Another Megaload Snow Job

[Thursday transports postponed: see note below.]  Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night seems to stop the incessant onslaught of tar sands construction traffic through Moscow.  Why would it, when ExxonMobil, one of the largest corporations on Earth, has never played by Nature’s rules, not to mention the weather restrictions of its Idaho Transportation Department permits.  But with a 50 to 100 percent chance of one to two feet of snow and/or rain predicted for the megaload parking/staging area near Lookout Pass during the rest of the week, the three mini-megaloads each on Tuesday and Thursday nights, weighing between 55,000 and 85,000 pounds, could soon upend into the ditch as easily as a recent Lochsa highway fuel truck. Continue reading

Nightmare on Haul Street

Join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, the Moscow Volunteer Peace Band, and local community members on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, November 8 and 10, in vigorously protesting three more ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil megaloads transgressing our dark Idaho highways each night to Alberta tar sands hell.  Although these components of a bitumen upgrader plant mysteriously vanished on Moscow streets during Halloween week, please belatedly wear your most ghoulish and gruesome costumes to demonstrate the death and destruction these megaloads bring to our climate and planet. Continue reading

Protesting is Essential

UI Student, Moscow

University of Idaho Argonaut 11/1/11

I am writing to take to task the recent opinion piece written by Katy Sword. The views contained in her critical assessment of the value of protesting are not supported by facts and are typical of the anti-intellectualism rampant among a number of students at the University of Idaho.

The assertion that the protests have not accomplished anything other than “forcing local police to work overtime” is baseless. The protests in Moscow have garnered national attention. Bill McKibben, a well-known environmental activist, has cited the protests in Idaho as a sign of nation-wide opposition to the exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands. The legal battles and protests have also cost ExxonMobil money and successfully set back the project in Canada. These costs have given various stakeholders some bargaining power in seeking concessions from the oil company in its approach to the development of this resource.

Read more: Protesting is Essential

// solidarity actions

Tar Sands Action: Rising Tide Portland in Solidarity

“Portland Rising Tide dropped an anti-tar sands banner today from the Burnside Bridge. The group is acting in solidarity with communities, organizations and individuals resisting tar sands development across North America.

Rising Tide’s action comes on the heels of the 2-week Tar Sands Action campaign in Washington DC. 1,253 American’s were arrested in an act of civil disobedience at the White House to send a message to President Obama, asking him to stand up to Big Oil and deny the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permits.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline is required for Big Oil to profit off of the social and environmental disaster that is the Alberta tar sands. Current tar sands mining has brought increased cancer rates, polluted water, and mass die-offs of birds and fish in the largely First Nation communities of northern Alberta.

Tar Sands Action organizers have put a call out for activists to hold the date October 7th for further action. This is the final Congressional hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline. Regionally, people are encouraged to visit their local Obama 2012 headquarters and inform staffers that you will withhold your support in the upcoming presidential elections until the pipeline is stopped.”

– from

For more info on the Keystone XL action in Washington D.C. and other solidarity actions visit Rising Tide North America’s website.

// action 8.25.11

(Ed. Note: This footage was originally posted on YouTube by a critic. I believe an open dialog is essential to advancing an honest dialog between the various stakeholders involved. Misinformation and disinformation need to be addressed on both sides so that an understanding of the facts can be attained.)

Information is the Key

“The future path of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada will depend on a number of factors including: government actions, technological change, the growth in the economy, and developments in energy markets. Without incorporating the impacts of future government measures that have not yet been specified, the projections presented in this report are based on expectations of the evolution of key economic and energy drivers (such as the world oil price, gross domestic product, and population growth) derived from a variety of authoritative sources. However, as with any projection of this type, the likely outcome associated with each specific driver is subject to a high degree of uncertainty. As such, the emissions scenarios presented here should be seen as representative of a number of possible greenhouse gas emissions outcomes to 2020, depending on economic and other developments, as well as future government measures.”

(Ed. Note: Specific mention is made of the impacts due to the expansion of tar sands development on p24-27. GHG emissions are projected to rise in Canada in part because of increases in the exploitation of bitumen as a source of unconventional oil.)

