Friday, December 23, 2011

Megaload Accidents: Public Safety at Risk - A Year in Review

Likely you've learned of the Imperial/Exxon megaload-and-van crash that occurred Dec. 6th on U.S. Hwy. 95 south of Moscow ID. (KLEWTV article). In response to that crash and other megaload-related incidents, citizens are raising questions of safety. The public has reason for concern because those incidents are adding up:

ConocoPhillips' megaload cliff collision at U.S.12 Milepost 52 and resulting 1-hour highway closure. (article)

Imperial/Exxon's "test module" collision with a large tree branch in Lewiston and its collision with a guy wire at U.S.12 Milepost 46.5 resulting in a 5-hour electrical outage for hundreds of people and 1-hour highway closure. (article)

Nickel Bros. Nov. 1st-2nd unreported megaload's unsuccessful attempt to regain access to Highway 12 from the Kooskia kiosk parking area at Milepost 73.9, which resulted in Nickel Bros.' having to put the load on blocks and repair the damaged dolly transporter.

A Ryash Transport incident on Highway 200 in Montana involving a motorhome whose side mirror was scraped off and whose passengers' safety was compromised by a megaload. (article)

A Nickel Bros. megaload incident on Highway 287 in Montana involving a heart attack victim traveling to the ER who was forced to wait for the megaload (article). (This megaload had first traveled U.S.12 through Idaho.)

Crash #1 on U.S.95 involving an Imperial/Exxon convoy and private driver Frank Bybee, who says the lack of a flagger with a "stop" sign and the presence of bright blinding convoy lights were factors in the accident in which he ran into a car "I couldn't see" that was moving slowly towards the convoy.

Crash #2 on U.S.95 involving an Imperial/Exxon megaload whose driver mistakenly moved forward and crashed into the van of private driver James Irquidez. The van was totaled and Irquidez notes that he was nearly killed. (LMT article & photo, AP article, AP followup article)

Multiple citizen-driver accounts describing confusion caused by the "unsafe" traffic control management procedures of megaload convoys on U.S.12, accounts given in sworn testimony, legal affadavits, and video and monitoring reports admitted into evidence during the contested case hearings, as well as numerous less formal accounts.

On U.S. Highway 12, we are now facing megaload shipments with no ISP escorts. The recent 8 Nickel Bros. shipments traveled sans ISP. The Selway Corp (Stevensville MT to Snoqualmie WA) megaload shipment is scheduled to run tonight with no ISP escorts. The 40-60 proposed Harvest Energy megaload shipments may be being planned minus ISP escorts. With incidents stacking up and actual crashes occurring, citizens are asking why ITD's mandate to first and foremost ensure public safety is not, in turn, mandating ISP escorts for all megaload convoy travel.

The necessity of ISP escorts was a focal point of the contested case hearing regarding Imperial/Exxon's megaload shipments. In his Conclusions, hearing officer Duff McKee confirmed the need to use ISP escorts, and ITD Director Brian Ness adopted those Conclusions as his own in his final order to allow the Imperial/Exxon shipments to go forward.

Of course, there is also the larger looming question: If -- even when accompanied by ISP escorts -- the megaload convoys are causing incidents, some of which endanger lives, can megaload travel on Idaho's highways ever be safe?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Current Events

A lot has happened in the past month related to Megaloads and Highway 12. Imperial/Exxon will not, for the time being, pursue any more permits for megaloads to travel on U.S.12.
Read the storyand watch the video "Toxic Alberta" on Huff Post. Read the story at the Oregonian.

While this is good news for residents & travelers, the fact that Imperial still speaks of wanting in the future to use U.S.12 and that other companies, too, want to turn this route into a permanent high and wide corridor is unsettling. Especially in the face of the numerous risks these types of loads pose to the residents of the local communities they pass through.

Here are a few stories about recent problems with megaloads:
1.) A woman being rushed to the emergency room is delayed by megaloads--Megaloads; The long night, by Alex Sakariassen, Missoula Independent. Augusta residents Lorna and Pete Scott took to Highway 287 shortly after midnight on Oct. 6. Lorna's mother was suffering an apparent heart attack. The family decided to drive her to the Teton Medical Center, in Choteau. But the normally 25-minute drive lasted nearly an hour—due to an oversized industrial shipment..."There was nothing we could do," Lorna says. "We couldn't see a patrol car. We could see nothing but flashing lights, and many of them, in front of us."
... the Scotts discovered it was an oversized load. It belonged to Nickel Bros., a Washington-based company transporting machinery through Montana along the same route proposed for industrial shipment by Exxon Mobil subsidiary Imperial Oil.... Scott says she saw no flaggers...

Her incident was an isolated one, but it does underscore the public safety concerns voiced by megaload detractors over a year ago, when Imperial Oil first announced its Kearl Module Transportation Project. MDT has repeatedly stated that turnouts would be constructed to allow the megaloads to comply with state law, which forbids traffic delays of more than 10 minutes. However, the turnouts were proposed as part of Imperial Oil's beleaguered KMTP and have yet to be constructed between Augusta and Choteau.... Read more.

2.) Injury accident results from confusion over megaload transportation--Two injured in U.S.95 collision, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, 11/10/11Two Idaho men were released from the hospital following a rear-end collision Tuesday night near Viola on U.S. Highway 95 that law enforcement claims occurred when one driver stopped to talk with a flagger awaiting Imperial Oil shipments bound for the Idaho/Montana border.
.... Shawn Dewitt, 36, of Princeton, stopped his vehicle on the highway to investigate flashing lights belonging to a flagger awaiting three shipments of refinery equipment and ask how he should proceed.
Idaho State Police Capt. Lonnie Richardson said Dewitt voluntarily stopped to talk to the flagger around 11 p.m., and had not been requested to do so. Dewitt's vehicle was then struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Frank Bybee, 33, of Desmet...
Subcribers, read more.

If you'd like to see for yourself how confusing these megaload shipments are please watch this video.

One of the major concerns local residents have about megaloads is accidents. Highway 12 is a notoriously dangerous highway with a long history of semi-truck accidents, many causing major spills into the Wild & Scenic Lochsa River. The most recent one took place on Saturday.

