Archive for the ‘Kearl Project’ Category

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time until our Governor’s hollow words took a turn to the right. In a little noticed story tucked back inside the B Section of last Sunday’s Missoulian, we find out that Exxon–the world’s richest corporation–is protesting nearly a million dollars in taxes in the small Montana town of Lockwood. The protest amounts to 44% of the town’s tax base, and will cost 18 jobs:

Leaders in Lockwood met with ExxonMobil executives and representatives from the Montana Department of Revenue on Thursday to discuss Exxon’s decision and the ramifications it could have for the school district.

“What we will do we don’t know at this point,” said Eileen Johnson, superintendent of the Lockwood School District.

District officials first heard the news from Exxon officials when they met on Thursday. Exxon sent five officials to the meeting, including two of its tax experts from Houston.

Those officials traveled to Helena on Friday to meet with state leaders. A call to Exxon’s Lockwood office Friday was not returned.

“Meet with state leaders…” Hmm, I wonder just what the governor or his underlings are telling Exxon? “C’mon on in, the door’s open, we need your ‘jobs, jobs, jobs.'” I wonder what the next public proclamations from Schweitzer will be about this situation? Push harder for the project because we need even more jobs now? Maybe Exxon is pushing for a little bit of quid pro quo? Pay to play? Extortion…??? So many questions, and so few answers.

I know many of our commenters here think that Exxon and the Canadian oil cartel are such fine upstanding corporate citizens, what with they provide us all the tar for our hippy bike paths. But when the world’s richest corporation has the ability to throw small communities in our state into total disarray and turmoil by simply protesting its taxes, well then, they are no friend to our state and should be dealt with accordingly.

And in related news:
tar sands resistance

International Tar Sands Resistance Summit, Nov 19-22 at Lubrecht

The Indigenous Environmental Network and Northern Rockies Rising Tide are pleased to announce the “International Tar Sands Resistance Summit,” which will take place November 19-22 at the Lubrecht Experimental Forest conference center, 30 miles east of Missoula, Montana, USA. The summit is designed to be a place where individuals representing tar sands-impacted communities can come together to strategize, learn skills and network in order to grow and strengthen the international effort to effectively resist the most destructive industrial project on the planet, the Alberta tar sands. The four-day convergence will focus primarily on connecting individuals and communities affected by the Alberta Tar Sands, the XL Energy Pipeline, and the proposed mega-load shipments. This event is free and open to the public, but due to limited space we will have to cap the number of attendees. Feel free to register online , but please be sure to read the information provided on the form.

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by jhwygirl

Last month Director had told the Legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee that their review of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s environmental analysis (yep, the applicant submitted the ea) would be completed by August 15th….while later he backtracked and said that he didn’t expect to have it by the end of August.

Well, here we are, middle-of-September, and the bad news continues to pile on. Forest Supervisors of both the Lolo and the Clearwater National Forests oppose the plans to move the rigs up and over Lolo Pass…and Oregon’s U.S. Representative Pete Fazio is >calling for an investigation into Exxon/Imperial Oil’s plans to ship giant equipment through Idaho and western Montana to an energy project in Canada.

Apparently the Helena National Forest is OK with the plans to move the Korean-built bohemaths up and over Roger’s Pass – yep, no potential there for major disruption…

Not only does the bad news continue to pile on, but Lynch had promised the EA “by early September.”

One does have to ponder the Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s current position – given that they had to rescind their decision to bury powerlines (the request the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s transport plans) given that they failed to consult with the tribes – Lolo Pass the site of the ancient native Nez Pierce tribe’s Nimi’ipuu trail.

Wonder because while they are taking comment on the proposal to bury the powerlines through September 24th and the scoping period is exactly (and only) 30 days. Rather odd considering both the controversy surrounding the project and the fact that the scoping is the result of them having overlooked even scoping the thing in the first place, don’t you think?

You can read the notice here and check the map out on the specifics here.

Let’s note, too, that the scoping notice does not mention the application is the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s need to have the lines buried so they can move their oil modules. It does, in fact, state the purpose of the initiation of the request by Missoula Electrical Cooperative is to “improve long-term service to local residences and businesses.”

Really?

Still, too, one has to ponder if MEC should really be the applicant? Isn’t Exxon/Imperial Oil paying for this burial? Or is it the customers of MEC? It does lay open the question, doesn’t it? Given that the stated purpose on the scoping notice is to improve long-term service to its customers?

Shame on the Lolo for misrepresenting that line burial project. Check out that map…there’s quite a bit of that line burial that is immediately adjact to Lolo Creek, endangered bull trout habitat.

Are lines being buried on the Clearwater National Forest? What permits are needed from both of these forests? Why doesn’t the fact that these transport plans affect at least 3 National Forests this thing isn’t being analyzed under a full NEPA environmental impact statement?

Why doesn’t the fact that this entire transport plan crosses multiple state jurisdictions and multiple countries warrant a full NEPA EIS by the Feds? Is our security that lax? Is the concern that little?

Hopefully the hypocrisy of the Lolo’s public notice for the burial of these powerlines won’t go un-noticed.

The public and our County Commissioners and City Council should provide comment asking the Lolo National Forest to ensure that it re-notice the application to note the full purpose of the project…and analyze the full effect of the connected actions of this proposal – the effects both here and in Canada on the Athabasca tribal peoples.

by jhwygirl

In a ruling handed down in the 5th District, out of Dillon Montana, Judge Loren Tucker told Montana Department of Environmental Quality that its environmental review (EIS, environmental impact statement) must consult with local government. Both the Helena IR and Butte’s KXLF have the story.

Jefferson County had sued DEQ over placement of the MSTI utility line, saying that they had not been consulted and the public process left them with insufficient time to adequately review the proposal.

Does any of this sound familiar? The Kearl transport proposal to move oversized Korean-built tar sands oil infrastructure along the wild and scenic designated Lochsa River corridor and up and over the historic Lolo Pass, location of the ancient Nez Pierce Nimi’ipuu Trail and the he historic site of Lewis & Clark’s famous trip across the wild west.

Alll to take the stuff to Canada to poison the lands and the native peoples there.

Over at Left in the West, Turner has written two find posts on the MSTI project – one explaining the issue, asking for help and another pointing out the hypocrisy and lies being put forth by state officials (like Governor Schweitzer) on the true purpose and the true impacts and the real job creation of the project.

MDOT left little time for the public to comment on the environmental analysis (EA) that was completed by Exxon (yep – the applicant did the environmental analysis)….and during that short 30 days, the state’s ability to obtain comments via email failed. Many people – including the Missoula County Commissioners – requested that the comment period be lengthened to allow for full review of the proposal (a fully printed version of the document was over 3 inches thick).

At this point, MDOT is far overdue in releasing its decision on the permit (having promised it August 15th). Idaho residents have sued in court to stop the transport, and Missoula County Commissioners have hinted at the same.

Let’s hope some city and county officials have taken notice of this recent 5th District ruling and find out the specifics of the case to determine how it may impact their position on the proposal.

Will DEQ appeal? Doubtful. They’ll go back to attempt to work with the county and avoid an appeal at all costs. A further adverse ruling would require them to implement its findings state-wide, and clearly, you can bet DEQ doesn’t want to see that happen.

by jhwygirl

….in Idaho, it seems.

Idahoans don’t seem to have any love for Exxon/Imperial Oil’s Kearl module transport plan to move oversized loads over the historic and scenic highway 12 which runs adjacent to the Wild and Scenic designated Lochsa River and Lolo Creek.

There’s a group of Idahoans suing the state to halt the movement of the oversized loads, charging that Idaho did not follow its own rules to issue the permit. The cite concerns over could threaten public safety, harm tourism in an area that relies on it and pose a risk to the pristine river corridors:

“Whether Highway 12 will remain an outstanding tourist and recreation destination that provides jobs and revenues to the local community – or become a congested industrial ‘high and wide’ corridor for the conveniences of the oil industry … – are matters of great concern to the plaintiffs and many others in the area.”

