While Exxon/Mobil anxiously awaits a ruling that could allow oil equipment to be shipped across U.S. Highway 12, it appears that transporting 200 mega-loads across Central Idaho is the least of its worries.
Citydesk readers are aware of Exxon's plans to ship massive refinery equipment from Korea across the Pacific, up the Columbia River into Lewiston then across U.S. 12 through Idaho and into Montana and then up to the oilsands of Alberta, Canada. Before any of that can happen, Exxon is on the sidelines carefully examining a "test case" in which ConocoPhillips wants to send four of its own mega-loads from the Port of Lewiston across U.S. 12 into Montana. That issue will be heard before the Idaho Supreme Court on Oct. 1.
Exxon's oilsands project, however, is highly controversial. Simply put, the sands are mixed with vast amounts of oil. Exxon scoops up the sand and processes it with boiling water or steam. The oil, or its precursor bitumen, is separated and can be sent off by pipeline. The nasty waste is pumped into giant tailing ponds or underground. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found producing a barrel of oil from the Alberta sands resulted in 82 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average barrel produced in the United States.
And that process is slowly resulting in a major boycott. The anti-oilsands forces are pressing global companies to shun oilsands-based energy. The Calgary Herald reports that Walgreens, Whole Foods, Bed, Bath and Beyond, The Gap, Timberland and Levi Strauss have joined a growing list of corporations choosing to avoid using fuel from Canadian bitumen. Federal Express has also promised to consider the environmental and social impacts of the fuels it uses, although it didn't specifically mention the oilsands.
"What this signals is the beginning in earnest of the financial war over the oilsands," sand Todd Paglia of the environmental group Forest Ethics.