This has not been a good week for the Lochsa River but it isn’t the familiar megaloads controversy that has grabbed the limelight.
Officials are in the Kooskia area today trying to decide the best way to remove tons of unprocessed toilet paper that was dumped in the river when a semi-trailer overturned earlier this week. They are trying of finding a way to keep it from dissolving into a cloud of pulp that would clog the river in the height of whitewater season.
Yes, a Montana judge has halted the shipments of giant loads of mining equipment bound for the tar sands region of northern Alberta. District Judge Ray Dayton’s order blocking the Montana Department of Transportation from transporting the loads Idaho courts allowed, presents Imperial Oil, a Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil, with an interesting decision.
Does it continue to cut down the 33 modules it has sitting at Idaho’s Port of Lewiston and divert them up U.S. 95 to Interstate 90 where it already has shipped about 45 shipments from Vancouver, Wash.? It has approval to do that in Idaho and Montana but it will cost additional dollars to modify the modules shipped from Korea.
Then what will it do with the rest of the 207 total loads it had planned? Does it go back to court in Montana and fight Dayton’s decision?
Or does it give up and use the interstate, which has less opposition than carrying them up the scenic U.S. 12 corridor and on two-lane highways through Montana?
Does that mean that Lewiston no longer is the preferred port? If that’s the case then the Idaho business interests and Gov. Butch Otter, who pushed so hard for the shipments approval may have won the battle and lost the war.
But it is not over yet.