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Federal judge refuses to lift ban on Highway 12 megaloads

A federal judge has denied motions from both a division of General Electric and the U.S. Forest Service to lift a ban on megaload shipments across a scenic stretch of U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill rejected arguments from the firm and the Forest Service that he should either reconsider the injunction he issued, banning the loads until the Forest Service has conducted a corridor study and consulted with the Nez Perce Tribe; or stay the injunction while the company appeals it.

The judge said he couldn’t issue such a stay unless the company, Resources Conservation Company International, made a “strong showing” it was likely to succeed on the merits in the case, and that it would be “irreparably injured” without a stay. “The court cannot find that RCCI has made a strong showing that it will prevail on appeal,” Winmill wrote. “Moreover, any likely damages are monetary in nature and not irreparable.”

The law also requires consideration of whether a stay would “substantially injure” the other parties in the proceeding, and of the public interest, the judge wrote. “Staying the injunction will cause the very harm plaintiffs complain about in this lawsuit, harm the Court has found would be irreparable,” Winmill wrote; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. The Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United sued after RCCI sent a 322-ton load, big enough to block both lanes of the winding two-lane road and create a rolling roadblock, across the route in August en route from Lewiston to the Canadian oil sands, and announced plans for another to follow. They contended allowing the loads without first studying impacts and consulting with the tribe would violate federal law, and could threaten environmental, historical and cultural values in the area, which includes the Nez Perce Reservation.


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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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