Posts Tagged ‘ missoula ’

We’re On Tour!

Please join Northern Rockies Rising Tide for a presentation about resistance in the northwest against the Tar Sands.

University of Oregon – Eugene, OR – October 6th @ 6pm

Red & Black Cafe – Portland, OR – October 12th @ 7pm

Media Island – Olympia, WA – October 14th @ 6pm

University of Idaho College of Natural Resources room 10 – Moscow, ID – October 19 @ 5:30pm

Lewis & Clark State College, Sacajewea Hall room 115 – Lewiston, ID – October 20th @ 3pm

Missoula, MT – TBA

(Further times and locations will be updated as they become known)

 

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Tar Sand Trucks Chomping at the Bit

ConocoPhillips joins the parade

Four oversize loads sit waiting on trailers at Idaho’s Port of Lewiston, poised and ready to roll across the northern Rockies, save only for the final pieces of red tape.  Even as executives from Exxon and Montana Department of Transportation continue to claim that the scenic routes over Lolo and Rogers passes are not being turned into a permanent trucking corridor for the oil industry, ConocoPhillips is waiting for the final go-ahead for it’s own high/wide loads to cross the region, having already been off-loaded from barges on the Snake river.

ConocoPhillips loads at Port of Lewiston, Photo by Roger Inghram

Though headed for an oil refinery in Billings, MT rather than to the mines of Alberta directly, the four ConocoPhillips shipments are expected to be just as wide as the infamous loads slated to occur with Exxon/Imperial Oil’s Kearl Module Transport Project that is currently under environmental review.  Most preparations for the sooner shipments have been made and there is speculation that Conoco is waiting only for some bridge construction to be completed along the route before submitting final travel plans to Idaho Transportation Department.  Both ITD and regional activists plan to watch these shipments very closely.

Exxon/Imperial Oil still answering Montana comments

The public comment period for ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil’s Kearl Module Transport Project (KMT) environmental assessment closed on May 14, 2010.  So for there has been no official response from Montana Department of Transportation, stating only that the applicant (Exxon) is still responding to the over 20,000 comments submitted.  MDT received an unprecedented number of comments in the final days of the comment period, resulting in a two-day server crash at MDT and an unknown number of comments failing to be heard as a result.  Theoretically, MDT could accept Exxon’s responses and issue approval for the KMT at any moment.  For now, the silence is deafening.

Indigenous activists visit Missoula

Wednesday, June 2nd saw a flood of concerned Missoulians to the Roxy theater for a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “H2Oil” hosted by the Missoula No Shipments Network and the Indigenous Environmental Network (movie trailer available on right-hand side of this page).  As the screening room filled up to capacity and more people continued to arrive, a second screen had to be opened for a simultaneous viewing to accommodate everyone.  Following the film, three guests took to the stage to discuss first-hand experiences with resistance to the Tar Sands.  George Poitras, former chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta spoke about that community’s experiences living downstream from the Tar Sand mines and dealing with the oil companies.  Marty Cobenais, of the Indigenous Environmental Network, discussed the campaign against tar sand pipelines to the US.  Surprise guest Winona LaDuke also took the stage briefly, somewhat distracting the event’s starstruck attendees from the subject at hand.

Bike Bloc escorts key players to people’s tribunal

Thursday, June 4th- Festivities continued in Missoula against the tar sands one day following the screening of H2Oil at the Roxy theater.  A Critical Mass Bike Ride included a bike-pulled trailer carrying “Exxon’s bed” to the Missoula office of MDT.  Upon arrival the bed, in which lied (sic) “Mr. Exxon and MDT Director Jim Lynch”, was stopped by a jubilant mob of anti-tar sand protesters who had assembled a mock court for the two climate criminals.  After some brief arguments between the judges and the accused, Lynch was found guilty of being in bed with Exxon and sentenced to get out of bed!

See the Missoulian article here.

Building resistance

Bi-weekly meetings of the No Shipments Missoula network continue to grow in size and the trend appears set to continue.  Please join us at the next meeting, June 23rd, @ 5:15pm in the back room of the Jeanette Ranking Peace Center on 2nd and S. Higgins in Missoula.  We need to keep up the pressure against these shipments!  Also, check out this new site created by the Rural People of Highway 12 for more information about the campaign to stop the trucks in Idaho.

Thursday, June 3rd: Rally at the Montana Department of Transportation!

Get the MDT and Director Jim Lynch out of Bed with Exxon!

This coming Wednesday, June 2nd, as many of you already know, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, the Indigenous Environmental Network the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club, UM Climate Action Now, and the No Shipments Network will be hosting A Walk Through the Tar Sands. If you are not aware of this event, please click on the link or see the below post for more information.

