Congratulations to our colleagues on the Obama administration’s recent decision to effectively delay if not reject permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline. Perhaps now, citizen activists and conservation organizations can turn their energies and support toward halting Alberta tar sands construction projects. While their campaigns have worked diligently to expose the corruption behind Keystone XL environmental analyses and government decisions, to stage intricately orchestrated and well-attended protests and arrests around the White House, and/or to generate millions of letters to pertinent officials demanding pipeline rejection, the people of rural Idaho have been stepping into and sitting directly in the path of ExxonMobil tar sands equipment.
Through five court cases, three dozen direct confrontations, and numerous demonstrations and monitoring activities, Idahoans and Montanans have stalled transportation of tar sands upgrader parts over our fragile rural roads and through our wildlands. Since October 2010, Imperial Oil, a Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil, has shipped, barged, and trucked over one hundred pieces of gargantuan, Korean-made, industrial equipment from the Ports of Vancouver and Pasco, Washington, and Lewiston, Idaho. During the next six months, Northwest interstates could be overrun by another 300 transports of these two-lane wide, 500,000-pound “megaloads” escorted by aggressive, industry-sponsored state police.
Many more could follow: in October 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council disclosed agreements between ExxonMobil and a Korean manufacturer to build 1200 of these tar sands modules. If citizens continue to successfully defend our Wild and Scenic river corridor along Highway 12 from full-size, 30-foot tall, 200-foot long megaloads, the resulting split-height shipments that the hauler Mammoet currently fits under overpasses on Highway 95 through our Moscow, Idaho, home and on Interstates 395, 90, and 15 could number another 2300.
Besides expanding the largest, most expensive and resource intensive, climate wrecking project on Earth, ExxonMobil is (again tonight!) brashly endangering travelers’ safety and convenience, challenging our road access and civil liberties, and degrading our infrastructure and public resources. Despite these obvious harms at the hands of the one the largest corporations in the world, we have been unable to secure legal representation for a belated administrative hearing, and protest participation against EVERY megaload passage is dwindling.
In the reddest of the red states, Wild Idaho Rising Tide would appreciate fellow conservationists’ assistance halting this insidious, incremental invasion and subsequent tar sands development, to which Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipeline construction is only secondary. Can we collectively impede tar sands contributions to global climate change if we abandon grassroots groups fighting at the forefront of tar sands supply lines? We encourage and eagerly anticipate your active involvement in this most crucial of anti-tar sands battles.