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Seeing it in real life…

Last semester, we talked about the Alberta oil tar sands, and how Exxon planned to get the necessary equipment up to Alberta in order to get the oil from the tar sands. British Columbia won’t let them transport the equipment through the Province, so they looked for an alternate route. This included barging the equipment up to Lewiston, ID, the furthest inland sea port, and then driving it by truck on Rt. 12 through the mountains in Idaho and Montana and on up to Alberta. Sounds like an OK plan except that the megaloads take up the entire highway and can only travel at about 10 miles an hour, or some incredibly slow speed. Kind of a problem for anyone else who wants to use Rt. 12 during that time. And, apparently there are something like 290 loads they need to bring through the windy, narrow, mountain road that happens to go right along the Lochsa River, a beautiful Wild and Scenic River that is very popular for whitewater boating and also supports native salmon populations.

Well, it’s one thing to talk about all of this, but it’s a whole other thing to see one of these megaloads in real life. Apparently, Exxon got a permit to bring a test megaload along Rt. 12 and just into Montana, where it now sits parked at Lolo Hot Springs. It is so big that you wouldn’t even think that it got there by truck. I mean, it’s huge. And, Exxon has hired full time security guards to ensure that no eco-terrorists try to blow up the megaload. Kind of crazy…

Anyways, the latest on this saga is that a judge in Montana issued an injunction on the megaloads, so they are not allowed to travel on Montana roads. I’m not sure what will happen next, or what will even happen to the test megaload at the hot springs. But, it’s really crazy to see what one of these things really look like, and then to think about it traveling all the way to these hot springs from some place in Korea. Crazy! Certainly another cool benefit of taking a class out here in Montana, right where this issue is unfolding.

Here is a news story if you want to read more: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/08/megaloads-tar-sands-oil-shipments-idaho-montana.html

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