Tuesday to Thursday Missoula Megaload Blockades, Round Dances, and Arrests


Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Missoula 1-22-14 (January 22 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

Montana, Idaho, and Washington tribal and climate activists are meeting again for two more Missoula tar sands megaload protests at the Rosauers at Reserve and South Streets, at 12 midnight on Wednesday/Thursday, January 22-23, and Thursday/Friday, January 23-24!

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Montana Indian Peoples Action, along with Blue Skies Campaign, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, Spokane Rising Tide, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, protested, prayed, and round-danced against a “megaload,” a colossal piece of tar sands processing equipment that Omega Morgan hauled on Reserve Street through Missoula, Montana, on Wednesday morning, January 22 [1-4].  Bringing together residents of Missoula and other communities in Montana, Idaho, and Washington affected by tar sands transportation projects, the approximately 50 protesters stood in solidarity with the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes in Idaho, the Confederated Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes in Oregon, and especially the First Nations people in Canada, who oppose tar sands mining and its pollution and devastation of their ancestral homelands in present-day Alberta.

Exploitation of bitumen oil deposits drives the largest, most environmentally destructive, industrial operation on Earth.  The groups involved in Wednesday’s protest of Omega Morgan-hauled evaporators and heat exchangers, used in-situ/steam assisted gravity drainage extraction of tar sands, expressed their deep concerns about the impacts of tar sands development on global climate, air and water quality, and human, wildlife, and ecosystem health.  Like ordinary citizens throughout North America who prefer clean, sustainable energy, not dirty fossil fuel production, they can no longer ignore the irreversible harms imposed by the oil, gas, coal, and tar sands industries. Continue reading

City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Meeting 1-15-13


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City of Moscow Mammoet Megaload Meeting 1-15-13 (January 16 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Wednesday, January 15, from 3 to 5 pm, during most people’s working hours, the City of Moscow, Idaho, held an “open” public meeting about three Mammoet-hauled oversize loads proposed for Highway 95 and Interstate 90 passage.  Moscow, Latah County, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), local and state law enforcement, Mammoet, and other officials participated in the information-sharing session in the downtown Moscow City Hall Council Chambers.  New Mayor Bill Lambert facilitated the discussion that primarily posed questions to ITD, Mammoet, and police representatives and viewed a brief Mammoet slide show about the venture.

Although the city sought written community input prior to the “hearing,” it disallowed opportunities for direct engagement through verbal public testimony and queries.  Two Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists re-asserted some direct democracy among the corporate lackeys, decrying this instance of lack of public involvement by occupying the front row near the chambers door, with mouths covered with tape reading “No Tar Sands” and with protest signs declaring “Stop Tar Sands,” “Idaho Says No! to Dirty Energy,” and “Wild Idaho Rising Tide Stands in Solidarity with ACFN” (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation). Continue reading

Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Mountain Home 1-7-14


Omega Morgan Tar Sands Megaload Passage and Protest, Mountain Home, Idaho 1-7-14

Monitors Following an Omega Morgan Tar Sands Megaload Convoy, Mountain Home, Idaho 1-7-14

Monitors Blocked by an Oncoming Omega Morgan Tar Sands Megaload Convoy, Mountain Home, Idaho 1-7-14

Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Mountain Home 1-7-14 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

Despite thorough searches among various regional media sources, a megaload news black-out seemed to have occurred on Saturday and Sunday, January 4 and 5, while 350 Idaho, Occupy Boise, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) climate activists and concerned Wood River Valley and Boise area community members shared successful slide show presentations, a documentary film, and discussions about Alberta tar sands exploitation, regional megaload transports, and direct action tactics and strategies [1].  These tar sands opponents belatedly learned of Omega Morgan transport movement between Ironside, Oregon, and Hammett, Idaho, as they anticipated another protest in Marsing, Idaho, on Monday night, January 6 [2].  However, the previous three-night journey of the first megaload apparently required only two nights of the second transport, which quietly and unexpectedly entered Idaho on Sunday morning, January 5, and crossed Marsing on Sunday night, perhaps purposely avoiding the protests so dramatically publicized during the first incursion [3, 4, 5]. Continue reading

Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Salmon 1-5-14


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Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Salmon 1-5-14 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Saturday, January 4, the first Omega Morgan-hauled tar sands megaload to cross southern Idaho left Howe after 10 pm, despite earlier, conflicting reports that the convoy would not move that night.  Miscommunication slowed its launch for 45 minutes, as the Idaho State Police (ISP), Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), and Omega Morgan failed to inform the Butte County sheriff deputy and local law enforcement and first responders of the transport’s departure.  Locals decried the lack of notice, protecting the big rig from ‘evil’ protesters, while risking the death or property loss of citizens.  The megaload headed up Highway 28 over Gilmore Pass and through Leadore, to park about four or five miles before Salmon, almost to the 28 Club Restaurant, along the south side of Highway 28.