Northern Rockies Rising Tide would also like to invite all Missoula citizens concerned with Exxon’s proposal to transform our scenic byways into a tar sands shipping corridor to join us the following day, Thursday, June 3rd, for a…

Rally at the Montana Department of Transportation offices to pressure the MDT and Director Jim Lynch to GET OUT OF BED WITH EXXON, conduct a full-scale Environmental Impact Statement, and deny the permits for the tar sands corridor!

When: Thursday, June 3rd at 12:00 pm

Where: Montana Department of Transportation offices, 2100 W. Broadway.

(There will also be a critical mass community bike ride to the rally leaving from the XXXs on the north end of Higgins Ave. at 11:30)

The rally will open with a “climate justice tribunal” conducted by a Missoula citizens’ jury against Director Jim Lynch, who is being charged with obstruction of climate justice for “being in bed with ExxonMobile,” and is facing a potential sentence of “having to wake up and get out of bed.”

Please join us Thursday to highlight the fact that Jim Lynch and the MDT, in refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming community opposition to this project and by fast-tracking the environmental review process, are catering to big business at the expense of the very public interest which they are obliged to serve.

Come to the Missoula City Council Hearing!

Monday, May 10th

Missoula City Council Chambers (140 W. Pine St)

7pm

So, some of you have already received the email, but this is important! This Monday, May 10 (tomorrow), the Missoula City Council will make a decision concerning the resolution that will act as their public comment to the Montana Department of Transportation regarding the Tar Sands Shipments.

We need everyone we can get to go to the hearing and request that the strongest possible language be used regarding issues posed in the resolution. We need to encourage City Council member to reintroduce language regarding climate change and the negative impacts that mining the Tar Sands will have on the future on Montana and the world.

Most of all, we need to support the members of the city council who are willing to take a stand against the shipments, and let the DOT know that their review of the damages these shipments will bring has been myopic at best.

If you cant come, and you’d like some advice on how to word you comment to the DOT regarding these shipments, look slightly to you right. Attorney Robert Gentry is in a video discussing some of the problems with the EA, and we have an example of a comment letter that you can send in yourself.

Other than that,

we hope to see you tomorrow, 7pm, Missoula City Council Chambers.

Missoulians take ExxonMobile to task over Tar Sand supply route

Video of Jim Hepburn’s public comments
Video of Barbara Hall’s public comments
Video of Summer Nelson’s public comments

Hundreds of residents of western Montana packed the bleachers of Meadow Hill Middle School gymnasium on a rainy Thursday evening in Missoula this week, but the reason for such turnout was hardly a game.  Ostensibly a public hearing regarding the recently released Environmental Assessment (EA) for ExxonMobile/Imperial Oil’s plan to transport massive pieces of equipment from Korea to Canada’s tar sand mines in Alberta along a route which would bring these shipments through the northern Rockies and the city on Missoula, the April 29th meeting appeared in some ways to be more a display of corporate theater.  Though hosted by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) as a part of the EA’s public comment process, state officials huddled in the corner of the room half hidden by the bleachers, while executives from Exxon/Imperial, TetraTech and Fluor corporations sat center-stage, ready to clear up citizens’ confusions and ease concerns.  Beginning with what was to be a pleasant question and answer period, to be followed up by routine comments for the EA’s official record proving MDT’s duty to the public, Ken Johnson of Imperial Oil smiled politely as the first questioner stepped up to the microphone.  Fortunately we here in the inland northwest are not so naive as they likely hoped.

Welcome to Missoula, Mr. Johnson.  Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

One after another, for four hours, concerned residents of the northern Rockies grilled the energy executives on their proposed transport plan, demanding answers regarding everything from how these over-sized loads would affect emergency services’ response times, air and noise pollution in residential neighborhoods, water quality in endangered species habitats, the local economy, and of course global climate.

“Montanans are incredible people, I grew up here and I am constantly amazed by the strength and intelligence I encounter on a daily basis.  The release of this EA with a finding of no significant impact seems insulting to that intelligence,” said Geneveive Schroeder, one of the Rising Tide activists arrested during a sit-in at a meeting of the Montana Land Board in Helena, March 18th.

Missoulian Robbie Liben had to ask the panel his questions several times due to the executives either evasion of an answer or their inability to provide one.  Inquiring about contingency plans in the event of an accident such as a load turning over into one of the many scenic rivers alongside of which the giant trucks intend to travel, each panel member responded with a simple denial that such a thing could happen.  “We do not forsee such an event occurring,” Johnson muttered repeatedly.

“Am I correct then in understanding that you do not have a plan?” Liben asked, eliciting a long silence as the corporate speakers exchanged awkward looks.  One could almost hear the crickets chirping.

“Yes,” replied Imperial Oil’s Ken Johnson as the triumphant crowd exploded in applause.

Several other speakers confronted MDT’s director Jim Lynch on the overall scope of the project which involves two U.S. borders, four U.S. states, corporations from at least five countries, and global climate change causing tar sands development. The facts that construction on highway modifications in Idaho have already begun without any public input or environmental review, that MDT and Port of Lewiston reports have marked this project as establishing a permanent high-wide corridor to the tar sands, or the effects of this project on the Earth’s climate due to its role in expanding the tar sand industry were all summarily dismissed.

The officials seem to see no evil, hear no evil, speak much evil.

“We are here to discuss only Exxon’s proposal to move these loads through Montana,” Johnson and MDT director Jim Lynch both stated, an assertion they were forced to repeat several times with increasing defensiveness as more and more Montana residents expressed their disgust with the limited scope of the EA.  It rapidly became clear than the attendees could see through MDT and Exxon’s cynical ploy to make this highly destructive project appear benign by segmenting it to such a disingenuous level.

“By filing EAs on a state to state basis,” said Schroeder, “Idaho was ignored as their laws allow for a circumvention of assessment of damage.  Most of the construction has already been completed in Idaho, without public knowledge that it was for this project.  It has disrupted local business and caused people in that section of the route to feel voiceless and trampled upon.  The Port of Lewiston has been expanded using federal [stimulus] money, with very specific modifications that fit the needs for this equipment.  The document describing the Port of Lewiston expansion also includes descriptions of several other future shipment projects which will follow the same route, proving that this will not be a one time use corridor.”

Missoula’s Max Granger, another of the activists arrested during the Helena sit-in,  spoke on behalf of Northern Rockies Rising Tide:

As an organization dedicated to confronting the root causes of climate change  and promoting a just transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy, it is our opinion that this environmental assessment profoundly underestimates the local, regional, and global impacts of the project under consideration.

This EA, prepared by a corporation [TetraTech] with a vested interest in rubber stamping  Exxon-Mobile’s proposed exploitation of our state’s resources and roadways, glosses over or flat-out ignores the immense impacts of these shipments on our social and ecological environment, while highlighting the supposed local benefits they will bring to Montana; benefits which are questionable at best, and in any case will be utterly negated by the shipments’ adverse effects.

Limiting the scope of this EA to the 200 plus trucks traveling between Lolo pass and the Port of Sweetgrass ignores the fact that this project is intended to establish a permanent high and wide corridor through Idaho and western Montana–transforming what was once a treasured scenic byway into an industrial transport route which will facilitate the shipment of tar sands and other strip mining equipment for decades to come. The long-term impacts of this proposal on Montana roadways, communities, and environment, which are not even mentioned in the EA, must, for legal as well as ethical reasons, be considered.

By law, environmental assessments must take into account what are known as secondary impacts. Considering the intense and vast breadth of this project, limiting the scope of this EA to the space between the white lines of the highway and from border to border is not only absurdly myopic, but demonstrates a degree of dis-ingenuousness and contempt one might expect from the likes of Exxon-Mobile, not from a state institution entrusted with the public good [MDT].

But perhaps the greatest so-called secondary impact is the giant, dirty elephant in the room: the Alberta tar sands. The extraction of unconventional oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta constitutes, according to leading research climatologist James Hansen, one of the greatest threats to life on Earth today. The vast strip mining operations around Ft. McMurray are the single worst point of origin for climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions in the world–and the devastating repercussions of global climate change, as is becoming increasingly clear, do not recognize national or state boundaries. That is to say: the mining of oil sands in Alberta has a direct and increasingly detrimental effect on the ecological and economic environment of Montana, an effect which is completely absent from the analysis of impacts in the EA.

As corporations like Exxon exploit increasingly unconventional and increasingly dirty hydrocarbon resources, temperatures continue to rise and the Earth’s climate becomes increasingly unstable. Global warming is already having severe impacts on Montana’s agricultural industries as weather and precipitation patterns change, on Montana’s forestry industry as beetle infestations and droughts kill vast tracts of wilderness, on Montana’s tourism industry as the glaciers and snow-capped peaks–the quintessence of our wild and scenic state–disappear before our very eyes, and on the broader ecological stability of Montana’s environment as watersheds suffer reduced flows, invasive plant species thrive in harsher landscapes, and urban settlements struggle with diminished and degraded resources. The current and predicted effects of climate change on Montana are so dauntingly direct that to call this impact “secondary” is quite an understatement–to not even recognize it as an impact is inconceivably obtuse.

