Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mega Loads

How important is commerce to the Lewiston area? Or for that matter, any area in the world? I believe that commerce is as important as agriculture. The two go hand in hand. Without agriculture we could not have commerce and without commerce how would society grow to prosperity?
A battle has been raging since last year about sending oversized loads of refining equipment from the Port of Lewiston, Idaho (the farthest inland seaport west of the Rockies) to Billings, Montana up Highway 12.
Highway 12 was put into place for east/west commerce to happen. That route has also been valuable for tourism and for fighting fires. It is important for all of those things and it is a beautiful drive along the Clearwater River system.
The battle has not been about the loads traveling along the highway, but about an anti business (oil companies) sentiment. It is the same type of argument that has been used against dams. Save Our Salmon (SOS) doesn’t care about salmon, they don’t like agriculture, business, or dams.
Heading into this new cropping year I am forced to look at higher prices for fuel and fertilizer, the two largest costs for any farming operation. If there is a chance that these loads could help to relieve that cost I am all for it.
But that is not the reason I am for the “Mega Loads” traveling a tax payer paid road, I am looking at the potential future or our area. What kinds of businesses could be brought here due to these loads? Will the Lewiston/Clarkston area become a new manufacture hub in the U.S.? I hope so.
It is still more than that. It means the survival of dams on the Snake and Columbia River system. My crops and crops from other farmers use that route as the most efficient way to transport bulk commodities to destinations all over the world.
These dams also provide inexpensive power for me, agriculture, businesses of all types, and just plain ‘ol folks. What I find funny is hydroelectric power is not considered renewable. Environmental activists believe that wind and solar will solve all of our problems. Just like stopping these loads.
The activist community usually doesn’t care about the cause they list on their website or are quoted about in the paper, they don’t like business. The activists against the “Mega Loads” have many reasons for not letting these loads travel and one is the loads were made outside of the U.S.
Why has this happened? Why are these steel drums and large metal loads made in other countries? Is it due to the friendly business environment? I don’t think so. The United States has moved to the 9th slot in the world as being friendly to business according to Forbes.
Lawsuits, regulations, anti business climate, and a government that is doing all it can at times to halt business in the U.S. is to blame. Just like the “Mega Loads” folks, certain groups of people do not want business to continue.
I am glad that the loads are going through. There has been hard work by different business sectors in Idaho and Montana to ensure the growth of business for years to come. Drive Our Economy has been vital in the fight for these loads going through.
And what about having a bad precedence set? A precedence that could hurt almost anyone needing to haul an oversized load. The Idaho Transportation Department issues over 60,000 oversized permits a year, not to mention farmers moving their equipment from field to field.
Have the activists thought about the consequences of not having these loads go through for their own selfish means? What would happen if a retired couple wanted to put in a mobile home to live out their days instead of building one? When is enough, enough?
I believe that most activists are good people at heart. They believe in a cause and try to do something. That is the beauty of America. However, I believe their thinking stops too soon and isn’t carried further to the end. I don’t believe they have looked far enough to see what could be for future generations.
The issue of the “Mega Loads” isn’t a new battle; it just has a new name. Agriculture and business have been fighting this battle for over three decades. It is time for all American’s to understand that business isn’t bad or is an enemy. Successful business is the great example of a vision started over 200 years ago by 56 men. Men who literally put their lives on the line so activists could speak out, businesses could grow, and society would prosper.

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