– from Environment Canada report “Canada’s Emission Trends” released July 2011

The Stakes

“Canada’s boreal region contains one-quarter of the world’s remaining original forests. It is home to a rich array of wildlife including migratory songbirds, waterfowl, bears, wolves and the world’s largest caribou herds. Canada’s boreal is a major part of the global boreal region that encircles the Earth’s northern hemisphere, storing more freshwater in its wetlands and lakes and more carbon in its trees, soil, and peat than anywhere else on the planet. The Canadian boreal forest is also the location of one of the world’s largest deposits of oil – Alberta’s oil sands.

With conventional oil reserves in North America in steady decline, Alberta’s oil sands have begun to attract significant attention, both locally and internationally. Currently, the majority of oil sands production comes from open-pit mining facilities, and it is these shovel and truck operations that most people have come to associate with oil sands development. The mining zone currently extends across approximately 3,300 km2 of northern Alberta and, when fully developed, will likely qualify as the world’s largest open-pit mining complex.

What is not well known is that only a fraction of the total available oil sands deposits are close enough to the surface to be mined. The bulk of the established reserves (81%) must be extracted using in situ techniques.”

(Ed. Note: Canada’s boreal region extends beyond the proposed oil sands extraction sites and comprises almost 60% of the country’s land area.)

“… [I]n situ development of Alberta’s oil sands will result in unprecedented impacts to Alberta’s forests and pose grave risks to regional wildlife populations. Existing in situ leases already total 3.6 million ha (hectares), which is more than ten times the size of the mineable oil sands region. To put this in perspective, we are talking of an intensive industrial use zone larger than Vancouver Island. If existing leases are subjected to the same industrial footprint as the Long Lake project then 296,000 ha of forest will be cleared for SAGD infrastructure and over 30,000 km of access roads will be built. Furthermore, new leases continue to be awarded at a rapid pace, and new technologies for extracting less accessible reserves are continually being developed. If the entire area underlain by oil sands is eventually developed, in situ infrastructure could impact almost 14 million hectares of forest – a land area the size of Florida.”

– from “Death by a Thousand Cuts: Impacts of In Situ Oil Sands Development on Alberta’s Boreal Forest”

More reports are forthcoming.

// activist toolkit v.2

A few resources for “getting the goods” (aka non-violent direct action) within the safety of your own affinity group:


(Crimethinc. Workers Collective)

(Ruckus Society)

// injunction granted

Missoula County Judge Ray J. Dayton granted a preliminary injunction halting the shipment of over-dimension loads along the Kearl Module Tranport Project (KMTP) route over Lolo Pass.

Read the decision by following the link below:

Although this represents a clear victory for those who have sought to stop the shipments along the HWY 12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, the language of the document makes no specific mention of the proposed US 95 to I 90 route. The recent shipment of equipment through Moscow, ID along US 95 indicates that the transport of these modules could in the future continue along this revised route. But, there is another obstacle compounding these modules transportation problems – a construction project currently underway on I 90. For now, the shipments may have been stopped. Stay tuned for further updates on Idaho’s and Montana’s permitting of over-sized loads destined for Alberta using this alternate route.

Recent Development

According to the Lewiston Morning Tribune (quoting MDT legal council Dave Ohler):

“If Imperial Oil is successful in getting paperwork reissued in Idaho and issued in Montana, road construction on Interstate 90 and Interstate 15 won’t be an obstacle…”

– from

// activist toolkit v.1

For those of you wanting to get plugged-in to tracking the US 95 and I 90 megaload shipments, here are a few resources to follow:

(Kearl Project Transportation Website)

(ITD Press Releases)

(Drive Our Economy)

Protesters Call Trimming Root of Evil

Project to make way for oil refinery equipment traveling on U.S. 95

Moscow Parks and Recreation staff and T.R.E. Tree Services were shadowed Monday by protesters condemning the trimming of 18 trees along Washington Street to make room for the transport of two loads of refinery equipment by Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil up U.S. Highway 95 and Interstate 90 to its Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.

T.R.E., contracting with the oil company, was granted the tree trimming permit Friday by Parks and Recreation, which oversaw the work that started at 9 a.m. Monday and finished around 1:20 p.m.

A small number of protesters, many affiliated with the grassroots conservation group Wild Idaho Rising Tide, came out to protest the city’s allowance of the trimming, which they said would encourage many more oversized loads to make their way to the tar sands project, which they see as a pending ecological disaster, using Moscow as an industrial corridor. Continue reading