Highway 12 promise to become industrial highway found hidden in Korean!

Promises to Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil to use scenic Highway 12 to haul huge oil modules for a decade discovered hidden on Korean, not in plain English-

Talk about lack of transparency in Montana and Idaho state governments!  It’s good this was revealed just before Butch Otter has to face reelection as governor of Idaho.

Korean Documents Show 10-Year Promise for Highway 12. Public News Service.

The first pieces of the Korean equipment are now sitting in Lewiston, Idaho, ready to haul up through the Lolo country on Highway 12 and over to Montana.

Cocker drum ready to go in Lewiston. Photo from Conoco-Philips



, ,



  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    No wonder when they mention the Lolo, they want to gripe about wolves . . . a fine diversionary tactic to confuse Idaho and Montana voters.

  2. Chris Harbin Avatar

    Have any of the local/regional papers reported on this Korean document? It would be interesting to know the comments of the locals when this gets out. I know quite a few are against this crazy scheme as it is. That thing is a monster!

    1. Pronghorn Avatar

      Quite a few are for it, as well–the ones whose knees jerk to oppose anything that smacks of environmentalism; the ones for whom the rallying cry of jobs-industry-economy is of first and last importance…regardless of the actual benefits to be reaped.

      My power has been interrupted a number of times while the electric lines have been modified. My rural valley (one road in & out) empties into US 12. Farther up the canyon, the road is narrow and winding–sheer rock wall on one side, Lolo Creek on the other. What a ludicrous scheme.

      Check out today’s guest column by writer Annick Smith.
      Don’t miss this comment:
      Tina5914, i dont know where your were born, but Montanas history was built on the back of Industry. What is Butte known for? Helena? Anaconda? This far left anti-job mentality has gotten out of hand. Wake up liberals and eviro-nazis your killng America.

      1. Elk275 Avatar

        ++i dont know where your were born, but Montanas history was built on the back of Industry. What is Butte known for? Helena? Anaconda? This far left anti-job mentality has gotten out of hand. Wake up liberals and eviro-nazis your killng America. ++

        Let’s leave the environmental issues of tar sands and left leaning liberals aside for a moment.

        Butte, Anaconda and Helena were not built on Asian made mining equipment. If the US is the greatess country on earth, then we can build what is being built in Asia and proposed to be transported on our roads. All of the needed oil field equipment could be built in Billings, Great Falls, and Calgary. The only reason that it is being built in Asia is cost.

        I am very much against the transportation of any Asian built oil field equipment. Let’s build it in the US and Canada. The trip north from Billings, Great Falls and Calgary does not cross any mountains and is mostly flat. I have heard the they are currently transporting very large oversize to the tar sands through Eastern Montana.

      2. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        That’s a good point. It is really a slap in the face to think about gigantic asian-made refinery equipment barelling over one of America’s more pristine highways just because they came in with lower bids.

        When there was the uproar about the Air Force tanker bid that was almost awarded to EADS (Airbus) over Boeing, It really made me start to question the attitude of “free market under all circumstances”.

      3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        Actually, the quote was from DCMissoula not Tina5914.

        When I read a series of comments like this I have to wonder if any plan, Obama’s or otherwise, can succeed if large numbers of Americans are so clueless to think that serving as a mere roadway from Korea to Alberta is a source of great jobs.

  3. timz Avatar

    Idaho Statesman yesterday

  4. Save bears Avatar

    Missoulian and Dailyinterlake reported on it today.

  5. S.Smith Avatar

    I’m never sure how giant industries sell the “jobs” package. At best, it’s temporary jobs until the profiteers dry up resources and leave locals with nothing but clean-up.

    @Elk275 Anaconda still needs cleaning up! Deadwood, the TV Series, has a great portrayal of bad ol’ George Hearst…worth a look…

    The most one can ever do against big industry though is to resist for as long as possible. Keep up the good fight. Reporting about it is a good step.

  6. Salle Avatar

    Heard about it on the BYU- Idaho NPR regional (local) newscast this afternoon. But I heard it from a friend, who lives in Idaho, earlier in the day.

  7. pointwest Avatar

    I’ll bet Otter got campaign money from someone connected to this deal. I also bet using this winding highway for hauling extremely heavy equipment will damage it and will later require taxpayer money to repair it.

    So, Otter, for short term political gain, made deals with multinational companies that risk a scenic highway and will cost taxpayers additional money in the long term.