Fuel tanker crashes on Highway 12, by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 11/13/11LOWELL - A multi-agency response team worked to mop up a fuel spill along U.S. Highway 12 and the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River Corridor following a one- vehicle traffic accident Saturday.... about 10 miles east of Wilderness Gateway Campground... No fuel was detected in the river....
... driver Marco D. Williamson of Florence, Mont., failed to negotiate a curve.... drifted left, over corrected and the pup trailer whipped across the snow covered road and hit the guard rail ... before coming to rest on its side in the ... ditch.... [carrying] 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,700 gallons of gasoline. HazMat workers pumped some... gasoline out of the wrecked trailer .... "We don't know how much diesel is out" ... "We are offloading gasoline so all 1,700 gallons are not on the ground."...
Officials from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Clearwater National Forest, Idaho Transportation Department, Nez Perce Tribe and a private HazMat company were on hand...
The Lochsa River is a blue-ribbon cutthroat trout stream and home to protected bull trout, wild steelhead and chinook salmon...
The highway along Lochsa-Middle Fork Clearwater...has been the location of several large fuel spills. Last year, ...a fuel tanker spilled 7,500 gallons of diesel.... In 2005, a three-vehicle accident spilled 1,600 gallons of diesel... Crashes in 2002 and 2003 each spilled thousands of gallons. In 2003, a tanker crashed and spilled 6,300 gallons.... A year earlier, a tanker crash spilled an estimated 6,000 gallons of diesel directly into the Clearwater River near Syringa. Several downriver communities temporarily halted pumping drinking water from the river until the escaped fuel had dissipated. Subscribers, read more photo taken by Vickie Garcia & Walt Bailey

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Articles & Food for Thought

From today's Lewiston Tribune...
Imperial Oil undecided about Highway 12 route; Recent court ruling in Montana allows shipments, by Elaine Williams
Imperial Oil appears to have no immediate plans to begin using U.S. Highway 12 for megaloads, in spite of recent court decision in Montana that opens the route for shortened shipments that could still take up two lanes of traffic.... Judge Ray Dayton of the District Court in Missoula County ruled the oil company can transport oversized loads from Lolo Pass at the Idaho border on two-lane highways, but only to Missoula, where they would take an interstate highway to Canada, said Dave Ohler, acting legal counsel for the Montana Department of Transportation....
Dayton's ...[ruling] allows use of U.S.12 and U.S.Highway 93 to Missoula since, unlike the Missoula to Canada section, no new turnouts would be needed for Imperial Oil to comply with Montana's rule that limits traffic delays to 10 minutes. Dayton retained the restriction on the part of the proposed two-lane highway route from Missoula to Canada pending another court proceeding scheduled for January, Ohler said....
Still, taking U.S.12 and U.S.93 might have advantages for Imperial Oil. It would allow the cargo bound for a processing plant at the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada to bypass Moscow. The extra-big hauls are routinely encountering protests in Moscow...
But Imperial Oil doesn't appear to be rushing to take advantage of Dayton's loosening of the original injunction. As of Wednesday, the transportation departments in Idaho and Montana hadn't received the paperwork they would require before Imperial Oil could be moving loads on U.S.12.
At the same time, the port of Lewiston hadn't been notified of any new arrivals belonging to Imperial Oil. ... Subscribers, read more.

We read the above article with some skepticism. The reporter's explanation of Dayton's ruling isn't precisely correct -- Dayton didn't rule that "the oil company can transport oversized loads...." As we understand it, Dayton ruled that MDT could consider 32-J permits for the reduced-size Imperial/Exxon loads. Also -- as we all have learned -- information coming from Imperial/Exxon spokespeople may not be true. So while the above article pulls out some details regarding the meaning of Dayton's ruling and indicates Imperial/Exxon isn't at the moment hot to hit the road using U.S.12, we are not drawing any firm conclusions.

Now, this food for thought
Corporations are not people: We hold these truths to be self-evident…by Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook | October 11, 2011, 2:11 pm

When is a Person not a Person?
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PSR) recently answered this absurd question with the obvious and embarrassing answer: when it’s a corporation. According to PSR's statement, in case anyone is confused, a human being:
is a complex organism with capacities for joy and pain, reflection, and the compassionate appreciation of others. Mature persons are expected to display reasoned judgment, and are personally responsible for their own actions (our emphasis). Human beings live, breath, think, experience emotions, and internalize values such as empathy and caring for others. Like all sentient beings, they suffer, and die.
....Read more

Remember when getting a crane to retrieve a fallen megaload on U.S.12 would be quick & easy? Now we have...CONOCOPHILLIPS & THE "GIANT" CRANE...

Giant crane to install megaload coker drums at Billings refinery; by Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette
BILLINGS - This winter, the tallest thing on the Billings horizon won't be First Interstate Bank. It will be one of the world's largest cranes with a 500-foot boom swinging two large pieces of oil refinery equipment into place.
"It's a Mammoet PTC ringer crane, 1,600-metric-ton capacity," said Brady Hobza, project engineer ... the fourth largest crane in the world." It is a megacrane special ordered to install two, 350-ton coker drums that earlier this year eclipsed two-way traffic on Montana backroads...
... more than 100 semitrailers ... will haul [the crane's] pieces here in a couple months ... Read more

Moscow wants reimbursement for megaload policing costs posted by Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise @ the Spokesman-REview, from an Associated Press story, 10/11/11
Moscow (Idaho) officials want a company transporting oil equipment for ExxonMobil to pay $12,800 for police services... from July to September. The city plans to submit weekly reimbursement requests to Mammoet... Read more (On page, scroll down.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Latest Highway 12 Megaload News

Montana judge okays modifications to megaload injunction but denies dissolving the injunction...
Yesterday afternoon, in the Missoula County vs MDT case, Montana Judge Ray Dayton issued a "Memorandum and Order Granting Imperial Oil's Application to Modify Preliminary Injunction and Denying its Application to Dissolve Preliminary Injunction."
The "modification" allows MDT to review and process 32-J permit applications from Imperial/Exxon to transport modified KMTP loads over Highways 12 and 93 in order to access the interstate system. The "modified KMTP loads" are those that have been reduced in size, such as those currently sitting at the Port of Lewiston.
You may recall that the Missoula County vs MDT case has to do with the environmental reviews related to Imperial/Exxon's construction of turnouts. In his memorandum, the judge notes, "no new turnouts would be constructed or are necessary."
With Idaho poised to issue Hwy. 12 permits, the above is obviously bad news.

Megaload info pages... and "subscriptions"... ITD abandons its responsibility...
Apparently ITD has decided that informing the public about road-blocking megaload transport schedules on Highways 12 or 95 is outside ITD's role. According to the following 10/5/11 press release, ITD has asked Nickel Bros/Weyerhaeuser and Imperial/Exxon to inform the public, and the public has to "subscribe" in order to receive updates.
Contact: Adam Rush, ITD Public Involvement Coordinator
BOISE – Travel schedules for over legal shipments on U.S. 12, U.S. 95 and Interstate 90 are now available online for ExxonMobil/Mammoet and Weyerhaeuser/Nickel Bros shipments.... The webpages will be updated 24 hours in advance of a shipment by Exxon or Weyerhaeuser....
In the past, such issuance of corporate updates has been erratic at best, seldom timely. The "Privacy Policy" at the Nickel site simply says they won't share your email address, but the Imperial/Exxon site's "Privacy Statement" speaks of their gathering info from your computer, using your personal information to, among other things, "market products and services," and "storing some information on your computer." Typical perhaps, but...

