If the Nez Perce Tribe had its way, the U.S. government would block the latest mega-load from rolling across U.S. Highway 12 in north central Idaho.
The Idaho Transportation Department has issued a permit to the Omega Morgan company to haul the giant rig across Idaho toward the Montana border before heading north to the Tar Sands Oil Project in Alberta, Canada. The U.S. Forest Service has already expressed its concerns over the load—the first of 10 proposed from Omega Morgan. Earlier this year, a U.S. district judge told the USFS that it had the responsibility to regularly oversee such mega-loads through the Wild Scenic Corridor, which includes a large stretch of U.S. 12.
But USFS Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell has indicated his agency would not likely attempt to stop the shipments if Omega Morgan doesn't have its approval.
The evening of Aug. 4, the Nez Perce Tribe contacted the USFS urging the agency to use "all legal avenues" to stop the mega-loads.
This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that Nez Perce Tribal Executive Chairman Silas Whitman says he was "shocked at the audacity" of Omega Morgan and its plans to move the massive rig beginning later tonight.
"The Forest Service must not tolerate Omega Morgan's open defiance of its authority and instead should aggressively assert, in court if necessary, the agency's decision so that the Nez Perce Tribe's unique Treaty-based interests and U.S. public's interest in the national forest and Wild and Scenic River Corridor are fully protected," said Whitman.
Whitman also warned Omega Morgan about possible consequences.
"If Omega Morgan proceeds with defying the Forest Service, the Nez Perce Tribe will not interfere with its members' constitutional rights to lawfully assemble in opposition to the immediate threat of the transport of these... mega-loads," wrote Whitman.
The Nez Perce Tribe's executive committee passed an emergency resolution Aug. 4 formally opposing the shipments.