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Eye On Boise

Wed., Nov. 24, 2010, 4:12 p.m.

Business group: Megaloads should roll

A business group that actively supports the prospect of megaloads of oil equipment traveling on U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho has issued a statement that it's "concerned" over a hearing officer's ruling today that opponents of the loads have a right to be heard in formal contested-case hearings. “These particular loads have been appropriately subject to additional requirements and safeguards and should leave the Port of Lewiston immediately,” Alex LaBeau, co-chairman of "Drive Our Economy" and president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, said in the statement; you can read the full statement below. LaBeau said, “Yet because some individuals object to the end use of that particular equipment, they are throwing up legal roadblocks at every turn."

The "Drive Our Economy" group contends opposition to the megaloads is really coming from national environmental groups opposed to the Alberta oil sands project, but the four ConocoPhillips megaloads are actually bound for the firm's Billings refinery, where they'll replace existing aging parts. The opponents are people who live or have businesses along the route the loads would travel.

Idaho Coalition Issues Cautionary Statement on Highway 12 Oversize Permit Decision

Precedent could have negative impact on broad array of Idaho business, jobs

(Boise) November 24, 2010 - The co-chairman of the Drive Our Economy Task Force issued the following statement today in response to Administrative Hearing Officer Merlyn Clark’s recommendation that the Idaho Transportation Department hold a formal contested case hearing before issuing over-size permits for four Conoco loads to be moved into Montana over US Highway 12 in Idaho.

“We should all be concerned about the extra steps being required of these particular loads,” said Alex LaBeau, Co-Chairman of the Drive Our Economy Task Force and President of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry,  “The Idaho Transportation Department has a valid and well established oversize load permitting process that has served the Idaho economy well for many years.  It is applied to thousands of loads every year.  These permits are crucial to industries that make up the economic backbone of the state of Idaho:  agricultural products and equipment, timber, manufacturing, housing, mining, even wind farm energy development.”

“These particular loads have been appropriately subject to additional requirements and safeguards and should leave the Port of Lewiston immediately,” LaBeau continued, “Yet because some individuals object to the end use of that particular equipment, they are throwing up legal roadblocks at every turn.  Idahoans should be concerned about this precedent and its potential impact on the Idaho economy and jobs into the future.”

Drive Our Economy is a rapidly growing task force of community, business, and agricultural leaders who have joined together to promote economic strategies that benefit Idaho and Montana.  The group is in support of allowing the oversize shipments slated to move from the Port of Lewiston.  The Idaho members include:  The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry; The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation; the Idaho Petroleum Marketers and C-Store Association; The Idaho Chamber Alliance; the Port of Lewiston Commission; and the Idaho Trucking Association.

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.

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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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