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: