Friday, October 22, 2010

Exxon's long-term plans revealed

from the desk of Sam Mace:
Mega-load shipments begin moving into the Northwest

Mega-loads like this thing have started moving into the Northwest

Local citizens, businesses and conservationists continue to fight Big Oil’s plans to ship mining equipment up our salmon rivers and scenic highways to the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. It is arguably one of the most environmentally destructive activities on the planet.  Tar sands mining in Canada is destroying rivers, water quality, boreal forest, and fisheries, and affecting climate change.  Recently, over 40 regional and national organizations wrote a letter urging Northwest members of Congress to provide oversight on this project. Read the letter here.

The issue has recently been covered in the New York Times: "Oil Sands Effort Turns on a Fight Over a Road" - October 22nd, 2010.  

If you haven't already, please take action on this issue.

Exxon moves the first mega-loads to the Northwest
Despite widespread opposition, this month Exxon imported its first shipment of heavy loads through the Port of Vancouver and barged them 435 miles upriver to the Port of Lewiston.  This act of arrogance—permits have not been issued and Conoco’s similar mega-loads are stalled at the Port by court order—is proof that Exxon views our rivers and roads as a mere resource at their disposal and cares little about public input.  

Recently translated Korean documents reveal what people have suspected:  Exxon wants permanent use of the Columbia-Snake Rivers and scenic Highway 12 to ship massive loads of mining equipment to the Tar Sands.  While Exxon continues to claim it plans to send only 207 mega-load shipments in the next year, documents obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) show that Exxon has signed long-term contracts with Korean manufacturers for equipment over the next two decades.   

And it’s not just Exxon hoping to make a new “High and Wide” shipping route through the Northwest.   Idaho Department of Transportation has met with Harvest Energy, another company involved in the Tar Sands that wants to use Highway 12 for their industrial shipping route.  

Opposition grows among elected leaders, agencies and citizens
With the realization that Big Oil wants to permanently transform one of the Northwest’s most beloved pristine recreation areas into a permanent industrial corridor, opposition is mounting.  Forest Supervisors for the Clearwater and Lolo National Forests are now on record in opposition..  The Missoula, MT City Council and local Idaho state representatives are working to stop the shipments.  Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio wrote a letter to the Dept. of Transportation expressing his concern over the impacts of this proposal and lack of public review and oversight.

Most recently, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) publicly expressed his concerns about Exxon’s plans and the impacts to the Northwest and is following the issue closely.

As Big Oil’s intentions become clear, concerns are growing.  With your help, we can stop Exxon from turning our rivers and roads into their own dirty highway.  Please contact your elected leaders and urge them to oppose Big Oil’s push for a Big Road.  At the very least urge them to require pubic and environmental review of such a far-reaching project that will change the character of the scenic Highway 12 corridor forever. 

Sam Mace is the Inland Northwest Director for Save Our Wild Salmon
She can be reached at

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