FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2010
In response to the ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil loads beginning to arrive at the Port of Lewiston, citizens of north-central Idaho have organized a peaceful public rally for this Saturday on the Memorial Bridge in Lewiston at 10:00am. The gathering will last about ninety minutes and take place on the western sidewalk of the bridge. With public opposition at an all-time high, ExxonMobil lacking permits to truck the mega-loads up Highway 12 and the Idaho Supreme Court still having not issued a decision on the Conoco Phillips case, the public is appalled.
On Thursday morning the Port of Lewiston began unloading the first of fourteen shipments of Tar Sands oil processing equipment at its docks. The highly controversial modules are approximately two hundred feet long, twenty-five feet wide, 30 feet tall and weigh upwards of a half-million pounds. Nothing of this magnitude has ever been trucked up rural and picturesque U.S. Route12.
At stake is a Wild & Scenic River corridor that is dear to the hearts of many Idahoans and a big part of why they choose to live in north-central Idaho. “This is a prime recreation corridor for our members with access to millions of acres of roadless lands, we don’t want to see it downgraded to an industrial corridor,” said Al Poplawsky, chair of the Palouse group of the Sierra Club. “The people of North Idaho stand to lose a prime recreation area and ExxonMobil stands to gain billions in profits – where are our politicians and who do they work for?”
The Middle Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa River contain some of the most important habitat for fish and wildlife. Despite U.S. Route 12 paralleling the rivers and forested lands, the landscape is inhabited by many species on the Endangered Species list. “Roger and I have spent a lot of time over our lifetime along this river corridor. It means the world to us and we are outraged by the lack of state and federal leadership to deny these permits,” said Roger and Janice Inghram of Grangeville.
Recreation and lifestyles are only some of the things local citizens stand to lose if ExxonMobil is permitted to truck their rigs up the highway. “From an economic standpoint, there will be a net loss in jobs and income for the citizens of the Clearwater Valley. By turning Highway 12 into a permanent industrial corridor, as has been suspected and recently reported, there will be few jobs gained in the long run and the local businesses that depend on the travel and tourism industry will be wiped out. No matter how you slice it, this whole project is disastrous for the people who make their living in this gorgeous river valley,” said Chris Norden a Moscow resident and professor at Lewis & Clark State College in Lewiston.
John Crock, owner of Hyperspud Sports in Moscow, has the same concerns, “Many of my customers recreate on or along the river corridor. ExxonMobil’s shipments are a direct threat to how I make a living. If Highway 12 gets turned into an industrial trucking highway, some of my customers will go elsewhere to buy their outdoor gear and recreate.”
“What we are witnessing is the biggest bully on the block pounding down the door and saying we don’t care what the public has to say, we are ExxonMobil and we are going to use Highway 12 to gain more profits. Step aside we are coming through,” said Brett Haverstick of Friends of the Clearwater.
The Idaho Supreme Court has yet to rule on the appeal of Judge John Bradbury’s decision to revoke the Conoco Phillips permits for the four shipments scheduled to precede the 200+ ExxonMobil shipments. The affected parties say they will continue the fight regardless of the outcome.