Northern Rockies Rising Tide opposes this proposed permit. We demand that this EA be rejected in its current form, that a full Environmental Impact Statement be issued before any further consideration of this project occurs, and that the current comment period on this EA be extended for more thorough public involvement and consideration.

Montana’s state constitution guarantees a clean and healthy environment for all Montanans. We believe that allowing Exxon-Mobile to exploit Montana roads and resources at the expense of the state’s taxpayers and citizens–all in order to make it cheaper for a few wealthy oil executives to continue destroying the planet–runs counter to this constitutional intent. I believe we are echoing a growing sentiment when we say: Montanans are neither obliged nor inclined to act as the servants of callous transnational mega-corporations like Exxon-Mobile, and we refuse to be complicit in their crimes.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this hearing for some though was the implication of government officials tucked away in the corner while the corporate giants essentially spoke on the state’s behalf.  When NRRT’s Nick Stocks spoke to the public record specifically about this project’s relationship to climate change, he joined several speakers before and after him in turning the microphone to the side to directly address the state officials for whom this forum was supposedly meant to benefit, ignoring the assembled company reps.

“In the current atmosphere of emerging federal climate policy, after federal judges have recognized the need to include carbon emissions within the scope of permitting processes in Montana,” said Stocks, “while the federal EPA realizes the need for stricter carbon emission standards, and while communities across the country vocalize their discontent concerning the current climate status quo, it seems to me to be unconceivable (sic) that the Montana Department of Transportation, in reviewing this Environmental Assessment, would come to the conclusion that concerns regarding carbon emissions that contribute directly to climate change don’t bear mentioning.”

Other commenters included representatives from the University of Montana’s Climate Action Now, National Wildlife Federation, Lochsa River Conservancy, and the Clark Fork Coalition.

Nearly all of the commenters requested in one form or another that MDT extend the public comment period and/or move on to a more comprehensive federal Environmental Impact Statement.  The decision, though completely MDT’s, may be influenced by Missoula’s strong message to ExxonMobile: Go home, and take your tar sands with you!

Unless an extension is granted, the public comment period officially ends on May 14th, 2010.  The time to speak out is right now!  Written comments can be submitted to MDT  online at:

mdtcommentskearl@mt.gov

or on paper to:

Tom Martin
Montana Department of Transportation
PO Box 201001
Helena MT 59620-1001

Northern Rockies Rising Tide Blackmails the Governor

Members of Northern Rockies Rising Tide and several members of the Missoula community hit the streets during last night’s First Friday to give Brian Schweitzer a taste of his own medicine. That being, of course, blackmail–or rather, black mail. In response to Schweitzer’s request that community leaders write letters of approval regarding his decision to lease the Otter Creek coal tracts to Arch Coal Inc. before he will release frozen Stimulus funds, NRRT passed out over 400 envelopes addressed to the governor, each literally containing a piece of black mail, and urged community members to affix their own return address and mail them in.

Schweitzer’s decision to lease Otter Creek has been faced with widespread opposition from environmental advocates, high schoolers, ranchers, and other Montana citizens. His reasoning, that he doesn’t want “any community to use coal money that didn’t want to use coal money,” is obviously a thinly veiled attempt to bolster his approval ratings, and apparently, Schweitzer would rather twist the arms of Montana’s communities than face the reality that his decision is an unpopular one.

NRRT endorses proposed anti-discrimination ordinance

On April 12, the Missoula city council is scheduled to consider a proposed ordinance adding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the list of protected classes in anti-discrimination law.  Joining such other protected classes as “race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, marital or familial status, and physical or mental disability”, the addition of gender and orientation to the legal code would make Missoula the first city in the state of Montana to do so.  This change claims to enforce non-discriminatory practices in employment, housing, and service in all places of business usually open to the public such as restaurants, stores, schools and public parks.

Bitterly opposed by many homophobes and transphobes around the region, invoking such strawman scenarios as pedophiles in public bathrooms preying on unsupervised children with legal impunity, and poor, innocent clergy performing marriages against their will; this ordinance may actually serve as another catalyst in the half-century long struggle for the civil-rights of yet another marginalized community in this country.

Northern Rockies Rising Tide recognizes the intersectionality among all forms of oppression, and considers environmental justice, economic justice and social justice to be one and the same.  NRRT commends the  City Council for its effort to show solidarity with Missoula’s queer community and endorses this ordinance.

*UPDATE* On Monday, April 12, the city council of Missoula approved the ordinance 10-2 after a seven hour meeting reported to be the most widely attended and viewed such meeting in at least thirty years.  Mayor Jon Engen signed the ordinance two days later.  For a full account of these historic events read this excellent article from the local alternative press.

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