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Megaloads hearing delayed, but no loads to travel before new hearing date

A federal court hearing originally scheduled for tomorrow afternoon on Highway 12 megaloads has been postponed to Sept. 9, after a company that’s already sent one giant load over the route this summer agreed to hold off on any further shipments until at least Sept. 18. The U.S. Forest Service asked Omega Morgan, the shipping company, to hold off on that first load until it could develop review guidelines for such loads and consult with the Nez Perce Tribe, in accordance with a federal court ruling last winter that the Forest Service has jurisdiction over the loads. But the Idaho Transportation Department issued Omega Morgan a permit, noting that it still had to deal with the Forest Service; the company then shipped the load, which drew protesters along the route, saying it’d consult with the Forest Service after the shipment, and the Forest Service didn’t stop it.

Protesters who were arrested included nearly every member of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.

The Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United then filed a federal lawsuit against the Forest Service seeking an emergency injunction halt such shipments. That’s what the now-delayed hearing was on. The owner of the giant equipment, which was being shipped to the Canadian oil sands, GE Water and Process Technologies, has now filed to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of the Forest Service; the court announced, “The proposed intervenors represented that no shipments will proceed over Highway 12 before September 18, 2013. In reliance on that, all agreed to the following schedule,” including rescheduling the hearing to Sept. 9; that will allow all parties to file required briefs and responses. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who also issued last winter’s ruling, will preside over the hearing.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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