The ITD permits are still in the mail

Mediator in case won’t deliver his recommendation on ConocoPhillips shipments until after Christmas holiday

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Friday, December 24, 2010
A recommendation in the ConocoPhillips megaloads case expected before Christmas has been postponed.

The Idaho Transportation Department announced Thursday a new date has not been set for the recommendation by Merlyn Clark to be issued.

Clark, a Boise attorney, has been charged with providing a non-binding recommendation to ITD about if it should issue permits to ConocoPhillips after serving as the hearing officer in a two-day proceeding earlier this month.

Clark heard testimony from opponents of the megaloads, ITD and ConocoPhillips, which wants to haul two drums that have been split in half to a Billings refinery from the Port of Lewiston.

The Japanese-made drums were barged to Lewiston in May before ConocoPhillips obtained permits for them to go across Idaho on U.S. Highway 12. Opponents of the shipments fought the ITD permits in a court case that went to the Idaho Supreme Court, which ruled it had no jurisdiction opening the door for the process occurring now.

The case has attracted nationwide attention because some worry the ConocoPhillips cargo could set precedents for how other similar-sized cargo is shipped on the highway.

The ConocoPhillips megaloads would be the heaviest trucks to ever use U.S. 12. They would take up two lanes of traffic, be accompanied by state police, move at night and be required to pull over at regular intervals to allow traffic to pass.

ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil plans to send 207 megaloads on U.S. 12 in the next year. They would be carrying Korean-manufactured modules for a processing plant that’s under construction at the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada. A total of 34 of those modules have already been unloaded at the Port of Lewiston even though Imperial Oil has no permits for them.