Third oil company looks to bring big rigs over U.S. Highway 12

Worst case scenario seems correct-

The Missoulian reports that a subsidiary of the national oil company of Korea now wants to use scenic U.S. Highway 12 through north central Idaho and over Lolo Pass to transport numerous giant oil (tar sands) equipment to Alberta.

Despite worthless assurances about this kind of activity being a one time thing, it’s plainly obvious that as predicted the oil companies mean to make the highway along this asphalt ribbon through the wilderness an equipment hauling route.

This will slowly ruin the lives to downstream residents who have to endure these highway blockages, disrupt traffic into Montana, harm the Lochsa, and Middle Fork of the Clearwater River, and make recreational and timber cutting access into the surrounding mountains slow and difficult by requiring long alternative routes.

Third oil company looks to bring big rigs over U.S. Highway 12. By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian.

The Lochsa River. North Central Idaho. Copyright Ralph Maughan

While Highway 12 through Idaho is just a 2-line highway, its improvement over the years (a gravel road until the 1960s) has long disrupted the lives of people. In the past it was Montana. A number of abandoned Eastern Montana towns came to their end as transport of their grain changed from the railroads to trucks going in the opposite direction down Highway 12.



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  1. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Ralph et al—when I first became aware of this monstrous Hwy 12 haul plan and its ramifications and began researching it, I came across the not-so-subtle revelation that both your Idaho Governor Otter and Montana Governor Schweitzer were actively pushing this plan, mainly behind the scenes among the corporate types. They even have a cutesy name for it…the ” High and Wide ” transportation corridor. It never was intended to be used for a few very limited ” one off” projects like the big Korean oil sand processing vessels or getting big hardware to Biings MT refineries. Otter and Schweitzer envisioned this thing as a wide open commercial path to future industrial prosperity , linking interior North America to the Pacific Ocean via the Port of Lewiston and upper Montana…in both directions. The Montana DOT director, Jim Lynch , seems to be the tip of the spear, although the legal blowback is mainly in Idaho at this point.

    Some of your readers may find this blogsite useful for the chronology and expansion of the issue, a nice counterpoint. And a rollicking good read:

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Cody Coyote,

    It seems to me that a large number of our “leaders” are either inadvertently or intent on turning this country into a technologically advanced kind of third world nation.

    When beautiful, wildlife rich wilderness is just space to be crossed for Asian industrial contraptions, we are being treated as a resource colony.

    The massive redistribution of wealth from people like me and you to the top 5% is a society like a “banana republic.”

    Permanently high unemployment keeps workers from organizing and stopping the redistribution.

    America’s corporate elites have no loyalty to this country, as evidenced by the flow of money from foreign sources by the Chamber of Commerce into this election campaign.

    1. Salle Avatar

      Welcome to fuedalism, USA.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        I saw this story today “Citigroup Study: Wealth Inequality in US Resembles 16th Century Spain.”

        You sound like you are correct.

  3. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Wyoming has for all of my 60-year lifetime resembled that technologically advanced Third World nation , sort of, technology being loosely defined as anything above stove oil, flint knapping, draft animals, and wheelbarrows.

    Actually , Wyoming to my mind is that mythical ”
    Second World”. We’ve all heard about the First World and the Third World…where is the second ? —the Cowboy State is my tender.

    I see Idaho as a mix of all three, and Montana rapidly degrading from First World to Second World, all in the name of commodity bulk resource exports. As a case in point, Wyoming sells the most trona ( sodium carbonate) of any place on Earth , but has no factories or jobs to make the glass , detergents, and many other products that trona is used for. We don’t even sell much butchered beef here..we birth the calves and start the cows but they end up in feedlots in Iowa or Oklahoma and packing plants everywhere.

    Wyoming—and to a lesser extent Idaho and Montana—are just the resource colonies you allude to, Sagebrush Republics, with the really nice riparian areas and prime properties sequestered behind gates as playgrounds and vacation homes for the nouveau riche , and parceled out to hobby ranchers. If there were no market for coal presently , Wyoming would be in a world of hurt. Third World and falling. We may be heading that way.

    This Hwy 12 megahauling is the obvious symptom. Look around for the more subtle symptoms. The growth industry in my town of Cody currently is Assisted Living and retirement , and all that goes with that thanks t favorable estate taxes and other financial breaks + relatively low cost of real estate and living expenses) . Geriatrics are now a commodity growth sector. Whooduhthunkitt ?

    One bright but small liner: Cody has an inordinate number of real estate sales people—a peak of 135 or so —who aren’t selling squat. So much so that a very high percentage of them are not paying their Multiple Listing Service renewal fees for the coming year . I never thought I would ever be quoting something like THAT as a positive economic indicator… positive meaning a slowdown in growth and exploitation of the remaining resources, of all sorts, not just raw materials.


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