The main point is that ITD, which has often been unsure of when megaload shipments will occur, appears to have entirely abandoned its role in informing its public.

Economy; Lolo Hot Springs feels the heat, by Matthew Frank, Missoula Independent, 10/6/11
The recession has been relatively kind to Montana's tourism industry, though Brent Olson might say otherwise. On Sept. 19, Olson, the owner of Lolo Hot Springs, a year-round resort on Highway 12 between Lolo and the Montana-Idaho border, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"Our business has dropped off probably about a third of what it used to be," says Olson, a Las Vegas-based real estate investor. ... he doesn't think Imperial Oil's gigantic test module, which has been parked in front of the nearby Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs for about six months, has helped any. The lodge has been compensated for the inconvenience; the resort hasn't.... Read more:

Two megaload protesters released on bond after Thursday-night arrest, Lewiston Tribune, 10/7/11
MOSCOW - Two megaload protesters face maximum penalties of one year in jail and $1,000 fines after being arrested and jailed Thursday night on one misdemeanor charge each of obstructing and resisting an officer.
Zachary E. Johnson, 33, and Aaron T. Malgren, 22, both of Moscow, posted $500 bonds early Friday morning and were released from the Latah County Jail...
Both men, according to citations, allegedly rode bicycles on the roadway as three megaloads destined for oil fields in Canada rolled through town. Read more:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Here's the Link

The American 'allergy' to global warming: Why?

Worth reading

In case you haven't seen this Associated Press analysis of U.S. resistance to climate change reality, I think you'll find it informative and worth sharing 'round. Please do. The American 'allergy' to global warming: Why?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Imperial/Exxon's "contingency plan" = alternative routes

What a year ago Imperial/Exxon called "No Plan B" they now call "our contingency plan" -- that is, no fewer than 3 alternate megaload routes other than U.S. Highway 12.

In an August 8th press release, the giant corporation announced plans to use "additional routes" for Kearl tar sands project modules. The release notes,"The companies are reducing the size and weight of the shipments and will seek permits for an additional route that will use four-lane divided highways and not require road closures or highway upgrading....The reduction in module size and additional routes are being made necessary by lengthy permitting delays for the original modules size shipments via US 12 through Idaho and Montana....We will continue to pursue the permits for those full-sized modules through Idaho and Montana, which is more efficient and cost effective. However, we need to move forward with our contingency plan to maintain project schedules. For shipments from the Port of Lewiston, ID, in addition to the Highway 12 route, the companies are using an additional route north on US 95 in Idaho, then east along I-90 through Idaho and Montana, and north on I-15 to the Canadian border. Imperial began using this route in mid-July. We are also pursuing a plan to ship additional loads from the Port of Pasco, WA, by truck on US 395 in Washington and along I-90 through Washington, Idaho and Montana, then north on I-15 to the Canadian border."

This announcement brings us, we hope, closer to the day Exxon admits the truth -- Highway 12 is the wrong route for their megaloads and they need to find a better path if the want the Kearl project to be built in the foreseeable future. Opponents will steadfastly continue to resist Exxon's plans to transform the people's scenic rural highways, including a nationally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor, into an industrial megaload truck route.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


A Montana District Court Judge granted an injunction to stop the Montana Department of Transportation from issuing Imperial/Exxon any more permits related to its Kearl Transport Project and agreed that the MDT violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act in the permitting process for the Project's 200+ megaloads.

Read the story in the Missoulian:

Or the Calgary Herald:

This is not the first problem Imperial Oil has run into when it comes to insufficient environmental assessments. To read about some of the troubles Canadian citizens have had with Imperial Oil (ESSO) check out this website:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Highway 12: A National Treasure

Now that contested case hearing officer Duff McKee has recommended the permitting of of Imperial/Exxon's 200+ megaloads for travel on U.S.Hwy.12 it's time to write again. I’ve been at a loss for words these past few weeks, wondering why someone in Boise has the power to decide the fate of the highway that runs through my community as well as the fate of the nationally mandated Wild and Scenic Clearwater and Lochsa River corridors. I’m disappointed in the amount of spin being used by those in favor of shipping megaloads along Highway 12 and disturbed by the affects their distorted half-truths are having on my community as well as the debate at large.

Why does Exxon have more clout with my political representatives than I do? Why is our society so short sighted when it comes to issues that pit economics against the environment?

The deaths in May of two young men who died when a boulder crushed their vehicle while traveling eastbound on Highway 12 saddened me. It's an increase in these kinds of accidents that are my major concern when it comes to megaloads on Highway 12. I’ve put in many hours driving on 12. I’ve made tracks through fresh snow, barely making it under downed trees during a snowstorm. I’ve missed my nephew’s birthday party stuck on the west side of a swift truck wreck sprawled across both lanes of the highway. I’ve come upon distraught members of a caravan who watched their friend and traveling companion incorrectly negotiate a turn sending his truck into the river when the water was so high there was no chance of survival. I’ve seen rocks fall, land slide, guard rails crushed, creeks blown-out and the residue of diesel spilled into the river. I helped reassemble my friends front end after an elk left the river running right in front of his truck. I've seen too many close calls on Highway 12 to take it for granted.

But the Exxon and Imperial execs at the Kooskia meeting last year did not have the same experience with Highway 12, in fact they had no experience with 12 short of looking at it on a map and calculating the money they could save by using 12 as shortcut from manufactures in Korea to the tar sands in Alberta. The trip from Lewiston to Kooskia that day was the first trip many of them took on the highway. Their lack of understanding about the nature of the highway and their willingness to overlook the details in favor of fancy brochures and projected profits was disquieting. ITD’s director Brian Ness has never even driven the section from Kooskia to Lolo Pass and yet he's the one ultimately in charge of permitting megaloads.

From a local perspective Exxon’s megaloads are too big, too heavy, too wide, too tall and too dangerous for Highway 12. Just as Exxon’s corporation is too big and too profit hungry to understand the nature of Highway 12 or the risks they are taking in their attempt to turn the Wild and Scenic Lochsa corridor into a tar sands shipping route. When will people learn that Exxon is not capable of keeping anything pristine? Nor are big oil & gas corporations up front about problems once they arise as can be seen playing out today along the banks of the Yellowstone River. Why let Exxon gamble with the Lochsa?

Highway 12 is an America treasure – a drive-through wilderness without all the schlocky commercialism and consumerism that lines other wilderness highways. A drive that is in and of itself wild – where you need to be ready for the unexpected, prepared for the worst and open to the best nature has to offer. The beauty and wildness of Highway 12 can not be risked.

