Missoulans protest Alberta-bound tar sands equipment trucking

Over 200 trips of these giant oil equipment pieces to go through U.S. 12 in Idaho and NW Montana-

I think perhaps there has been too much attention in this forum on elk in Lolo.  Elk are important, but fishing, scenery, wilderness, and property of local people are more important. U.S.Highway 12 is one of Idaho’s most scenic highways. It goes through scenic canyon and between wild country following the Clearwater River, then the Lochsa River up and over Lolo Pass into Montana.

The exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands are well known as perhaps the single most environmentally destructive project on the planet (at least until the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico). Now that destruction has spread to Idaho and Montana with these massive loads which require “improving” Highway 12 and other highways in Montana.

Some of the good folks in Missoula are fed up with oil company damages and protested. Protest rally. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian.

We will be following this more from now on.


  1. kt Avatar

    I understand that some folks are all worked up over this – but some of those the same parties are telling folks to embrace destructive natural gas in the U. S. and projects like El Paso’s horrid Ruby Pipeline. Crazy world. $$$ talk.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I agree with that kt. The Ruby Pipeline proposal is much worse and it facilitates the destruction of Wyoming and Colorado.

  2. Elk275 Avatar

    All of this equipment is being made in the Korea. My feeling is that if it is needed for the tar sands why don’t they build it in Billings or Great Falls Montana or Calgary, AB and ship it north of the back roads. Several years ago a Texas and Calgary company proposed to build tar sands equipment in Billings; I have read the Billings paper everyday and have not read anything about it in a year or so.

    The county has a 10% unemployment rate and the manufacture of this type of equipment would help the regional economy. This is not an endorsement or a protest about the tar sands. I just feel that the country needs more domestic manufacturing.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      It is certainly true that America has been deindustrialized by the multi-national corporations.

    2. Elk275 Avatar

      I do not know why they don’t take it through Prince Rupert, BC. It is closer and only involves one mountain pass and it is closer. I suspect the Canadian bridges are not strong or wide enough. Does anyone know

    3. kt Avatar

      Elk 275,

      All these big energy companies want Corridors, and free rein to run all over any one and any place these days. There is a frontier mentality right now with Energy – and public lands in the West are being handed over in every possible way by Ken Salazar, and I fear that the Forest Service’s new Planing process is going to take that agency down to the level of Salazar’s BLM’s as it relates to anything to do with Energy.

    4. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I have watched this story closely, and have asked the exact same question, I don’t understand why it has to go through Idaho and Montana to get to their destination, I would suspect it has more to do with money…

    5. Elk275 Avatar

      believe that it is bridges. I have driven the from Jasper to Prince George or Smithers or Prince Rupert and then north to Alaska over 15 times either way. In Western British Colombia most bridges are narrow and have the support structure painted green and arced above the bridge — I do not know what that type of bridge structure is called. There is not enough wide or height for the cargo. I think that the British Columbia and the oil companies should do what is necessary to make to passage via the Yellowhead Highway.

      As far as money goes it would be cheaper to go via Prince Rupert because it is closer and there is only one climb up the Yellowhead Highway to Jasper and then down to the Prairie and on to the oil fields — what a mess they are making.

    6. Elk275 Avatar

      I believe.

      missed the I during cut and paste time

    7. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      I feel it would be far easier to upgrade the bridges in Canada than to destroy a scenic hwy in America, although it will probably cost far more money, bridges are more expensive to construct than upgrading hwys down here, I also don’t know what Canada’s financial requirements are for transportation of this nature. You can be sure they have looked at all the angles and are looking at the least expensive way to do this..

    8. WM Avatar

      I can’t say I endorse this. But it is possible the states view this as free money to get “upgrades,” some they many need and some they don’t, but that they could not get through general federal or state funding coffers?

      If you have ever driven Hiway 12 from east of Lewiston, you may conclude some improvements like turnouts are needed. I had a flat tire a couple of years back in the stretch between Lewiston and Orofino. The road hugs the Northfork river, on the south side, and the lane closest to the river has no turnouts, with jersey barriers at lane edge for its full length. And, a steep slope constrains the other lane. There are no turnouts on either side, sometimes for several miles. There are some dangerous spots along the full length of that stretch, and I have seen some very close calls as wild-eyed (maybe even drunk) drivers have passed on double yellow lines and blind curves, with lots of on-coming traffic. I have also done the full length of Hiway 12 to Missoula in winter and it is not a comfortable drive in ice and snow for a good portion, including the Lochsa and Lolo Pass stretches. I wonder what the accident history looks like on this stretch of Hiway 12 in ID and MT?

  3. Richard Giallanzo,nj Avatar
    Richard Giallanzo,nj

    Ralph you had an article on the gulf crisis,I know this is also important, but we need to talk about the gulf again. I am going to start callin my government Monday.The senators in New Jersey are good ones, but we must take back our country. Obama surrounded himself with corporate dems, not his own people. One he should have picked for secretary of interior, Bobby Kennedy, I am mad and hurt,all those poor birds in oil, this is hard to watch. We have no idea about the dolphins,sharks,blue fin tuna etc. Our debt put us in this mess, indebuted to other countries. Second release valve, Canada,Brazil demands it , but this country, to much money going around in the wrong hands. I am really sick,went to beach,not too many people, I wonder if oil is on their mind?

  4. monty Avatar

    What about the expensive and massive reconstruction that would be required to make Hiway 12 passible for large trucks. Although it has been 5 years since I drove this route–if I recall correctly–much of the existing hiway on the Idaho side is squeezed between steep slopes and the river that would require major earth removal and end haul. It is a stupid idea that should never be approved. WHAT IS THE RUBY PIPLINE. THAX

  5. Ralph Nielsen Avatar
    Ralph Nielsen

    There are only three transprovincial routes across BC by road: Highways, 3, 1 and 16. All three of them are too winding, too steep and have tunnels. The same applies to highways across Washington.

    Railroads in BC and Washington are out because they have tunnels and are too narrow, thanks to the width of Roman roads in England designed to handle the width of two horses’ rear ends.

    That means the equipment must either be manufactured in Canada or the United States east of the Rocky Mountains or made by cheaper labor in Korea, China or elsewhere.

    The only other alternative is for Americans and Canadians to stop wasting so much energy.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan