Exxon/Imperial Oil High-and-Wide Load Route Gains Press Scrutiny

by jhwygirl

MDOT refused to extend the 30-day public comment deadline on the environmental assessment written by Exxon/Imperial Oil for transport of its oversized Korean-built Canadian tar sands equipment, despite a wealth of public comment requesting just that – some of which came directly from the City of Missoula City Council. And despite the fact that the state’s email system shut down from the overload of public comment being submitted.


I pondered in this post who was pulling the strings on this project, considering that MDT Director Jim Lynch testified last July before the legislature that (a) this project should undergo an Environmental Impact Statement scrutiny and (b) that this proposal was essentially a permanent high-and-wide corridor proposal.

Not only that – but the Exxon/Imperial Oil written environmental assessment said it would be a permanent corridor within its EA. It’s also fair to note that this EA was signed by MDT’s very own Dwayne Kailey.

Didn’t take much to figure out who was pulling the strings – Governor Brian Schweitzer, who said it was about ..jobs, jobs, jobs.” Maybe he doesn’t understand the funky math that got Exxon/Imperial Oil to that $68 million figure? Because I heard the president of Imperial Oil explain here in Missoula that they came to that number “through a complex economic calculation,” that “takes into account that dollars will be spent repeatedly throughout the community.”

Sounds like trickle down economic theory to me – and we all know how that works, don’t we? Kinda funny how we’ll sell ourselves for flag-waving jobs and no one will stand up (save for a bunch of citizens and a Canadian parliament member) for having these things brought here in pieces and contract assembled somewhere here in North America.

Yep – Montanan’s should aspire to waving the flags to clear the traffic for these Korean-built things to head on through the state.

I ruminated during the Otter Creek fiasco on how Montana could aspire to be like that teeming economic power state of coal-rich West Virginia. Now maybe what we’re hoping to be is the new inland version of Louisiana.

Maybe he doesn’t care. The Good Gov sure loves his fossil fuels, that’s for sure. So much so that he’s willing to repeat the same tired old misinformed fact over and over – that the proposal is “temporary.”

He did it in this Missoulian article weeks ago, and he did it again, recently, in supermontanareporter John S. Adams’ that was published this past Friday in the Great Falls Tribune.

Adams did a great in-depth look at the Exxon/Imperial Oil proposal to transport these oversized loads which includes a repeat (by both MDOT – who I noted signed the industry-written EA – and Schweitzer) that this is only a temporary proposal. He also gets to Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser, who also repeats the lie that his very own consultants acknowledged in the environmental document they submitted.

I guess, like Bush or Cheney, if you repeat it enough, someone’ll start believing it as truth.

Different communities have different perspectives – and Adams talks to Teton County Commissioner Dellwo and Manager of the Port of Lewiston Idaho David Doeringsfeld, who is looking for between $1.8 to $2.8 million in upgrades to double the capacity to his ports.

Yeah – it’s about money, but who’s gonna benefit the most? Exxon/Imperial Oil with its one-time influx of flag-waving and turnout-building money? Lewistown with its trucking/motel industry and the multi-million dollar upgrades that will generate long-term jobs and expansion? Or Montana with it being on the receiving end of the one-time influx of Exxon/Imperial Oil money and a few motel rooms rented out along the way? Calculated by a “complex economic calculation”?

Who else has gotten into it, too? Ochenski asked, weeks ago, how long it would be before the Gulf disaster would be repeated in Montana – and truthout pressed forward this past Saturday with a lengthy article titled Trucking Toward Climate Change.

Nick Stocks, co-founder of the group Northern Rockies Rising Tide is interviewed for the article, as is Brett Haverstick with the group Friends of the Clearwater and Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss.

  1. Big Swede

    Why do I get this feeling that if these were giant wind turbine blades being transported with the same “wide load” permits you all would be standing along the roadsides cheering instead of protesting.

    • JC

      Not if they were being made in China.

      Why can’t we produce wind turbine’s here in Montana, BS? Why would any of us cheer on moving our next generation of energy production hardware to the third world?

      Oh, right. Because America loveses its imperialist, colonialist approach to energy. And the Chinese own our future, anyways…

      • Big Swede

        Invenergy (Judith Gap) turbines, blades, and electrical components were made out of state, yet no protests when the wide loads went up 27th street thru the heart of Billings.

        So I ask, is the precedent to travel the state with oversized loads depend on the origin of manufacture?

        • JC

          Partially, sure. Why should Montanans put up with Canadian-bound equipment manufactured in S. Korea?

          What’s in it for us but a bunch of inconvenience and tax-payer expense repairing road beds, at best, and a few piddly dollars spent by traveling haulers that won’t offset lost tourism income along the route? Or at worst, dumping one of these pieces of equipment in the Lochsa or Blackfoot, or someone dying due to reduced emergency response times?

          As to the Invenergy project, those parts were also manufactured in China and Korea. Nice we can stimulate their economy. But those pieces aren’t as big as the Exxon projects parts, and they were able to transport them over interstates.

          Would you rather that wind projects stimulated our own economy and led to increased manufacturing at home? That’s where government incentives can work best–discourage foreign production and incentivize domestic production.