Exxon can not be trusted with this national treasure.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Upcoming Events

Idaho Rivers United announces Stop the Megaloads Party plus Lochsa Fundraising Whitewater Trip and INVITES YOU:

PARTY: June 18, 5 p.m. (We'll be there. Hope you will too!)
along the Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Clearwater at
Syringa Cafe/River Dance Lodge on U.S.Hwy.12, Milepost 90.
For more info:

RAFT TRIP: June 19th along the Wild & Scenic Lochsa River.
For more info:

Still pending:
-- the Idaho contested case hearing officer's recommendation to ITD Director Ness. (Intervenors' Post Hearing Brief.)
-- the Missoula County, et. al., vs. MDT injunction hearing judge's decision.
-- the Idaho Rivers United vs. Clearwater National Forest lawsuit proceedings.
-- the final 2 ConocoPhillips' megaload shipments arrival in Billings. Their Lewiston launch was first week of May.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Paul Edwards Video

After months of research on the issue of megaloads and the Alberta tar sands, Montana resident Paul Edwards created an engaging youtube video to share his point of view. Here's the link to the video:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Lin & Borg win Max Dalton Open Government Award

Originators of FightingGoliath and on-the-front-lines anti-megaload activists Linwood Laughy and Borg Hendrickson were recently honored to win the 2011 Max Dalton Open Government Award.

As noted in a Dan Popkey blog post in the Idaho Statesman, "Hendrickson and Laughy pressed for the disclosure of transportation plans for shipments of massive industrial equipment bound for Canada over Idaho's scenic U.S.12. They also unveiled correspondence between oil companies and the Idaho Transportation Department and posted the material on their website ... "

"Their efforts, from realization of the problem to the present ongoing fight, resemble a spider web reaching every aspect of government and beyond," said Lee Halper of Jerome, who nominated the couple. "From two, there are now many who fight this fight..."

Read more:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Video of Megaload on Highway 12

To view Vickie Garcia's video, shown at the contested case hearing during her testimony, go here: ""
Vickie and her husband Walt Bailey were among the 3-4 dozen north central Idaho residents and Missoula residents who monitored and observed the 2 ConocoPhillips' shipments and the Imperial/Exxon so-called "test" shipment. Vickie's video clearly shows that the ITD-approved traffic management plan of the first ConocoPhillips' shipment was woefully inadequate at best, and at worst, seriously chaotic, inconvenient and unsafe.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Janice Inghram testifies at hearing

Megaload opponent Janice Inghram was the first witness to testify at ITD's Imperial/Exxon contested case hearing this morning. Janice spoke of the continual use she and her husband Roger Inghram make of U.S.Highway 12 for business and volunteer work, as well as for social and recreational purposes. She noted that once on the highway above Kooskia, she, Roger and anyone else on or alongside the highway has only one route to anywhere for any reason -- including emergencies -- and that route is U.S.12. If it is blocked by a megaload, she and everyone else traveling above Kooskia will be blocked from traveling west. She also noted that when she and Roger travel on the highway, as they frequently do, between Kooskia and the Selway River Road at Lowell, the ITD traffic counters, which are above Lowell and below Kamiah, do not count their vehicle. No vehicle that travels between those 2 counters is counted as part of the highway's traffic numbers. Janice noted that she travels that section of the highway 18-20 times per month most months of the year.

Following Janice's testimony, opponents' lawyer Natalie Havlina of Advocates for the West called 2 ISP officers to the stand. Among other topics, they testified about the number of officers available to serve as "overtime" escorts to the megaloads. They stated that there are 17 officer positions in the district, but 2 positions are vacant and 1 officer is in Iraq, leaving 14 available officers. They also noted that of the 14, some officers choose to not serve as escorts for megaloads, which further narrows the number of available officers. Of the 14, the number of ISP officers accompanying Imperial/Exxon's so-called "test validation" shipment is 4. Although ITD staff had testified yesterday that up to 3 of IO/EX's shipments could be on U.S.12 all at the same time, the ISP officers understood -- evidently erroneously -- that only 1 shipment could be on the highway at a time. The officers said that if 3 shipments are on the highway at the same time, ISP would not have enough officers to serve as escorts.

At 11:30 a.m. the hearing was adjourned until 9 a.m. Monday, when opponent Linwood Laughy will take the stand.

Contested Case Hearing: Imperial/Exxon, April 29, 2011

Yesterday's testimony at the ITD contested case hearing regarding Imperial/Exxon's 200+ megaload shipment permits got underway in the morning with witness Alan Frew of ITD. He, and later ITD's Dave Couch, testified about Imperial/Exxon's transport plan, including its traffic management plan, and ITD's permit approval process. Advocates for the West's lawyers Laird Lucas and Natalie Havlina represented the opponents.

With about 1 1/2 hours of the session remaining, Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Clearwater resident Vickie Garcia took the stand, and by day's end, the approximate dozen opponents present were calling her their "star witness." Vickie testified on the topics of inconvenience, safety, and megaload traffic management, which she had experienced firsthand. During the Kooskia-east leg of the first ConocoPhillips' shipment, Vickie and her husband Walt Bailey had traveled out on the highway to experience what being on the road during a shipment would be like so that should more shipments follow over months and years, they would know what to expect. During her testimony, Vickie showed a video she had taken out the front windshield of their car the snowy night of that leg of the shipment. The video gave the Judge and others in the room an opportunity to understand the chaotic nature of the ITD-approved traffic management and the risks to safety and convenience caused by that chaotic management.

Today's contested case session will begin at 9 a.m. at the ITD building, and first to take the stand will be opponent's witness Janice Inghram of Grangeville.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tree-scaping in the Wild and Scenic Corridor

Exxon hired an army of out-of-state tree trimmers to take to the Wild and Scenic corridor on Easter Sunday. Here are just a few pictures from the "tree-scaping". The top three pictures are along the Wild and Scenic Lochsa, the next two pictures are in the Devoto Memorial Cedar Grove and the last one is in the Wild and Scenic section of the Middlefork of the Clearwater river.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday Hack Job

Driving up Highway 12 to enjoy the Wild and Scenic Lochsa River Corridor on this Easter Sunday my family was shocked and saddened to see an army of tree trimmers hacking away on the beautiful old trees that line the highway. Trees that stood long before the highway was built are now being altered in a most un-aesthetic way to make way for an Exxon Test Module (one that is too large for the corridor and doesn’t even have a permit to proceed beyond Lolo Hot Springs!)

Frank Church and Cecil Andrus along with the U.S. Congress protected the Lochsa River Corridor for future generations of Americans with the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968 and now ITD and USFS are working hand in hand with Exxon/Mobil to undo those protections.

