Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 10, 2013

Megaloads head for Nez Perce Nov. 10, 2013


  • By Wild Idaho Rising Tide
    Censored News

    Dates: Sunday, Nov. 10, through Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 6 a.m.
    Second and Washington streets, near Moscow City Hall, and Highway 95 and Interstate 90, Idaho
  • Please join the committed environmental warriors of Wild Idaho Rising Tide and Spokane Rising Tide, and urge family, friends, and co-workers to attend the Stand Up! Fight Back! Against Fossil Fuels in the Northwest! non-violent direct action trainings on Saturday, November 9, in Spokane and on Sunday, November 10, in Moscow, as we together learn, plan, and prepare for another megaload onslaught. Then meet WIRT collective members at the corner of Second and Washington streets, on the north side of city hall in downtown Moscow, on Sunday evening at 9 pm, to monitor this largest of Highway 95 tar sands machines and document its safety and traffic violations between Lewiston and Moscow, with still and video cameras and written and audio notes of observations. Protesters will converge at the same location with tar sands/megaload protest signs and banners, musical instruments and voices at 10 pm, to demonstrate our continuing opposition to tar sands traffic on ANY Northwest or northern Rockies highway. Monitors heading north to scrutinize the industrial circus will embark just after the rally. Wild Idaho Rising Tide will provide updates about opportunities in other Idaho and Montana places, to monitor and protest this megaload builder of the largest industrial project on Earth. Contact WIRT by phone, email, facebook, or website, to find out how you can participate in this tireless, grassroots, frontline defense of indigenous and public lands, waters, air, and climate.

    On Friday, November 8, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) issued a permit for the heaviest and longest megaload of tar sands extraction equipment to recently traverse U.S. Highway 95 and Interstate 90 in Idaho and degrade Idahoans’ roads and rights on Sunday and Monday nights, November 10 and 11, between 10 pm to 6 am [1]. Like the controversial oversize evaporator that met four nights of fierce resistance from Nez Perce, Idle No More, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and allied activists in early August, this core of a similar shipment that also arrived at the Port of Wilma on July 22 weighs up to 644,000 pounds [2]. But unlike that 255-foot-long transport, this behemoth stretches 297 feet long. Its 16-foot width crowds out other traffic on mostly two-lane Highway 95, while its 15.9-foot height barely clears standard 16-foot-tall overpasses along the Idaho route. Hillsboro, Oregon-based Omega Morgan will haul the partial evaporator, designed by General Electric subsidiary Resources Conservation Company International (RCCI) of Bellevue, Washington, and manufactured in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, on a specialized trailer conveyed by push and pull trucks. Accompanied by a convoy of pilot cars, flaggers, and likely police vehicles, the inexplicably divisible and unstranded evaporator will travel from the Port of Wilma in Clarkston, Washington, on Idaho Highway 128 to Lewiston, north on U.S. 95 to Coeur d’Alene, and then east on Interstate 90 to the Montana border, over the course of two nights. En route to the Hangingstone steam assisted gravity drainage tar sands mining operations of Athabasca Oil Corporation, southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the corporate parade must safely pull over at previously identified locations in Idaho, to clear traffic “delayed” (fully stopped) no longer than 15 minutes under state laws.

    Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists admire and appreciate the diligent work of myriad allies who persuaded federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill to grant a September 12 preliminary injunction and order the U.S. Forest Service to temporarily close disputed Highway 12 to only Omega Morgan vehicles over 16 feet wide or 150 feet long, in the 100-mile stretch that traverses national forest wildlands, wild and scenic river corridors, and Nez Perce homelands and treaty rights areas [3, 4]. We are also grateful that the Forest Service is reviewing and studying the impacts of megaloads on the character and multitude of values of the internationally treasured, remote Highway 12 corridor, in consultation with the Nez Perce Tribe. Thankfully, recent cooperation among the tribe and diverse regional groups also effectively impeded Omega Morgan passage to the Alberta tar sands, during four early August nights of blockades. When RCCI pulled its U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case on October 24, another fossil fuel extraction company again reassessed its transportation project feasibility, dismantled its certified “non-reducible” payload, increased its labor, inspection, delivery, and contract costs and delays, selected another itinerary, and abandoned Highway 12 as a possible route for overlegal industrial equipment [5].

