Friday, April 14, Spokane Megaload Alert!


According to Spokane television media sources shared by a core Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist, one of at least three half-million-pound megaloads heading to an oil refinery near Blaine, northwest Washington, will move from the Idaho panhandle into Washington at 7 pm this evening, Friday, April 14 [1].  The Washington State Department of Transportation and the huge size of the boiler and truck/trailer combination, together weighing 480,000 pounds and measuring 213 feet long and almost 22 feet wide, require that this megaload only moves during overnight hours on a route avoiding low, interstate overpasses and bridges that may not withstand its weight.

The megaload will travel along Washington Highway 290 and Trent Avenue, south on Pines Road to the Interstate 90 westbound lanes, then exit onto Broadway Avenue in Spokane [2].  After turning south on Fancher, it will proceed west onto Third then Second Avenues past Altamont, before re-entering the westbound interstate.  Detouring through Cheney on Washington Highway 904, the megaload will take I-90 south to the Country Travel Plaza at Highways 395 and 26, where it will stop for the day.  Please see the following media coverage, megaload route map, and facebook posts, and join Spokane and north Idaho activists for multiple protests of this fossil fuel infrastructure, starting at the Trent and Pines intersection at 7:30 pm. Continue reading

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Tell Idaho Representatives to Reject ITD Highway 12 Megaload Rules


On Friday, January 27, the Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, and Idaho Rivers United, with the help of Advocates for the West attorneys, reached a settlement in mediation resolving megaload traffic on U.S. Highway 12, as ordered by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals [1-3].  Resulting from three years of studies and discussions, to which the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) was invited but refused to participate, the agreement prohibits some megaloads from traveling through the wild and scenic Middle Fork Clearwater and Lochsa river corridor, between highway mileposts 74 and 174, from around Kooskia to the Montana border.  Grateful for all of the citizens and tribal members who worked tirelessly for years to achieve this triumph, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) acknowledges and applauds our colleagues (including Fighting Goliath, Friends of the Clearwater, and others) who have slowed, if not stopped, a rapid, violent process of conceiving, building, and transporting massive loads of fossil fuel infrastructure that privilege oil company profits over local people and wild places.

Thanks to everyone for the good news and congratulations on this megaload court case resolution, and for credit for peaceful and well-voiced megaload protests throughout the region.  But defense of treaty and public lands and rivers via lawsuits creates sacrifice zones, like the Dakota Access pipeline path diverted from Bismarck to Standing Rock to other watersheds in North Dakota.  WIRT activists hope but do not trust that this current mediation success will not again endanger and dismiss diverse communities along alternative, regional, megaload routes beyond the Nez Perce reservation and national forest and the Clearwater-Lochsa wild and scenic river corridor.  We will continue to support and assist megaload resistance and uprisings along other region-wide highways supplying interior shale oil and gas and tar sands extraction operations from Columbia River basin and Pacific ports.

On and beyond Highway 12, WIRT and grassroots and indigenous allies (Act on Climate, All Against the Haul, Blues Skies Campaign, Idaho Mythweaver, Indian Peoples Action, Coeur d’Alene, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock, Umatilla, and Warm Springs tribes, Fighting Goliath, Friends of the Clearwater, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Idaho Rivers United, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Northern Rockies Earth First!, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and 350, Occupy, and Rising Tide groups in Bellingham, Boise, Missoula, Moscow, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane, among many others) accomplished intensive, loosely coordinated, megaload protests and campaigns on the ground and in the courts from 2010 to 2014.  We necessarily devised creative tactics that effectively, but not as apparently, overcame not only the industry and government adversaries shared with litigating allies, but also the public neglect and dismissal of our efforts engendered by more obvious and publicized lawsuit wins.  WIRT minimally celebrates court case gains that deflect the enemy and/or problem to groups with lesser capacities to resist, at least through the conservative state administrative system, due to our concerns over environmental justice, mainstream conservation organization protocol, and the increased possibility under the Trump administration of looming megaload onslaughts on every regional river, road, and rail line, including Highway 12.

