Idaho and Montana: Tar Sands Megaloads Protest (Dec 20th)

“Marsing, Mountain Home, Bellevue, & Salmon, Idaho
Missoula & Montana Locations
December 20? & Beyond (Dates, Places, & Carpools TBA)

A Missoula planning meeting for megaload protesting and monitoring will occur at 5 pm MST on Wednesday, December 18, at Liquid Planet, 223 N. Higgins Avenue, Missoula.

For Boise carpools to Homedale, Marsing, and Mountain Home, contact Ann Ford of 350 Idaho at or 208-344-4675. Meet at the Shopko sign/parking lot at 2655 S. Broadway Avenue, Boise, tentatively at 7 pm MST on Friday, December 20, and later dates.

For Spokane carpools to Missoula and Montana protesting and monitoring actions, contact Terry Hill of Spokane Rising Tide at

As the tenth Omega Morgan-hauled regional tar sands transport barrels through the wilds of eastern Oregon in the wake of Umatilla and Pendleton direct actions, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists have vowed in several media outlets to confront this purveyor of ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos in southern Idaho [1, 2, 3, 4]. A WIRT interview and several videos of Idaho and Oregon demonstrations and megaloads appeared on Boise television on Tuesday night, declaring upcoming resistance and encouraging southern Idaho residents to protest when the WIRT call to action arises. Although everyone except a few dozen protesters and three media outlets seemed to overlook the last similar evaporator core that traversed northern Idaho on November 10-13, the region has bestowed a frenzy of media attention on, and climate and tribal activists are mobilizing against, this first of purportedly three Portland-made, extra-massive shipments departing the Port of Umatilla, Oregon.

After winter weather somewhat improved on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the heaviest (901,000 pounds) and longest (376 feet) piece of tar sands equipment to cross the Northwest started moving again from its Pendleton parking spot through eastern Oregon [5, 6, 7, 8]. Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) members held nightly load-side ceremonies since its launch and monitored its onslaughts of their ceded territories and homelands [9, 10]. In its efforts to expand Alberta tar sands exploitation, the fossil fuel industry and its remaining seven entire or dismantled evaporators that originally attempted Highway 12 passage can expect strong resistance on their Idaho and Montana trek. Meanwhile, southern Idaho industry apologists berate protesters with the same tired litany about dirty energy necessity, activist fossil fuel use, “domestic” energy independence, and mis-attributed NIMBY motivations for dissent [11, 12]. Local Oregon journalists at least honored activist passion if not practices [13].

The results of recent public records requests have revealed that Omega Morgan and other extreme energy development facilitators are obviously exploring, developing, and establishing new industrial corridors for infrastructure to move not just to tar sands operations in Canada but to fracked natural gas fields in Wyoming and the tar sands deposits in Utah that may harbor seven times more recoverable oil than in Alberta. If the dirty energy industry continues at its reckless pace, shipping companies and oil corporations will threaten remote, rural, Northwest communities with a nightmarish future composed of oversize transports, mining operations, pipeline networks, export terminals, and disposal sites. Most of this fossil fuel infrastructure significantly invades and threatens tribal territories, treaty rights, and indigenous sovereignty, with little or no government-to-government consultation [14].

But with every megaload passage, coal, oil, and gas spill or explosion, public hearing testimony, and frontline action and report, the cogs of the dirty energy machine struggle to turn, as powerful resistance to the fossil fuel agenda grows among settler residents and indigenous nations of Turtle Island (North America). More people every day become aware of environmental destruction and display willingness to take direct action, as part of the critical mass of physical confrontations necessary to malign, stall, cost, and eventually shut down tar sands facilities in Alberta. Over the last few weeks, 350 Corvallis, Eugene, and Idaho, All Against The Haul, Blue Skies Campaign, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and Warm Springs Reservations, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, Montana Indian Peoples Action, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, Portland Rising Tide, Rising Tide Seattle, Spokane Rising Tide, and WIRT have been organizing direct and solidarity, megaload protests in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana [15].

