Idaho Transportation Director Brian Ness today denied a petition to intervene and hold a contested-case hearing on a new proposal from Nickel Bros. and Weyerhaeuser Inc. to run nine large oversize loads, including several wide enough to block both lanes of traffic, across U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho. Ness ruled that all the issues the Friends of the Clearwater raised in their petition already were addressed in the contested-case hearings over plans by Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil to send more than 200 megaloads of oil equipment across the same route, and in an earlier hearing over ConcoPhillips' now-completed plans for four megaloads on the same route, so there was no reason to hold further hearings.
“A third contested case hearing is not warranted. The facts and concerns raised in the petition have been fully considered in two separate hearings and resolved by hearing officers,” Ness said; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
However, during the earlier hearings, when opponents raised concerns about the ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil loads setting a precedent for turning the scenic river corridor into a megaload-friendly industrial route, ITD stressed that it was considering only the proposal before it - and not any precedent. The latest decision suggests otherwise. "The law does not require nor allow a party to re-litigate issues and claims that have already been ruled upon by the appropriate authority," Ness said in an ITD press release. You can click below to read the full release, click here to read Ness' full decision, and click here to read the Friends of the Clearwater's petition for intervention.
Contact: Adam Rush Public Involvement Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ITD Director declines to hold third hearing on over legal loads on U.S. 12
BOISE - Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness denied a request today by Friends of the Clearwater to put permits on hold and conduct a third contested case hearing about the proposed transport of over-legal loads by Weyerhaeuser on U.S. 12. Weyerhaeuser proposes moving 12 over-legal loads from the Port of Wilma in Washington state across U.S. 12 to the Montana border en route to its paper processing plant in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The equipment will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The organization Friends of the Clearwater requested a contested case hearing before issuance of the permits.
Previously, contested case hearings were held on ExxonMobil's plan to use U.S. 12 to move equipment and ConocoPhillips' use of U.S. 12 to move equipment. Ness said his decision was based on five factors:
* Two contested case hearings about moving over legal loads on U.S. 12 involving ConocoPhillips and Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil have already been held. The two hearings generated 72 hours of testimony;
* The two previous cases involved the same issues the Friends of the Clearwater now raises regarding Weyerhaeuser. The Friends of the Clearwater participated in the Imperial Oil hearing;
* Two different and independent hearing officers considered the same issues during each of the previous hearings;
* After the previous hearings, the two independent hearing officers ruled on the issues and recommended issuing the permits; and
* The law does not require nor allow a party to re-litigate issues and claims that have already been ruled upon by the appropriate authority.
“A third contested case hearing is not warranted. The facts and concerns raised in the petition have been fully considered in two separate hearings and resolved by hearing officers,” Ness said.