Idaho residents have also called for a full Environmental Impact Statement from the Clearwater National Forest on the project, saying that the USFS has a responsibility to protect that corridor.

Now – this route passes through the Lolo National Forest, too. What has the Lolo done? They didn’t consult with the tribes (as they are required to do under NEPA and they categorically excluded the project from need of any additional environmental analysis.

Burying power lines on federal lands (as opposed to the overhead lines there currently) apparently doesn’t have any impacts, according to the Lolo.

Hard to believe.

NEPA, unlike the MEPA review that the Montana Department of Transportation is attempting (and truncated one – an “environmental analysis” – at that, requires an analysis of connected actions – connected actions such as the impact on air and water quality as a result of these big things being delivered to Canada for tar sands processing. The economic impact of having these things assembled in Korea, shipped here and transported whole to Canada.

The list goes on for this one.

Exxon/Imperial, for their part haven’t been very neighborly here in Montana – but it might be that they don’t have to: As JC pointed out, our carbon fuel-loving Governor supports all those flag-waving jobs the project will bring for Montanans.

Yeah! Go Korea!

MDOT, for its part, should be should be releasing its decision any day now

I know I wait with bated breath.

Got that right this time, I think.

I hope someone on this side of the pass is scrutinizing that “categorical exclusion” of the Lolo National Forest….and I guess we’ll all have to wait and see what comes out of MDOT in the next few days.

It is possible that MDOT has determined that there are significant enough impacts that a full EIS is needed. Both Missoula County Commissioners and Missoula City Council have requested an EIS – as did much of the public comment.

But of course, this is the same department that said that this was the only oversized load in the pipeline, which was an outright lie. Multiple loads line await on the docks in Lewistown.

Of course, they could be banking on the low median income of the people of the state and the financial stress on non-profits to sue ’em.

It’s wait and see…wait and see.

by jhwygirl

Journalist extraordinaire Jodi Rave – who covers Native issues and the issues that affect Native peoples not just here in Montana, but worldwide – announced her new blog Buffalo’s Fire a few weeks back, kicked off for me with a post announcing that one of the most amazing social activists evah, Winona LaDuke, was coming to Montana to speak about environmental justice and to participate in a two-day event that would also bring the Indigo Girls.

The first day of the two-day event is tonight with a buffalo feast that will honor Elouise Cobell for her work towards seeking a settlement in the long and hard fought Cobell v. Salazar lawsuit.

Saturday presents an extraordinary opportunity for Montanans to hear Winona LaDuke moderate a panel that includes an amazing set of speakers Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations of Canada, speaking on the impacts of tar sands oil development; Gail Small of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation will talk about her community’s ongoing struggle to stop coal development; Francis Auld, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes cultural preservation officer will address sacred sites; Rich Janssen, acting director of the CSKT Natural Resource Department will address environmental concerns of the Flathead Reservation.

Yes – this all ties in with the Exxon/Imperial Oil/MDOT/Schweitzer plan to transport Korean built oversized loads up along the historic and scenic Lochsa River, down along Lolo Creek, through Missoula and on up adjacent to the historic and scenic Blackfoot River. From there it’ll be over Rodger Pass (yep, they’re doing this in winter, folks), and on up through Great Falls to Canada’s tar sands.

It’s “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as Governor Brian Schweitzer put it – but what it really is is jobs for N. Koreans and Canadians…and one-time only highway flag-waving jobs for Montanans. Yipee!!

I saw Winona LaDuke once. She left me breathless with her impact as a speaker. I was moved for days. Still am when I think about it.

Winona and the panel discussion begins tomorrow at 1:30 in Pablo at Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre at the Salish Kootenai College. Click on that link above for more information.

~~~~~
The Kearl Transport Exxon/Imperial Oil modules have many ramifications. Widening of roads for turnouts – roads that are adjacent to important fisheries like the Lochsa, Lolo Creek and the Blackfoot River. Widenings that will increase turbidity discharge into these important waters. Travel of these oversized loads represent jobs lost to Americans and Canadians – and support of N. Korea. North Korea.

Those tar sands? It’s some of the filthiest stuff and the nastiest process on earth. Massive large-scale destruction of boreal forests to scoop up the stuff for processing. It ruins watersheds, and it destroys water tables. The Athabasca Chipewyan native peoples suffer from the air poisoned by its toxins, and die from the rare cancers it has brought to the region.

Then there’s the larger scale impact of the use and reliance on oil.

Here are a couple links to the health issues that processing these tar sands brings:
An Interview with Mike Mercredi, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations
Pollution flows downstream
Why is Cancer Sweeping Tiny Fort Chipewyan?

by jhwygirl

Found this New York Times article interesting for a few things it mentions.

The China government – who usually suppresses these worker-centric protests – is letting this one roll. Why? Because “without higher incomes, hundreds of millions of Chinese will be unable to play their part in the domestic consumer spending boom on which this nation hopes to base its next round of economic growth.”

Hmph.

What does that mean – if you haven’t figured it out already? If this sort of Chinese government blessed activity continues, the cost of just about everything Americans buy will increase rapidly. Made in China could take on a whole new meaning.

I’ve got nothing against workers, anywhere, wanting fair wages – let me make that clear. As the story states, these people in Honda’s China facility make $150 a month, and are seeking an increase to $270. That’s slave labor, even if the cost of living is lower. But that kind of thing isn’t flying anymore there, as all-things-American (like cell phones and cars) make their way into the lives of the Chinese (even if it is currently only those of privilege and class).

China is going to bury us not with bombs but by choking us off economically. Decades ago American corporations started closing up shop in favor of Chinese cheap labor and lack of environmental standards to manufacture its goods (like steel and machinery)…and now that they’ve successfully grabbed up the bulk of our manufacturing (and left us the Burger Kings and McDonald jobs), they’re prepared to now go in for the real attack.

Interesting, no? As Missoula tries to address the Exxon/Imperial Oil transport modules built in N. Korea that will merely travel through the state, it only gives us more food for thought.

Instead of Governor Schweitzer advocating for flag-waving jobs for Montanans, maybe he should be advocating for these things to come in by rail, in smaller pieces, to the old Stimson mill site (where the rail yard runs right through it), so that Montanan’s can at least piece the stuff together and send it on its merry way up (I-90 and on to Canada).

I mean, if it’s really about “..jobs, jobs, jobs”….then Governor Schweitzer should step up and get us those jobs, jobs, jobs.

Schweitzer Waves White Flag on Big Rigs

By JC

super sized

It seems that in lieu of any rational economic development proposals from Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-Imperial/Exxon) to mitigate the impacts of the collapse of the housing construction (timber) industry and Stone Container, it is best to lay down and let another multinational corporation walk all over us:

“If I could wave a magic wand and get Stone Container open again and get the timber industry going again, I’d do that,” Schweitzer said Friday. “In lieu of that, $68 million worth of road work and flaggers and utility work along the highways – I guess we’ll take it. It’s $68 million worth of jobs [associated with the Kearl big rig project].”

Well, no. 32 million of those 63 million oil dollars are the cost of transport. Not jobs or mitigation costs. Those are dollars paid to out of state/country employees to move the dang things–not jobs for locals. Never mind that the project will disrupt traffic along highways 12 and 200 in western Montana, and create safety hazards and emergency response nightmares. It’s full speed ahead, damn the EA:

“[Schweitzer] scoffed at fears that western Montana will become a permanent vessel for big rigs to the Canadian oil fields and elsewhere.

“That’s not the proposal at all,” he said. “This is temporary for 200 loads and nobody’s proposed a permanent corridor. That’s why it’s an (environmental assessment) and not an (environmental impact statement).”

Except, Governor Big Oil, Exxon did “Propose to create permanent ‘High/Wide Corridor’s through Montana”, as revealed in this MDOT presentation prepared by MDOT Director Jim Lynch last July:
permanent corridor