By now, we all know these predictable outcomes: If Highway 12 megaload opponents win, communities along alternative, industrial corridors across the rest of the region lose, as they fall directly into the crosshairs of Big Oil’s megaload traffic.  Under the Trump-Tillerson dirty energy tyranny, ALL Northwest and Northern Rockies routes could overflow with both fossil fuel infrastructure and its resistance.  WIRT will NOT fiddle a victory tune on Highway 12, while the planet (and even the Big Wild forests around U.S. 12) burn.  But the new presidency may inadvertently force us all to finally act as mutually supportive, ecologically sustainable communities, who esteem both wildlands and their sacrifice zones as sacred.  We wonder if such a shift is possible though, among the colonized, Western civilizations that mainstream conservation and climate groups wish to maintain, while the triple threats of capitalism, fascism, and climate change increasingly impose the brutal karma of ridiculous American hubris. Continue reading

Comment by Friday on ITD’s Proposed Highway 12 Megaload Rules!


Nickel Brothers Weyerhaeuser Highway 12 Megaload

Nickel Brothers Weyerhaeuser Highway 12 Megaload

On Wednesday, September 28, dozens of Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) activists, friends, and allies across the state rallied in solidarity and spoke at concurrent, teleconferenced, public hearings on U.S. Highway 12 megaload rules proposed by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), at its headquarters in Boise and its district offices in Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Pocatello, Rigby, and Shoshone [1]. As the region prepares to confront another onslaught of megaloads through the ancestral lands and waters of the Nimiipuu people, protectors requested the presence of legal observers, state legislators, and various protest props signifying exclusion from public processes at these statewide hearings and accompanying demonstrations.

Police but no protests attended the Lewiston hearing, where Nimiipuu tribal members expressed concerns about their homelands above the Nez Perce Reservation, still essential to traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering practices in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and the Lochsa-Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor in north-central Idaho. “Members of the Nez Perce Tribe have made it clear that, if megaloads return to U.S. 12, they’ll once again meet the shipments with protest.  ‘If those loads roll through here, [protests] will happen,’ Mary Jane Oatman, of Kamiah, told the Lewiston Tribune.  ‘I guarantee it will happen.’” [2, 3]

Although tribal officials did not participate in the Lewiston hearing, the Tribe issued a strong, critical statement against ITD’s “ineffectual” proposed rulemaking on Highway 12 megaloads [4]. The statement revealed that “ITD made no effort to contact the Nez Perce Tribe or the U.S. Forest Service before unilaterally proposing this rule.”  Amid three years of ongoing, confidential mediation among the Tribe, Forest Service, and Idaho Rivers United, mandated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal judge placed an injunction on certain Highway 12 megaloads, the statement also disclosed that these litigants invited ITD to join their negotiations in 2015.  ITD apparently declined this offer, intent on maintaining and imposing its perceived megaload permitting authority on unreceptive tribal and allied Highway 12 corridor residents and American citizens concerned about their public lands and waters.

Since October 2015, the most successful Highway 12 megaload hauler has applied for permits from ITD to move more behemoths of unknown kind and destination along the same route through the reservation, national forest, and protected river corridor. This Nickel Brothers application probably explains ITD’s rush to devise new Highway 12 megaload rules that attempt to circumvent federal court-ordered mediation.  While Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies monitored, protested, blockaded, and got arrested for resisting ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands megaloads rerouted from Highway 12 to U.S. Highway 95 and downtown Moscow streets in 2011 and 2012, Nickel Brothers transported 23 “unchallenged” megaloads up Highway 12 to a Weyerhaeuser pulp and paper mill in Grand Prairie, western Alberta [5, 6, enclosed photo].  Allies tried to convince WIRT to confront these shipments, then asked us not to protest the first Highway 12 megaloads to reach Alberta tar sands operations in late 2012, before the Nez Perce rose up in August 2013. Continue reading

NO Means NO Megaloads Sit-In


highway-12-near-clearwater-river-casino-8-5-13-2

Are megaloads preparing to again invade U.S. Highway 12, through the remote Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and the Lochsa-Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor? [1] On September 7, 2016, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) distributed a media release, read by a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist to participants in the #NoDAPL Fundraiser and Rally in Lapwai, Idaho [2, 3].  ITD is proposing new, illegal rules for oversize shipments – megaloads – on Highway 12, seemingly to circumvent ongoing mediation among several parties to a federal lawsuit.  In September 2013, in response to this case argued by Advocates for the West for Idaho Rivers United (IRU) and the Nez Perce Tribe against the U.S. Forest Service, a federal district court in Boise issued an injunction blocking any transport wider than 16 feet, longer than 150 feet, and traveling slower than 12 hours on the 100 miles of Highway 12 between Kooskia, Idaho, and the Montana border [4, 5].  ITD’s version of the situation suggests that:

Recent federal litigation raised new considerations for certain oversize vehicles and non-reducible loads traveling through the Nez Perce National Forest (NPNF) on U.S. 12. The federal district court held that the United States Forest Service (USFS) has concurrent jurisdiction of vehicles and loads traveling through the NPNF.  The USFS responded and stated it would review all oversize vehicles/loads greater than 16 feet wide and/or 150 feet in length, when such vehicles or loads travel on U.S. 12 between milepost 74 and milepost 174.