Anyone taking a Sunday drive upriver today or traveling home from a family gathering met with 40+minute delays as they were held behind flaggers and led haphazardly by a pilot car through a maze of tree-trimmers trucks.
What kind of transportation department schedules major road alterations on Easter Sunday?
Why wasn’t there any kind of notification on ITD’s website to inform the traveling public of the delays being experienced on Highway 12?
What kind of Forest Service allows for a nationally mandated Wild and Scenic corridor to be radically changed in a way that puts the trees that line the highway at increased risk of disease and weakens them to the affects of wind and snow damage?

This inane attempt of making Highway 12 into an over-sized shipping route must come to a stop. The time is NOW before anything worse happens. Already many of the concerns brought up by locals have come true – delays well over 15 minutes, trees along the highway damaged, power outages, pullouts blocked off to the public, the shipments not being able to make the trip in the time presumed, altering of the wild and scenic corridor and a highway shutdown - and all that after only 2 megaloads have made the full trip from Lewiston to Lolo Pass! What more has to happen before ITD acknowledges the truth? These loads are too large for Highway 12 and they place an unnecessary risk on the local citizens and businesses who rely on Highway 12.

Let’s stop this NOW before something worse happens. If one of these loads went into the river the damage to the riverbed would be devastating. Exxon has proven that they have not planned well for this transportation project. There are other options to get this equipment to Alberta. We do not need to sacrifice Highway 12. I encourage you to pick up the phone on Monday morning and call as many of the people on the following list as you can to express your concern and dismay at the disregard with which our government agencies are treating the public. The short-sightedness of those individuals charged with protecting the resources of the public must be addressed.

USFS:Craig Trulock, Lochsa Ranger Station (208)926-4274
Rick Brazell, Clearwater Natn'l Forest Supervisor (208)476-4541
Leslie Weldon, Regional Forester (406) 329-3470

ITD Director Brian Ness (208) 334-8876
Public Involvement Adam Rush (208) 334-8119
Darrell Manning – Chairman (208) 334-8808
Jim Coleman (208) 762-4704
Jan Vassar (208) 743-5093
Jerry Whitehead (208) 344-2539
Gary Blick – Vice Chairman (208) 537-6787
Neil Miller (208) 681-3172
Lee Gagner (208) 529-5600

If you’d like to call more people at ITD here is a link to the complete phone list:

Contested case hearing starts Monday, April 25th

The ITD contested case hearing related to the 207 Imperial/Exxon megaloads that were permitted but with a stay on Feb. 14th will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 25th.

Hearing Dates: April 25-29th, with carryover May 2-6

Time: 9 a.m.- 4:30 Monday-Thursday and 9-11:30 a.m. Friday, with 1 1/2 hour lunch breaks

Place: Main Auditorium, ITD Building, 3311 W. State Street, Boise.

If you are going to be in the Boise area, we'll welcome your presence at the hearing.
Attending anytime and any length of time is okay; i.e., walking in and out is fine.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Enough is Enough

Yesterday, Big Oil said "cut all highway-side branches off the trees in the Wild & Scenic River highway corridor 32 feet up and 3 feet past the fog line, and the Clearwater National Forest looked the other way. See photo above of the beginnings of a rectangular tunnel being cut in the highway corridor's forest canopy.

Please let the CNF know exactly how you feel about such treatment of the Wild & Scenic corridor. Call or email:

Craig Trulock 208-926-4274

Rick Brazell, Clearwater National Forest Supervisor 208-476-4541

Leslie Weldon, Regional Forester Missoula

And guess what - after over 3 years of planning, over a week of incident review and recommendations and all the last minute tree trimming and both an Exxon press release and and ITD press release saying the were moving last night from mile 61 to 94 - Exxon once again didn't move!

Enough is enough. These loads are too big for Highway 12. The risks far outweigh the benefits to the residents and businesses of Highway 12.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Tale of Two Press Releases

A truck driver, traveler, or local citizen trying to make plans around the megaloads has their work cut out for them. Trying to figure out whether or not a megaload is actually going to be on the road on any given night is a struggle. Exxon’s Highway 12 website has a professional look but it lacks any real information on the status of the loads. The last information updated on the site is from April 12th. There have been numerous news stories since the 12th stating nights the Exxon Test Module planned to move but never any mention of them on Exxon's Highway 12 website. The most consistent way to find out if Exxon is moving it’s test module has been through ITD press releases.

Yet, ITD doesn’t seem that sure of what’s going on either. In a press release from earlier today ITD stated that Exxon was moving the test module tonight and that Mammoet had submitted a plan of recommendations to reduce the risk of further issues. Mr. Hoff is quoted as saying that the changes made by Mammoet will “help avoid any further . . . delays.” Yet late tonight ITD released a second shorter statement contradicting their first one. The Exxon Test Module was not going to move tonight due to concerns over power lines in Kamiah. Mammoet must have missed the power lines in Kamiah when they were making their recommendations to ITD. What else has Mammoet missed?

Here are the two press releases with a few significant lines highlighted:

#1: ExxonMobil test shipment resumes travel Tuesday night

BOISE - An ExxonMobil test shipment will resume travel on U.S. 12 tonight at 10 PDT after the Idaho Transportation Department accepted the company's corrective action plan, the Idaho Transportation Department announced.
The over-sized test load has been parked at milepost 61 about 12 miles west of Kooskia since April 12 after striking a guy wire above the highway during the first night of a scheduled three-night transport to the Montana state line.
The transportation department required ExxonMobil and its contract hauler, Mammoet, to submit an incident report and make recommendations on how to reduce the risk of further issues.
Changes made include:
Additional verifications of all overhead utilities from milepost 61 to the Montana state line to ensure adequate clearance;
Raising a power distribution line crossing the highway at milepost 75;
Additional verifications of all overhead utilities from the Port of Lewiston to milepost 61
Lead escort vehicles will watch for overhanging tree branches in addition to other overhead obstructions.
"The additional precautions will improve safety and help avoid any further problems or delays," said Doral Hoff, the transportation department maintenance engineer in Lewiston.
The test shipment will travel:
Tuesday night/Wednesday morning from milepost 61 to milepost 139.
Wednesday night/Thursday morning from milepost 139 to the Montana state line at milepost 174, then 7.5 miles into Montana. It will stop at a restaurant parking lot.

