Tar Sands Megaload Resistance Solidarity

Updates and additions to Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests!

Over the last month by Christmas Eve, Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes, Rising Tide groups, and allied organizations and activists have staged dozens of actions escalating Northwest resistance against tar sands mining and megaload exploitation of indigenous and public lands and people.  At least five Umatilla-led protection ceremonies in Pendleton, four Port of Umatilla protests and blockades, three Portland and Seattle area office occupations of megaload hauler Omega Morgan and designer Resources Conservation Company International, two blockades in John Day, Hermiston and Stanfield protests, a Portland visit to the Oregon Department of Transportation, and a light brigade overpass action have resulted in nineteen mostly illegal arrests of activists at the four blockades [1].

Activists with 350, All Against The Haul, Blue Skies Campaign, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, Montana Indian Peoples Action, five Rising Tide groups, and multiple indigenous tribes are planning protests in Umatilla, Oregon, Missoula and other locations in Montana, and in or near Marsing, Mountain Home, Bellevue, and Salmon, Idaho, over the next month [2-7].  In the wake of years of relentlessly meeting every Highway 12 and 95 tar sands facilities shipment in Idaho with resistance, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies will not stand down, despite recent, illegal, and unethical police attempts in John Day to dissuade further First Amendment-protected expressions of citizen dissent of the state/corporate fossil fuel agenda [8].  As news of Rising Tide and allied protests has spread through some of the most popular Idaho media outlets over the past month, we are calling Oregonians, Idahoans, and Montanans to rise up against tar sands megaloads [9].

These heat exchanger cores of wastewater evaporators are likely the remnants of the ten in-situ tar sands mining modules that Omega Morgan tried to transport in August to Canada, up Highway 12 through Nez Perce resistance – manufactured at the General Electric plant in Port Coquitlam, B.C., disassembled (not made) in Portland, and barged to the Port of Umatilla.  Rising Tide groups in Missoula, Moscow, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane have struggled against these components of tar sands extraction since early 2010.  Understanding their ultimate implications for vast ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos, we cannot in good conscience stand aside while some of the wealthiest corporations profit at the expense of millions of people and species and the habitats that sustain them [10].  As our Oregon colleagues develop a seventh lawsuit against megaload incursions of the Northwest, we invite everyone to participate in the following actions. Continue reading

Megaload Protesters Arraigned in Justice Court

The 15 adult protesters charged in Monday night’s actions to delay the megaload were arraigned on Wednesday morning in Grant County Justice Court.

Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett set security at $10,000 or $1,000 cash for each, and set conditions for their release, including:

* No contact with Omega Morgan or its employees.

* No coming within 1,000 feet of materials, equipment, or other loads being transported by Omega Morgan.

* No possession of “dragon sleeves” or other items used to lock oneself to a fixed object or to prevent safe extraction.

The accused were charged with misdemeanors in connection with the protests, in which vehicles were disabled in the highway, in an attempt to stop the Omega Morgan megaload from proceeding.

A 16-year-old girl, also apprehended at the protests, was released to family friends.

(By the Blue Mountain Eagle)

Megaload Moves On, 16 Arrested

Crowds gather in Prairie, John Day, as protesters chain up

Police arrested 16 protesters on Monday night, after they tried to block the Omega Morgan megaload from traveling through John Day.

In two separate incidents, protesters chained themselves to vehicles on the route, but the efforts succeeded only in delaying the departure of the load.

Omega Morgan, the load’s Hillsboro-based hauler, had planned to depart the west edge of John Day at 8 pm, but left at about 9:30 – after police had cleared the highway.

The massive transport – 23 feet wide, 19 feet tall, and 380 feet long, including pusher and puller trucks – headed east on Highway 26 through downtown John Day and Prairie City.  Traveling into the mountains, it was parked Tuesday morning at the Oregon Department of Transportation weigh station at Austin Junction.  It was expected to move again on Tuesday night, but got special permission to travel in the daylight to avoid heavy frost over Eldorado Pass, east of Austin.

Destined for the tar sands region of Alberta, Canada, the load drew waves of spectators as it moved, and parked, its way through Grant County in the past week.

The cargo is a 96-foot-long vessel known as an evaporator, which uses steam to salvage water that otherwise would be lost in the tar sands extraction process.  It was manufactured in Portland and barged to the Port of Umatilla for the road journey.

Protesters, concerned about climate change and damage to the environment, have been tracking the load, and they kept police busy on Monday night. Continue reading

Megaload Parked in John Day – Until Tonight

Monday morning traffic moves past the megaload, parked at the ODOT weigh station on the west edge of John Day (Blue Mountain Eagle/Scotta Callister photo).

Monday morning traffic moves past the megaload, parked at the ODOT weigh station on the west edge of John Day (Blue Mountain Eagle/Scotta Callister photo).

