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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

The Montana court fight over megaloads…

The Missoulian newspaper today has a look at what comes next in the Montana lawsuit over Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil's proposed megaloads on Highway 12. Montana Department of Transportation officials say they'll continue to fight the lawsuit, to defend their move to grant permits for the loads, but attorneys for Missoula County and three wildlife and environmental groups said they, too, will press ahead with the case, possibly seeking a summary judgment. Imperial/Exxon is still evaluating its options.

Montana District Court Judge Ray Dayton's decision, granting a preliminary injunction against the permits, found that MDT violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act when it concluded that an interstate route was an infeasible alternative, and that the department didn't assess wetlands or floodplain information provided by Imperial's consulting firm, Tetra Tech; it also faulted the department's review of proposed new turnouts to accommodate the giant loads of oil field equipment. You can read the Missoulian's full article here by reporter Kim Briggeman. One modified megaload already has traveled from Lewiston north to I-90 to reach Montana on the freeway en route to the Alberta oil sands.

Meanwhile, this report in the Edmonton Journal suggests Imperial/Exxon may focus on the freeway route to move its megaloads from Idaho to Canada; it's already sent one that way.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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