Of course, in the another quote from him in the Missoulian article, he contradicts himself by saying he’ll try harder the next time a proposal like this comes along:

The governor said he pitched hard – “but I’ll pitch even harder next time” – to see that the equipment to be hauled through the state is built “in some place like Great Falls or Cut Bank or Havre, as opposed to being built in Korea.”

So you say we need an EIS if it is going to be a permanent corridor? Then you’d better order Exxon and MDOT to get to work on an EIS. Or are you just a liar? How dumb do you think we are that you think we can’t read and put 2+2 together???

Even Missoula’s City Council recognizes the falsehoods behind those who want to dismiss this project as a one-off needing just an EA, and have prepared a resolution dated May 10th, 2010 that one would assume would be presented to City Council soon:

WHEREAS, the construction required for these large loads will create a permanent high/wide corridor through Montana and Missoula that will attract the interest of additional oversize trucking projects destined for Alberta, as set forth in the draft Environmental Assessment’s (EA) Past, Present and Reasonably Foreseeable Impacts section and in MDT Director Jim Lynch’s 2009 “Proposed High and Wide Corridors Briefing” to a Montana Legislature committee; and

WHEREAS, the draft EA’s Purpose of the Project does not address the creation of a permanent corridor to serve future oversize;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Missoula City Council hereby declares that complying with the spirit and letter of MEPA and NEPA will require environmental review taking the form of a programmatic joint EIS under MEPA and NEPA and urges MDT to begin such a process in cooperation with affected or involved federal agencies, fully involving the public and exhaustively evaluating the impacts of creating a permanent high/wide commercial transportation corridor from the Port of Vancouver to the Alberta tar sands.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 10th day of May, 2010.

So folks, get out there and make sure this resolution passes City Council, and get on Schweitzer’s case about his blatant lying here.

And the Clark Fork Coalition noted in its Take Action bulletin that:

“The Port of Lewiston anticipates that “If one oil company is successful with this alternate transportation route, many other companies will follow their lead.” It is obvious that this route is planned to be a permanent industrial corridor to be in use for the forseeable future.”

Somebody needs to get his head out of Imperial/Exxon’s ass the sand and call for a full blown EIS.

by jhwygirl

A Tar Sands Shipments Open House will be held Tuesday, April 27th, 6:30-7:30pm at the University of Montana Campus in the Third Floor of the UC, Room 330/331.

It is sponsored by Northern Rockies Rising Tide, UM Climate Action Now, and the entire No Shipments Network. It’s purpose is to look at the local, regional, and international impacts of the Mammoet Shipments of equipment and the Alberta Tar Sands.

The timing is appropriate – MDOT’s public meeting to present the (so-called) preferred alternative is Thursday, April 29th, with an Open House at 6:00 p.m. and a Public Hearing at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at Meadow Hill Middle School, Old Gymnasium, 4210 Reserve Street, Missoula, MT

NRRT, UM CAN and NSS included a summary with their email:

The Alberta Tar Sands have been called out in the international community as the worst industrial project on the face of the planet. Currently Exxon Mobil is planning to invest 26.1 million dollars to open up a new northwest corridor to ship Tar Sands mining equipment from South Korea to Alberta. The proposed route begins in international waters, comes up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the Port of Lewiston, and from there moves along the Lochsa river, up over Lolo pass, through Missoula and up the Blackfoot River to the Port of Sweetgrass. The trucks carrying the equipment are, at their largest, 24 feet wide, 30 feet tall, and 262 feet long; the size of a three story building with the length of almost a football field.

The Environmental Assessment as required by Montana Department of Transportation regulations has just come out but does not adequately address the impacts these shipments will have on local communities, emergency vehicle passage, or environmental damage from road construction. Most importantly, the assessment does not even mention the impacts Tar Sands mining has on Climate Change even though Montana stands to be greatly affected by the continued use of such fuels.

As well, the scope of the Assessment is drastically limited and does not take into account the entire route through which these shipments will pass. By only completing the Montana Environmental Assessment Exxon Mobil is circumventing any federal process that would require them to look at the shipment route as a whole. We need to press the Montana DOT to submit to a federal Environmental Impact Statement to take into full account all the damages that Tar Sands mining generates.

by jhwygirl

I shoulda’ checked my email first, before writing the post below.

This photo comes courtesy Missoula resident and transportation advocate John Wolverton:




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