welfare ports in the vicinity of Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Washington, subsidized by federal and county taxpayers, endlessly invite civic unrest, if not climate chaos.  As lawsuits continue to successfully obstruct Highway 12 megaloads, Highway 95, Interstate 90, and Idaho Highway 200 could become major industrial thoroughfares to Alberta and Bakken extreme energy development projects.

The Port [of Lewiston] is seeking to increase the amount it sets aside for legal expenses, from $9,000 this year to $33,000 next year, to be prepared for litigation to keep the U.S. Highway 12 corridor open for megaloads…The port made more than half a million dollars when modules for an Imperial Oil processing plant went through Lewiston about three years ago.  In upcoming months, [port manager] Doeringsfeld…will also visit places such as Spokane and the oil fields in North Dakota looking for new outgoing and incoming cargo [13].

But the Port of Lewiston spent almost 80 percent of the half-million dollars that it acquired in yard storage fees from the ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil components in 2011 on up to 19 security guards defending the tar sands behemoths from pesky protesters [14].  Go luck with re-runs, megaload proponents!

Manifest WIRT Appreciation

Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists have been working diligently to banish climate-wrecking tar sands and other fossil fuel infrastructure from the Northwest, staging and supporting dozens of megaload, oil and gas leasing/drilling, and coal/oil train/port protests, direct action workshops, and community meetings as well as researching, producing, sending, and posting public comments and records requests, newsletters, website and facebook posts, and radio shows, and traveling and raising resistance from John Day, Oregon, to Missoula, Montana, and from Idaho Falls to Sandpoint, Idaho, just in the last six winter and spring months alone.  Thousands of dollars, miles, and hours of blood, sweat, and tears later, Mammoet and possibly Omega Morgan have forfeited their regional megaload machinations.  Please support WIRT’s maximum success and minimal subsistence.  Donate to WIRT through this link or the following address.

THANKS!

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

[1] WIRT Newsletter: Highway 95 Megaload Resistance and Missing Trailer, Grassroots Environmental Summit and Protests (May 14, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Mammoet Megaloads Public Records 5-15-14 (May 19, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[3] WIRT Newsletter: Congratulations, Condolence​s, Upcoming Events, and Highway 95/200 Megaloads (May 2, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[4] “Bittersweet Megaload Victory” Sends Mammoet Packing (May 20, 2014 Earth First! Newswire)

[5] Local Protesters Are Killing Big Oil and Mining Projects Worldwide (May 12, 2014 Vice)

[6] Perkins Calumet Public Records 5-15-14 (May 19, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[7] Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting (Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting)

[8] Minnesota Big Rigs Move through the Lakeland Area (February 27, 2014 Lakeland Times)

[9] Apache Stainless Equipment to Bonnyville, Alberta, Canada (May 22, 2014 Google Maps)

[10] Northwest Protests of Omega Morgan-Hauled Tar Sands Megaloads (January 25, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[11] Metal Fabrication in Montana (October 2013 Montana Department of Commerce)

[12] State Error Delays Permitting for Montana Refinery Project (May 16, 2014 Oil and Gas Journal)

[13] Port of Lewiston Wants Megaloads Back (May 15, 2014 Lewiston Tribune)

[14] Lewiston Port Details Revenue from Megaloads (December 17, 2011 Lewiston Tribune)

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

  1. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Retreating Highway 95 Megaloads, Montana Manufactur​ers, Idaho Resistance Prevails? | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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