Occupying most of a large pull-out adjacent to the Lemhi L6 diversion and fish screen and ladder, next to the Lemhi River at the foot of the first bridge over it southeast of town, the megaload perched precariously close to the aquatic home of threatened Columbia Basin bull trout, Snake River Basin steelhead, and Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon.  The public has spent millions of dollars to help restore these rare fish and their critical habitats in riparian areas that also host nesting and wintering bald eagles, golden eagles, sage grouse, and other imperiled species.

During the sunny Sunday of January 5, people gawked, took photos, and chatted with the two security guards, without protesters or real police or sheriffs in sight, at the big tourist event that even attracted Idaho Falls folks, who were in the area with their children for a weekend hockey tournament.  Apparently in Idaho, size matters, but so does climate change!  The first passage of megaloads through southern Idaho presented great opportunities for Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists to educate citizens and raise money for the anti-tar sands cause, by distributing brochures and information to onlookers and selling hot chocolate, coffee, donuts, and perhaps even T-shirts with a map of megaload stops. Continue reading

Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 12-30-13


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Idaho and Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman 12-30-13 (December 30 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Monday, December 30, about 20 people gathered between 9 pm and 2 am at Timmerman Junction, to protest, document, and/or watch a megaload of tar sands equipment travel east from Cat Creek Summit, across south central Idaho, and eventually north through Montana and Alberta [1-6].  The first of three shipments moved by Portland area heavy hauler Omega Morgan since December 2 and over the next month, on a new route departing from the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, the 901,000-pound, 376-foot-long heat exchanger core of a wastewater evaporator is owned and designed by General Electric subsidiary Resources Conservation Company International.  Athabasca Oil Corporation will install these mining effluent recyclers in its Hangingstone steam assisted gravity drainage tar sands mining facility southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta [7].  Protest organizers 350 Idaho, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allies extend our gratitude to Idaho Mountain Express reporter Terry Smith for his recent articles that have single-handedly, locally educated Wood River Valley residents about Alberta tar sands issues.

Most of the progressive participants in the Monday night demonstration hailed from the Wood River Valley towns of  Gannett, Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley, within ten miles of Timmerman Junction, the intersection of east-west-trending U.S. Highway 20 and north-south thoroughfare Idaho Highway 75 in Idaho.  Some protesters arrived at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) rest area meeting place, on the southwest side of the junction, after traveling 55 miles from Twin Falls or 125 miles from Boise.  At least three generations held protest signs and banners against the corporate, industrial onslaught that slowed beneath the intersection signal light at about 1:30 am on Tuesday morning, December 31.  During megaload passage, police closed both highways to regular traffic. Continue reading

Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Marsing 12-28-13


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Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Marsing 12-28-13 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

On Saturday evening, December 28, 2013, four women from Boise, Moscow, and Parma, Idaho, gathered with difficulty and courage in Marsing, Idaho, to protest a 450-ton, 376-foot-long component of new tar sands mining facilities, as it exploited Idahoans’ highways, bridges, and rights on its way to Alberta, Canada.  Outnumbered by more than 100 onlookers who seemed mostly supportive of the Omega Morgan-hauled transport of the General Electric subsidiary equipment, they stood in silent, sorrowful vigil, demonstrating their opposition with protest signs reading, for example, “End Big Oil Tyranny” and “Idaho Says No Dirty Energy” [1, 2].