          And then finally there is the issue of where the energy is going. With the Exxon project it is a Canadian project, with Invenergy, the power is going sold to NorthWest Energy, and will total about 7% of its need for 300,000 montana customers. That’s a good thing.

          The Judith Gap project, while not perfect, presents a much better opportunity for Montanans, including money going back to the private owners of the land many of the mills are built on.

          Thanks for asking.

          • Big Swede

            Denying Federal Hwy access due to where its made is ludicrous at best, but using the argument that we won’t be benefiting from the power production is madness.

            Not surprising tho. I mean you westies are drunk with power. Tell you what, why don’t some of you nuts do the Tiananmen Square act. Ya know, stand in front of the truck.

            That’ll bring you lots of respect with the rest of the state.

            • carfreestupidity

              public highways… publicly owned…. shouldn’t that mean the public gets a say on what happens on those roadways and what is shipped over them? If more people think its a good idea to use our public space in such a manner than go for it… if not than we shouldn’t allow it through our state.

              Of course thats a very naive way to look at it but…

            • big swede would prefer the serf-middle class (taxpayers) not inconvenience exxon (corporate aristocracy) with any of our valid concerns…..

              just as long as we (serf-middle class taxpayers) pay for any damage/disaster exxon (corporate aristocracy) cause in their mad rush to make obscene profits. ala British Petroleum

              that may be ok for bs, but i don’t worship at the shrine of corporate aristocracy.

              my church is in the woods. and nature tells us; if we keep allowing corporate short term profits to drive our decisions in this country we will not have any nature left to worry about.

              only idiots trust corporations these days.

            • JC

              Not just made, but used. You think US taxpayers should be paying for Canadian economic development?

              And how are we going to benefit from Canadian oil production?

              I guess you guys don’t mind all the hidden costs associated with oil production in other parts of the world. Little things like the Iraq war that costs a trillion dollars, and thousands of American lives. What’s providing a permanent high-wide corridor to a Korean/Canadian energy adventure when compared to that?

              • carfreestupidity

                I care very much about the true cost of oil production… thats why I don’t drive a vehicle, try to reuse and recycle as much as possible, and eat local produce as much as possible.

              • Big Swede

                JC, ya can’t have it both ways.

                No benefiting form Canadian production and no Otter Creek.

                And the war comparison, please. If we could producing oil from shale like our northern neighbors, and lifting drilling restrictions we wouldn’t need to be defending supply lines from the middle east.

              • Just one problem swede-
                The “we” you talk about are multi-national corporations who do not care who they sell the fuel to-

                Why should we protect their assets and support cleanups and highway repairs to fix their stupid mistakes and enable their grandiose korean manufactured boondoggles?.

                When multi-nationals like exxon and BP start making reasonable decisions and pay their share of taxes in the US rather than hiding their assets offshore, you can call them “we”

                Until then, they should protect their assets in Iraq with their own corporate armies.

              • Big Swede

                How can you sleep at night pb, knowing that you’re now a owner of one of the largest multi-national, tax dodging mega corporations in the world-GM?

  2. mhwygirl

    The current precedent for traveling the state with oversized loads is -oversized loads need permits.
    Where the loads originate from, where they’re going and what they contain are all secondary to the fact that the size and amount of the loads are more than highway 12 can handle as it stands.
    Why haven’t they sent the test shipment through yet? Is it because they want all the permits granted before the local population has a chance to understand the scale of it? How can they guarantee they will abide by the 10 minute rule in Montana and the 15 minute rule in Idaho if they haven’t even tested their massive rigs on the road yet?
    This quote from Harry Lillo of Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil from Dec. 1, 2009 sums up the futility of the public comment phase-
    “It’s clear that Montana Department of Transportation will give us a permit,” Lillo told the local officials. . . full article

    There are legitimate arguments for opposing these shipments on the basis that they undercut North American trade, they threaten to the change this unique segment of our states and set our local economies back, they pose environmental risks and have the potential to make these roads more dangerous for the rest of the people on the road -semi-trucks, businessmen, tourists, families, etc.
    But to start they haven’t proven they can abide by our laws – some of these loads exceed the legal weight limit and there’s been no proof that they can keep the delays under the legal limit. Then there’s the issue of the National Wild and Scenic Lochsa- any blasting of canyon walls to widen the stretch or filling in of pullouts on the riverside to accomodate these large loads might be in violation of Federal Public Law 90-542.
    We need to demand that our local leaders and politicians up hold the laws on the books. These shipments are bigger than any that ever been hauled on this route and it’s not a one or two time thing – they have 200+ of these loads. If these permits are granted then a new precedent will be set – making this a permanent high and wide corridor.

  3. jhwygirl

    Whatever happen to “Buy American”? Are we to now celebrate “Build Korean,High paying Jobs for Canada & Temporary HighwayFlag-waving Jobs for America Along the Way”?

  1. 1 Honda Strike Highlights China’s Next Economic Goals « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] no? As Missoula tries to address the Exxon/Imperial Oil transport modules built in N. Korea that will merely travel through the state, it only gives us more food for […]

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