A 225-foot “megaload” of oil field equipment being hauled along US Highway 12 through northern Idaho and Montana, bound for a tar-sands site in Canada, was repeatedly blocked by protesters this month. As it passed through the Nez Perce Indian Reservation Aug. 6, some 100 tribal members and their supporters blockaded the road, some throwing rocks as state police moved in. Authorities said 20 protesters were arrested, charged with misdemeanors for “disturbing the peace.” Several Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee members were among those removed by police. The load was able to proceed after two hours, but was blocked again Aug. 13 by environmentalist protesters outside Missoula, Mont. (AP, Aug. 13, AP, Aug. 8, AP, Aug. 7; AP, Buffalo Post, Missoulia, Aug. 6)
Idaho and Montana governors have signed off on the passage of the megaloads, which originate at Port of Wilma, Wash., and are headed for the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, jointly run by Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil’s Canadian subsidiary Esso. The Korean-made modules are being transported by megaloads shipper Omega Morgan of Oregon. The Nez Perce voted up a tribal resolution against the passage of the megaload through their lands, and local US Forest Service administrators also expressed opposition, citing potential impacts to the Clearwater-Lochsa Wild and Scenic River Corridor, through which the route passes.
The Nez Perce Tribe and environmental group Idaho Rivers United sought an injunction to stop the shipments in federal court. The litigation remains pending, arguing that the shipments violate the the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, and should have been barred by the US Forest Service. (Missoulian, Friends of the Clearwater, Aug. 12, AP, Aug. 10; AP, Aug. 9; AP, Aug. 8; AP, Aug. 7; Missoulian, July 10; KLEW, Lewiston, Aug. 2; IRU fact page)
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