As you may be aware, the Nez Perce Tribe blockaded US Highway 12 three different times last week, as hauler Omega Morgan dragged a single 644,000lb. waste-water evaporator through tribal lands and eventually through the Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Clearwater/Lochsa River corridor–without permission from the Nez Perce Tribe or the US Forest Service. At approximately 7:30am Pacific on Friday August 9, after dozens of arrests and hours of human-blockades, the equipment passed into Montana, where it is currently parked.
On the evening of Monday August 5, approximately 150-people, mostly from the Nez Perce Tribe, blockaded the Tar Sands-bound megaload as it entered the Nez Perce Reservation near the Clearwater Casino. With federal government-tribal consultation having yet to occur, and the tribe having issued a resolution opposing the shipment(s) going through their land, the vast majority of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC) blocked the load with their bodies and were arrested. Approximately three-dozen tribal members were arrested in total, as the megaload was blocked three successive nights while it traveled up the highway.
On Thursday August 8, the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United filed a lawsuit in federal court against the US Forest Service seeking, “emergency injunctive relief to prevent irreparable harm to the rights and interests of the Nez Perce people, IRU, and the outstanding remarkable values of the Middle Fork Clearwater/Lochsa Wild and Scenic River Corridor.” Read the news release.
Despite having the authority to do so, including a recent ruling by Federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill that indeed, the agency has the authority to regulate megaloads on the national forests, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and/or agency personnel in Washington, D.C. could have prevented the equipment from entering the wild and scenic corridor and instead, chose not to. Read our news release.
As we go to press, a court hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday August 27 in Boise before Judge Winmill. According to public records requests, Omega Morgan has indicated that they want to haul (9) more megaloads through Nez Perce lands and up the Highway 12 corridor. According to the Calgary Herald, Athabascan Oil Corp., the owners of the equipment, are aware of last week’s developments and have every intention of continuing to apply for permits to haul equipment on US 12. Read the article.
There is currently (1) megaload parked at the Port of Wilma in Washington awaiting a permit from the Idaho Transportation Department to enter the state. The megaload that went up the highway last week was also parked at the Port of Wilma. It is possible more Tar Sands-bound equipment could be delivered to the port shortly.
In closing, we salute all the men, women, and children of the Nez Perce Tribe for their courageous and inspiring actions last week! We stand behind their efforts in seeing that treaty rights are upheld, federal laws are enforced, and US Highway 12 is not converted to a permanent high-wide industrial corridor.
Keep It Wild & Scenic,
Brett & Gary