#2: Tonight's planned U.S. 12 ExxonMobil test shipment postponed

BOISE - An ExxonMobil test shipment scheduled to resume travel tonight on U.S. 12 was postponed, the Idaho Transportation Department announced.
Concerns about the load clearing two power lines in the Kamiah area prompted representatives of ITD, ExxonMobil and power provider Avista to agree to postpone the move.
"We want to be 100 percent certain there is adequate clearance and that the load moves safely," said Doral Hoff, the ITD maintenance engineer in Lewiston.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Exxon Fails First Test

Local citizens who rely on Highway 12 were told not to worry when they brought up their concerns to Exxon representatives at last summers open house. They were assured by the Kearl Oil Project spokesmen that Mammoet was the best shipper in the business. When asked about the specifics of the road and how these megaloads would handle things like rock faces, ice, landslides, soft shoulders, etc. the representatives seemed unfamiliar with the nature of Highway 12 and unable to give adequate answers. Instead of taking the concerns of local citizens seriously Exxon spent time and money on a PR campaign to make it look like this project would benefit the local economy while ignoring the many ways this transportation project could hurt the area.

Now, almost a year later, on the first night of the Exxon's Test Validation Module there were problems. The Exxon megaload hit a guy wire that knocked the power out to 1,300 homes and shut the highway down for over an hour.

ITD has asked the shipper, Mammoet, to address the problems from last night before they continue their journey. I would like to ask ITD to consider this transportation plan from the point of view of local residents who rely on Highway 12. Knocking out power and shutting down the highway are minor issues compared with what could happen with these loads. But even these types of minor problems could result in a life or death delay for someone racing to the hospital.

We've learned over the past year that there are other routes available to these megaload modules. We've learned they can be broken down into smaller units and shipped on alternate routes. We've also learned that these megaloads can be made on site in Alberta. So why does ITD and Exxon continue to push for an unsafe use of Highway 12?

Here's more info on Exxon's trouble Monday night:

Big rig test module hits wire, cuts power to 1,300 homes, businesses off Highway 12 by Kim Briggeman, Missoulian, 4/12/11
The big blue megaload that a Canadian oil company says will validate its plan to send many more up U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho and Montana got off to a rough start.

The 30-foot-high load hit a guy wire near Orofino, Idaho, early Tuesday, setting off a sequence of events that led to power outages in some 1,300 area homes and businesses for almost five hours, and causing the highway to be closed for an hour.

It happened around 1:45 a.m., a few hours after the big rig struck and broke off a giant tree branch near the Lewiston Rose Garden as it left town. The branch was 10 inches in diameter and 20 feet long. No traffic delays resulted.

Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil's practice load finished the night parked 13 miles short of its designated stopover near Kooskia. It appeared the plan to make the 182-mile trip to Lolo Hot Springs in Montana by Thursday morning was off....ITD ... said Mammoet would not be allowed to proceed with the move until [an investigative] report had been received and approved.

"When we're working with haulers and shippers, our approach is to have an exchange of information with them and to improve transportation plans moving forward," Rush said. "We don't like to levy fines right from the get-go or flat out deny people permits, but we do ask them to make changes.".... Read more:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Exxon Test Module Postponed Once Again - Locals Recommend Megaloads Stay Off Fragile Highway 12

The first mention in the press of an Exxon megaload test module came in the fall of 2009. The test run was postponed until the spring of 2010, early summer, late summer and eventually fall of 2010. At the start of 2011 Exxon and ITD started putting out specific dates – February 22nd, February 28th, March 7th, March 28th and most recently April 4th. The reasons have varied over the course of the past year and half as to why the test module hasn’t been run. Yet the fact remains – Highway 12 is ill-suited to to be a megaload transportation route.

If you still think these loads have a future on Highway 12, I recommend you drive the route today. Look at the signs of rockfall and landslides – both large and small along the route. Notice the extra large potholes that have surfaced since the two Conoco loads labored over the route. Then look to the side and check out the river. With steady ran for the past week on top of better than average snowfall the creeks are all flowing at top capacity feeding the Lochsa and Clearwater Rivers into a frenzy. These are not the conditions to “test” out loads 200 tons over the national weight limit standard setfor interstate highways. Even with the weight distributed over numerous axels the pressure on the highway bed is much greater than that of a normal semi-truck. What effect will those weights have on the roadbed? How will pullouts that were not built to handle loads anywhere near this size hold up in these conditions? How does driving such a load at slow speeds with the increased noise and vibration affect all ready unstable hillsides? And what happens if there’s any kind of major problem?

These questions and many others were raised by local citizens at the informational meetings held in Kooskia last summer. Residents were told that Mammoet was the “best in the business” and that Highway 12 was the only route these modules could take. Since then we’ve learned that Mammoet had two accidents on dry, wide roads in the past year and that many of the modules can be broken down into smaller shipments as is evidenced by the work currently taking place at the Port of Lewiston. The representatives for Exxon/Imperial showed a general lack of knowledge relating to the nature of Highway 12 – they seemed unaware of snow and ice that covers the upriver section of the road for much of the winter as well as the risk of avalanche, the spring run-off and the landslides and rockslides that often accompany it as well as the large volume of summer traffic.

The best business decision Exxon can make at this point is to pack up those loads, ship them back down the Columbia and take the traditional route – through the Gulf of Mexico and up the central U.S. Had Conoco done that when they first ran into trouble their shipments would have arrived in Billings long ago.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Imperial to 'revisit' foreign input in oilsands

Remember when ...
Imperial Oil spokespeople said...
1. the modules are nonreducible;
2. they have no alternative routes;
3. South Korea is the best and pretty much only place the modules can be built;
4. they had no 'assurances' from Idaho & Montana transportation departments for transport permits.
Now read this... (especially note lines in bold... and you may also spot some lines to 'suspect' in italics...)

Imperial to 'revisit' foreign input in oilsands; Kearl project hit by logistical problems and protests over shipments of upgrader modules by road to Fort McMurray by Dave of the Edmonton Journal, published in the Calgary Herald, 3/30/11
EDMONTON - Imperial Oil will “revisit” its decision to buy massive modules from South Korea ... for the future expansion of its Kearl oilsands, its chief executive
... Bruce March said “we will revisit this for the expansion,” but added that his firm’s focus right now is getting the modules — stalled at the inland port of Lewiston, Idaho, amid protests from residents — on the road to Fort McMurray as soon as possible.

Currently, the $8-billion Kearl mine and bitumen production project is on time, scheduled to open late next year. Some of the modules made in Edmonton — which represents 80 per cent of the fabrication work — are ready to be shipped.
“We made the decision to order [the units from Korea] in the 2007-08 period ...
The Korean firm building the 207 mega-sized units — 33 of which are now being broken apart in Idaho ... so they can move as 60 smaller shipments on the Interstate highway — has supplied specialized ore-processing equipment to all oilsands plants in the past.

But in those cases the equipment has always been shipped in pieces and assembled in Edmonton.
March said Imperial could have done that with the modules, “but we opted to have it built in Korea. We could have gone either way
March said Imperial did its homework with the module transportation....
and got pretty good assurance from the state governments that they would allow it.”

