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No decision made in U.S. 12 shipping hearing

Idaho Transportation Department hearing officer Merlyn W. Clark made no decision on whether to allow the over-sized loads at the Port of Lewiston to move on U.S. 12 from Idaho to Montana.

Following a two-hour hearing Nov. 19, Clark said he expected to have a decision before Thanksgiving. He will determine whether opponents have standing to warrant a formal contested case hearing before the Idaho Transportation Department. Clark said he’s limiting his decision to the four ConocoPhillips loads, and that opponents cannot unduly broaden the issue.

“I am not considering the fact that there may be 200 more loads from another applicant on another day,” Clark said.

The opponents, Linwood Laughy, Karen Hendrickson and Peter Grubb, who live and have businesses along the shipping route, are represented by Advocates for the West attorney Laird Lucas. They claim they would be harmed by the shipments, and they will continue to work toward stopping them.

Speaking of the non-decision, Lucas said it was expected.

“They don’t want any scrutiny,” he said of ConocoPhillips. “They don’t want anyone from the outside taking a hard look at what they have done.”

ConocoPhillips attorney Erik Stidham said the opponents’ claims are speculative, and they are trying to broaden the issue beyond the four loads in question.

“This is not about the ‘axles’ of evil, it’s about four shipments,” Stidham said.

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