Staged by 350 Idaho and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, the first ever southern Idaho transit and protest of controversial tar sands megaloads, relatively close to the Boise metropolitan area, attracted several regional, commercial and private media representatives, who interviewed and photographed participants [3, 4, 5].  For a third winter, the vigilant activists stood in defiance of the global impacts wrought by tar sands shipments that ultimately degrade public infrastructure, civil liberties, indigenous lives and ways, boreal ecosystems, and worldwide climate [6].  Except through public displays of dissent, they have found no recourse to the state and federal governments who permit, subsidize, and accept hefty lobbyist donations from the wealthiest corporations – the oil, gas, and coal companies – to profit from the largest and most destructive energy extraction project on Earth. Continue reading

Vietnam-Made Liquid Full Absorber 10-20&21-13


On Sunday afternoon, October 20, on the way to scout the Port of Wilma, three Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists spotted a megaload with an oversized load banner and Alberta license plates (4MMO-31).  The liquid full absorber manufactured by Doosan Heavy Industries Vietnam, on Trail King trailers licensed in Alberta and provided by R & D Trailer Rentals, parked facing downhill (southbound) at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) weigh station on the top of the Highway 95 Lewiston grade.  The cylindrical module, used to process natural gas or other fossil fuels, measures 15.38 feet wide, 14.64 feet high, and 38.71 to 49.21 feet long, with a gross weight of 64,174 pounds.  WIRT documented the equipment specifications with videos and photos.

Nez Perce tribal activists Alicia and Mary Jane Oatman were traveling west on U.S. Highway 12 near Greer, during daylight hours on Monday, October 21, when they saw this oversized load with Alberta license plates speeding east with two pilot cars, wide enough to take up a lane and a half.  As soon as they reached a cell phone service area, they called their mother, Judy Oatman, to ask if she could videotape the mini-megaload’s passage and get its permit information.  Judy confronted the Canada-bound transport by staging a perpendicular, solo vehicle blockade, to briefly stop the Vietnam-made absorber crossing her mother’s land.  She questioned the transport crew and put them on notice that they were trespassing illegally through Nez Perce lands.  They drove around her truck, probably called the cops, and proceeded through Kamiah and over the Clearwater River bridge.  Judy took two separate videos with good footage and continued monitoring the sneaky big corporations’ obviously dangerous load, as it probably headed to Alberta to refine natural gas used to extract and process tar sands.

Without news of this shipment in the regional papers, and allies awaiting the results of their gracious Highway 95 public records request, no one knew what the load was (a natural gas dehydrator?), where it came from (across Washington from the coast or rivers?), and where it was going in Canada.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) sent out a media release to motivate press communication with various state agencies, in an effort to belatedly reveal the truth of the situation on Tuesday.  A media source contacted Lonnie Richardson of the Idaho State Police, who said that this big load (and similar ones to come) traveled Highway 12 to the Gifford Reubens Road to Highway 95, bypassing a defunct railroad trestle near Lapwai and heading south toward Grangeville.  This natural gas processor could have moved southward toward the soon-to-be-fracked Payette County oil and gas field.  But our trustworthy Nez Perce allies saw the load move through Kamiah.  Dennis Bernstein of the nationally broadcast radio show Flashpoints called WIRT, in response to our October 21 press release, but we told him that we still did not have enough information about this fiasco.  KRFP Radio Free Moscow covered the incident on its Monday evening report, and Judy called and interviewed for KRFP’s Tuesday evening news program.

The Idaho Transportation Department stated that the module was an “excessive load,” not considered a “megaload.”  The agency provided no public notice of this transport except a returned phone call from Doral Hoff of the ITD Lewiston office, who confirmed that the megaload traveled on Highway 12 to Montana and Canada during daylight hours on Monday, October 21.  For a few days, WIRT and tribal allies remained unsure whether this absorber went up Highway 13 to Highway 95 and south to Payette County gas fields or up Highway 12 to Montana and Alberta.  On Wednesday, October 23, Adam Rush of the Boise ITD office verified that the mini-megaload arrived at the Montana border, via Highway 12, at 3:30 pm PDT on that Monday.  He also described a typical three-step process of public notification about this transport that was inexplicably rushed and unaccomplished in this instance.  Unimpeded by Judge Winmill’s preliminary injunction and the subsequent Forest Service closure order prohibiting Highway 12 passage of only Omega Morgan megaloads larger than 16 feet wide and 150 feet long, this hauling company and ITD blatantly disregarded the regional tar sands/megaload resistance community.  This situation and the October 15-16 dismantled evaporator transports through Moscow on Highway 95 prove that ITD will sneak Omega Morgan and other companies’ oversized shipments up both Highways 12 and 95.

