Massive Oil Equipment Shipments at Legal Crossroad

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A debate which has stretched through the summer will probably come to a head sometime in the next few days. The proposed transport of major loads of oil equipment across U.S. Highway 12 is now at a legal fork-in-the road.

On Wednesday, Aug. 18, construction crews are expected to complete resurfacing of the eastern end of Arrow Bridge, just east of Lewiston. That will open up Idaho's portion of U.S. 12 for commercial transport, and that in turn, could lead to a permitting process for Connoco Phillips, anxiously awaiting to send two massive oil drums (in four separate loads) from the port of Lewiston across U.S. 12 and up to Billings, Mont.

However, on Aug. 16, three Idaho residents filed a temporary restraining order which would ban the haul, citing a threat to public safety and "risk to the pristine river corridor." The suit was filed by business owners along the corridor.

In a separate development, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said on Aug. 16, that he will be asking for Exxon Mobil to put up a $10 million bond before any of its proposed 200 loads of equipment could roll across U.S. 12. Connoco had already agreed to a similar bond. Otter has supported the proposed transportation, but was recently confronted on the issue at a recent "capital for a day" program in Pierce.

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