A business group that's backing proposed mega-loads on U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho issued a press release today saying it's added three new members: The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Port of Lewiston, and the Idaho Chamber Alliance. "As people who actually live here, we need to ensure that our state officials continue to maintain a job friendly atmosphere," IACI President Alex LaBeau said in the statement. "That’s why an increasing number of local groups are voicing their support of these shipments and the new economic activity they bring to the region.”
The statement also decried "opposition from groups thousands of miles outside of our communities," though it's not clear to whom that referred; the mega-loads have been challenged in court by three Idahoans who are Highway 12 residents and business owners, and they've been joined now by 10 more who've submitted affidavits. Idaho lobbyist Ken Burgess, who is working with the "Drive Our Economy" group, said its members think the opposition has been drummed up by national and local environmental groups. "They're stirring up all their membership up there to write letters to the editor and make noise publicly to make it appear that there's a lot of opposition," Burgess said. Advocates for the West, the conservation group that's providing legal representation for the mega-loads opponents, is based in Boise. Click below to read the business group's full press release.
More Idaho Groups Join Drive Our Economy Task Force
As ITD permit hearing proceeds, support for oversize loads grows
LEWISTON, ID – Three more prominent Idaho groups announced today they are joining Idaho and Montana business groups in support of the oversize shipments slated to move from the Port of Lewiston to Montana via US 12. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI), the Port of Lewiston Commission, and the Idaho Chamber Alliance all joined Drive Our Economy this week.
The Idaho Transportation Department is today conducting an administrative hearing on the issuance of permits for the proposed ConocoPhillips loads to be shipped to their refinery in Billings, Montana. The outcome of the hearing could set an important precedent for future oversize shipments in the region. In response to this development, the Drive Our Economy task force’s newest members released a statement in support of these economically vital shipments.
“These are tough economic times for our state,” explained Alex LaBeau, President of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. “Idaho is ranked 48th in the nation in GDP per capita. As people who actually live here, we need to ensure that our state officials continue to maintain a job friendly atmosphere. That’s why an increasing number of local groups are voicing their support of these shipments and the new economic activity they bring to the region.”
“Idaho, like many states, is feeling the crunch of our nation’s economic downturn, which is why we are heartened by the rising tide of support for new job-creating business projects,” said Matt Hunter, President of the Idaho Chamber Alliance. “In the face of opposition from groups thousands of miles outside of our communities, regional efforts to secure our roadways for local business and industry are critical to attracting investment and jobs to our state. With local support for this project growing every day, I am hopeful that these permits will be approved and that the project – with all of its accompanying economic activity – will soon move forward.” The Idaho Chamber Alliance represents local Chambers of Commerce throughout the state – Idaho’s main street businesses.
Todd Maddock, Port of Lewiston Commission President, continued, “Hopefully, today’s hearing will bring us one step closer to allowing oversized shipments in our region to continue their haul, enabling new projects to bring new investments to Idaho. This project is the result of Conoco’s unprecedented planning with state authorities, demonstrating that safety is a top priority for these shipments.
“These permits deserve to be approved on their merits. State authorities have weighted this issue based on facts. As our state seeks to navigate these trying economic times, we must protect and make our local economy a priority.”
The Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry, the Port of Lewiston, and Idaho Chamber Alliance have joined with 15 other local groups to advocate for action that will strengthen commerce in our region as members of Drive Our Economy.
With over 105,000 unemployed workers in Idaho and Montana, every job matters.
For additional information about the task force, visit: www.DriveOurEconomy.org.
Drive Our Economy is a task force of community, business, and agricultural leaders who have joined together to promote economic strategies that benefit Idaho and Montana.