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Congressman calls for investigation of oversize Highway 12 shipments

An Oregon congressman who chairs a House subcommittee on highways is calling for a federal investigation into plans for oversize shipments of oil equipment across U.S. Highway 12 to Canada, saying he doesn't want U.S. taxpayers subsidizing Canadian oil production. "I am concerned about the ExxonMobil Canada plan to use U.S. roadways to haul oversize loads to Alberta, Canada for the Kearl Oil Sands project," Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, wrote to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Aug. 25; you can read his letter here. "If Idaho and Montana issue oversize and overweight load permits in violation of the Federal Bridge Formula, American taxpayers will pay the price for the unprecedented wear and tear on our highway system," DeFazio wrote. "I am opposed to subsidizing ExxonMobil oil sands mining in Canada with taxpayer dollars."

DeFazio, who has represented southwest Oregon in Congress since 1986 and is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wrote that moving truckloads as large as those proposed would "degrade highway surfaces and subsurfaces, damage bridges and road shoulders, and dramatically increase maintenance and repair costs," while the only ones to benefit would be a Canadian oil company and the Korean manufacturer of the equipment.

Neither state has yet issued permits for the 200-plus huge loads that ExxonMobil plans to truck to Canada from the Port of Lewiston starting in November. But Idaho is locked in litigation now with ConocoPhillips over four similar oversize loads that firm wanted to haul over the same route starting three weeks ago; you can read my full story here from today's Spokesman-Revew.

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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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