Idaho mega-load opponents are pretty happy and proponents of the oversized rigs are complaining about ExxonMobil's "Plan B" to haul the giant shipments over an alternative route rather than across Idaho's U.S. Highway 12.
Earlier this week, Exxon said it would continue to pursue permits from the Idaho Transportation Department, but due to what it considered excessive delays, the oil giant is now moving forward with plans to to ship additional mega-loads from the Port of Pasco, Wash., by truck on U.S. 395 and along Interstate 90 through Idaho's panhandle into Montana, before heading north to the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada. Exxon still needs full approval from Idaho, Montana and Washington before moving forward with its latest plan.
ExxonMobil had already begun "breaking down" mega-loads stalled at the Port of Lewiston and hauling scaled-down shipments up U.S. 95 through Moscow and Coeur d'Alene before heading east to Montana and north to Canada.
Drive our Economy, an group of Idaho business and community leaders, aren't happy with the latest plan and, in particular, its economic impact to the Port of Lewiston.
"Our region may well lose out on the chance to demonstrate the advantages of river freight transportation for this and future projects," said Doug Mattoon, executive director of Lewiston's Valley Vision. "Regional transportation policies that protect our economic future should be sent by local residents, not by outside activists."