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