Judge Halts Transport of Giant Tar Sands Processing Equipment through Western Montana
June 2, 2012
On June 20, the final chapter of the controversial “megaloads” tar sands transportation corridor case came to an end when Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil formally withdrew its application for permits from the state. The now-defeated proposal would have opened up a permanent corridor along Highways 12 and 200, allowing oil companies to transport hundreds of giant, pre-constructed “megaloads” of tar sands refinery equipment over the scenic Lolo Pass and up the Blackfoot River to en route to Canada.
District Judge Ray Dayton presided over the lawsuit, filed in 2010 by Missoula County, National Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center, and the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club. Tribal councils from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Nez Perce Tribe later joined the effort to help protect the state’s natural resources. The groups sought to block the transport over the county’s two-lane highways until the state adequately studied and disclosed the impacts to nearby rivers and streams.
In its most recent filing, the Montana Department of Transportation formally told Judge Dayton that it had no plans for further environmental review and would not be issuing any permits for the project. Thus ends a long and successful battle against one of the world’s largest oil companies. For now, the scenic Lolo Pass remains as is.
May 23, 2012
Two years ago, Imperial Oil, a Canadian subsidiary of Exxon/Mobil, was moving ahead with its plan to transform U.S. Highway 12 and Montana Routes 200 and 287 into permanent industrial corridors for massive Alberta tar sands- bound “mega-loads.”
The Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club, along with the Montana Environmental information Center (MEIC), the National Wildlife Federation, Missoula County Commissioners and citizen activists in Montana stood up to Exxon by challenging the “mega-load” transportation project in court.
In February 2012, Montana District Court Judge Ray Dayton ruled in our favor by telling the Montana Department of Transportation there must be further environmental review, particularly of potential long-term impacts of the project. Exxon did not appeal the decision to the Montana Supreme Court and so far has not taken any steps to reinitiate the environmental review process.
Due to this true community and regional effort, and thanks to support from dedicated Sierra Club members and supporters, we have succeeded in stopping Exxon from running roughshod over rural highways along the scenic Clearwater, Lochsa and Blackfoot River corridors and the beautiful Rocky Mountain Front.
February 23, 2012
In an important legal victory, a Montana District judge has ordered the state Department of Transportation to reassess the environmental impacts of the Kearl Module Transportation Project. The proposed project would allow massive loads of oilfield equipment to be transported through Montana to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.
The decision follows a preliminary injunction that was issued last summer against Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil after Sierra Club and its allies argued that the project’s inadequate environmental assessment violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act.
Specifically, the judge ruled that the Montana Department of Transportation failed to properly analyze the environmental impacts of constructing and using highway turnouts that are necessary for the oversized “mega-loads” to be transported on two-lane highways. The judge ordered the agency to prepare a supplemental analysis.
Sierra Club is joined by National Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center, and Missoula County in this lawsuit.
July 19, 2011
A federal judge in Montana has upheld a request by Sierra Club and its partners to stop Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil from transporting an unprecedented 200 Korean-made megaloads of tar sands processing equipment through Western Montana. The equiment would serve the giant open pit tar sands mines at the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.
In issuing a preliminary injunction, Judge Ray Dayton agreed with Missoula County and its co-plaintiffs - Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Montana Environmental Information Center - that the Montana Department of Transportation violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act in approving an insufficient environmental assessment. The judge held that the state Department of Transportation failed to fully vet the environmental and public health impacts of trucking giant oilfield equipment through the state before approving the project.
Details and Documents:
Montana Chapter Posts Win against Global Giant
Spring/Summer 2012 by John Wolverton, The Montana Sierran
Memo & Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment
February 17, 2012, In the Montana Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County
Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobiel withdraws megaload permit application
June 20, 2012 by Kim Briggeman, The Missoulian
Imperial drops Montana mountain pass megaload plan
June 20, 2012 by Braden Redall, Reuters
District judge sends Kearl megaloads back to MDT for environmental review
February 18, 2012 by Kim Briggeman, The Missoulian
Judge stops transport of giant oilfield equipment through western Montana
July 20, 2011 by Kim Briggeman, The Missoulian
See other "Fighting Dirty Oil and Promoting Green Transportation" cases.