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Eye On Boise

SupCourt ruling rests on technical issue

The Idaho Supreme Court decision in the mega-loads case turns on the question of whether the ConocoPhillips application for permits should be considered a "contested case" or not; the majority of the court said it should, and the dissenters said it shouldn't. That's a technical issue that affects the jurisdiction of the court to review the outcome; neither the majority nor the minority addressed the direct issues of whether the loads were properly permitted or not. In his dissent, Justice Jim Jones wrote, "As persons who live along the route and who will be affected by the transportation of the ConocoPhillips units, Respondents certainly appear to be aggrieved persons. As such, they have a right to be heard." But it's not clear when - just not, at this point, in court.

Jones also notes in his dissent that the permits for the first four mega-loads "apparently ... will lie dormant until such time as the state of Montana issues permits." It hasn't yet done so.

Chief Justice Dan Eismann and Justice Joel Horton concurred in the majority opinion, written by Justice Warren Jones. It holds that the issue was a "contested case," though informally handled, which meant it can't be reviewed in court and instead should be reviewed at the agency. However, the majority opinion held that "the Court must dismiss the case and does not have the power to remand to the agency for further proceedings."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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