Imperial Oil announces what amounts to abandonment of Highway 12 for megaloads!

Montana judge’s ruling saves Lochsa River and local Idaho and Montana residents-

Imperial Oil, Canadian spawn of ExxonMobil has announced they are going to try to break down the size of their tar sands-bound megaloads so that they won’t have to use narrow, winding, scenic U.S. Highway 12 through North Central Idaho and then Montana. They will ship the Earth-gouging oil equipment on bigger highways in smaller packages.

They haven’t formally given up, but local Idaho and Montana residents fighting to protect their way of life, environment, health and safety can breathe easier. While Imperial Oil hasn’t formally given up, this is good news for people, fish and wildlife.

Ironically, it wasn’t some vision of the public interest that dropped on Idaho officials or courts that stopped this, but a local Montana judge who ruling the megaloads could not use Montana roads without more analysis. This was too much uncertainly (dollars) for the oil behemoth’s officials.

Megaload oil-sands equipment in Idaho could be rerouted. LA Times.


  1. Christopher Harbin Avatar
    Christopher Harbin

    I hope that the abandoning of this plan does indeed occur. I’m not sure why this “new” plan was not the plan of choice to begin with. A little bit of good news when good news is certainly lacking!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Christoper Harbin,

      I think the old road plan was abandoned purely because citizen activists threw so many roadblocks in its path. The damn politicians of Idaho and Montana deserve not an ounce of credit.

      1. DB Avatar


        Agree. And those Idaho and Montana politicians will have learned nothing. It will probably just harden them and they’ll cook up some legislation next time to circumvent the courts. Even the victories can be a little depressing.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

          Well, at any rate. It appears that Highway 12 and the Lochsa River are safe again.

          This area has had major threats going back 60-70 years. The worst were proposed giant hydro dams, and the North Fork of the Clearwater River was sacrificed instead.

      2. DB Avatar

        And the fact that the judge ruled Montana had not adequately followed it’s environmental policy act makes me think what chance would such an act have of passing in Idaho?

      3. JC Avatar

        Well, Missoula County Commissioners were in on the lawsuits. I’d count them as politicians, albeit small time ones.

        Speaking of politicians, did you all see that Gov. Schweitzer just forced Montana DOT Director Jim Lynch to resign, ostensibly because of some stupid nepotism hiring of his daughter 4 years ago.

        Many of us think it is because Lynch hung Schweitzer out to dry over the megaloads, telling the gov it only needed an EA, when even the most naive NEPA/MEPA observers knew that an EIS was eventually going to be demanded. Schweitzer doesn’t like to get caught being a cheerleader with his panties down, if he can avoid it. Lynch was touting the project as a “permanent corridor” as recently as July, 2009. Oops, must needs be an EIS for that.

        Here’s a good story about it.

        Oh, did I mention that Lynch is thinking of running for governor…???

  2. bret Avatar

    The equipment is piling up at the port of Pasco and will most likely use highway 395 – I-90 then to Spokane.

  3. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    Spoke with a friend who’s job it was to supply the folks working in the tar sands in Alberta and he said it was appalling what was happening to the land up there.


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