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The ExxonMobil Monster Trucks that are Headed
for the Columbia & Snake River Watersheds

by Staff
Blue Oregon, August 2010

By Patricia Weber of Corvallis, Oregon. She is an electrical engineer and land use planner with a passion for energy and climate change issues.

Greetings Friends. I'm writing to you today to talk about an issue that has come to my attention as something that is important for everyone in Oregon to take very seriously. The issue is the proposed Kearl Module Transport Project, wherein ExxonMobil is intending to develop a permanent high and wide industrial transportation corridor through the Pacific Northwest to the Alberta Tar Sands project.

The Alberta Tar Sands is the largest most destructive industrial project on the planet. Millions of acres of northern boreal forest is being strip-mined for bitumen that holds oil in a solid form. The oil is cooked out through a process that uses water equivalent to a city of roughly 2 million people. Toxic wastewater leaks directly into the environment at a rate of over 2.8 million gallons a day. The oil is then shipped in a continent-wide network of pipelines and tanker ports into the global oil market. Some of this vast web is in place; the rest is being built as fast as Canadian and American governments issue permits. Once at full scale, the development and its tentacles will operate for nearly half a century.

The KMTP high & wide industrial transportation corridor will be used to expand tar sands operations beyond what currently exists. It is intended to allow the movement of over-sized mining and processing equipment that will be manufactured in South Korea to the Alberta Tar Sands. The equipment is to be shipped to Portland, where it will then be barged up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to Lewiston, ID. From Lewiston, it would travel on over-size trucks up Highway 12, over Lolo Pass into MT, through Missoula, up MT Highway 200, over the continental divide and north into Canada.

To call these trucks over-sized is an understatement. They will be 24' wide, over 200' long, 30' tall, and weigh up to 344,000 pounds. Highway 12 through Idaho travels along the Lochsa River, which has been designated a Wild and Scenic River. MT Hwy 200 travels along the Blackfoot River, which was the inspiration for Norman Maclean's "A River Runs Through It". This project has been pushed forward by ExxonMobil with inadequate environmental review performed.

Furthermore, it is our understanding that federal tax dollars from the ARRA program have or will be used in ID to fund modifications to Hwy 12 that would be necessary to accommodate these trucks. This is a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars, as the KMTP amounts to a subsidization of the big oil companies, at the cost of some of the most beautiful and wild areas of the Pacific Northwest. How would we feel if these behemoth rigs were allowed to travel directly alongside the Rogue or the Metolius Rivers? These would be comparable in terms of wild, rugged beauty to the Lochsa or the Blackfoot.

We in Oregon have led the nation in passing climate-saving legislation; yet the mining of the Alberta Tar Sands would undo in just a month or two what we Oregonians have worked so hard to accomplish. According to NASA climate scientist James Hansen, "the tar sands constitute one of our planet's greatest threats. They are a double-barreled threat. First, producing oil from tar sands emits two to three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil. But [it] also diminishes one of the best carbon reduction tools on the planet: Canada's Boreal Forest." Do we want to allow ExxonMobil unfettered access through the northwest, to move their equipment to continue and expand this devastation?

For almost 20 years, Oregon has led the fight to stop the extinction of Columbia and Snake River wild salmon and steelhead. Restoring these fish is vital to Oregon’s quality of life, heritage, economy, and ecology. Think about the risks to wild salmon of shipping mining equipment 2/3 the size of a football field up the Columbia and Snake and Lochsa Rivers for 40 years. Think about Exxon becoming a major influence on Columbia/Snake salmon and water policies for 40 years. Is this in our interest? Please join me in opposing this monstrous abuse of public resources. “All Against the Haul” is an organization based out of Missoula, MT which is organizing to fight the KMTP throughout the Pacific Northwest – in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. With your help, we can keep ExxonMobil from building an industrial transportation corridor through our precious region.

Here’s what you can do: send an email to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood demanding that the KMTP be stopped until a full environmental impact statement has been issued for the entire project, including not only effects on endangered steelhead and salmon populations, but also the impacts on climate change of expanding tar sands development.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
CC:
Chair of CEQ Nancy Sutley
Deputy Undersecretary Jay Jensen
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Ron Wyden


Staff
The ExxonMobil Monster Trucks that are Headed for the Columbia & Snake River Watersheds
Blue Oregon, August 2010

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