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Chapter Closes on Idaho Megaloads

PHOTO: oil sands equipment at port
June 21. 2012
PHOTO: oil sands equipment at port

LEWISTON, Idaho - No application means no shipments - and with that, the controversy over using scenic highways along rivers to ship extra-large oil-sands equipment to Canada may be gone.

Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil has withdrawn its application to use the route through Idaho and Montana, saying it used other routes. Several groups had filed suit on the grounds that the megaloads would block both lanes of traffic and damage tourism.

The Montana Environmental Information Center joined the suit, according to Kyla Wiens, the group's clean-energy program director.

"It's a very windy route through the mountains and it's just not a place where something three-quarters the size of a football field and 20-some feet high should be traveling."

A court notice has been filed that megaloads will not be shipped.

Wiens says this closing chapter is good news for homeowners and business owners along the route in both states.

"Hopefully, this puts them at ease for the time being - somewhat cautiously optimistic, but this is a very good decision, especially for that corridor."

The Kearl oil sands project in northeastern Alberta is on track and expected to start processing more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of this year.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID