Saturday, August 31, 2013

General Electric Files to Intervene in Federal Megaloads Court Case


Press Release - GE petitions to intervene in megaloads case.pdf
BOISE — General Electric, the fourth largest corporation in the world, has petitioned to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe. The suit seeks to protect the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor from transport of enormous industrial megaloads bound for the tar sands of northern Alberta.

“GE’s intervention shows how desperately the oil industry and their contractors want to convert one of America’s first Wild and Scenic River corridors into an industrial highway,” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “We need to have this discussion. They need to know the Lochsa-Clearwater is a national treasure, not an industrial corridor.”

Citing “significant financial impact” and the potential to suffer “millions of dollars in lost revenue,” General Electric’s attorneys filed in federal court Monday, Aug. 26. The court scheduled a hearing for Sept. 9 at 4 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Boise.

Though GE is citing potential financial losses, the company has known its shipments would meet resistance since at least last April, long before it barged megaloads up the lower Snake River and equipped them for transport through the Wild and Scenic corridor. In an April 4 letter, IRU’s attorney, Laird Lucas, relayed to industrial shipper Omega Morgan that use of Highway 12 violated multiple legal authorities and would be strongly opposed.

“Resistance to mega-load shipments on Idaho’s Highway 12 remains strong, both among local citizens and among the many organizations committed to protecting the route,” Lucas wrote. “The strength of this opposition can increase both the time necessary to transport equipment on Highway 12 and the cost of this transport.”

Still, Omega Morgan moved two GE-owned loads up the lower Snake River and trucked one through the Nez Perce Tribe’s reservation and the Wild and Scenic corridor, where the company met significant tribal and citizen resistance.

“They set themselves up for this,” Lewis said. “They created this conflict. This is a place that’s not for sale. It doesn’t have a price.”

Filed Aug. 8 during the shipment of GE’s first load, the IRU and Nez Perce Tribe lawsuit seeks an injunction to protect one of the first Wild and Scenic River segments in the nation. It charges that the U.S. Forest Service’s failure to stop the megaload from entering the Wild and Scenic corridor was “arbitrary, capricious, (and) an abuse of discretion.” The injunction would prevent megaloads while the Forest Service implements regulations to protect the corridor.

“It’s obvious the Forest Service ought to be joining us and not GE,” Lewis said.

Since the fall of 2008, the oil industry and a specialized group of shipping companies have been working to convert U.S. Highway 12 into an industrial high-and-wide corridor that prioritizes the transport of megaloads over other uses of the highway. And they’ve been doing so in flagrant violation of all applicable legal authorities.

“To be clear, IRU is not anti-corporate. Some of our best supporters are large and responsible corporations like AIRE and Patagonia,” Lewis said. “But this is a clear example of the world’s largest companies exploiting local highways, a federally protected river corridor, a tribal homeland and local residents to further their corporate profits. And they’re doing it at the expense of a spiritual, scenic and recreational national treasure.”

Omega Morgan has agreed not to attempt moving another megaload, already being stored at the Port of Wilma near Lewiston, until Sept. 18.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


ITD states that in order to receive a permit "Over-legal loads are limited to 15-minute traffic delays."  Anyone who's had the misfortune of being stuck behind or in front of one of these megaloads as they block the highway in both directions knows the wait in many places is much longer than 15 minutes.  Now, a revealing video, taken from a steep hillside above U.S.12's Fish Creek Bridge during early August's Omega Morgan megaload transport, provides proof of ITD's -- and Omega Morgan's -- lie.
The embedded video, "Megaload Through Clearwater Country" documents 29 minutes of a 1-hour-25-minute traffic blockage caused by Omega Morgan, clocked by a citizen timer, witnessed by approximately 75 on-site protesters.
Video footage by Roger and Janice Inghram 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Megaload Creates Delay and Protest in the Wild and Scenic Corridor

Thursday night, as the enroute Omega Morgan megaload crawled up Hwy.12 alongside the Wild and Scenic Middlefork Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers, approx. 75 people protested for over an hour at Fish Creek, Hwy.12 Milepost 120.  
At Fish Creek, as per its ITD-approved transport plan, Omega Morgan was required to cross Fish Creek Bridge by unhitching the transport's trucks and using a pull-cable.  By unhitching the trucks, the 644,000 lb. transport was reduced in weight to a point that ITD had determined would not likely damage or break the bridge.  The Fish Creek bridge is listed as a 'bridge of concern.'  
All traffic was blocked for 1 hour 20 minutes during the staging and crossing, while the actual crossing took 43 minutes.  All was observed by the protesters, including 4 NPTEC members and Idaho Rivers United Director Bill Sedivy, and recorded by a Fighting Goliath video camera.

In part because of its overnighting at Syringa, the transport was in the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild & Scenic corridor for 30 hours.  It's actual travel time was 13 hours.  You will recall that 1 of the 3 criteria that would trigger USFS review of megaload permits is that a transport not "require more than 12 hours to traverse US Highway 12 between MP 74 and 174."  However, ITD issued Omega Morgan a permit for the load regardless of the USFS criteria, and Omega Morgan pushed its way into the corridor with complete disregard for the criteria and Federal law.

