Our View: When the FBI Wants to Be Your Friend

Lee Rozen, for the Editorial Board

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/30/15

Don’t say a word until your attorney gets there, said one member of the editorial board.

Oh, I’d invite them in, because I’d be so curious about what they were interested in asking me, said another.

Just because I’d tell them they could ask, doesn’t mean I’d answer, said another.

Don’t say a word without your lawyer, the first repeated.

To be clear, the FBI has no interest in asking your editorial board any questions.

But they sure would like to talk to members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and other Northwest environmental activists. Continue reading

U.S. 95: Three Alternatives

Steve Flint, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/29/15

I’ve heard some people comment they had a difficult time following the different options discussed in Kas Dumroese’s letter (January 14) on the planned U.S. Highway 95 realignment south of Moscow.  There are three different routes being considered.  All three routes are four lanes, meet current design standards for safety and ease of travel, but differ considerably in other features.

The Idaho Transportation Department, for unknown reasons, has favored E-2, the eastern route that stays high on Paradise Ridge.  I think of the “E” actually standing for “extreme weather,” as this route is up in the “snow zone,” just like Steakhouse Hill north of Moscow, where there are frequent winter accidents.  (See the Reader Photo of the Day on January 28, for an excellent example of the “snow zone.”)

There is a central route (C-3) that is often close to the existing highway but on a completely new roadbed.  It will be the most useful route for local residents.  The data from the draft environmental impact statement repeatedly show this as the most logical choice (see the summary in Dumroese’s letter).  I suggest we think of the “C” as standing for the “common sense” route.

Then there’s W-4, the poor, orphaned, western route that no one talks much about.  It’s a longer route, so has generated less interest.  How about “W” being “wayward, way-out-west” route?

Three choices but a straightforward decision – just remember the phrases.

No Reisenauer Hill Fix

David Hall, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/15/15

Oh, a fairy tale from Viola (Letter to the Editor, Van Thompson, December 28): Perhaps we should look at reality here.

Very few Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition members live on Paradise Ridge.  (When someone who does live there speaks up on the issue, people cry “NIMBY.”  When people who do not live there speak out, they are told to stay out of it and let those who are directly affected talk.)

The [proposed] eastern alignment [of U.S. Highway 95] is perhaps shorter by a few hundred feet.  And it is not safer than are other alignments.

Mr. Thompson ignores the fact that the highway, had it been built – illegally – ten years ago, would have left Reisenauer Hill as it is, and accidents would have continued to occur on the hill in that decade.  Were the eastern alignment that ITD prefers to be built now, again Reisenauer Hill would be left, dangerous as it is, likely never to be made safer.  The “family at the bottom of the hill” will continue to have unwanted vehicles in their front yard.

The Numbers on C-3

Kas Dumroese, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/14/15

Just because everyone wants an improved U.S. Highway 95 Thorncreek to Moscow doesn’t justify ignoring law, especially by the government.  We still drive on old U.S. 95 because the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) ignored law concerning selection of E-2, which required an extensive, expensive, and time-consuming Environmental Impact Statement.  Instead, we could be celebrating a decade of driving on an equally well-designed, safe C-3 that uses more of the existing U.S. 95 footprint than E-2 would on the flank of Paradise Ridge.

E-2 is touted by its proponents as having less impact on farming, and is cheaper, shorter, and safer than C-3.  What does ITD’s Draft EIS say?  Compared to C-3, E-2 converts 55 percent more total land, 100 percent more prime farm land, and 36 percent more farmland of state importance (Table 42, pages 147-148).  It also removes 34 percent more land from the Latah County tax base, through new right-of-way acquisitions.  E-2 would cost $4 million more to construct than C-3 (page 11).  For the nearly six miles of new alignment with either alternative, C-3 would be a whopping 475 feet longer than E-2 (Table 52, page 174).  Using ITD’s data (Safety Technical Report Appendix D and page 174) and doing some simple calculations, the chance of safely traversing the “least safe” C-3 route is 99.99951 percent per trip, and it skyrockets to 99.99966 percent if you travel on the “safest” route, E-2.  And your chance of an accident at any access/entry point along E-2 (0.0022 percent) is actually double that for C-3 (0.0011 percent).

If you think those differences in length and safety seem tiny, you might be surprised to hear that ITD agrees with you (page 204): “the travel times and safety between Action Alternatives [C-3 and E-2] do not differ substantially.”

Drastic Action Needed

Tom Fellows, Lewiston

The Lewiston Tribune 12/21/14

Recently three individuals, one being Walt Minnick, formed The Partnership for Responsible Growth (see http://www.partnershipforresponsiblegrowth.org).

Its purpose is to lobby Congress to approve a carbon tax on fossil fuels.  After reading the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change titled “Risky Business,” they believed doing nothing could result in an uninhabitable planet.  They wrote: “This is not the legacy any of us wish to bequeath to our children and grandchildren.”

They stated the reports said without acting now the world “may have as little as 15 years” to keep the planet’s temperature at a tolerable level.  They failed to mention that all of the IPCC reports have underestimated the rate at which the climate is changing.  They also believe that “carbon-funded tax-cuts” will solve the problems caused by carbon emissions.