    What a stand up Republican kind of jerkwad he is. Reminds me so much of Ronny Reagan in ‘Miss Nancy Get Your Gun’ except Otter is more handsom and is the real deal cowboy. Let’s all sing they National Anthem now to celabrate American neo-conservatism and the baby Jesus in an FA18 Hornet.

    1. Salle Avatar

      Alarming as it is, this is typical of how things are done in Idaho. The public are usually the last to know about anything that affects them in a negative way, usually too late to do anything about it.

  8. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    …somebody call Hayduke.

  9. pointswest Avatar

    I thought it was a little strange that the tank (the one going to the refinery in Montana) had been frabricated before the details of shipping were finalized. That is not the way things are done. I know. I’m an engineer and it is what I do for a living. I worked on the $110 million Federal Building in Las Vegas, for example, which had a 150 foot canopy column that was 30 or 35 feet wide. We, the general contractor, had meetings with the fabricator, the structural engineer, the architect, and the shipping company months prior to fabrication of the canopy column where it was decided in how many parts the canopy column would be fabricated, how it would be field erected and field welded, and how it would be delivered to the site meaning the exact route and time of day. I can’t image a large tank being fabricated in Korea and no one knowing the exact route that would be used to deliver it to the site. They had some deal worked out with Otter or someone before the tank was fabricated.

    The only other posibility is that they had an alternate route but it sounds like they did not. It was fabricated such that it would not fit under most overpasses on the Interstates. What other reasonable route is there from Korea to Montana that is not an Interstate?

    Anything steel can be fabricated in smaller parts and field welded onsite. It is just that it may cost more. This does not pass a simple smell test.

  10. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    …and there are always the giant Russian Antonov cargo planes to consider instead.

    The An-124 can carry 120 tons of cargo in a roll-on 16 x 22 x 110 foot hold. The even larger six engine An-225 can deliver over 220 tons from a larger cargo hold. If these Antonovs are too narrow for the wide oil tank behemoths, there is the Airbus Beluga, an outsized “guppy” cargo plane designed to accomodate rocket stages and such up to 40 tons gross.

    Just some thoughts on alternative modes of transportation.

    Assuming you believe this Alberta oil sand project is worth doing at all ( I don’t). It may take the gold medal of shame for the world’s worst industrial environmental debacle.

    1. pointswest Avatar

      I do not know how large these tanks are but to give you an idea of the size of a large load (or a large pick) for a construction project, Manitowok cranes come in capacities ranging from 500 tons to about 2500 tons. Even if the tank was 220 tons and would fit into a cargo plain, it would be quite a feat to set up specialty hoisting equipment to load and then unload a plain in one pick. You might also need a special runway to support such a heavy plane and to support the specialty hoisting equipment. You would need this specialty hoisting equipment at both the departure and destination airports and another crain at the construction site. Large crains typically cost in the thousands of dollars per hour and can take days transport and to setup.

      It would cost less to fabricate the tank in two parts.

      1. pointswest Avatar

        …cranes not crains. 🙂

      2. Save bears Avatar

        How about plane, not plain


      3. Elk275 Avatar

        It is roll on and roll off, no cranes needed. The Port of Lewiston, Idaho does not have a crane large enough for the load.

      4. Save bears Avatar

        The logistics and travel requirements should have been settled long before these tanks were built, there seems that a lot of assumptions were done on both sides of this, where they screwed up, is they never let the public know about this before the deals were made. There is absolutely no reason the Conoco tanks could not have been built on site in Billings..and with the amount of money Exxon/Mobile has invested in the tar sands project, this would have been a drop in the bucket to build their tanks on site as well.

      5. pointswest Avatar

        If they were intending to take this load over H-12, that would be the limiting factor. Bridges, large and small, are typically designed for 10 tons per axel (20,000 lbs) with some consideration given to the distance between axels. So, a 100 ton load would require at least 10 axels each axel separated some distance from the other. Bridges have a built-in safety factor of at least two times the live load so states my issue overload permits that will allow more than 10 tons per axel. The overload permit would require a special trailer with additional wheels, with axels a certain distance apart, and require that it only travel at 5 mph or something like that. So some behemoth trailer with six axels fore and six axels aft and rear steering might be permitted to carry 150 or 200 tons.

