Turning Back the Megaload

In 2010, in response to plans from Exxon-Mobil and other fossil fuel companies to establish a “permanent industrial corridor” for the movement of drilling equipment between the U.S. and Alberta, citizens from four western states formed the grassroots coalition All Against the Haul. The “All” is a diverse group—Tea Party members, liberals, tribal nations, ranchers—and, as it turns out, a successful one.

After many months of organizing, campaigning, and literally standing in the way of enormous drilling machines dragging their way north, plans for a megaload permit have been withdrawn. Orion contributor David James Duncan, who, with another Orion writer, Rick Bass, is a supporter and organizer of All Against the Haul, wrote to us recently with the news.

Our win was so decisive that they had to abandon a module at Lolo Hot Springs just up the road from me. The unit is 220 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 30 feet tall. We call it Babe the Blue Box. Babe knocked out power to 1,900 Idaho homes and scraped cliffs on its way here, only to be abandoned for the past nearly two years when we won in court. Exxon/Imperial is now going to cut it to pieces and haul it away.

They claimed all along that Babe was a “test module.” Theoretically, this means there will be nothing inside it. In fact, spies have glimpsed all kinds of electronic equipment in there and some suspect chemicals. The greatest part is, the whole thing has become so infested with spiders it may have ruined its usefulness.

I’m a little disappointed. The move will save Exxon $72,000 a year in rent and $175,000+ a year in maintaining round-the-clock security guards. Always hate to see those guys save money. Babe also made me smile every time I went fishing over that way and drove past it. Because I like to smile, I had proposed that they stand it on end, creating a structure half the height of the Washington Monument, and change the name of Lolo Hot Springs to “Babe the Blue Box National Monument,” the place where a bunch of pissants, yahoos, and nobodies proved some remnant of democracy still exists by bringing Exxon/Imperial to a standstill.

The official documentation:

Congratulations to David and Rick, who joined Orion in March 2011 for a conversation about the effort, and to All Against the Haul, whose work represents a real victory for the land, culture, and people of the Northern Rockies.


  1. Amen, brother. Way to turn away ‘the beast.’

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