Continue reading

Letter: Sign the Petition

Tim Hatten, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 12/16/14

There’s been a lot of controversy over efforts to widen and improve the safety of U.S. Highway 95 from Thorn Creek Road to Moscow.  Everybody wants to see this stretch of road improved, but the best means for doing so are contentious and under much debate.  Lost in this debate, and in the lengthy process to reach a decision on the re-routing of the highway, is the resounding fact that there still remain safety concerns for the current route.  Specifically, the Reisenauer Hill area, scene of numerous traffic accidents and fatalities, is as dangerous as ever, and poses a threat to the unwary winter traveler.

To help rectify this situation, a petition has been drafted asking the Idaho Transportation Department to implement the following tasks:

1. Immediately lower and seek enforcement of the posted speed limit on Reisenauer Hill.

2. Erect warning signs with the reduced speed limit and weather-activated, flashing, yellow lights on both approaches to this hill.

3. Install rumble strips both in the center line and in the fog lines of this section of road.

4. Place rumble strips in the pavement lane of travel immediately prior to the reduced speed limit signs.

I believe that addressing these tasks could help save lives, and I urge all to sign the petition.  The last day to sign is December 17, so act now.  It can be found at the following link: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/petition-to-the-idaho-1.

Communication Sparse on Megaload Issues

Scotta Callister, John Day, Oregon

Blue Mountain Eagle 11/25/13

When it comes to the idea of megaloads rolling through Grant County, residents have been far from united.  The reactions were all over the map after Omega Morgan’s plan to make night runs through the county en route to Idaho and Montana, with huge equipment destined for the tar sands of Canada, was revealed earlier this month.

Some folks are getting out the lawn chairs and video cameras to watch the first big rig roll through.  Others see the transport as the symbol of corporate greed and America’s overuse of natural resources; protests are possible.  In the middle are a lot of folks who are just plain bemused and baffled by the fuss.

We come by this mixed state naturally – In part, it’s the product of too little information, too hastily purveyed.  The public deserved a little more time to digest the plans and consider the ramifications.

A public meeting, pulled together by the county judge last week, elicited some information from an Omega Morgan project manager, but it didn’t answer all the concerns, and in the end, it had no effect on whether or when the first superload would begin its move. Continue reading

Put Residents Above Oil Companies

Linda Widner, Weiser

The Argus Observer 8/29/13

(Washington County) Commissioner Anderson and Commissioner Chandler, I’m writing this letter to ask you why you feel following reasonable ordinances is too much for oil companies?  Are they not a multibillion-dollar industry?

Yes, I agree we need more job opportunities in Washington County.  However, I also believe if the oil company causes damage to land, water, animals, and people, it needs to be responsible to take care of whatever damages it causes.  If it decides to drill on your property and it stirs up methane gas, are you going to pay to fix that problem?  Do you think your insurance company will gladly pay?  I don’t think so.

I recently read an MSN article regarding fracking and how banks and lending agencies are revisiting their lending policies to account for potential impacts of drilling.  Also, home insurance policies do not cover residential properties with gas leases or gas wells.

You, like other politicians, were elected by voters to watch out for our best interests.  Instead, it seems politicians only want the job for their own personal agendas.  Please work for our community.

The Megaload Corridor Was Just Sealed Shut

Marty Trillhaase, Editorial Page Editor, Lewiston

The Lewiston Tribune 6/30/13

Topography and weather blocked ExxonMobil’s grand plan for a fleet of 200 megaloads following a well-coordinated timetable toward the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, along U.S. Highway 12.

Winter and tight corners along the river corridor meant only a test load reached the Montana state line – days later than planned – only to be stopped by legal hurdles on the other side.

Loads piled up at the Port of Lewiston until they were cut down to sizes capable of clearing interstate highway overpasses and sent on their way north along U.S. Highway 95.

Left in limbo, however, was the fate of the occasional megaload.

Ruling in favor of Idaho Rivers United, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill last winter ruled that the U.S. Forest Service is obligated to exercise jurisdiction over any megaload seeking to traverse the Wild and Scenic River corridor along Highway 12. Continue reading

Attend Payette County Commission Meeting

Alma Hasse, Payette County

The Argus Observer 6/20/13

On Monday, June 24, at 11 am, the Payette County Board of County Commissioners will be making their decision on the draft oil and gas ordinance before them.

Our Planning and Zoning Commission spent six months working on this ordinance.  They held two public hearings and a by-invitation panel discussion that included Michael Lewis, Director of the Idaho U.S. Geological Survey office, Mark Hilty, Nampa land use attorney, and residents from both Payette and Washington counties.

What the Commissioners learned – contrary to what they had been told by industry – was that they could indeed regulate this industry and that, in Mr. Hilty’s legal opinion, they have an OBLIGATION to do so.  Oil and gas drilling is a heavy industrial activity.  Normally, heavy industrial activities are limited to operating inside areas specifically zoned for heavy industrial use.  Our land use decision makers – both the Planning and Zoning Commission and our Commissioners – have the moral responsibility to enact good, protective ordinances that will protect our greatest resource, our drinking water.  They need to ensure that they have taken EVERY precaution to protect our drinking water aquifers AND our surface waters.  The City of Fruitland gets a lot of its drinking water from the Payette River. Continue reading