        H-12 is so winding with so many small bridges and it has so many sloping curves, I cannot imagine a large load going over it that would not shift and overload some axels and damages bridges. I think a long trailer would also drag some wheels over the shoulders of the roadway and damage the soft shoulders.

        I have faith that engineers could make all those determinations. I do not have faith that politicians would be honest about the determinations that engineers make, however. As mentioned, it was very strange that the tanks would have already been fabricated prior to the overload permits having been approved. That is very strange to me. It smells.

      6. Save bears Avatar

        I don’t have the information at hand right now, but if I remember right, these rigs have something like 32 axles.

        Take a look at this link to the Vancouver, WA newspaper, there is a few articles on this project in their paper as the loads are coming in through Vancouver, WA

        Check the box on the left hand side of the pages, it provides links to various articles.


      7. pointswest Avatar

        To give you a time frame on large construction projects, the steel for something like a 5 story building needs to be ordered from a steel mill (usually in Japan or Korea), it must be shipped by barge to the fabricator (like PDM in Stockton, CA), it must be frabricated into beams, girders, columns, etc., and then shipped by truck to the construction site for erection in a certain sequence. From the time of contract award to the first steel column being erected is a minimum of six months. For lager buildings with large and heavy box columns, it can be nearly a year. For large industrial projects with large tanks, it can be a year. The fabricator generally has plenty of time to settle his shop drawings, determine load sizes and squence, and to secure all logistics and special permits to get his steal to the jobsite.

        What a steel fabricator does NOT do is fabricate his steel and when done fabricating, start worrying about how to get his fabrications to the job site. Take my word on this.

      8. Save bears Avatar

        Don’t need to take your word for it PW, I know it for a fact, My Dad was a General Contractor who did projects all of the state or Washington and Oregon, I worked with him several summers before going in the service and remember the logistics of getting projects done…this situation would never have occurred with his company..

      9. pointswest Avatar

        SB…your dad was a construction contractor and you became mother nature’s son? I’ll bet he likes that. I can imagine him bragging at a Republican fund raiser about his son who helped prevent Exxon from shipping heavy steel fabrications across Idaho. 🙂

      10. Save bears Avatar


        We are a real oxymoron family, I a a registered republican and Dad is a registered democrat! Figure that one out…!

        Of course I spent a long time in the service as did he back in the 50’s

        As I said, real oxymoron family! But of course we vote for people and not parties..

      11. jon Avatar

        sb, may I ask what your mom is and what are your thoughts on 2012? Do you have anyone in mind that should run for president?

      12. Cody Coyote Avatar
        Cody Coyote

        Believe it or not, the Antonovs have built-in cranes and some incredible motorized loading ramps. It’s more a matter of getting loads that fit in the cargo hold.

        I’m thinking these oil treaters could possibly be designed or fabricated to be airlifted in manageable sections then reassembled on site.

        But having said that , the entire Fort McMurray -Alberta oil sands project is an environmental travesty. Does it need to be done at all ?

      13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

        Folks should remember that the Idaho Supreme Court is considering the case right now. Transport is currently blocked by a local Idaho magistrate judge. The Idaho Supreme Court could stop the project, maybe for good.

  11. Save bears Avatar


    My Mom is dead, and when she was alive she followed no particular party lines, as far as 2012, I have not made a determination about 2012 yet and I have no particular person in mind for President..right now, I am disappointed because our choices seem pretty limited..

    1. Save bears Avatar

      And again, I have never voted along party lines, I vote for issues and people, not parties..

      1. jon Avatar

        Gotcha. I take it you voted for Mccain and not Obama? From what I hear, the people who are THINKING about running in 2010 are Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump. etc. I am sure there are more, but these are scary choices. ofcourse Obama will run again, but I am pretty certain he isn’t going to win another term. This country looks like it’s doomed savebears!

      2. jon Avatar

        I meant 2012.

      3. Save bears Avatar

        Not that it is anyone’s business, but no I did not vote or McCain/Palin..

        Also, depending on this upcoming election, I am not so sure Obama will even receive the nomination for the next presidential election!

      4. jon Avatar

        That is good to know sb, but simply put, people nowadays only vote for the person that is a member of the party they belong to! One thing I truly dislike is the attitude that republicans have thinking they are going to save this country when they are the ones that got us into it. George Jr messed this country up if you ask me and no one seens to bring this up. They just blame Obama just because he is a democrat.

