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Mega loads are mega stuck

More than five months after three megaloads were proposed to move through this area, the oil refinery equipment en route to Montana remains stuck at the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Wash.

Bigge Crane and Rigging of San Leandro, Calif., has entered the picture as a second hauler to vie for a permit through the Idaho Transportation Department, said Jason Minzghor, operations manager for ITD in Coeur d'Alene.

Mammoet USA South of Rosharon, Texas, requested a special-use permit in December to construct a temporary access ramp onto Interstate 90 for the loads near Higgens Point, east of Coeur d'Alene.

However, Mammoet later eyed U.S. 95 to Sandpoint and to Highway 200 as a possible route because the I-90 option triggered a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Mammoet temporarily suspended its permit request a few weeks ago, but has since decided to forge ahead with the request, Minzghor said. More here. Brian Walker, CdA Press

Thoughts?

Yes to mega-loads

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Associated Press is reporting that a hearing officer has recommended the Idaho Transportation Department issue permits to ConocoPhillips to move four giant truckloads of equipment across U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho.

The permits were the subject of earlier hearings in Boise, in which opponents argued that the trucks would block the twisting, two-lane road entirely, creating safety concerns, in addition to possibly damaging the pristine river environment and harming tourism.

The transportation department previously had issued permits for the four loads, but they were suspended while the permits were contested. Full story.

Some folks are going to be mighty unhappy.  How about you?

Op-Ed: In Defense Of Mega-Loads

For more than 60 years, the Billings refinery has safely and reliably supplied fuels to the Rocky Mountain region. It directly supports more than 450 workers and contractors while indirectly supporting thousands of others. Many small businesses in the region are reliant upon it. It is an award-winning enterprise, whose honors have included two prestigious ENERGY STAR awards; recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, as well as a Montana Governors Cup for Workplace Health and Safety. Needless to say, I’m proud to be the refinery manager/Steve Steach, ConocoPhillips. More here.

Question: Is the short-term inconvenience of mega-loads traveling over Highway 12, worth the long-term gain of the refinery in Billings providing jobs & energy to the Inland NW?

INW: Big Loads Ready To Roll?

Workers prep the large Conoco Phillips refinery equipment loads at the Port of Lewiston Monday in Lewiston. Betsy Russell/SR has latest here. (AP Photo/Lewiston Tribune. Barry Kough)

Mega-load opponents: ‘Very encouraged’ by ITD decision to issue, but stay, permits

Here’s a link to the permits that ITD issued today to ConocoPhillips for the first four proposed Highway 12 mega-loads, and here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on ITD’s action today, issuing permits for the first four mega-loads proposed for U.S. Highway 12, but staying the loads for a ruling on whether or not hearings must be held first. Laird Lucas, attorney for the residents and businesses along the route who sued to block the mega-loads, said, “We’re very encouraged that ITD is staying the permits.” He said, “There’s been a flurry of activity and Conoco, I think, was expecting to be able to throw its weight around and get those shipments out of the Port of Lewiston tonight.” Lucas said he was encouraged that that didn’t happen. “The public is entitled to a full and fair hearing,” he said.

ITD spokesman Jeff Stratten said the new permits become valid on Friday at 10 p.m., but can’t be used until the department lifts the stay it’s placed on them pending a ruling on whether to allow intervention by interested parties and hold contested case hearings. “The department’s suspension of travel means the permits cannot be used,” Stratten said in an email. “The permits would need to be amended or possibly reissued in the future if the loads are allowed.”

Trib Jabs Labrador For Dodging Issue

JEERS … to Republican congressional candidate Raul Labrador. In his televised debate with Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick last week, Labrador had this to say about trucking hundreds of megaloads hauling oil company equipment up U.S. Highway 12: Don’t ask him about it. Transportation is a state issue. Gov. C. L. (Butch) Otter has done a “good job” of handling the issue. Come on, Raul. Sure, there are state issues that a congressman has no business messing with — such as budgets, taxes and initiative campaigns. But these “rolling roadblocks” — each as much as 24 feet wide, 210 feet long, 30 feet high and weighing 290 tons — will be traveling across a federally designated highway, built with federal highway tax dollars, across national forests and wilderness areas. It’s a matter of interstate commerce/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Is the mega-load controversy on Highway 12 involving various oil companies just a problem for the state of Idaho to deal with?

ITD, Koreans Met Secretly H12 Mega-loads

Item: More large loads for U.S. 12 discussed by state, Korean firm/Betsy Russell, SR

More Info: The Idaho Transportation Department met in September with a Korean firm that wants to move another 40 to 60 giant truckloads of oil equipment across scenic U.S. Highway 12, and local residents who are suing over four other proposed shipments didn’t find out until their attorney filed a public records request.

Question: Can the Otter administration be trusted to protect the sensitive Clearwater-Lochsa drainage from a possible environmental disaster?

More mega-loads proposed for Hwy 12, ITD quietly met with Korean firm Sept. 15

The Idaho Transportation Department met with a Korean firm in September that wants to move another 40 to 60 giant truckloads of oil equipment across scenic U.S. Highway 12, and local residents who are suing over four other shipments didn’t find out until their attorney filed a public records request. ITD officials met with half a dozen representatives of Harvest Energy and its associates on Sept. 15 to discuss the additional oversized truckloads, proposed to start in June of 2011 and travel through Idaho and Montana on the way to the Alberta oil sands project in Canada. The loads would travel from the Port of Vancouver to the Port of Lewiston by barge; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

“A single state agency is in the process of changing forever the character of Idaho’s Clearwater-Lochsa corridor,” Highway 12 residents Borg Hendrickson and Linwood Laughy said in an email. They decried “closed-door meetings” and a lack of input. Adam Rush, ITD spokesman, said, “The transportation department and Harvest Energy discussed load dimensions, bridges on U.S. 12, clearances, traffic control plans and the weight of shipments. No proposals were submitted to ITD by Harvest Energy. June of 2011 was mentioned as a preliminary start date to move equipment.” He added, “The department meets routinely with haulers who have questions about permits.”

The Idaho Supreme Court is currently weighing an appeal by ITD and ConocoPhillips of a lower court decision to revoke permits for four mega-loads to travel the route right away. Laughy is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that blocked the permits, charging that ITD violated its own regulations in granting them.

First Exxon loads arriving from Korea

The first shipments of oil field equipment for Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil’s Kearl oil sands project in Canada will arrive at the Port of Vancouver from Korea on Monday, the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. reports; those are the mega-loads that ExxonMobil hopes to truck through Idaho along scenic U.S. Highway 12 from the Port of Lewiston, then through Montana and up to Canada, starting in November and lasting for a year, though the company doesn’t have permits yet from either Idaho or Montana. You can read the Columbian’s report here. The Port of Vancouver is expecting to make $1 million from having the oversized loads pass through its port.