Thursday, June 3, 2010

Big Oil: One-Time Deal or Permanent Takeover?

U.S. Highway 12 -- Idaho’s Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and All-American Road

Big Oil: One-Time Deal or Permanent Takeover?

Promoters of turning Idaho’s Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and All-American Road into an industrial truck route for gargantuan loads argue that currently planned and pending ConocoPhillips and Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil Canada mega-load shipments are a “one-off deal;” a one time event. Actually, the ExxonMobil Canada shipments alone number 207, and for successive 15+ minute segments, will close the highway to all traffic five nights a week for an estimated 9 months. But the truth about the oil companies’ intentions lies well beyond those 207 loads……

• The Port of Lewiston, both on their website and in grant applications for port expansion with taxpayer money, states, “If one oil company is successful with this alternative transportation route, many other companies will follow their lead.”

• The CEO of Sungjin Geotec, the Korean company that manufactured the 207 ExxonMobil Canada modules, told a Korean news agency his company expects to receive future orders for additional modules from Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil Canada totaling $1.5 billion. The 207 loads now scheduled for U. S. 12 cost $250 million, suggesting that $1.5 billion would pay for about 1200 modules. The Edmonton Journal of Alberta, Canada, recently reported that a Sungjin representative in Calgary confirmed that his company expects to build hundreds of additional modules.

• Bemoaning the loss of metal fabrication jobs for Canadian workers to Korean workers, an Alberta, Canada, industrial association recently stated, “This route (from Lewiston, Idaho to Canada) will become the highway for energy-related products from not only South Korea, but even-lower-wage suppliers such as China and Vietnam.”

• A printout from a Montana Department of Transportation 2009 public slide show presentation states that ExxonMobil proposes to create “permanent High and Wide Corridors,” i.e. permanent industrial mega-load truck routes. That, of course, would include Idaho’s U.S. 12, since it spans the distance between the Port of Lewiston and the Montana border.

During a 30-day public comment period in Montana, a period allowed in response to a required MT Department of Transportation Environmental Assessment [EA] of the ExxonMobil Canada shipment plan, the Missoula County Commissioners submitted a 10-point document requesting a 90-day extension of the comment period. In that document and referring to the EA, the commissioners wrote< "The document [the EA] discussion involves establishing a permanent route through Missoula County for these and other types of oversized loads." Again, the "permanent route" would include Idaho's section of U.S.12.

• A member of the Alberta, Canada, Legislature recently told a Great Falls Tribune reporter, “A company like Imperial is not spending $40 million .… [to develop a high-wide corridor] for one project and one project only.”

• A Missoula attorney and former Montana Department of Transportation lawyer stated to that same Great Falls reporter, “…MDT in past statements have acknowledged that this is going to be a permanent corridor in order to facilitate a transportation route for these modules being built in Asia.”

• In a February 2009 letter to the Port of Lewiston, the Idaho congressional delegation stated their understanding that should initial ExxonMobil Canada shipments prove successful, “there exists the potential to import hundreds of component modules through the Columbia/Snake River System and Port of Lewiston.”

• Without ever having sought input from the taxpaying public, in a January 2009 letter to the Port of Lewiston in specific support of the ExxonMobil shipments, Governor Butch Otter wrote, “I pledge our [Idaho’s] support and cooperation to enhance the development of this important new business opportunity.”

• • •

Can there any longer be any doubt that Big Oil plans — if the State of Idaho allows them — to permanently turn the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and All-American Road — U.S.12 — into a mega-load industrial truck route? No.

In doing so, some of the largest international corporations in the world expect the citizens of Idaho to assume all the risks involved in these shipments. They expect us — the rural people of Highway 12, Lewiston to Lolo Pass, and nearby communities, such as Clarkston, Washington, and Grangeville and Moscow, Idaho — to suffer a predictable loss to our travel/tourism-based livelihoods, our safety, our recreational opportunities, our property values and our way of life—while they gain the profits.

Anyone who believes that ExxonMobil or ConocoPhillips or other giant international corporations care for the well-being of Idahoans should talk to the fishermen families and tourism/recreation business owners of the Louisiana Gulf Coast or Valdez, Alaska. We, the rural people of Highway 12, will be Big Oil’s next victims…

… unless we stand up and voice our opposition to Big Oil’s takeover of the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and 1 of our nation’s 27 All-American Roads.

The Rural People of Highway 12


  1. This is a VERY BAD idea. Not only will the entire highway corridor be closed, but should any one along this route have an emergency, they will not be able to get help during the time of these transports. If one of these vehicles is stranded, all traffic through this corridor will be blocked.

    This is another example of big oil not caring who they inconvenience so long as they are not inconvenienced and they continue to make money.

    There is no reason that these trucks can't take interstate highways. That too is problematic. From the phot these vehicles are so top heavy that they could easily end up off the road and in the rivers.

  2. Anonymous said... I have been down your highway...and it is beautiful country. Being from Alberta, I have seen hundreds of mammoth loads hauled by Mammoet, Premay, and a half dozen other heavy haulers. Mammoet usually hauls the largest loads because they have the most specialized equipment including steerable trailers that are capable of spinning on a dime if necessary so I doubt that they will have any issues manouvering through your scenic route. And again, these trailers have so many axles and tires that the load on the highway is less lbs/sq ft than most trucks on the road. You get more damage to highways by loaded grain and gravel haulers. So if your highway is capable of handling gravel trucks, farm trucks hauling grain and semi trailers hauling fuel, etc....then it will definately hold up to the trailers that Mammoet uses.

    The reason I called you a wing nut, is because you are trying to make an issue about nothing. These trucks move at a pace of about 15 to 25 mph, so they will be in and out of your life in a couple of minutes. A couple of minutes multiplied by 200 loads equals approx. 400 minutes or 6.6 hours. There are 8760 hours in a year and if you are having trouble of the inconvenience of someone taking uo 6.6 hours out of your 8760 hour year....then you are way too busy!
    In regard to the scary thought of something falling down your ravine and you have nothing to lift it....what do you think they are loading and unloading these vessels with? There are cranes that are capable of lifting these heavy loads. Just becasue there is not one in your back yard at the moment should not constitute a panic attack. If an occurrence happens, trust me, they will bring in something that will pick it up.
    Again, stop making something out of nothing. This is the easiest and shortest route, if they could go through Canada, I am sure that would have happened. You have obviosly never driven the mountain passes from BC into Alberta. I trust that the people doing the route planning have made the correct calculations. As I said, I am from Alberta and have seen hundreds of these heavy loads make there way towards the oil sands and as far as I know there have been no incidences with again stop your fear-mongering. They are not carrying any dangerous goods, only steel....lots of steel. And if you are worried about the diesel fuel in the trucks, then you really should get a list of the dangerous chemicals that rumble through your neighborhood everyday...diesel fuel is the least of your worries.

  3. Why have you posted the exact same comment under three different posts? This comment does not reflect the information in the post about the potential for our wild and scenic highway to become a permanent high and wide corridor. Please take the time to read the posts before you comment to them.
    We have posted a full response to this comment under the Fighting Goliath blog post where this comment was originally posted along with your first comment and our reply to your first comment. In the future duplicate comments that don't reflect the information being discussed in the post will be deleted by the administrator of the blog.