“A hearing officer recommended Tuesday that the Idaho Transportation Department issue four permits to allow ConocoPhillips to ship oversized oil-refinery equipment from Idaho to Billings,” as The AP reports.
In his 57-page recommendation, Boise attorney Merlyn Clark said evidence shows the four loads can be transported safely and with minimum inconvenience to the general public along northcentral Idaho’s U.S. Highway 12, which parallels the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers.
Meanwhile, members of the “Drive Our Economy” coalition supporting the shipments had this to say in a prepared release:
“This decision validates the Transportation Department’s oversize permitting process as complete and thorough, with significant attention to public convenience and safety .” said Alex LaBeau, President of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. “In taking the side of local businesses and communities on this issue, Mr. Clark and the Department have sent the message that Idaho is open for business and the investment and jobs that result.”
Frank Priestley, President of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, continued, “It’s somewhat ironic that the activists argued, in part, that the loads should not be allowed on Highway 12 because it is an historical part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Remember, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to find a COMMERCE route to the West. Highway 12 should remain open for commerce and the loads should be allowed to move immediately.”
Barry Stang, Executive Vice President of the Motor Carriers of Montana, continued, “Now the real test will occur. Activist groups intend to further interfere with these shipments by filing frivolous lawsuits, thereby generating more uncertainty for this unique economic opportunity in our region.”
The AP added this from the opposition:
Meanwhile, environmentalists and residents who object to the shipments said they were “disappointed and are evaluating their next steps.” They have until mid-January to lodge an appeal.
And, in case you haven’t seen this website, a listener to the talk show informed me about a group called “All Against The Haul.”