Vietnam-Made Liquid Full Absorber 10-20-13 (October 20 Wild Idaho Rising Tide videos)

Nez Perce Briefly Block Oversize Load Nearly Big Enough to Trigger Judicial Review (October 21 KRFP Evening Report)

Interview with Nez Perce Woman Who Temporarily Halted Load Almost Big Enough to Qualify as Megaload on Reservation (October 22 KRFP Evening Report)

(All photos except the Kamiah photo provided by Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

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Fall 2013 Moscow Megaload Protests


Barging in Alberta tar sands facilities components, despite court/street resistance, dissembling them, and sneaking them up Highway 95 are apparently becoming standard, default, corporate operating procedure.  General Electric subsidiary Resources Conservation Company International (RCCI) has been hiding and taking apart such megaloads in a leased Port of Wilma warehouse.  Omega Morgan, Morgan Machinery, and their state police and transportation department facilitators slipped four legal weight “sump sections” up Highway 95 and through Moscow on the night of October 15-16.  Adam Rush of the Idaho Transportation Department said that these smaller, lighter transports are “different from the piece of equipment that is still at the Port of Wilma,” probably only because they were no longer attached to it.

No one blockaded the first two suddenly apparent pieces of the controversial RCCI evaporator that passed the too-familiar Third and Washington Street protest haunt in downtown Moscow at 11 pm on Tuesday.  The vertical cylinders appeared to be the larger-diameter, outer layers of the second, plastic-wrapped evaporator that arrived at the port on July 22 with the similar megaload that encountered early-August Nez Perce and allied resistance on Highway 12.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists noticed Moscow city police looking out their nearby back door several times and even walking across the street from them, while city, county, and state police vehicles drove by numerous times, all watching and perhaps waiting for protesters to leave, after the first two RCCI loads traversed the city.  At 2 am, haulers snuck the last pair of megaloads past Moscow area residents, after they dispersed at 1:30 am.

Like permitting protocol for the 33 overlegal ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands processing components that also sought Highway 12 passage but were court-blocked and not as secretly down-sized by mostly out-of-state workers to approximately 70 half-height Highway 95 modules during 2011-12, RCCI also certified to the Idaho Transportation Department that it could not reduce the size of its steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) mining evaporators and thus must transport them through the overpass-free Nez Perce Reservation and wild public lands and rivers around Highway 12.  It revealed its lies when Omega Morgan and Morgan Machinery moved pieces of the court-stranded evaporator through Moscow on Tuesday evening, October 15.  Heavy hauler Mammoet similarly tried to sneak Imperial Oil behemoths weighing up to 415,000 pounds past Moscow area protesters and monitors.

Are the widths of the remaining parts of the huge second evaporator, seen outside the port warehouse on October 14 and 15, narrow enough to not require oversize permits and public notice and thus traverse Highways 95 or 12 unnoticed?  Their schematics originally submitted to the Idaho Transportation Department imply otherwise.  Expect resistance soon to more oversize loads that will compromise Highway 95 night-time safety, indigenous lands, waters, and people in Alberta, and the global climate!  Moscow and Wild Idaho Rising Tide are fortunate to exercise our responsibility as gatekeepers to Alberta tar sands hell!  People across the Northwest should obstruct every such route on rivers and roads leading north!

No Tar Sands Megaloads Anywhere! (October 15 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

Four Oversized Loads to Travel Tonight on U.S. Highway 95 (October 15 Lewiston Tribune)

Megaloads Return to Moscow Streets Tonight (October 15 KRFP Evening Report)

General Electric Apparently Splitting Stranded Tar Sands Evaporator to Send Parts up U.S. 95 (October 16 KRFP Evening Report)

Mini-Megaloads Head for Montana via U.S. Highway 95 (October 16 Lewiston Tribune)

Megaloads Draw Protesters (October 17 Moscow-Pullman Daily News)

WIRT Scouting the Port of Wilma 10-20-13 (October 20 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video)

Omega Morgan/Morgan Machinery Highway 95 Sump Section Superload Applications & Traffic Plan 10-15-13 (Idaho Transportation Department)

Evaporator at the Port of Wilma 10-14-13 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photo)

Evaporator at the Port of Wilma 1 pm 10-15-13 (Wild Idaho Rising Tide photo)

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Smoke Ranch Well Protest 8-2-13


On Thursday and Friday, August 1 and 2, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction (IRAGE) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) arranged carpools from north Idaho and Boise to the current Payette County drilling area, to stage the first, overdue, public, on-site, oil and natural gas drilling protest in Idaho history.  With continent-wide recognition through Earth First! Newswire coverage, even Utah comrades called WIRT and considered participation.  At 3 pm MDT on August 2, friends, family, and neighbors gathered with their fracking/drilling protest signs and banners, cameras and binoculars at the A & W Restaurant/Chevron gas station just north of Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.  These dozen protesters from across the state and country chanted and waved signs at the nearby high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30.  They then followed organizers to the Smoke Ranch well site on Highway 52, from where Alta Mesa Services had moved a drilling derrick to the new ML Investments well pad, soon after the IRAGE/WIRT announcement of this demonstration of outrage.