But then came the protests, much of it from people opposed to the oilsands in general and rather than residents worried about the rural scenery. National advocacy groups have been sending out news releases for months denouncing the mega-loads....
...We are now seeing (protests) in the supply chain for the oilsands, in the pipeline projects like Keystone,” he said...

On Wednesday, commissioners in Missoula County, Montana, voted to file a lawsuit ... to stop oversized loads....
Read More:

Friday, March 25, 2011


PLEASE take a few minutes to email Idaho Senate Transportation Committee members about the Harwood bill, see article and "help" below for more information:

Committee contact forms:
Sen. Hammond
Sen. Brackett
Sen. Keough
Sen. McGee
Sen. Corder
Sen. Winder
Sen. Bair
Sen. Werk
Sen. Bilyeu

ARTICLE:Senators to amend Rep. Harwood's pro-megaloads bill, by Betsy Russell, Spokesman-Review 3/24/11BOISE - Senators had sharp questions for Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, over his bill aimed at blocking lawsuits over highway megaloads, and after much debate, voted Thursday to substantially amend the bill.

Harwood urged against that, saying amendments proposed by the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association and others, including saying a judge “may” require a bond rather than “shall,” “virtually guts this bill.”...

Senators and others said Harwood’s bill was confusing and poorly worded.

Barbara Jorden, lobbyist for the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association, told the Senate Transportation Committee, ... the bill appears to confuse bonds with fees, and urged extensive amendments if lawmakers weren’t willing to just kill the bill outright....

Idaho lawmakers are hoping to wrap up their session by next week or the week after - bills sent to the Senate’s 14th Order for amendments often end up dying there without further action.

Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, said the bill targets lawsuits against the Idaho Transportation Department, but also seems to envision the business proposing the haul as a co-defendant in the lawsuit....

Hannah Brass, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, noted a similar concern... when the lawsuit is over ITD’s issuance of a permit. “... [the businesses are] not the ones who issue the permits to themselves,”.....

Harwood told the committee he wanted to end “frivolous lawsuits,” ...

But Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, noted that the lawsuit against the Highway 12 megaloads was never held to be “frivolous,” by either the courts or a state hearing officer. Harwood responded, “I just used that term because sometimes that’s how I feel they are.”

When Werk asked Harwood about his contention that people can find judges who’ll rule any way they want, Harwood said, “Certain judges do lean in different directions. A lot of times maybe their … personal opinion, and I know in my case often my own personal opinion overrides the right thing to do.”

A motion to kill the bill outright failed on a 3-6 vote, and the motion to amend it then passed, 6-3. ...

Read full article and please post a comment.

HELP:To help with your emails and comments, below are examples of misinformation that Rep. Harwood used in his argument before the Idaho House that convinced representatives to pass his bill. And from the above article, we learn that the bill itself was also misinformed. How can senators vote for a bill for which so much misinformation has been given? How can they vote on or spend time amending a bill so confusingly written? How can the Idaho legislature even consider a bill that attempts to deny citizens access to the judicial system? Isn't doing so an affront to democracy? And doesn't such a bill invite a legal challenge to its constitutionality?

Harwood said the oil companies will post a $250 million bond. Actually, it's $10 million.

He said the companies had the electric lines buried. Actually, they were raised to 30 feet.

He said the megaloads traveled from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Actually, they travel 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

He said the companies have done a lot .. now we have "blacktop road and lots of turnouts." Actually, the road has been blacktop since 1962, and Exxon only paid for some reinforcements of 9 turnouts.

He said stopping the megaloads would be stopping commerce. Actually, it is the megaloads that stop commerce.

-- During the ConocoPhillips' second shipment, the shipper (Emmert Int'l.) asked 7 regular commercial trucking companies to avoid using U.S.12 when the megaload was on the highway, and they did.

-- Also, during CP's first shipment, while the megaload delayed traffic for 59 minutes (Mileposts 61-65), eight logging trucks, which start their runs around 2 a.m., sat in a traffic delay line in Kamiah waiting.

-- Further, the megaload convoys include 10+ vehicles, most of which have swirling yellow strobe lights on their roofs, and the megaload itself which has rows of large bright white lights running down the full length of the trailer, and all of these vehicles have, of course, headlights, and all make noise, including the locomotive-loud honking of the two super-size semis that pull and push the load. Thousands of people in homes, motels, and campgrounds within 20-200 feet of the highway (if not even further) will be affected by the lights and noise -- tourists will be negatively affected. In terms of "commerce," I know you're aware that tourism is Idaho's 3rd largest industry and is, of course, major in the economic picture of north central Idaho where 4600 jobs depend upon tourism.

--Additionally, the shipments are almost entirely foreign enterprises -- Canadian, Dutch, Korean, Japanese companies, and have little or nothing to do with "commerce" in Idaho. The oil companies simply want to use Idaho roads, not engage in commerce here.

--ITD officials note that the permits do not cover all of ITD’s administrative, technical, and legal costs associated with the movement of each megaload on Idaho’s roads. Idaho taxpayers will be subsidizing the planet's richest corporations. That fact runs counter to the concept of real, citizen-involved, "commerce."

Thank you, all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kooskia, Idaho ~ Gateway to the Wilderness or Pit Stop along Big Oil's Tar Sands Alley?

Kooskia Crossing is a lovely and informative tourist area at the entrance to Kooskia, Idaho. Volunteers have spent years developing this area, which now boasts a handsome, illustrated "Welcome" sign, multi-paneled information kiosk, and landscaped green space that volunteers spruce up and groom each year. One feature of the area is a beautiful metal sculpture celebrating the salmon and their native home, the Clearwater River. But now one's view of the salmon includes the giant megaload you see in the background. If the hundreds of proposed megaloads of Exxon/Imperial, Harvest, Shell and other tar sands oil companies are permitted for shipment along U.S.12, these giant loads will sit here almost daily for decades to come.

Speaking of salmon, one environmental concern of a megaload accident on U.S. 12 is damage to critical salmon spawning grounds. A load the scale of the megaloads could create an immediate dam if it fell into the Lochsa. Since Exxon's shipping company Mammoet had two accidents in the past year while driving on dry flat wide roads, it's no stretch of imagination to envision their having a slip-off or tip-over on curvy, narrow U.S. 12. A decline in salmon and other fish populations will be felt throughout north central Idaho's economy. Right now, today, in just a 2-mile stretch of the Middle Fork, 18 fishermen are fishing. They buy groceries, cafe meals, fishing gear, gas and rooms.

The question for local residents is what does the future hold for our children. We live next to the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 and enjoy 3 pristine wild and scenic rivers in our backyard. These are our greatest, most valuable natural resource assets. They are worth protecting - not just for their physical beauty, abundant hunting and fishing and many other recreation opportunities - but because they have value to visitors from around the nation and world and offer a substantial base for a healthy long-term tourism industry. Our area becomes more valuable to tourists and Idahoans alike only for as long as we protect the natural, remarkable wild and scenic qualities of North Central Idaho and ensure access to our wildlands and rivers. If instead we choose to take a few quick bucks now from oil companies wanting to turn our the highway into an industrial megaload truck route, we stand to loose normal access in the present and our only growing industry in the future. What may look like easy money to some comes with a price tag for our children and grandchildren - deteriorating roads, lower tax base, loss of access to public lands/rivers, and loss of value of our greatest asset.

Photo by Gail Renshaw

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


ConocoPhillips transport of megaload #1, which began Feb. 1st, had been scheduled to take 4 nights to travel from Lewiston, Idaho, to the Montana border. Instead it took 6 nights of driving over a two week period. According to ITD comments in news reports, weather held the load up in Kooskia from the morning of Thursday, Feb. 3rd, until Tuesday night Feb. 8th although local weather conditions were relatively mild during that period. It was snowing on the valley floor when they finally left Kooskia. Here are some stories and headlines from the first half of February:

Feb. 1 -- ConocoPhillips Megaload leaves Port of Lewiston, bound for Billings

Feb. 4 -- Megaloads hit mega snag, again ( ...The ConocoPhillips transport trailer...scraped a rock outcropping enroute on Wednesday night... Article, video, & scrape photo:

Feb. 4 -- New plan required after megaload causes long delay ( The Idaho Transportation Department says it is requiring ConocoPhillips to submit a new plan before allowing the oil company to send a second giant truckload of refinery equipment after the first caused a 59-minute traffic delay at a sharp curve on U.S. Highway 12. Article:

Feb. 5 -- Snowy roads, traffic delay violations stall ConocoPhillips megaloads (Missoulian) Big trouble for a big rig in Idaho: There's snow on Lolo Pass and non-moving violations below ... Inclement midwinter weather stalled CP's first megaload ...for the second night. Meanwhile, Conoco's moving company, Emmert International, was scrambling to come up with a new plan for a particularly winding stretch of U.S. Highway 12 on which traffic was held up 10 times for more than 15 minutes ... earlier this week. Article:

Feb. 10 Megaload crawling toward Montana; Weather, other issues are causing journey to take longer than planned (Lewiston Tribune)

Feb. 12
-- ITD News Release: Saturday, February 12, 2011, ConocoPhillips shipment on U.S. 12 safely reaches Idaho/Montana border


Feb. 15 - When questioned by concerned citizens about the use of Highway 12 for such massive loads, Imperial Oil spokesmen as well as Governor Otter insisted that these loads could not be made any smaller and that Highway 12 was the only option to transport this equipment. Imperial/Exxon is now doing what they previously said was impossible by downsizing some of their loads and diverting other loads onto interstates. Read the stories here:

Imperial Oil downsizing megaloads at Port of Lewiston.

Massive Refinery Parts En Route to Kearl ProjectImperial/Exxon has begun diverting some megaloads onto Washington Interstates. Read the story originally printed in the Lewiston Tribune here:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

1st MegaLoad Stuck at Kooskia Due to Snowstorm

The first ConocoPhillips megaload has been stalled in Kooskia due to snow from Lowell to Lolo Pass, snow predicted to dump 9-20 inches near the pass during the next 4 days. The Kooskia weigh station, parking area and interpretive station are cordoned off while they wait - no public parking is allowed.

Current AP Story on the loads:

Breaking News:
ITD requires new transportation plan for 2nd Conoco megaload - read the story here:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pictures of First Conoco Load on Highway 12

Emmert Int'l began hauling the first ConocoPhillips load from Lewiston, Idaho to just outside of Orofino on February 1st. Below are pictures from the move as well as the loads parked at mile post 38.8 on Feb. 2nd

photo by Brett Haverstick
photo by Brett Haverstick

photo by Ken Hagele

photo by Ken Hagele

Sunday, January 30, 2011

MegaLoad Opponenets Protest Rally

On Saturday, Jan. 29th, approximately 120 megaload opponents protested at a rally that spanned Memorial Bridge along U.S.12 in Lewiston, Idaho. Protesters also carried their banners and signs to the Port of Lewiston, where the photo above was taken in front of the ConocoPhillips' coke drums. Although there was a pro-megaload group on the bridge at the same time, there were only 9 people in that group, and some among our 120 held a "Paid for by Big Oil" sign over their heads.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


ITD ignored the concerns of local residents when it issued permits to ConocoPhillips earlier this week to transport 4 super-sized loads along Highway 12. The earliest the loads could roll is Feb. 1st, but the 13 intervenors, who for the past 5 1/2 months have been challenging the permitting of the shipments, are currently considering their next legal step.

The Missoula Independent recently published a comprehensive article on the mega-load issue titled 'Crossroads'. The story covers local opposition in both Idaho and Montana and addresses the issue of creating a permanent high and wide corridor between Pacific Rim nations and the Alberta Tar Sands.

Please read the full story here:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Idaho Residents Challenge Hearing Officers Recommendations

A group of 13 Idaho residents and business owners along Highway 12 are challenging the recommendations by hearing officer Merlyn Clark. The group is asking Idaho Transportation Department director Brian Ness to deny permits for ConocoPhillips’ proposed shipments of massive coke drums up Highway 12 from Lewiston to Lolo Pass in an exceptions brief filed early this week. The citizens are concerned that the massive loads will harm central Idaho’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy as well as the safety and convenience of local communities.
The exceptions brief begins:

“Regrettably, the Hearing Officer’s Recommended Decision does not present a full and fair evaluation of the facts and law. Just the opposite – the Hearing Officer has simply regurgitated the case presented by ITD staff and Conoco/Emmert, without bothering to address key points and evidence presented by Intervenors.”

The brief spends 22 pages itemizing evidence that the hearing officer ignored in his 57-page recommended decision – which they described as “one-sided, unfair, and clearly erroneous.” “Remarkably, not once in all these pages does the Recommended Decision identify – much less discuss in detail – any of the evidence or testimony submitted by Intervenors,” the filing adds.

To read the entire exceptions document go to:

Monday, January 3, 2011

How Underdogs Win

In the recent New Yorker article, How David Beats Goliath:
When Underdogs Break the Rules
by Malcolm Gladwell, the author explains how underdogs increase their chances of winning. The key is effort. From sports to military strategy, the odds of winning increase for the underdog when fresh thinking is combined with unwavering determination. If you lack the same levels of talent, strength or money of your opponent you can even the playing field through sheer will power. Often times social norms keep underdogs down but the ability to think outside the box allows underdogs to prosper. Mr. Gladwell’s article uses inspiring stories to remind us that no matter the odds a fresh outlook on the situation can propel underdogs to the top.
Take a few minutes to read the full story here:

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!