September 14 - The battle over permits to move oil equipment through an area of Idaho, USA, continues as the Transportation Department of the US state and energy giant ConocoPhillips filed appeals against a ruling that bans outsize oil equipment shipments

On August 24, a district court issued a ruling that revoked permits for ConocoPhillips to transport oversized loads on the highway.

As HLPFI went to press, the firm had four large loads sitting in the port of Lewiston headed for the company's refinery in Billings, Montana. They arrived in May and were supposed to be trucked in August on Highway 12 to Montana.

The four shipments would be the vanguard for a large number of outsize shipments for the energy sector travelling on the route. Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil plans to move more than 200 outsize shipments of refinery and mining equipment shipped in from Korea on Highway 12 to Montana an on to the oil sands in Alberta. These are earmarked to commence in November. The heaviest load would be nearly 580,000 lb (263 tonnes).

Highway 12 passes through the Clearwater Lochsa River Valley, which is officially designated the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway. Three residents in the area sued to block the ConocoPhillips moves, arguing they would impact safety, traffic, tourism, and business in the area.

ConocoPhillips' shipments were stranded after the judge presiding over the case issued a temporary restraining order.

Both the Idaho Transportation Department and ConocoPhillips have appealed the verdict, said Jeff Stratten, the department's senior public information officer. The hearing for both appeals before the Idaho Supreme Court has been scheduled for October 1. The department had earlier tried without success to get the judge disqualified from hearing the case.

The transportation authority challenges the ruling on four points. The judge ruled that it has no authority to issue permits that allow traffic delays in excess of 10 minutes. This would restrict commerce and limit business opportunities, it argues. It also rejects the ruling that it must make a reasonable determination whether it is necessary to allow an oversized move through Idaho and should review alternative routings.