Along Highway 52, the protesters observed the capped well head and pad of the first directionally drilled natural gas well in the state, located in a floodplain full of standing water, wetlands, riparian areas, and a wildlife refuge, between the Payette River and Big Willow Creek.  The ultimate outcome of the Smoke Ranch well could set a precedent for looming drilling/fracking on and under nearby state lands and waters already leased by Alta Mesa and Snake River Oil and Gas.  From the roadside only a few miles upstream from the City of Fruitland municipal water intake and the Payette/Snake River confluence, IRAGE activists had monitored the well site daily.  On that sunny August afternoon, the first time that many of the demonstrators had seen Idaho oil and gas facilities, Alma Hasse of IRAGE described the prior activity and equipment at the well site, and pointed out the location of a possible diesel fuel or drilling mud spill clean-up that she and Tina Fisher documented on July 21.  Everyone also noticed the close proximity of working ranches and community irrigation canals to the well situated below distantly recognizable sandstone cliffs and bluffs.

At the last stop during this great educational and expressive event, concerned citizens converged along Little Willow Road, to view the derrick and operations of the ML Investments 2-10 well, situated on a private road and property.  No news reporters joined the protesters as they considered, discussed, and learned about the strong, impending possibilities of compromised air and surface and ground water quality, threatened environmental and human health, and jeopardized local agricultural, recreational, and economic productivity, which oil and gas exploration and production of the Hamilton/Willow gas field could impose on the surrounding rural landscape.  Participants talked about a looming third new well since drilling resumed after a few years in June, as well as a proposed pipeline connecting Payette County gas wells to Idaho Power Company’s Langley Gulch natural gas-fired power generation plant near New Plymouth.  As industry and government continue to hide their fracking intentions for the region, which do not require public notice or comments and could spur well treatments soon, several state, county, and city police cruised by or chatted with demonstrators at all three sites visited on that Friday.

Protest at Smoke Ranch Well (July 29 Earth First! Newswire)

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters from across the state and country chant and wave fracking/drilling protest signs at the high-traffic corner of Highways 95 and 30 near Interstate 84 Exit 3 in southwestern Idaho.

Protesters observe the capped well head and pad at the Smoke Ranch site south of Highway 52, the first directionally drilled natural gas well in the state, located in a floodplain full of standing water, wetlands, irrigation canals, riparian areas, and a wildlife refuge, between the Payette River and Big Willow Creek, only a few miles upstream from the City of Fruitland municipal water intake and the Payette/Snake River confluence.

Protesters observe the capped well head and pad at the Smoke Ranch site south of Highway 52, the first directionally drilled natural gas well in the state, located in a floodplain full of standing water, wetlands, irrigation canals, riparian areas, and a wildlife refuge, between the Payette River and Big Willow Creek, only a few miles upstream from the City of Fruitland municipal water intake and the Payette/Snake River confluence.

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Smoke Ranch Well Site 6-8-13


(Alma Hasse photo)

(Alma Hasse photo)

The Idaho Department of Lands may permit Alta Mesa Services to directionally drill the Smoke Ranch gas well near (and under?) these Payette River Wildlife Management Area lands that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game also leased for drilling, while excluding less toxic and disruptive public recreation that could disturb breeding and nesting resident and migratory birds.
(Alma Hasse photo)

(Alma Hasse photo)

A leaking, liquid-bearing vehicle parks on the dirt road paralleling Highway 52 to the Smoke Ranch well pad that was recently covered with standing water before drilling and that could later mix drilling mud chemicals with the area’s surrounding wetlands, creeks, and rivers.
(Alma Hasse photo)

(Alma Hasse photo)

At the nearby wildlife management area, a Payette County Sheriff deputy said that this Smoke Ranch well pad was flooded during the Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho! week of protests.  Notice in the picture the generator next to a freshly dug hole, which appears to pump groundwater (and later toxic chemicals?) from under this pad in a floodplain.