Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has decided to require a $10 million bond from both ConocoPhillips and Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil for their huge, oversize shipments of oil equipment over Idaho’s scenic Highway 12 corridor along the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers. “We have asked for and the companies have agreed to a $10 million bond,” said Jon Hanian, Otter’s press secretary. “We’ve also talked to Montana about that.”
The governor’s announcement came the same day that residents along the route sued to block the shipments. “The governor has heard the concerns, and we are taking steps to try to ensure that the companies that are engaged in this travel on the highways are doing so responsibly,” Hanian said. “As a result, the governor is requiring them to provide a $10 million bond to mitigate any potential risk or any chance of anything going wrong as they go about moving these shipments.”
“Obviously there have been a lot of questions,” Hanian said. “We feel like we’ve vetted most of them. Obviously the concerns that were raised by the citizens who felt this created an unacceptable risk, the governor felt we needed to go the extra mile to ensure that in the unlikely event that something happened, there is a process. … I think the action that we’ve taken will mitigate the risk.”
He had no comment on the new lawsuit, other than to say, “We’re going forward until such time as we hear” what becomes of the motion for a temporary restraining order against the shipments. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The governor is trying to be responsive to folks who have raised concerns.”
Prior to the new bond requirement, the oil companies in question were only going to pay fees to the state of $1,000 per shipment, under Idaho law. Each truckload of equipment will be so wide it’ll take up the entire two-lane highway, extra-high, and as long as three normal semi-trucks; they’ll weigh up to 337 tons apiece. They’re proposed to run for a year along the route that’s also designated as the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway.