Another big hearing in store for megaloads?
A Canadian oil company is preparing to make its case that its plan, and preparation, to haul 207 megaloads across Highway 12 in Idaho, meets all requirements of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).
A spokesman for Imperial Oil, Pius Rolheiser, said his company has asked ITD to hurry up and issue the permits, but company officials expect ITD Director Brian Ness to order a contested-case hearing upon issuing the permits.
"We've complied fully with the process," Rolheiser said.
Thirty-four modules, basically various massive building blocks of Imperial's Kearl Oil Sands plant, have been sitting at the Port of Lewiston since December.
Ness is not required to allow a hearing, but since the protesting Highway 12 residents won "intervener" status in the Conoco case, some expect they will in the Imperial case, as well. Lawyers for the residents have applied for intervener status, and protest-leader Linwood Laughy has indicated the group is ready, perhaps even eager, for another fight.
ITD spokesman Jeff Stratten would not indicate when Ness might issue the Imperial permits; he would not say if Ness had already decided to grant a contested-case hearing.
A source involved with the issue, who asked to not be identified because he was only offering a "rumor," said Ness's decision could come any day, and that everyone expects a hearing.
In his decision in the ConocoPhillips case, hearing officer Merlyn Clark endorsed ITD's decision to issue permits because he found the agency put public safety and convenience at the forefront when issuing them. Imperial has been planning the shipments with ITD for almost three years.