Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil has withdrawn its application to the state of Montana to haul more than 200 megaloads of oil sands equipment over Lolo Pass and through northwestern Montana into Canada. The company said it's already brought in all the loads it needs for the first phase of its oil sands project via other routes, the Associated Press reports.
Imperial spokesman Pius Rolheiser told the AP that the company has contracted for the demolition of a huge test module that has been sitting in a parking lot at Lolo Hot Springs since May 4, 2011. The load will be removed in chunks that won't require oversized permits.
The proposal to haul the giant, oversized loads across Idaho's scenic HIghway 12 to Lolo Pass drew legal challenges and protests in Idaho as well, though lawmakers and Gov. Butch Otter welcomed the prospect. The three-story-high loads would have been wide enough to block both lanes of the two-lane road, creating rolling roadblocks. In Montana, environmental and traffic issues were raised about the route, and Missoula County, the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club all filed suit.
Idaho's Highway 12, a designated state and federal scenic byway, runs along two wild and scenic river corridors dotted with campgrounds, hot springs and historic sites, and roughly follows the route taken by explorers Lewis and Clark into the region two centuries ago. Click below for a full report from the AP in Missoula.
Imperial Oil withdraws megaload permit application
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The Canadian company developing an oil sands project in northern Alberta has withdrawn its application to haul oversized loads of oil processing equipment over Lolo Pass and through northwestern Montana into Canada.
The Montana Department of Transportation announced the move in a notice to District Judge Ray Dayton, the Missoulian reported (http://bit.ly/PtLR82 ) Wednesday.
"Consequently, MDT will not be conducting any additional analysis regarding the project and will not be issuing any permits for the project," wrote David Ohler and Valerie Wilson, special assistant attorney's general, in the note to the court.
Dayton heard a lawsuit filed by Missoula County, the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club seeking to block the plan to transport the oversized loads from the Port of Lewiston in Idaho and along U.S. Highway 12 over Lolo Pass into Montana, before traveling north toward Canada.
In February, Dayton ordered MDT to perform a more extensive review of the Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil application. Meanwhile, the company has been moving smaller modules of equipment via interstate highway from ports in Idaho and Washington through northwestern Montana to the Kearl Oil Sands project.
Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser told The Associated Press Wednesday that the final load needed for the first phase of the Kearl oil sands project crossed into Canada on June 11.
The smaller loads are being reassembled in Edmonton for the final trip to the oil sands project.
Rolheiser said the $10.9 billion project, which is projected to have a capacity to process 110,000 barrels of oil a day, is expected to be online by the end of the year. The company is planning an expansion that would double the plant's capacity.
Imperial Oil also said it has contracted for the demolition of a huge test module that has been sitting in a parking lot at Lolo Hot Springs since May 4, 2011. The load will be removed in chunks that won't require oversized permits.
Imperial Oil initially proposed hauling more than 200 oversized loads on U.S. 12 and Montana 200, but the proposal was protested on several fronts. Many were worried about the potential damage to the scenic area along the Clearwater River in Idaho as well as environmental issues along the entire route, traffic delays and a concern that it would open the area to becoming a "high-wide" corridor used by other companies. Some were also concerned about the environmental effects of an oil sands project.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.