Posts Tagged ‘ Montana ’

Highway 12 debate hits the national headlines

In the past couple of days the debate over whether to turn scenic Highway 12 into an industrial shipping corridor has received quite a bit of public attention from around the country. Links below.

New York Times

Wall St. Journal

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First Imperial Oil loads to arrive in Lewiston Thursday!

The first of the Imperial Oil boatload is destined to arrive at the Port of Lewiston tomorrow. This load will contain the first eight modules to be transported by Imperial Oil to the Alberta Tar Sands. This, all before the Idaho Supreme court has had a chance to make a ruling on the Conoco/Phillips shipments, a ruling that will certainly impact future oil companies’, including Imperial’s, chance to drive the Highway 12 gauntlet.

The shipment was brought up the river from the Port of Vancouver, WA. a two and a half day trip. The modules will be off-loaded under the watchful eyes of a hired security squad who will erect a perimeter around the port to keep out pesky Idaho residents and other interested parties.

If the trucks are going to move, however, is still dependent on the ruling from the Idaho courts.

Yet even more company interest for HWY 12

So, there is yet another company, Harvest Operations Corp, a fully owned subsidiary of Korea National Oil Corp, interested in the already contentious Highway 12/200 route to the Alberta Tar Sands. The company submitted its application sometime after September 15th, making it the third interested party. This piece of information was gleaned from an internal Idaho Department of Transportation memo released after a FOIA request made by Advocates for the West.

If we allow ourselves to reflect upon this a little, and dredge up some recent history, we’ll remember this was the exact fear brought to the MDT and IDT by member of the public. The fear being that Highway 12 would be turned into a permanent “High and Wide” corridor specifically to be used by those seeking to appropriate Canadian oil from indigenous lands.

Articles concerning the memo can be found here.

And another piece of recent news is that the first KMTP shipments have already made their appearance at the Port of Vancouver, WA. So, before the Idaho Supreme Court has even made it’s decision on the shipments the company hasn’t even hedged its bets, it simply assumes success. We wish this was not a commonplace practice in this type of scenario. Sadly, it is.

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)

 

More horrific implications dwarf concerns over traffic delays

It has been said here before, with much confidence, that to allow the Kearl Module Transport Project to proceed will open a Pandora’s Box of industrialization in the inland Northwest.  In particular, the establishment of an ongoing culture of supplying equipment to the Tar Sands of Alberta by means of high-wide truck transport through the region.  In a certain sense, we here in the northern Rockies are facing the decision of whether or not to invite some new neighbors to the ‘hood.  There seems little doubt that this controversy would be understood were these new neighbors registered sex offenders, or perhaps another white supremacist club so common in this region, but when the newest immigrants to our community are the world’s largest, wealthiest capitalist organizations, a certain sense existing somewhere between apathy and defeat takes hold of the discourse.  With this in mind, and following the absurd precedent of corporate personhood, let’s consider for a moment just who we are opening our arms wide for.

A Look at ExxonMobil

The world’s largest publicly traded institution, regularly posting world record-setting profits, is ExxonMobil.  This direct descendant of tycoon John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company is the result of the remerging of Exxon and Mobil, two entities previously joined in a monopoly and forced to split under anti-trust laws.  Time has been good to this mega-corporation.  The same cannot be said for how the company has been to the rest of the world.

In 1989, ExxonMobil spilled 11 million gallons of oil near Valdez, AK causing environmental damage that we are still dealing with today.  At the time, the ExxonValdez oil spill in Prince William Sound was without doubt the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, and today remains near the top of the list.  Some 1200 miles of pristine coastline became coated with crude oil, untold numbers of seabirds and other wildlife died as a result of contact with the spill, and desperate cover up efforts resulted in the literal deaths of once-biodiverse beaches.  A court ordered the company in 1994 to pay 4.5 billion dollars in damages to the 33,000 Alaskan Natives and non-native fishermen who’s livelihoods were harmed by the spill.  Today, Exxon has still not paid up despite posting over $250 billion in profits in just the last 10 years.  Since the ruling, over 6000 of the plaintiffs have passed away while waiting in vain for compensation.