On the morning of December 12, a boisterous crowd of Portland area activists burst into a quickly dispersed Omega Morgan meeting at its Hillsboro, Oregon, headquarters, with chants, banners, a recited letter, and demands to meet with the CEO, all challenging the company’s role in tar sands extraction via megaload transportation [16]. Police soon closed in and outnumbered the protesters [17]. That afternoon, about a dozen Rising Tide Seattle climate justice activists visited the Bellevue offices of evaporator core owner Resources Conservation Company International, a subsidiary of General Electric, to protest its eastern Oregon megaload [18]. The group had previously staged a solidarity action for Port of Umatilla megaload blockaders, at Omega Morgan offices in Fife, Washington [19, 20].

Wild Idaho Rising Tide is especially excited about and eager to organize this coordinated regional resistance, after feeling fairly alone on the frontlines of megaload incursions for a few years. Oregon and Washington, Missoula, Moscow, and Spokane activists are planning to participate in ongoing Oregon actions as well as resident-based protests of the approaching tar sands megaload in or near Marsing, Mountain Home, Bellevue, and Salmon, Idaho, and in Missoula and other Montana communities. For now, we await the results of our colleagues’ and our public records requests for Omega Morgan travel plans, permits, schematics, and communication with state agencies, sent to the Idaho Transportation Department and the Montana Department of Transportation, which could assist planning, protesting, monitoring, and litigating efforts that expose transport snafus.

Previous WIRT calls to action, with embedded news stories and maps, outline the Idaho megaload route, while a Missoulian article last week verifies the Montana megaload route [21, 22, 23]. The Idaho Transportation Department has released to local governments the shipment route and traffic-clearing turnouts of the colossal rig expected to receive a five-day permit on Friday, to arrive in Homedale, Idaho, on Saturday, and to travel during the daytime on some remote sections of its primarily nighttime, 476-mile trip through Idaho [24]. Omega Morgan anticipates lugging two similar behemoths across the region in January, but has declined to state how many more megaloads it could carry on the route next year. County commissioners, city officials, and residents of Blaine and Lemhi counties have expressed frustration and concerns about megaload-imposed public safety threats, traveler inconvenience, highway and bridge blockage, traffic and emergency vehicle delays, possible road damage, hazardous substances, and gaps in public information and notice [25, 26].

Please remain alert to regional opportunities to together organize and rally strong protest participation in eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, Missoula and elsewhere in Montana. WIRT and allies will announce the exact time and place of Boise area and other Idaho and Montana carpools and demonstration sites within the next few days. Please contact WIRT directly via phone, facebook, or email, to share your ideas, assistance, and leadership in planning megaload resistance, and urge family, friends, and co-workers to participate in these historic events. Profusely print and post the attached, color, letter-sized Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests Flyer, and complete these three urgent actions, considering the following WIRT and allies’ talking points:

1) Call Omega Morgan CEO John McCalla at 503-647-7474 with this message instigated by Rising Tide North America: “I oppose tar sands mining, and I want you to stop shipping equipment to process it.” See this link for call prompts [27].

2) Tell the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) to not grant special travel permits to Omega Morgan, to transport its megaload now moving through Oregon:
* Due to winter conditions and the load’s size, it is not likely to meet Idaho’s 15-minute rule or Montana’s 10-minute rule for mandated traffic delay limits of oversize load transport permits.
* Travel delays caused by this overlegal load could prevent Idaho and Montana citizens from accessing critical emergency services.
* ITD and MDT should conduct detailed environmental analyses and allow members of the public to comment, before they consider issuing permits to Omega Morgan.

Montana Environmental Information Center Talking Points:
This megaload would facilitate the most environmentally destructive project on earth, Alberta tar sands development, at its destination. Tar sands extraction has contaminated drinking water, increased cancer rates in nearby communities, destroyed thousands of acres of boreal forest and bogs, and accelerated global climate disruption. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that further tar sands exploitation could add 24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of seven coal-fired power plants.

The travel route for this megaload includes many dangerous two-lane highways that become treacherous during snowy and icy conditions. Since the load arrived at the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, it has traveled much slower than expected, due to snowfall and bitter cold: a little over one hundred miles in three nights!”


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