National Wildlife Federation Prepared to Sue Montana Over Mega-loads

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While Idaho saw a string of legal challenges to the four ConocoPhillips mega-loads Montana courtrooms have been relatively quiet on the issue. That's about to change, as the National Wildlife Federation prepares a lawsuit against the Montana Department of Transportation in order to stop more than 200 Exxon/Mobil mega-loads, which are bound for the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.

A spokesman for the NWF told the Missoulian newspaper that his group will be joined by other intervenors to challenge the Montana DOT's lack of accountability for environmental impacts allegedly caused by the massive loads.

"You're going to see a collection of wide interests [filing suit], probably from local governments in Montana to conservation groups to landowner groups," said Tony Iallonardo, senior communication manager for the National Wildlife Federation.

Meanwhile Exxon's "test" mega-load, originally scheduled to move from the Port of Lewiston across U.S. Highway 12 in north central Idaho has been delayed a week. The Idaho Transportation Department said that Exxon requested the delay in order to give additional training to flaggers and pilot car drivers. Exxon proposed moving more than 200 loads across U.S. 12 but the oil giant said it is now reconfiguring 30 of the loads into 60 smaller shipments that could move on an alternative route.

With either option, however, the loads would be required to move through Montana before heading north of the border.