While current federal lawsuit litigants have necessarily remained silent about the results of confidential negotiations developing criteria and rules for Highway 12 megaloads over the last three years, the Forest Service has only established interim oversize vehicle definitions, which the proposed ITD rules mimic, not regulations governing their movement. An outsider to mediation talks, ITD is currently rushing the usual, inclusive, rulemaking procedures, contending that IRU, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Forest Service “have no apparent motivation to pursue a resolution in the mediation mentioned above.  Thus, a compromise or consensus cannot be reached through negotiation.” [5]  Anxious to devise new Highway 12 megaload rules and lure commenters to its side of this issue, the state transportation agency is perhaps again attempting to gain some legal control over megaload permitting decisions for the stretch of highway requiring U.S. Forest Service approval and consultation with Nez Perce officials.  But since U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued the Highway 12 megaload injunction, the state of Idaho lacks both the authority and discretion to allow certain types of shipments through this federally protected Wild and Scenic River corridor managed by the Forest Service, with required tribal and public input, for values generally contrary to massive, industrial equipment traffic.

Because tribal, conservation group, and federal agency representatives still engaged in mediation processes ordered by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cannot talk about this issue, indigenous and grassroots groups and individuals who know the extended history, background, and complex intricacies of the megaload issue must lead this round of resistance. We again call on allies across the region to assert diverse, creative responses seeking to abolish ALL fossil fuel and industrial infrastructure from Highway 12 and beyond, while supporting tribal and non-Native partners in this opposition.  Let’s maximize this opportunity to proactively unify our voices: NO MEANS NO to megaloads in Idaho!

Please join strong, statewide protests and sit-ins against proposed ITD rules for Highway 12 megaloads, led by Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) activists between 3 and 6 pm Pacific time/4 and 7 pm Mountain time on Wednesday, September 28, at the Idaho Transportation Department district office at 2600 Frontage Road in Lewiston, Idaho, during ITD’s public hearing presumably only livestreamed/teleconferenced from Boise, rather than from all of the hearing locations at ITD district offices [6]. As the region apparently readies to confront another onslaught of megaloads through the traditional, ancestral lands and waters of the Nimiipuu people, protectors have requested the presence of legal observers and state legislators at these protests.  We are encouraging friends across the state to arrive early and sign-up to speak, pack hearing rooms, rally at solidarity actions, reject these premature ITD rules, ask for an extension of the comment period and an expansion of hearing sessions to include impacted communities, and keep ITD officials listening long into the night at ITD headquarters in Boise at 3311 West State Street and at ITD district offices in Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Pocatello, Rigby, and Shoshone concurrently on Wednesday.  Moscow-Pullman carpools to Lewiston are departing at 2 pm on Wednesday from the parking lot near the Rosauers sign at 411 North Main Street in Moscow, Idaho. Continue reading

Public Hearing Set on Allowing Heavy Trucks on Idaho Highways


A public hearing on applications allowing trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on state highways will be held on June 26.

The meeting is set for 4 to 7 pm at the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) office at 2600 Frontage Road in Lewiston.

The purpose of the meeting is to gauge public opinion on the potential routes of 129,000-pound loads, which will include U.S. Highway 95 from Grangeville to Lewiston and U.S. Highway 12 from where it joins U.S. Highway 95 to Mill Road.

The proposed shipments are known as “reducible loads,” meaning cargo or goods can be removed to make the shipments lighter.  The Idaho Legislature previously approved the higher weight limits. Continue reading

Port of Lewiston Wants Megaloads Back


Megaloads are still on the table, as the Port of Lewiston crafts its budget for the coming fiscal year.

The port 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.  It has also more than doubled the money available for administration travel to $21,500.

Those two items are part of a draft budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, which Lewiston port commissioners reviewed on Wednesday.

No megaload taking up two lanes of traffic has moved on U.S. Highway 12 since last summer, after a federal judge imposed a preliminary injunction halting the shipments in response to a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Forest Service by the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United.  The two groups are in mediation on the issue.

