The second chapter of Idaho's controversial mega-load saga has officially begun.
Today the Idaho Transportation Department issued a permit to ExxonMobil to allow a "test load" to roll across U.S. Highway 12 in anticipation of more than 200 mega-loads that the oil giant wants to ship up to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada.
- ExxonMobil Mega-load at Port of Lewiston
The permit would allow the test load to move from the Port of Lewiston across U.S. 12 as early as Tuesday, Feb. 22. However it also opens the door for a contested case hearing process to allow opponents to the loads to present evidence and/or testimony to stop the shipments. A similar process preceded ITD's decision to permit ConocoPhillips to roll mega-loads across the same stretch of U.S. 12. Merlyn Clark, who served as hearing officer for the Conoco case has again been appointed to oversee the contested case hearing for ExxonMobil. No timeline for the contested case hearing has been set.