More than 50 people gathered on the steps of the State Capitol this afternoon, waiting to hand deliver letters to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter’s office protesting the hauling of what have become known simply as the mega-loads across U.S. Highway 12 by two large oil companies. It was all part of a campaign organized by Idaho Rivers United.
“Idaho Rivers United is not done with this battle,” said Bill Sedivy, executive director of IRU, to the crowd on the Statehouse steps.
The first of the mega-loads—massive equipment being transported from the Port of Lewiston, across Montana by ConocoPhillips—started rolling in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, but IRU and the protesters are focusing on the more than 200 loads being proposed by ExxonMobil.
“I feel like [Otter] sold-out Idaho,” said Marilyn Holty, a former North Idaho resident, after delivering her letter to Otter’s office.
Though supporters of the mega-loads claim that this will invigorate Idaho’s economy, residents like Hotly fear that Highway 12 will become a permanent corridor for the transport of gargantuan oil company machinery.
“Where the mega-loads are concerned, we’ve only just started, “ said Greg Stahl, assistant policy director of IRU. “This is the beginning of the long-term conversion of the highway into a high-and-wide trucking route.
“I want Gov. Otter to hear the hundreds of voices that are speaking out for more transparency in this sort of process,” he said as he prepared to deliver more than 100 letters from people who couldn’t be at the event to deliver them personally.
“I’ve had people from North Idaho e-mail me about today’s gathering, saying ‘we can’t be there, represent us,’” Boise resident Rejane Kosemba told citydesk.
In her own letter, she asked Otter to protect Idaho’s wildlife.
"He needs to protect Idaho and listen to the citizens of Idaho and not the big oil companies,” she said.