A final roadblock, in a Montana courtroom, has been cleared, bringing ExxonMobil a lot closer to its goal of moving nearly 200 mega-loads across U.S. 12, heading west and north to the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.
The debates and ultimate legal challenges have taken over a year-and-a-half. On Thursday, Montana District Judge Ray Dayton modified a preliminary injunction to allow the Montana Department of Transportation to review and permit the loads to roll across U.S. 12.
Idaho has already given the green light for the shipments to travel from the Port of Lewiston across U.S. 12 to the Montana border but legal challenges have waylaid those plans.
Meanwhile, Exxon has been moving scaled down versions of the mega-loads up Highway 95 through Moscow and Coeur d'Alene before heading to Alberta.
"We're continuing to view the original route as our preferred route," said Pius Rolheiser, Exxon spokesman. "Our lack of success in being able to use the Highway 12 route, it would be fair to say, has negatively impacted the Kearl construction project."