A new book offers a blow-by-blow account of the various forces and strategic maneuvers that led an oil company to seek an alternate route in a battle over public use of a wild and scenic Idaho highway.“Goliath Staggered: How the People of Highway 12 Conquered Big Oil,” by Boise author Steve Bunk, chronicles the grass-roots effort to stop the oil industry from using a federally protected wild area as a shipping corridor for gigantic loads of mining equipment headed to the tar sands of Canada.
“It’s a book that’s for somebody that wants to gain insight into the skullduggery that goes on in some of these issues concerning resource development and industry — the collusion between government and big business. There was some misdirection going on throughout this drama, and I think that is demonstrated in this book,” says Bunk, who will sign books Saturday, April 19, in Clarkston and Wednesday, April 23, in Moscow.
Bunk is the managing editor for Idaho Magazine, a position he has held for six years. Before that, he spent 15 years overseas as an investigative freelancer reporting on business and environmental issues for major magazines and newspapers, including the Australian editions of Time and Playboy. He was looking for a freelance project in 2010 when he learned of the megaloads controversy. He started writing about the issue for New West, a Missoula-based online magazine at the time. One of his first stories was a profile of Linwood Laughy and Karen (Borg) Hendrickson, a Kooskia couple who took issue with the shipments and pushed state officials to release information to the public.
“Very quickly it was evident that Lin and Borg had galvanized the movement in Idaho,” says Bunk, who continued to follow the campaign, and its counterpart in Montana, by checking in frequently with the couple and collecting the daily reports of escalating drama, protests and arrests.
“Goliath Staggered” is not an objective account, he says, but more along the lines of new journalism.
“My attitudes, conclusions, biases, I put them in there pretty freely,” Bunk says.
Anyone interested in conservation issues or the role citizens can play in affecting governmental and business policy has something to learn from the story, he says.
“People who are concerned about the influence of big money, the gridlock we see in Congress, can take heart from the depiction of everyday citizens playing a key role in the public dialog that usually accompanies public decisions like this. It’s the heart of democracy.”
Bunk will sign copies of the book with Laughy and Hendrickson from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at And Books Too, 918 Sixth St., Clarkston. He’ll sign books from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at BookPeople, 521 S. Main St., Moscow.