Even though that matter hasn’t been resolved, port commissioners are giving Port Manager David Doeringsfeld the go-ahead to recruit more megaloads. Continue reading

Goliath Staggered: Highway 12 Megaloads Book Author Visits Moscow


Goliath Staggered Flyer Photo

Idaho author Steve Bunk, who covered resistance to the tar sands “megaloads” on Highway 12 for the Missoula-based online journal New West, has written a book called Goliath Staggered: How the People of Highway 12 Conquered Big Oil (New West Books, 2014).  Throughout April, bookstores in Boise, Clarkston, and Moscow, Idaho, and Missoula, Montana, are launching the book, warmly received by regional conservationists.

Mr. Bunk will visit …and BOOKS, too! in Clarkston on Saturday, April 19, at 4 pm and BookPeople of Moscow on Wednesday, April 23, at 7 pm, for book signings and lively discussions about “Why the Megaloads Resistance Matters.”  Highway 12 outdoor travel company ROW Adventures will co-sponsor the Clarkston event at 918 Sixth Street.  Borg Hendrickson and Linwood Laughy, the central figures in Goliath Staggered and the couple who galvanized the Idaho megaload resistance, will join Steve and answer audience questions.

Friends of the Clearwater (FOC) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) are co-sponsoring the Moscow event happening at BookPeople of Moscow, 521 South Main Street.  Both groups have played key roles in the grassroots opposition to oil company attempts to transform Highway 12’s federally protected Wild and Scenic River corridor into a high-and-wide industrial thoroughfare to Alberta tar sands mines.  Helen Yost of WIRT, who leads a continuing campaign against megaloads traveling through the Northwest, and Brett Haverstick of FOC will also address the audience. Continue reading

ITD to Hold Public Meetings Statewide Starting October 7 on 129,000-Pound Truck Legislation


Public comment is solicited on proposed administrative rules governing 129,000-pound truck routes on the state highway system, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) announced.

The rules are necessary to implement three bills from the 2013 Legislature.

The legislation follows a pilot project that began in 1998 and recently ended.  The project allowed trucks and their cargo weighing a total of 129,000 pounds to use 35 test routes in Idaho.

Senate Bill 1064 made the test routes permanent on July 1 this year.

Senate Bill 1117 allows additional routes to be designated by the Idaho Transportation Department and by local highway agencies.  House Bill 322 clarifies the intent of the legislation.

Comment will be taken until Thursday, October 24, at 5 pm on four administrative rules related to 129,000-pound trucks.  Among the rules is Administrative Rule 39.03.22-1302, which implements the provisions of SB1117 and outlines the process for considering additional routes for vehicles weighing up to 129,000 pounds. Continue reading

Cargo Contractors Company Megaload Schematics


As mentioned in the August 27 Lewiston Tribune article, Megaload Ban Could Cost General Electric Millions, the Highway 12 megaload route “continues to attract attention from other shippers.  Leon Franks, of Contractors Cargo Company based at Compton, California, said his company wants to ship three massive refinery vessels from the Port of Lewiston to Great Falls, Montana, by November.  He said the route is vital for the movement of large equipment like refinery vessels, wind turbines, and power plant generators that provide electricity and fuel for a growing population.”

Thanks to the public records requests of our allies, here are the schematics of the three Contractors Cargo Company megaloads, weighing over 1,100,000 pounds, measuring up to 324 feet long, and requiring two push trucks:

43 Hydrotreater Great Falls Montana REV1 CA

43 Hydrtreater Great Falls Montana REV2 Idaho

51 Hydrotreater Great Falls Montana REV3

U.S. Highway 95 Still Limited to ‘Mini’ Megaloads


As shippers’ preferred Highway 12 route is fought in court, underpasses trim trips north.

As yet another legal battle mounts against permitting oversized loads to be transported along the Wild and Scenic River Corridor on U.S. Highway 12, concerns vary as to whether U.S. Highway 95 could again be tapped as the next viable shipping option.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill will preside over a court hearing on August 27 to decide if an emergency injunction should be issued, requiring the U.S. Forest Service to enforce its standards for megaload shipments through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.

The lawsuit was filed by the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United following several days of protests of an Omega Morgan evaporator shipment bound for the tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

If the Forest Service is ordered to enforce its jurisdiction over megaloads that it perceives as hazardous to the national forest and river corridor, such shipments may be halted or forced to go elsewhere.

Doral Hoff, district operations manager for the Idaho Transportation Department in Lewiston, said it isn’t likely Omega Morgan will seek permits to move any more evaporators up U.S. Highway 95 if Highway 12 is closed off. Continue reading