Who knew what and when did they know it?
It's a question as old as time, yet usually telling when it comes to probing the truth.
Allan Frew, Idaho's Department of Motor Vehicles director, was cross-examined Wednesday afternoon in the contested case hearing regarding mega-loads on U.S. Highway 12. Laid Lucas of Advocates for the West, representing a group of Idahoans opposing the mega-loads, spent the better part of an hour trying to corner Frew on a timeline including the arrival of the ConocoPhillips coke drums at the Port of Lewiston and exactly when the Idaho Transportation Department decided to grant a permit allowing the oil equipment to travel across North Central Idaho.
Laird: "When did these mega-loads pop up on your radar?"
Frew: "These loads showed up at the Port of Lewiston in the spring 2010. That's when it got my attention."
That's when Laird presented a memo dated September 2007, pre-approving the loads based on weights and axles required to move the equipment. Laird next presented a document dated November 2009, informing Conoco that it would be able to use Highway 12 because ExxonMobil was going to raze or bury utility lines along the highway (ExxonMobil also hopes to haul more than 200 mega-loads on the same highway).
Laird also questioned Frew of why Conoco shipped its equipment across the Pacific and up the Columbia River to the Port of Lewiston without securing a permit.
Laird: "Didn't Conoco take a business risk that it would ultimately get the permits?"
Frew: "Yeah, they probably did. There was no guarantee."
Laird: "But didn't they get some kind of informal assurance."
Frew: "Yes, there were probably some informal assurances, but we were a long way from approving."