Grant County’s newest tourist attraction is parked on Highway 26, at the west end of John Day – but just for the day.

The Omega Morgan megaload transport is expected to set out again Monday night, heading east through John Day, Prairie City, and Austin Junction on Highway 26.

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials said the hauling crew hopes to get as far east as possible toward Unity.

The huge transport – 19 feet tall, 23 feet wide, and 380 feet long, including pusher and puller trucks – is allowed to travel only at night.  The next stops depend on weather and road conditions, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Continue reading

Megaload Inches Toward the JD Valley

Forecast: Better moving weather ahead

The Omega Morgan megaload made it out of Dale – but just barely – last night.

The huge transport is parked again about five miles down Highway 395 from the Dale Store, according to proprietor Butch Phelps.

He said the rig left about 8 pm, with company and transportation officials hoping the snowy weather would skirt that area.  Instead, the snow began to fall.

“It started snowing – a flake here and a flake there – while they were having their safety meeting,” he said.

The stretch traveled last night features a steep incline and curves, meaning the transport could only move at a crawl. Continue reading

Megaload Reaches Dale, May Stay Until Friday Night

The megaload made it to Dale, midway between Pendleton and Mount Vernon, on Wednesday night, but has been stopped again by icy conditions and a snowy weather forecast.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says the load could remain parked beside Highway 395 at Dale, until the weather allows it to travel again – perhaps Friday.

The load is allowed to move only at night.

ODOT earlier said that Omega Morgan, the hauling company, planned to take the load as far south as Mount Vernon on Wednesday night.  The agency now says that if the load can roll again on Friday evening, it could reach Mount Vernon by Saturday morning, and go through John Day that night. Continue reading

Megaload Makes Ukiah

The first of three so-called “megaloads” continued its eastern Oregon road trip overnight on Tuesday, leaving Pendleton shortly after 9 pm and traveling about 50 miles south on Highway 395.

The massive shipment of tar sands equipment destined for Alberta, Canada, arrived near Ukiah early on Wednesday morning.  From there, it is scheduled to head farther south into Mount Vernon and east through John Day, before heading east on Highway 26 and crossing state lines into southern Idaho. Continue reading

Megaload Update: Umatilla Show Solidarity Against Tar Sands

CTUIR Chair Burke Megaloads Letter to Governor Kitzhaber 1

CTUIR Chair Burke Megaloads Letter to Governor Kitzhaber 2

CTUIR Chair Burke Megaloads Letter to Governor Kitzhaber

Megaload shipments through Eastern Oregon and Idaho received another blow this week in the form of a strongly worded letter from the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), stating concern over the impacts of megaloads and tar sands mining.

In the letter sent Monday, the newly elected Umatilla Chair of the Board of Trustees Gary Burke explains, “First, ODOT [Oregon Department of Transportation] did not adequately consult with the CTUIR on a government-to-government level prior to issuing the [megaload] permit.  Second, the CTUIR has strong concerns regarding the potential long-term and indirect impacts to the CTUIR’s interests caused by tar sands development.”

Read more: Megaload Update: Umatilla Show Solidarity Against Tar Sands

(By CTUIR tribal member x-603, Wey-ow’sux, Cathy Sampson-Kruse)

Megaload Marches South

The first of three scheduled “megaloads” through eastern Oregon is back on the road, as daytime temperatures rose to near 40 degrees on Tuesday in Pendleton.

Omega Morgan, the Hillsboro-based trucking company hired to move the load, made the call after 9 pm to continue on its route south over Battle Mountain Pass toward Ukiah.  The massive shipment of tar sands equipment bound for Canada had been stalled since December 3, due to snow and ice.

The 22-foot-wide, 380-foot-long load is only permitted to move at night, and only when driving conditions are clear, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).  Regional spokesman Tom Strandberg said crews assessed the route to make sure it was safe to travel. Continue reading

Megaload Watch: Ready to Roll Again

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says the megaload could move tonight, weather permitting.

The load has been parked at the south edge of Pendleton since last week, due to icy road conditions.  Officials say Omega Morgan is planning to move the load south toward Ukiah tonight.  The load is allowed to move only between 8 pm and 6 am, to limit traffic impacts.

If conditions allow, the load would move on Wednesday night to Mount Vernon, and on Thursday night through John Day and Prairie City to Austin Junction.

ODOT said the load could reach John Day by 9 or 10 pm on Thursday.

All moves are weather-dependent, however.

An Omega Morgan spokeswoman said company crews monitor the conditions each night, to make the call on whether to move.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a 30 percent chance of snow on Thursday in John Day, with snow likely Thursday night.

Friday’s forecast calls for a slight chance of rain and snow, as temperatures rise above freezing.

(By the Blue Mountain Eagle)