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Idaho Rivers United

Clearwater and Lochsa Corridor Fact Sheet

• Together, ConocoPhillips (4), ExxonMobil (207) and Harvest Energy (40-60) are proposing 270 or more supersized shipments of oil equipment from Lewiston, Idaho, over Lolo Pass and into Montana on rural Highway 12, which parallels the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers. These so-called megaloads will weigh up to 670,000 pounds, be more than three stories tall and, at 24 feet, be wider than the highway.

• This is not a one-time deal. The transportation corridor, once implemented, will be permanent. The Natural Resources Defense Council uncovered, translated and publicized Korean press accounts and industry documents indicating that ExxonMobil has discussed plans with its Korean manufacturer to build more of the heavy mining equipment—and ship it to Alberta via Highway 12—over the next 20 years.

• Megaloads are very different from everyday oversized loads, which also require special permits. IRU supports the status quo, which includes occasional movement of mobile homes, logging trucks and other large equipment. What we’re talking about here in the megaloads is very different. It is patently ridiculous to equate megaloads built on the Pacific Rim and trucked to Canada, and barely benefitting the local economy, to everyday inside-the-region commerce.

• The Lochsa and Clearwater rivers are among the original eight rivers designated for permanent federal protection with passage of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. Boasting gin-clear water, moss-covered banks and cobbled river bottoms, they are among the country’s highest quality free-flowing rivers. The Lochsa, Clearwater and their tributaries are vital habitat for salmon and ESA-listed steelhead and bull trout.

• Although they would travel only at night, the trucks would be required to park in turnouts during the day. Visitors use those turnouts for parking while fishing, hunting and cross-country skiing.

• The shipments would disrupt recreational use of the Highway 12 corridor and the Clearwater and Lolo National Forests. Disrupted activities would include whitewater rafting and quiet water canoeing, camping, bird watching, hiking, hunting and fishing.

• Approval for these loads will set bad precedent for managing Wild & Scenic Rivers, sensitive landscapes and National Forests throughout the U.S. by altering forever the quiet and rural character of the Highway 12 corridor.

• Highway 12 runs for miles as a narrow, winding, shoulderless path within feet of rivers that provide domestic water supplies for three towns and habitat for countless wildlife species. Accidents involving the megaloads will only add to the threats already facing the fish and wildlife that call the river corridor home.

• Highway 12 provides an access route and destination for travelers, tourists and recreationists who spend millions a year at more than 150 small businesses.

• Megaloads are a mega-loser for Idaho taxpayers. They would provide zero permanent jobs and would saddle taxpayers with expensive infrastructure repairs as wear and tear from gargantuan shipments take their toll.

• Megaloads have no place on Highway 12, which is a nationally designated Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, and one of only 27 All American roads.

• The river corridor runs through the Nez Perce Tribe’s ancient homeland and the Nez Perce National Historic Park. The proposed route also crosses and parallels the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.

• Highway 12 lies within feet of U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, campsites and interpretive sites.

• The Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, where ExxonMobil’s shipments are destined, are among the most environmentally damaging fossil fuel extraction sites in the world. By authorizing the shipments, Idaho is endorsing the continued exploitation of the Canadian landscape and America’s continued dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels.