A friend sent me this. It’s a damming piece on the Canadian Kearl oil sands and how multinational companies are destroying our environment. He was most upset about how our leaders, our Governor and our Senators and Representatives seemed to welcome the transport of huge machinery through our state to support this project. Like it was a done deal.
We’ve been dealing with this issue in this part of our state. At first the companies wanted to go up Highway 12, along the Clearwater and Lochsa, over Lolo Pass into Montana. Lately they have changed their minds and have cut their loads in half so they can come up through Moscow and over the interstate into Montana. Folks protest and some were arrested.
At first I was concerned that Idaho was subsidizing the big corporations. I could not get honest answers from our Department of Transportation. A bridge over the Clearwater was fixed ahead of schedule but it was on their list of projects. The corporations paid overtime to get it done to their schedule but Idaho paid for the majority of the work. Still, it just felt like we were marching to their cadence, not ours.
I fought fires with this friend who sent me the link. He’s a kayak nut. I remember one time on a bus to a fire back in 1980 another pogue yelled out, “Russ, how many times have you done the Middle Fork?”
He considered. “Maybe a dozen.”
“How about the Main?”
“Twenty or more.”
“And the Lochsa?”
He laughed. “Hundreds.” He knows the value of our wilderness, our rivers. We all should.
I remember when another megaload came through Idaho. I was living outside Council on my step grandmother’s ranch. It was bound for Brownlee dam. The big worry then was whether they could make it down the White Bird grade without burning up the brakes.
But roads are a shared resource for all to use. Little Volkswagen campers with fly fishermen on the Lochsa pass semis of grain from Montana bound for the port at Lewiston. We need to preserve the shared resource of our roads as we would our wilderness. Is this where we will battle out our values, on our roads? It might be the place. Our government should reflect our shared values. I was heartened when I saw a Prius with a republican plate parked in the legislative lot between two 3/4 ton pickups. Maybe we can preserve this state.
If a company were proposing to harvest oil from Idaho soil like the Kearl oil sands project I would lay down in front of the bulldozers. But we must share the roads for commerce. Destroying Idaho isn’t worth our addiction to oil. I understand the protestors and respect their position. But the loads, out of respect to commerce, and sovereignty, and due process will pass. But we can work to change the way our state does business with these folks. Speak up. Idaho is not for sale.