  12. Nancy Avatar

    Cody Coyote Says: Assuming you believe this Alberta oil sand project is worth doing at all ( I don’t). It may take the gold medal of shame for the world’s worst industrial environmental debacle.

    After reading thru the comments here, the one above from CC is the only one that stands out in my mind given mankind’s sorry attempts and continued efforts to rape the land, wildlife etc., instead of finding ways to take advantage of the clean energy sources and technology available, all around us, like wind, solar and hydro.

    1. Save bears Avatar

      Wind, Solar and Hydro, would be great, except for the fact, everytime a new wind, solar or hydro project is proposed, somebody bitches and sues…there is no winning here, your damned if you do and your damned if you don’t!

  13. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    People are upset about the economy. Obama will win in 2012- who do you think could possibly beat him? Sara Palin? I don’t think so. She is living proof that you don’t have to have intelligence to be successful, sometimes it’s just more about being at the right place at the right time and not screw it up

    1. Save bears Avatar

      Pretty bold statement there William, given his approval rating, with 2 more years to go..do you have an inside track on who is going to be President in the next election? Because based on what has happened and continues to happen, I don’t even know if he will get the nomination, let alone be elected again..I think if the Republicans even get close to getting the majority, the Democrats are going to jump ship and look for another candidate…

      1. Salle Avatar

        Let the repugnicans take over, then there will surely be enough pain felt by the serfs and they will rebel, only it will probably be too late by then, it’s not like we live in a true democratic society after all ~ anymore, if ever.

        Welcome to feudalism, USA, it’s already here.

      2. Save bears Avatar


        I have not been happy with either party for quite some time now, as I stated, I didn’t vote for McCain last time and I did not vote for Obama.

        I have voted for the democrats a couple of times in state elections and I actively worked against a couple of republicans in the past.

        I vote from people based on their positions and vote on the issues based on research about their ramifications.

    2. jon Avatar

      William,. I don’t think Palin has any chance of winning if she does run.

      1. jon Avatar

        William, I don’t see Obama winning again, but who knows. If his only competition is the likes of palin, he may have a good chance of winning even though his approval rating is way down. Obama hasn’t done shit for wildlife and that is probably the biggest reason I don’t like him.

      2. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        Remember Save Bears when the republicans put on their website asking americans for suggestions? The most popular suggestion was keeping jobs here in the U.S. The Republicans voted against stopping corporate loopholes for outsourcing 11 times. Although not perfect, the healthcare bill was a start, and all the talk about its unpopularity was not accurate, because all of the left that wanted the public option were added into the disapproval figure of the bill when in fact they wanted a more aggressive bill. The other interesting fact is the stimulus bill, where I think 114 Republicans that claimed the bill was a job killer took credit for projects in their districts. I don’t trust either party but the Republicans have a worse track record over the last decade

    3. Salle Avatar

      Lest we forget what level of intellect was displayed by the most recent former president, “W”. How the hell did he get elected, honestly? Ms. P is merely the female equivalent, dumb and proud of it.

  14. jon Avatar

    Just thinking about Palin as president is scary. There is no way in hell americans are going to make her the next president.

    Here is a good article about Palin.


    Sarah Palin, widely known now as Mama Grizzly, is laughable as a candidate for president. Has anyone ever seen a person, who majored in journalism no less, with less knowledge about the world? It is impossible to imagine her interacting with other world leaders.

    Sarah Palin: A Quitter

    She is also a quitter. She abandoned Alaska when she quit her job as governor. She cared more about the money she could earn elsewhere than the people of Alaska. She also attended a lot of colleges and took years longer than the typical four years to finish her undergraduate degree. Sarah seems to have a problem with focus and goals.

    Sarah Palin: A Master of Spin

    Palin also likes to spin the truth. I guess she doesn’t realize that most Americans are smarter than she is. We’re not buying her fibs, lies, and smears. She announced she’d run if Americans are “Willing to get back to time-tested truths,” notes the NY Daily News.

    I almost fell on the floor laughing when I read that. Sarah Palin and the truth just don’t mix. Perhaps in just the way she needs to write notes on her hand to remember her ideas, she has a problem remembering what the truth is too.

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Palin was on CNN today, and i am always struck how much contempt she has for the environment. She was talking about the fish( I can’t remember the name offhand) that is endangered that is causing all the uproar from the farming community. She said back where she is from they call fish like that bait!

