Megaloads hearing to enter third week

Folks continue to have plenty to say-

Here is the story on the coming third week of testimony, from the Spokesman-Review.

It seems to me that local folks willing to testify are mostly unhappy.  Here is a detailed story about past testimony in New West. New Idaho Megaloads Hearings Address More Than 200 Shipments. By Steve Bunk.

Despite efforts by the Idaho legislature to prevent people from suing over the plans of the lovable oil companies, two new lawsuits on the issue were recently filed.  One is by the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Missoula County Commission against the Montana State Department of Transportation. The other is by Idaho Rivers United. IRU is against the Forest Service. The Lochsa River and a corridor 1/4 mile on either side is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and most of it is public national forest land. In fact the Lochsa was one of very first rivers protected, but the Forest Services is just standing by while the road right-of-way is being heavily chopped up for the wide and long loads.

Fate of ExxonMobil megaloads at stake in Boise hearings

Four day hearing on the future of the tar sands equipment megaloads are underway in Idaho’s capital city-

Residents on Highway 12 and recreation businesses are rallying against the megaloads.

Fate of ExxonMobil megaloads at stake in Boise hearings. By John Miller. AP in the Missoulian.

Montana judge halts the building of megaload turnouts in Western Montana

Another roadblock to the use of Idaho Highway 12 and Montana highways as corridors for moving Alberta bound tar sand equipment-

This is good news, although likely temporary.

The turnouts constructed on the Montana side of Lolo Pass appear to be larger than the oil giant said and closer to Lolo Creek which already suffers from highway runoff.

Judge stops construction of big-rig turnouts in western Montana
.  By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian

Megaloads have no place in Idaho

Idaho Rivers United editorial in the Idaho Statesman-

Megaloads have no place in Idaho. By Bill Sedivy. Idaho Statesman.

Oil industry demand for more drilling permits to lower oil prices is phoney

The argument that more drilling, fewer regulations will bring down oil price spikes is a tired old story-

The oil industry recycles it for every international crisis, nevertheless; and the media take it seriously (sort of). Once again they are exposed, although simple logic tells us that a strategy that takes years to implement will not impact a short term price jump.

Oil and Gas Industry sitting on 7,200 drilling permits. By Environment & Energy and Environment Daily on March 29, 2011

Montana Wildlife Federation is going to sue over the oil megaloads

Idaho landowners and conservationists to get help from Montana allies-

National Wildlife Federation Prepared to Sue Montana Over Mega-loads. By George Prentice. Boise Weekly.

Exxon is now getting ready to test taking the megaloads up Highway 12 and through Montana. There could be as many as 200 gigantic loads from Exxon sent to Alberta. Some, however, are being broken down into smaller loads so they don’t have to travel on beautiful Highway 12.

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Here is some good news on the struggle fighting the tar sand oil. Ottawa fights EU’s dirty fuel label on oil sands. Climate Connections. The EU is going to label it as a dirty fuel.

Megaloads tread on Idaho values

A good op ed from Idaho Rivers United-

Megaloads tread on Idaho values. By Kevin Lewis. Idaho Mountain Express.

Update on the oil megaloads on Highway 12

One megaload reaches Lolo; one stuck on Highway 12-

We haven’t covered this for a while, but as many predicted the movement is not going smoothly.

1 megaload reaches Lolo; 1 stuck on Highway 12. By Jamie Kelly. Missoulian.

Snowy roads, traffic delay violations stall ConocoPhillips megaloads

As predicted there have been lots of problems, though they will most certainly get the first load through eventually-

Snowy roads, traffic delay violations stall ConocoPhillips megaloads. By Kim Briggeman. Missoulian.

There is a rumor that future loads might be routed to use Interstate 90 and 15 which would present far fewer technical, congestion, and environmental problems.  However, being an Interstate highway the loads would have to first be broken down to a much lower height because of the overpasses.

LTE: Megaload transportation benefits Asian workforce

My question: Isn’t that the true plan?

For the Butch Otters, Mike Crapos, and Jim Risches of the world, Idaho is just a place to get the elected.  They don’t really see their job as representing the people in their geographic constituency.  They are simply a problem for manipulation every couple of years.  Meanwhile bring their pay down to Asian standards or hire Asian workers. That’s what the international corporations and Wall Street billionaires want.

The author to this LTE has this at least partially figured out as he discusses the megaloads.

Megaload transportation benefits Asian workforce. By Bill Chisholm. Buhl, Idaho. Times-News.

Crowds follow megaload along U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho

If all went well, it should stopped at the town of Kooskia now-

Crowds follow [first] megaload along U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho. By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian missoulian.com

Local megaload opposition relents on first 4 megaloads

Opponents of the megaloads drop fight on the first four-

Having lost before the Idaho Department of Transportation, opponents of the oil megaloads will no longer try to stop the first four of them.  These are bound for the existing oil refinery in Billings, Montana. The next 200 megaloads (not approved for now) are for what many see as the tar sand pits from hell in Alberta, Canada.

Movement of the first four should reveal much about who is right about them?  Will the loads have great difficulty getting up the highway and over Lolo Pass?  Will there be an accident?  Will they be safely parked during the day, or will they end up blocking traffic? Will the megaloads harm the highway surface or warp the bridges?  Will the megaloads generate any local employment beyond a few people holding signs and public revenues going to pay for highway patrol escorts?

Idaho megaload opponents: Let big rigs roll to Billings. By Kim Briggeman of Missoulian. missoulian.com

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Feb. 1, 2011 update. As Megaloads Roll, What Two of Three Plaintiffs Learned About Opposition. New West (feature article). By Steve Bunk.  New West has done an outstanding job covering the megaloads issue. This is their latest feature article.

I was particularly impressed with this quote in the article, “Referring to state troopers who accompany megaloads through Idaho, Laughy remarked, ‘I find it particularly interesting that our state could be contracting out our police to the South Korean government.’ ”  I say it’s a good example what happens when we (the United States) are well on our way to being a colony of the corporations of other parts of the world (thanks to the work of people like provincial governor Butch Otter).

First four oil megaloads get “go ahead” by Idaho Dept. of Transportation

If first four loads don’t go up and over smoothly, battle will likely last for a generation-

The megaloads for the Billings, MT oil refinery now have a go ahead from Idaho, and will probably get one quickly from Montana. Highway 12 itself has been slippery to very slippery except in its lower portion.  Parts of it have also been briefly closed to reduced to one lane due to rockslides.

Idaho official signs off on Highway 12 megaload permits. By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian missoulian.com

Imperial Oil/Exxon big rigs EA gets unfriendly reception at meeting

A University of Montana economist and others tear EA apart-

It’s amazing to me that they think they can get approval by doing a mere environmental analysis report (EA) for over 200 megaloads on Montana’s highways.*

At any rate, University of Montana economist Steve Seninger and others showed the huge defect in the EA’s claim that the megaloads would give a $67.8 million benefit to Montana’s economy. There was no discussion of monetary and other costs.  In other words, the EA writes of gross benefits, when it is net benefits (if there are any) that matters.

The costs are  revenue losses in the travel/outdoor recreation industry, costs to taxpayers from accidents, traffic delays and disruptions of emergency services, premature wear of Montana’s highways and harm to wildlife, water, agriculture and timber in Western Montana.

In Idaho, Butch Otter, the Farm Bureau and others, and in Montana, a similar bunch of people speak of the job benefits, but “What you end up with is basically something less than 82 jobs for the ExxonMobil transportation project, and those jobs are primarily lower wage, lower skilled jobs in terms of flagholders and driving some of the advance cars and rear cars,”[economist] Seninger said. “In my mind, you don’t have to be an economist to say that’s really not an employment machine.”

The fact that these are low wage, low skill jobs to move sophisticated oil equipment from the far east to Alberta is why I have been calling them “jobs for peasants.”

Story: Imperial Oil/Exxon big rigs EA draws ire. By Kim Briggeman. The Missoulian.

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*To understand the controversy, folks need to mentally separate the first, 4 megaloads that are bound for the oil refinery in Billings, Montana from the 200+ bound for Alberta’s tar sand pits.

Idahoans plan next moves against big oil’s megaloads

With first, 4 megaloads likely to get go ahead, how can the next 200+ be stopped?

” ‘In some respects it would be nice to get the four loads off the table so we could talk about the real issues,’ said [Linwood] Laughy, who lives along the federal scenic byway in Kooskia, Idaho.”

Laughy is saying movement of the first 4, the only America- bound loads up Highway 12, will show how accurate the objections to and promises being made are.

Read the rest of the AP story in the Idaho Statesman.Foes of megaloads to decide on path forward.”

Of course, the loads are still sitting in the port of Lewiston, ID and central Idaho is locked in deep winter. Weather, courts could stall Idaho megaloads. Dec 29, 2010. By The Associated Press.

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While the usual international corporation supporters back the megaloads, the major group opposing them is the Idaho-based public interest law firm, Advocates for the West.

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Earlier NYT story on local residents opposing megaloads. Oil Sands Effort Turns on a Fight Over a Road. By Tom Zeller

Posted in politics. Tags: , , , , , , , . Comments Off on Idahoans plan next moves against big oil’s megaloads

Hearing officer says “yes” to first 4 oil megaloads

The next 200 or so loads are still on the table-

Boise attorney Merlyn Clark, hearing officer on the oil megaloads that will use U.S. Highway 12 across north central Idaho into Montana has ruled that the first 4 megaloads could be transported safely with “minimum inconvenience” up narrow U.S. Highway 12 to the Montana border (Lolo Pass).

These giant loads have been sitting at Idaho’s sea port of Lewiston for a month now. There is still some paperwork before their transport can begin, but little doubt we will see what actually happens as they take them up along the Clearwater and Lochsa River to the Bitterroot Divide and down into Montana.  The first 4 loads are for the Billings, MT oil refinery, not the Alberta tar sand pits.

The usual groups, such as the Idaho Farm Bureau (how is this a farm issue?), have been promoting the idea that moving this equipment along Highway 12 at night will be some kind of boom for business, although no explanation how that will happen.

There will be a big difference between the transport of 4 megaloads versus the next 200 (which are not included in this hearing officer’s decision).

Idaho agency advised to issue megaload permits. By John Miller. The Associated Press (in Bloomberg).

Oil company megaloads to stay at port in Lewiston for Christmas

Idaho activists successfully delay megaloads into 2011-

Hearing officer does not issue a decision on the international oil company megaloads sitting at the Port of Lewiston, Idaho. Decision will be coming out at an undefined future date.

No ruling before Christmas on megaloads. Lewiston (ID) Tribune on-line

Oil companies lose first round on Highway 12

Hearing judge recommends that Highway 12 residents should be allowed to intervene against movement of giant oil equipment-

What a pleasant Thanksgiving surprise!

Hearing officer sides with foes of megaloads. By Todd Dvorak. Associated Press.

Posted in politics. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Oil companies lose first round on Highway 12

Much awaited hearing: Oil companys says plaintiffs in Highway 12 suit lack standing

Hearing officer limits testimony he will consider to small matters-

The much awaited hearing on giant oil machinery on Highway 12 was held today in Boise. It sounds like the Idaho Dept. of Transportation hearing officer will oil the way for the movement of the giant oil modules.

The hearing officer said he would only consider the first 4 modules, not the hundreds more to follow. The first 4 go to the Billings, Montana refinery, not Alberta’s tar sand pits.

The oil company said the plaintiffs, 4 citizens along Highway 12, lack standing to because they weren’t singled out — the transport won’t affect them to any greater extent than other citizens along the highway. Happily for Conoco, the hearing officer also said he would limit his review to whether foes have a right to get involved at this stage of the process.”

Oil company says foes lack standing in US 12 case. By Todd Dvorak. AP (from Business Week)

Boise Weekly has a story giving more of the color of the hearing. Overflow Hearing on Oversized Loads. By George Prentice.

Conoco hires big Idaho lobbyist to speed their use of Highway 12

This is important, and there is a story.  Usually we don’t hear (read of) the really important stuff, and this is.

Idaho lobbyist to lead campaign for Conoco. AP in Magicvalley.com

Idaho issues oversized load permits, but stays shipments for now

Public input is required, but conditional permits are issued-

Note: the hearing will be on Friday, Nov. 19 in Boise. The hearing will be at ITD Headquarters in Boise, 3311 W. State Street. (208) 334-8000

Advocates for the West won a brief victory Friday on behalf of local residents of Highway 12. These temporarily block the first 4 shipments (which go to Billings not Canada). They are for ConocoPhillips. Later ExxonMobil seeks to move over 200 giant shipments over the highway, which parallels the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers, over Lolo Pass and through Montana to Alberta.

“Each of the Exxon loads would weigh 300 tons, stretch 227 feet long, reach 27 feet high and 29 feet in width – wide enough to take up both lanes of the highway. Trucks would move only at night and pull over in newly designed turnouts during the day.” Read more of this AP story by Todd Dvorak.

It has been discovered that oil companies plan to use scenic, narrow Highway 12 for at least a decade for hauling giant equipment, so this will be a continuing issue if big oil wins.

Idaho business group backs plan to move oversized loads on U.S. Highway 12

“Business Group?”  You can bet this group is pure astroturf!

Stung by grassroots opposition in North Idaho and Montana to turning U.S. Highway 12 into an industrial highway to haul oversized oil equipment to Canada, a so-called business group has been formed. If you go to their web site, it seems to be associated with the Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce (who reportedly funneled millions of foreign money in the recent congressional campaign).  It would seem appropriate that they now do the bidding of international oil companies who don’t care one bit about the jobs and lives of the people in Idaho and Montana.

You can bet this group itself is no more than a P. O. Box, but from somewhere right now, and the near future, the resources will come to flood inboxes of newspapers, and the electronic media with propaganda of how the movement of all this giant machinery over many years is some great economic benefit to the natives who will watch it roll past, blocking their access to the highway.

Idaho business group backs plan to move oversized loads on U.S. Highway 12. By the Associated Press in missoulian.com

Big Oil wants a permanent corridor through the Lolo

More on the attempt to make U.S. Highway 12 an oil industry corridor-

This from the new group, the Rural People of Highway 12.
U.S. Highway 12: Idaho’s Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and All-American Road

• • •

Big Oil: One-Time Deal or Permanent Takeover?

Promoters of turning Idaho’s Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and All-American Road into an industrial truck route for gargantuan loads argue that currently planned and pending ConocoPhillips and Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil Canada mega-load shipments are a “one-off deal;” a one time event. Actually, the ExxonMobil Canada shipments alone number 207, and for successive 15+ minute segments, will close the highway to all traffic five nights a week for an estimated 9 months. But the truth about the oil companies’ intentions lies well beyond those 207 loads……

• The Port of Lewiston, both on their website and in grant applications for port expansion with taxpayer money, states, “If one oil company is successful with this alternative transportation route, many other companies will follow their lead.”

• The CEO of Sungjin Geotec, the Korean company that manufactured the 207 ExxonMobil Canada modules, told a Korean news agency his company expects to receive future orders for additional modules from Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil Canada totaling $1.5 billion. The 207 loads now scheduled for U. S. 12 cost $250 million, suggesting that $1.5 billion would pay for about 1200 modules. The Edmonton Journal of Alberta, Canada, recently reported that a Sungjin representative in Calgary confirmed that his company expects to build hundreds of additional modules.

Read the rest of this entry »

Governor Palin of Alaska, a big friend of oil, McCain’s VP choice

Senator McCain has announced that Alaska’s little known governor Sarah Palin will be his running mate.

As a “reform” governor, she was elected after Alaskans tired of the corruption and cronyism in the state, most of it involving kickbacks and bribes from the oil industry.

Despite her reputation for reform, she is a huge friend of big oil. She has spent most of her career in on capacity or another with the oil industry. Presumable she does out of principle what others did for a price.

Her image for clean government might have been tarnished by charges her office was behind the firing of her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. Her sister is in a child custody fight with the trooper. Story on firing.

She is a big advocate of drilling, disbelieves human-caused climate change, and is hostile to carnivores like polar bears and wolves.

A former beauty queen, she is 44 years old (3 years younger than Obama). Her husband Todd Palin is an oil production operator on the North Slope. He is also known for his prowess at snowmobile racing.

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-more- 

Sarah Palin: Tough on polar bears. Posted by David Beard. The Green Blog. Boston Globe.
Bearing Up. By SARAH PALIN. Op-ed. New York Times.  Published: January 5, 2008

Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past. League of Conservation Voters.

Defining Sarah Palin. By Kate Phillips and Michael Falcone. New York TImes.

Investigators Are Looking at Governor About Firing. By Michael Luo. New York Times.

Aug. 31. Palin touts stance on ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ doesn’t note flip-flop. By Tom Kizzia. Anchorage Daily News.

Aug. 31. State leaders question Palin’s qualifications. Governor’s two years of experience raise concerns about vice presidential candidacy. By Pat Forgey. Juneau (Alaska) Empire

Big Oil makes the most money ever

Big Oil’s biggest quarter ever: $51.5B in all. By John Porretto. AP Business Writer.

So far Speaker Pelsosi has kept nervous Democrats in line on big oil’s plan’s to use the high price of gasoline to gain leases in fragile off and on-shore public lands.

The counterattack should be easy. The headline above shows the way.

In addition, look at the polling data. Who gets the greatest blame from the public? See Pollingreport.com.

It would be fun to do a little ad on the lifestyles of the oil company CEOs.

As for the substantial number who want to see more drilling off-shore and especially on-shore, opponents need to make ads showing what these lands are like and where.  It’s easy for someone to say give them more leases on public lands; but not so easy to say lease Grand Canyon National Park.