Judge Blocks Shipment of “Mega-Load” Oil Field Equipment through Scenic National Forest Land

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Mega-load 322-ton evaporator (photo: Kip Hill, Spokane Spokesman-Review)

A federal court has sided with environmentalists and Native Americans seeking to block a so-called “mega-load” of oil field equipment from being transported through a national forest and tribal lands in Idaho.


U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill temporarily halted the shipment of an oversized water treatment system on U.S. Highway 12 that was bound for Canada’s tar sands fields.


Members of the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United filed suit to stop the shipment, claiming the scenic stretch of road should not be used as an industrial corridor.


The 100-mile section of highway runs alongside two federally protected rivers (the Clearwater and Lochsa) and crosses national forest lands and tribal territory.


The route also has historical significance: It was used by the Lewis and Clark expedition in the 19th century to chart a path across the new American West.


Winmill said the government must first conduct a study of environmental, economic and tribal impacts before the equipment move can proceed.


The battle to stop the shipment has gone on for three years, and included a public protest involving hundreds of mostly Native American demonstrators who tried to halt the first mega-load of water treatment equipment owned by Resources Conservation Company International, a subsidiary of General Electric.


Companies involved in the controversy say the two-lane highway is the most economical way to transport outsized equipment from the Port of Lewiston in Idaho to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Judge Halts Shipment on Idaho Road of Giant Tar Sands Equipment (by Laura Zuckerman, Reuters)

Judge Halts Megaloads on Highway 12 in Idaho (by Betsy Z. Russell, Spokesman-Review)

Nez Perce Tribe v. U.S. Forest Service (U.S. District Court, Idaho)

Tar Sands Oil Extraction Uses more Water than Entire City of Toronto (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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