      1. jon Avatar

        Did you ever watch that interview she had with Katie Couric? A lot of people were laughing at Palin. Couric asked her what newspapers or news magazines she reads or something like that and she couldn’t even answer the question. Palin is a joke and she’s a quitter and she hates wildlife!

      2. jon Avatar

        She cares nothing for wildlife or animals. She will defend hunters and farmers to the very end and it could careless about wildlife William. Do you what happened to that wildlife show Palin was going to star in that was going to be on the discovery channel? A lot of people protested that show. Did they can it do you know?

      3. Cutthroat Avatar

        I didn’t see the interview, but she was probably talking about the delta smelt. Which would make excellent bait as it is such a major food source for endangered salmon and steelhead. Food chain, science stuff again, which of course takes a back seat to Joe six packin’ with a long line and a trollin’ motor.

  15. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    No it’s going on TV next month. I wrote a letter to the president of the network, he responded about 2 months after.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      It’s coming soon. ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ may be ‘flippin’ fun,’ but will it be any good? Christian Science Monitor.

      The latest CBS news poll on Palin is Oct. 1. 22% favorable to her. 48% unfavorable. The 22% are pretty much all populist Republican right-wingers. I don’t think this is going to attract visitors to Alaska.

      1. Salle Avatar

        The only value a show like that could have is to justify, in their minds, the erroneously outrageous claims her supporters make concerning the environment. They can then say, “Look, it’s really true because Sarah said so on TV and that has be true if it’s on TV…” And that will prove to them that they are correct and everybody else is full of it. It doesn’t take much to convince those who look no further than FauxNewsCorp that what they perceive is gospel truth if they have a strawman/woman mouthpiece spewing trash on their chosen channel of hyponosis.

        I think a fitting descriptive for Ms. Sarah is Jezebel, not to belittle a centuries-old icon but hey, if the ruby slippers fit…

      2. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        The thing that shocks me the most is when the Palin types that are now millionaires talk about the “little guy” or the “people”. Their actions and policies are 180 degrees in contrast to those statements. The white uneducated voter has been hoodwinked by the Republican Party.

  16. pointswest Avatar

    I think we should go nuclear power. It has the least impact to the enviroment. We have new types of reactors that are much safer and that produce managable amounts of waste. As cars convert over to electricity from petroleum, we are going to need more electricity. Nuclear Power plants will create jobs.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      These are certainly points in favor of nuclear. I won’t dwell on the classical scares about nuclear, but I want say that it suffers from the same problem as big oil and gas, big coal, big solar, big wind — centralized production with long distance transmission. This requires lots of security, big corporations, and they are all unfriendly to localism and democracy.

      This is something I want to keep stressing because we don’t hear it much from any side — local power production and distribution is safe from terrorism and safe for democracy. It should be encouraged and even subsidized, in my opinion.

      1. pointswest Avatar

        I agree that solar panels on roofs of homes should be encouraged and they will be economical if/when we get some better battery technology. I’ve been thinking of putting one on my house.

        The reality is, however, that home solar (or home wind power) is too technical and requires too much maintenance for most people. Many people here in Los Angeles will buy a condominium rather than a house because they do not want to mow a lawn or maintain landscaping. Many will not want to be responsible to operate and maintain a solar power system. I am sure that in the future, home solar power systems may become simple to operate and may become as standard in new homes as is heated water and HVAC. But even then, not all buildings will be able to use solar. Also, if cars become electric, there will be a substantial increase in demand for electrical power.

        I hate power lines and transmission lines as much or more than anyone. The TransCanada transmission line(s) being built across eastern Idaho from the hydropower sources in Canada and Montana to markets in Southern California may not be needed if new nuclear plants were built a few miles outside of Los Angeles. In general, nuclear power plants can be built close to the cities that need their power. One could go so far as to say that if it were not for the American “no-nuke” movement in the 70’s and 80’s, the TransCanada transmission lines would never have been built and the Northwest could have kept its cheap hydropower. Now the cheap hydropower is going to be shipped, via transmission line, to Southern California where people will pay three or four times as much for it and power rates in the Northwest are going up.

        Expect your power bills in the GYE to at least double in the next few years because with new transmission lines, you are now in the same power market as the relatively nuke-free Southern California market.


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan