On March 10, 2011, at about 2:30 am, two residents of Missoula, MT (Carol Marsh, 69, and Ann Maechtlen, 50) sat down in the middle of Reserve St. in an attempt to halt the shipment of large, oversize loads of equipment heading to a ConocoPhillips tar sands oil refinery in Billings, MT.
Marsh, a retired journalist and grandmother, and Maechtlen, a two-time cancer survivor, attempted three or four times to block the shipments but the police refused to arrest the two women, instead opting to forcefully remove them to the sidewalk as they were cheered on by a crowd of about 100 supporters. The police cited and released one other man who sat down with the two women.
The action was the culmination of a “welcome to Missoula” street party organized by local grassroots group Northern Rockies Rising Tide (NRRT) in an effort to take back the streets from Big Oil.
“These megaloads are serving refineries that process oil from the Alberta tar sands, the worst ecological disaster the planet has ever faced. The tar sands undermine any effort to stop global warming. I did this because I want there to be a world for my granddaughter to grow up in,” said Marsh.
The NRRT action was preceded by two other demonstrations the same day, one of which drew about 70 people and ended in several arrests.
Opponents of the megaload shipments are also concerned with the potentially devastating local impacts posed by the transformation of Montana’s scenic byways, specifically Hyw. 12, into an industrial shipping corridor for big oil corporations.
“Conoco is merely the first in a potentially very long-line of oil companies. Exxon is next. The construction of a high-and-wide industrial shipping corridor through some of the most remote and scenic byways in our state represents an assault on Montana, and the strip-mining of tar sands represents an assault on Alberta and on the world. Make no mistake: we are going to stop this,” commented NRRT organizer Susie Rosett.
Conoco Phillips, the third largest integrated energy corporation in the United States, operates a tar sands refinery in Billings and has a 50 percent equity interest in the
proposed Keystone XL Energy Pipeline, which would cut through the Northeastern portion of Montana, transporting large quantities of tar sands crude to Texas, a project that has sparked an outpouring of opposition from Glasgow to the Gulf.
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Northern Rockies Rising Tide www.northernrockiesrisingtide.org
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