Following hundreds of comments filed with the Idaho Department of Transportation, reams of documentation filed by Exxon/Mobil, and untold expenses from the oil superpower, it turns out that the first significant roadblock to its plan to truck massive shipments across U.S. Highway 12 lies on a six-mile stretch of road on national forest land.
In anticipation of the transit, Exxon has been paying several Montana electrical companies to take down over-head power lines and bury them along shoulders of the highway. No such issue exists on the Idaho stretch of Highway 12. But for the giant loads of drilling equipment to make the journey from the Port of Lewiston to the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, they must also travel through Montana. Citing the power-line question, the Lolo National Forest rescinded an order allowing power lines to be buried on Forest Service land pending further review.
It turns out Highway 12 runs adjacent or directly on the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, and the Nez Perce are on record opposing the project.
“The Tribe was not given an opportunity to consult on the project, “ said Mike Lopez, tribal staff attorney.
In response, Exxon/Mobil has submitted a new application for authorization to bury the power lines. In effect, the Forest Service, the Nez Perce Tribe and Montana electric companies will re-examine the proposal.