Early Friday morning, as the transport navigated up the mountainside miles to Lolo Pass, it blocked all traffic, including several commercial trucks and a total of 20+ vehicles, for 40 minutes before crossing into Montana at 7:52 a.m
Idaho Rivers United & the Nez Perce Tribe File New Lawsuit Against the U.S. Forest Service
The lawsuit charges that the U.S. Forest Service’s failure to stop a megaload from entering the river corridor was “arbitrary, capricious, (and) an abuse of discretion.”  Read the full press release

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nez Perce Tribe Protests Illegal Megaload Shipments

Night 1: 
Approximately 150+ blockaders participated on the first night of the Omega Morgan transport.  The megaload transport had launched about 45 minutes late, at 10:45.  As it approached the reservation boundary at about 12:40, the blockaders walked out onto the pavement to block the highway.  The blockaders held back the megaload convoy for almost 2 hours.  The megaload, whose target for the night was Hwy.12 Milepost 38.8, only managed to travel 3 more miles west of the blockade.  It's total miles, 11 miles, was 27.8 miles short of its target.

Every member of the Nez Perce Tribe Executive Committee and several other people were arrested.  Others were forcefully removed by police from the blockade and taken to the sidelines.  Some were threatened with mace.

Night 2:
More than 100 Nez Perces and others had created a 2 1/2-hour human road block that, for a second night, halted the Omega Morgan megaload.  As the megaload eventually became able to inch forward, the blockaders became a moving roadblock tightly bottlenecking the transport, moving with it, and preventing it from gaining even modest speed.  The number of police officers at the scene was estimated to be double that of last night, perhaps as many as 40, and about a half dozen people were arrested.

The Nez Perces staged tonight's blockade at Hwy.12 Milepost 11, below the legendary Ant & Yellowjacket rock archway perched above the highway about 2 miles upriver from the transport's launch point. The site is 1 of 38 Nez Perce National Historical Park sites strung along a 4-state route.  One concern of the Nez Perces and other anti-megaload activists has been the effect of ground vibrations created by transports as immensely heavy as the Omega Morgan megaload.  Complete with load, trailer, trucks, etc., the transport weighs 644,000 pounds, and ground vibrations theoretically over time could loosen rock and cliff structures alongside and above Hwy.12.
Ant & Yellow Jacket
Night 3:
As the megaload left Mile 38.8 below Orofino, for the third night, the Nez Perces blockaded it.  More police officers preceded the megaload than the previous 2 nights, and they aggressively drove their vehicles towards the blockade in an attempt to force the blockaders into retreating.  When the Nez Perces held their ground, officers approached on foot, shouted "get off the road," and physically pushed some of the protesters toward the roadside.  Yet the Nez Perces remained in a group and gradually began to move backwards, intentionally slowly, as the police vehicles and megaload convoy were relegated to following at a snail's pace for a mile or two through the Riverside area of Orofino.
The Omega Morgan megaload reached Hwy. 12 Milepost 90, Syringa, last night, within the Clearwater National Forest and the Wild & Scenic Middlefork corridor.  They did that by breaking the stipulations of their permit & filed travel plan.  Instead of stopping regularly to let traffic pass, as required, they held all cars traveling east hostage behind 2 Idaho State Police vehicles, who led what was at one point 40+ personal vehicles and forced them to travel at 0-17 mph speeds for 51.2 miles.  In other words, corporate Canada 'owned' and controlled your highway last night, aided by state police.

According to their plan, Omega Morgan's target destination had been the Kooskia kiosk station.  However, apparently they felt they would be beyond more Nez Perce blockades if they could get farther up the highway.  They are parked in a large private lot owned by Terry & Becky Jackson.  Terry is the person who -- for pay -- lifts the tram cable that crosses the highway at Milepost 83 so megaloads can pass under it.

Idaho Officials Disregard Nez Perce Tribe and U.S Forest Service in Attempts to Please Multi-National Corporations

ITD’s recently issued permits to megaload transporter Omega Morgan come after the recent court ruling, requiring Forest Service oversight of megaload traffic.  The USFS District Manager, Rick Brazell warned the heavy-haul company that the agency does not authorize the shipment through the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forests.

Brazell also accused the company of ignoring language in the state permit outlining Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration jurisdiction.

The Nez Perce Tribe also opposes this megaload shipment through their reservation and ancestral homelands.  

 “The tribe is shocked by Omega Morgan’s audacity," Nez Perce Tribal Chairman Silas Whitman said in a news release Monday. “The company has apparently decided it does not need to wait for Forest Service review or tribal consultation to move General Electric’s loads."  Read More

Idaho Rivers United Press Release 8-8-13
Release - Megaload enters Wild & Scenic corridor.pdf
BOISE — An unauthorized megaload traveling Highway 12 in north Idaho barreled through the Nez Perce Reservation last night and entered U.S. Forest Service land and the Wild and Scenic River corridor. It finally stopped at Syringa near Milepost 90, 16 miles into the Wild and Scenic River corridor.

“This is a sad day for Idaho. The Idaho Transportation Department, Omega Morgan and their Canadian clients have blatantly disregarded the wishes and regulations of the Forest Service and the wishes and requests of the Nez Perce Tribe,” said IRU Executive Director Bill Sedivy.

IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis said IRU is pursuing legal options.

“The Nez Perce Tribe has done an excellent job protesting this load’s shipment across the reservation, and now the load has entered public land and the Wild and Scenic River corridor,” he said. “This is a clear violation of the U.S. Forest Service’s order denying shipment across public land. We are consulting with our attorneys this morning and plan to proceed to protect the tribe’s homeland and our Wild and Scenic Rivers.”