Sunday, August 10, Launch & Opposition to Bigge-Haul​ed Calumet Megaload


Late on Thursday morning, August 7, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) received confirmation from a regional journalist that an overlegal load awaiting transport by Bigge Crane and Rigging Company from the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Washington, to Great Falls, Montana, may move on Sunday evening, August 10, and successive nights afterwards between 10 pm to 6 am.  As noted by Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 1  business manager Scotty Fellom in Coeur d’Alene, ITD public involvement coordinator Adam Rush in Boise said that ITD is preparing and expects to issue a permit and press release on Friday afternoon, leaving little or no time for public and/or legal recourse during normal business hours.

The bottom hydrocracker section would double or triple production of Alberta tar sands crude oil at the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls, Montana, owned by Calumet Specialty Products Partners.  Hauled by several heavy-duty pull and push trucks and interconnected trailers, the entire transport weighs 926,000 pounds and measures 311 feet long, 21 feet wide, and one inch short of 17 feet high, the heaviest and longest load to ever traverse the proposed U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200 route in Idaho.  According to two sources, one at the Lewiston ITD office, the two larger and wider parts of the hydrocracker left the Port of Wilma via rail about three weeks ago.  These circumstances lead observers to believe that this shipment is pushing the limits of critical, rural, publicly owned and funded highway and bridge infrastructure.

As exemplified in four years of Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allied resistance to such new fossil fuel infrastructure transported as “megaloads” across four states, WIRT and other concerned groups and citizens oppose this latest onslaught.  In February 2014, we successfully diverted these three loads from Mammoet USA South’s scheme to build a temporary Interstate 90 on-ramp east of Coeur d’Alene, where previous interchange construction had collapsed into Lake Coeur d’Alene, by insisting on full environmental impact statement review of the project.  We will continue to monitor, protest, and petition to halt passage of this Bigge-hauled refinery equipment in Lewiston, Moscow, Plummer, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Hope, and throughout the region, for myriad, justifiable reasons, including the ones outlined here.

1. Public Participation Averted

Although ITD hosted and/or participated in open house and public meetings in Coeur d’Alene in December 2013 and in Moscow in January 2014, ITD has provided no public participation or education opportunities regarding this gargantuan transport proposal, the first to attempt movement on the U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200 route.  May 30 email messages from the ITD Boise and Coeur d’Alene offices to Bigge Crane and Rigging Company stated that, “They [Bigge/Mammoet] will need some public involvement; also they will need Idaho State Police escort in some areas,” and “You will need to work with Jason [Minzghor of ITD District 1] on setting up public meetings, where you will need Idaho State Police, and on contacting ISP to make arrangements for the move” [1].  According to regional journalists and to ITD public records received by WIRT on July 31, the company and perhaps ITD met with city and county officials and police, but never engaged in announced, open public meetings. Continue reading

WIRT Newsletter: Thursday WIRT Planning Potluck, Montana & Sandpoint Megaload Updates


WIRT Potluck/Planning Meeting Every Thursday

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) would appreciate WIRT activists stepping forward to design direct actions before the next, heaviest and longest megaload ever to traverse northern Idaho’s dilapidated, publicly-owned infrastructure launches from the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Washington.  Please join us this (and any or every!) Thursday, August 7, at 7 pm at the WIRT Activists House (call 208-301-8039 for directions, if necessary).  We plan to share potluck food and strategize and prepare for tar sands megaload and coal export actions that entail more than just showing up and waving signs.  Please participate in the many necessary roles and work carried forward by the WIRT collective every day!  Through various methods over the next few weeks, we are working to hold state and federal agencies and fossil fuel companies regionally responsible for more transparency, public involvement, and stewardship [1].

Montana Megaload Updates

On Monday afternoon, August 4, one of WIRT’s amazing Montana allies posted a question on the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) website and received this polite and prompt reply: “Thank you for visiting our website and your inquiry concerning Mammoet Company or Bigge Crane and Rigging.  They have been working through the process, and no permits have been issued at this time.”  In his email reply, our friend asked MDT’s Dan Kiely if he could please notify him if MDT grants a permit for this megaload.  He is also keeping his Flathead Reservation tribal council friends and other neighbors apprised of the situation.

During Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon, August 5 and 6, the Montana Department of Transportation sent a follow-up note about the planned Calumet tar sands refinery hydrocracker part shipment to the same Montana comrade.  It stated “MDT is planning on issuing a press release prior to any movement in Montana.  Just for a point of clarification, the proposal that is under review only lists U.S. Highway 93 in the Kalispell area.”  Why was MDT so quick to clarify, even without a query [2]?

As suspected and upon further correspondence with MDT to ascertain the latest Montana megaload plan, the agency refers to a proposed Bigge Crane and Rigging transport route, submitted to MDT for review and approval, similar to Mammoet’s April scheme avoiding Montana Highway 200 through the Flathead Reservation.  Instead, the megaload would enter the state from Idaho on Highway 200, then travel on Montana Highway 56 through the beautiful Bull River Valley near the Cabinet Mountains, then move east on U.S. Highway 2 to Kalispell, Montana [3].  The million-plus-pound behemoth would then make a 31-mile, northerly detour around the 14-foot-high railroad overpass above East Idaho Street in Kalispell: North on Route 424 and Highway 93, east on Montana Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 2, then south on Route 206 and Montana Highway 35 to within a few miles of Flathead Lake and the town of Big Fork [See the attached photo: East Idaho Street Kalispell Megaload Obstacle].  It would then invade the wildly scenic Seeley-Swan Valley via Montana Highway 83, to return to eastbound Highway 200 and Great Falls.  To access its Montana Refining Company destination, Bigge would lumber down the Interstate 15 Frontage Road, Northwest Bypass, and the U.S. Highway 87 Bypass/Third Street Northwest in Great Falls. Continue reading