U.S. Highway 12 in northern Idaho is remote and scenic, but not rugged enough to carry heavy oil-field equipment.
On Oct. 10, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill officially rejected a request by a General Electric Co. subsidiary, Resources Conservation Co. International (RCCI), to haul the massive equipment, which includes a 225-ft-long, 640,000-lb water evaporator, to a tar sands project in Canada.
In September, Winmill issued an injunction blocking the hauling of more megaloads along the rural two-lane road, which passes through tribal lands and a federally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor.
GE attorneys said Winmill’s initial decision was full of errors, and claimed the oil company would lose millions of dollars if the equipment did not arrive at the Canadian site. Winmill said the company should have been aware of previous litigation involving megaloads on the highway, and believed lifting the injunction could harm the tribe and environmentalists who are against making the highway open to such oversized loads.
Forest Service officials were attempting to complete a study looking at the effects of megaloads on the route when the Idaho Department of Transportation issued permits to RCCI to make the trip. The first shipment of water evaporation gear made it through despite a string of protests along the route.