Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on today’s ruling from a state hearing officer that residents and business owners along scenic U.S. Highway 12 who object to giant mega-loads of oil equipment traveling the route and blocking both lanes have a right to be heard at formal hearings before Idaho grants permits for the first four loads. The route is a designated scenic byway dotted with campgrounds, hot springs, and historic sites; it roughly parallels the route explorers Lewis and Clark followed, and follows the protected Lochsa and Clearwater rivers.
Though ConocoPhillips plans just four mega-loads - consisting of two giant coke drums that have been cut in half, to replace two aging drums at its Billings, Mont. refinery - they are the first of more than 200 mega-loads proposed for the route. Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil plans to send 207 extra-large loads of equipment along the route from the Port of Lewiston, across Idaho on Highway 12 and up through Montana to Canada for its Alberta oil sands project. A Korean firm also has contacted ITD about sending dozens more giant loads along the same route.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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