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ITD hearing officer finds opponents’ challenge valid

Idaho Transportation Department Hearing Officer Merlyn Clark on Nov. 23 found opponents have standing to formally contest over-legal loads ConocoPhillips proposes to ship on U.S. 12 from the Port of Lewiston to Billings, Mont.

The decision means opponents have a right to contest permits for the loads, the Idaho Transportation Department said. ITD Director Brian W. Ness will review the recommendation and decide the final action of the department.

“We live here, we work here, and we recreate here. This is our home,” said Linwood Laughy, a Kooskia-area resident and an opponent. “If we didn’t have standing in this matter who would.”

A contested case hearing will enable the public to get a comprehensive look at this situation and the costs to Idahoans of converting this highway into a “mega-load truck route,” he said.

ConocoPhillips spokesman Bill Stephens said the company is disappointed with the recommendation, which could delay planned maintenance at the Billings refinery.

“We do not believe the recommendation adequately accounts for the careful planning by ConocoPhillips, (hauling contractor) Emmert International, the ITD, and other state and local agencies. We are well prepared to transport our refinery equipment safely and in a way that protects roads and accommodates traffic flow.”

Clark said in his decision that opponents’ petition to intervene shows “direct and substantial interest” in the proceeding and that because there has been no final order in this contested case, the Idaho Transportation Department must hold formal contested-case hearings before the over-legal loads are allowed to travel under the permit.

In a Nov. 19 hearing before Clark, ConocoPhillips argued the impacts the opponents allege are speculative, so the opponents should not be deemed to have formal standing.

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  3. Absolutely Ridiculous – At what point will pius environmental groups realize the contradictions they speak by one week arguing for independance from foriegn oil and the next week doing everyhting in they’re power to limit production here and in nearby Canada. Not only do they have to bring in out of touch groups from other states that have already severely ruined commerce and progress on their home ground but also try and dictate what Canada does with they’re operations? How extremely arrogant and of no help to solving a problem whatsoever. Instead of costing everyone money with lawsuits and production delays why not put that negative energy into something beneficial like working towards a greater goal while using what we have here responsably(which i would argue relentlessly is being done today). Instead of jumping on the pius bandwagon that mistakeningly leads people to believe they are helping a greater cause, I wish people would people would use their brains for a minute and realize this nonsense benefits no one. Just as the carbon trade was a scam. Meanwhile lets hold up shipping of gas to Idaho until this is resolved so they can see the true impacts.