Hearing Officer: Let Mega-Loads Roll on U.S. 12

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Years after ExxonMobil first considered hauling hundreds of mega-loads across U.S. Highway 12 and more than a year since the oil giant first met serious opposition to its plans, a hearing officer recommended Monday that Exxon be issued permits to allow the giant oil rigs to roll across Idaho.

The company hopes to move approximately 200 mega-loads from the Port of Lewiston across U.S. 12 next to the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers, into Montana and up to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada.

"I conclude that none of the complaints or issues raised by the protesting parties are sustained," wrote retired judge Duff McKee. You can read his full recommendation here.

All parties now have 14 days to file a motion for reconsideration with the hearing officer, who will have an additional 21 days to rule on the motion. The parties can then appeal the ruling to Idaho Transportation Department director Brian Ness, who would have 56 days to rule on the appeal. After the process is complete, or if no appeal is filed, Ness will accept, reject or modify the ruling.

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