    But while national attention currently spotlights north central Idaho resistance to Highway 12 megaloads, and regional coalitions necessarily fixate on the legalities of megaload size rather than intent, they neglect ongoing Alberta tar sands supply traffic and local opposition in the alternative re-routing sacrifice zones of Highway 95 and other routes. Despite steadfast 2011-12 WIRT scouting, monitoring, and protesting of every one of 70 ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands shipments through Moscow and during their last month through Spokane – resulting in several blockades, critical mass bike actions, and thirteen arrests and/or citations – our region has facilitated tar sands exploitation, with over 350 processing equipment parts reaching Alberta on our roads, and toxic tar sands oil daily combusting in our vehicles. Corporations and their state police and transportation department facilitators have prevaricated or suppressed information about the ownership, origin, content, and destination of five oversize shipments on Highways 12 and 95, which slipped past vigilant protesters and outraged residents and through legal loopholes qualifying megaload dimensions for permits, just in the last month alone [6].

    No matter which route evaporators and their parts take, they will still inflict ecocide, genocide, and climate change at their Canadian destinations. WIRT finds it difficult to celebrate court victories that drive us to risking arrest in the highways that most of our region seems unwilling to defend against tar sands invasions, not unlike the myopic, nationwide preoccupation with Keystone XL pipeline politics that compels Gulf Coast pipeline blockaders to struggle against that more critical tar sands export conduit. As we call on stalwart Nez Perce and WIRT activists and our esteemed Rising Tide comrades in Missoula, Spokane, Portland, Vancouver, Olympia, Seattle, and Bellingham to join us in frontline megaload blockades and solidarity actions, we have commenced direct action training and planning against the evaporator core moving up Highway 95 this weekend [7]. While Highway 12 protection and citizen confusion and relative inaction over regional megaloads mounts, climate chaos intensifies. The time is ripe to prepare and successively stage non-violent direct actions.

    WIRT encourages, anticipates, and supports protests of tar sands mining infrastructure springing up again in Portland, the Tri-Cities, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Potlatch, and Missoula, and on the Nez Perce and Coeur d’Alene reservations. Oregon newspapers recently announced that many more Omega Morgan-hauled evaporator pieces and mining modules could soon be barged to the downriver Port of Umatilla and rumble south through eastern Oregon toward southern Idaho and ultimately Alberta tar sands mining ventures [8]. Our intensive three-year-plus Idaho/Montana megaload battles constitute the ongoing rounds in an expanding extreme energy war on the interior West. Besides the lawsuits of regional organizations and tribes, people relentlessly waving tar sands resistance signs on megaload route sidelines, even without risking arrests, present logistical challenges, endless delays, unexpected complications, and project uncertainty for nervous, greedy corporations. As exemplified by the two billion dollars of unanticipated expenses incurred by Imperial Oil, regional activists can increase the corporate costs of additional, constant, private and public security and surveillance of transports, demonstrations, protesters, and port and stopover parking spots. Multiple, coordinated actions bolstering the growing climate justice movement and waging peace against these forces could significantly undermine their precarious reputation, dwindling profitability, and the economic feasibility of climate-wrecking megaload transports and Alberta tar sands mining investments and developments.

    [1] Stranded General Electric Tar Sands Megaload to Head through Moscow Sunday Night (November 8 KRFP Evening Report)

    [2] Fight Over Energy Finds a New Front in a Corner of Idaho and An Indian Tribe’s Battle (September 25 New York Times)

    [3] Memorandum Decision and Order, Case Number 3:13-CV-348-BLW (September 12 U.S. District Court of Idaho)

    [4] Order Number 13-D5-CLW-06 (September 17 Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest)

    [5] Megaloads Company Gives Up Legal Fight (October 25 Lewiston Tribune)

    [6] WIRT Newsletter: ITD Lies, Mini-Megaloads Sneak, Corporations Quit, & Protesters Prepare (October 30 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

    [7] Stand Up! Fight Back! Against Fossil Fuels in the Northwest! (November 5 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

    [8] Superload Could Go East on Highway 26 from John Day (November 8 Blue Mountain Eagle)

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