“Cleanup” crews sterilize once thriving beaches with high-pressure steam. As the oil washed away, so did all remaining biodiversity.

ExxonMobil’s flagrant disregard for its responsibility to the people it affected is merely a part of a long precedent it has set.

In 1990, a month after ExxonMobil spilled over half a million gallons of oil from a pipeline into the waters between Staten Island and New Jersey, the company was sued by the city of New York for falsifying safety reports after Exxon admitted that the pipeline’s leak detection system had not worked for 12 years.

In 1991, the EPA sued Exxon for again tainting the waters near Valdez, AK, this time with ballast waste water. That same year the EPA also fined Exxon for discharging contaminated fluids from service stations directly into or above underground drinking water sources around the country.  Since then, Exxon has been accused of continuing to ignore such crimes it has committed repeatedly.

In 1993, Exxon was sued for knowingly bypassing air pollution control equipment at its Linden, NJ Bayway refinery. Come 1995, Exxon was sued over violations of the Clean Water Act and the resource conservation and recovery act in Louisiana.

Exxon’s Bayway refinery in Linden, NJ

In 1998, they were sued by the Department of Justice for clean air act violations, sued for discharging selenium (a carcinogen) into San Francisco Bay, and sued for excess levels of carcinogens in industrial wastes in Louisiana. That same year, Exxon heavily publicized a petition supposedly signed by 17,000 “scientists” that dismissed the scientific consensus on global warming. The petitions was supposedly endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, but the NAS itself later condemned the petition as a fake. Since then, Exxon has spent over $23 million to fund over 40 organizations per year that seek to discredit climate change, a practice which continues to this day despite claims in 2006 that the company was ending such funding.

In 2000, Exxon was convicted of defrauding Alabama on royalties from gas wells in state waters, and they settled a suit against it and 9 other companies for underpaying the government hundreds of millions of dollars in drilling royalties for federal lands leases. And in 2001, they were sued by Texas for extracting oil & gas from state land without permission.

Though the Valdez disaster rates as the most well known of Exxon’s crimes, it should not be forgotten that they were sued by the International Labor Rights fund over the corporation’s complicity in human rights abuses in Indonesia during the Suharto regime.  The company contracted the Indonesian army to provide security for gas projects on Sumatra, and villagers were subsequently murdered, tortured, kidnapped and raped. Exxon supplied the barracks in which villagers were tortured as well as the excavators used to dig mass graves.

Exxon has given high-paying jobs to former White House officials who falsified government reports to favor the oil industry’s positions and has engaged in practices of union-busting around the globe, notably in places such as Columbia and Peru where indigenous communities are being forcibly evicted to make way for Exxon projects.  It has traded illegally with countries such as Sudan, in violation of official sanctions, has been the subject of countless anti-trust suits since the 1800s, when ExxonMobil was known as Standard Oil, and is responsible for 41 Superfund sites in 17 states.

An Industry-wide Culture

Just as the emerging high-wide corridor in the northern Rockies exceeds limiting utilization to just one company, so too does this culture of disregard for social and environmental rights.  The oil industry as a whole self-perpetuates a reputation for horrific crimes against humanity and the Earth.

The Niger Delta region has suffered from the equivalent of a BP Gulf spill every year for several decades, and armed resistance groups have emerged against the oil giants.

From political assassinations and civilian massacres in defense of Shell and ChevronTexaco’s operations in the Niger delta as well as that region’s ongoing environmental devastation, to BP’s cover up of ecocide in the already precarious Gulf of Mexico, the companies behind this abuse of our landscapes and communities in the northern Rockies have given us no reasonable assurance that we are not becoming the next in a long line of disposable populations and sacrifice zones in Big Oil CEO’s exploitation of the planet for personal gains.

ExxonMobil’s and other tar sands exploiters have only one purpose on this planet: to maximize profits for their shareholders.  We in the northern Rockies are faced with the chance to acquiesce or stand our ground against the Kearl Module Transport Project and the tar sands.  Let us not go quietly into the night….

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.

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