Thursday, June 21, 2012

Montana Closes Book on Plan to Roll Mega-Loads Across U.S. 12

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 9:06 AM

The two year battle between residents who live along U.S. Highway 12 and ExxonMobil's mega-loads is formally over.

"We're gratified that the industrialization of the beautiful Lochsa-Clearwater U.S. 12 corrdior has, for now, been stopped," wrote Borg Hendrickson to Citydesk. "And that the Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil threat to north-central Idaho's outdoor recreation paradise and its single growing industry, tourism, has been removed."

It was July 2010 when BW first told you about something called "mega-loads"—hundreds of giant rigs of oil equipment that ExxonMobile wanted to crawl across U.S. 12, before heading north to the oil-rich tar sands of Alberta, Canada.

But environmentalists and residents along U.S. 12 were having none of it, challenging the mega-loads in District Court, the Idaho Supreme Court and prolonged hearings before the Idaho Department of Transportation. Ultimately, it was the State of Montana that put up the largest roadblock, saying that ExxonMobil needed to provide greater proof that the oversized transport would not have an adverse environmental impact on the corridor.

On Wednesday, the director of Montana's Department of Transportation notified the 4th Judicial District Court that it had withdrawn any application for permits to transport the loads. You can read the notice here.


Meanwhile, the mega-loads continue to be reduced in seize and shipped via alternate routes: Highways 95 and 395 north to Interstate 90. But ExxonMobil continues to get pushback from environmentalists in Moscow and Coeur d'Alene, who live along the new route.

"We're concerned in Moscow because we saw those loads wreak terrible havoc on Highway 95," Helen Yost of Wild Idaho Rising Tide told Citydesk. "We're opposed to the oil sands project as a whole, but we're aiming at the transportation route because they're using our roads."

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