Eye On Boise

Today's megaloads hearing...

There was a big crowd at today's megaloads hearing at the Idaho Transportation Department. In the front row are the parties and attorneys; the audience behind includes more than 50 employees of ConocoPhillips' Billings refinery, who came on a bus to support the project and wore T-shirts touting it. (Betsy Russell)
There was a big crowd at today's megaloads hearing at the Idaho Transportation Department. In the front row are the parties and attorneys; the audience behind includes more than 50 employees of ConocoPhillips' Billings refinery, who came on a bus to support the project and wore T-shirts touting it. (Betsy Russell)

Lawyers for opponents and backers of the first four mega-loads of oil equipment proposed to travel north-central Idaho's U.S. Highway 12 faced off in a crowded Idaho Transportation Department auditorium today, sparring over whether more hearings must be held before the four loads can roll; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. ConocoPhillips, which wants to truck the four giant loads to its Billings Refinery so it can replace aging coke drums there, argued that the opponents' protest is too late to be considered, that residents and business owners along the route have no real stake in the issue, and that if further hearings are held, the opponents should have to put up a $2 million bond to protect the company against any further losses from delays in the shipments.

Lawyers for the opponents, who live and operate businesses along the route, maintain the big loads will damage their use and enjoyment of their property, hurt their businesses, impact their own use of the highway and threaten their "health, safety and welfare." ITD, in its own legal filings, argued that the residents' concerns are "speculative" and really are more about a larger proposal from ExxonMobil for 207 megaloads - which doesn't yet have permits - than about the four ConocoPhillips loads. Hearing officer Merlyn Clark promised a ruling before Thanksgiving.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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