Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Oil sands megaloads edge closer to approval

A new state decision adds momentum to plans by Imperial Oil to move more than 200 modules the size of skyscrapers along a historic stretch of Idaho highway and onward to Alberta’s oil sands.

Idaho’s transportation department granted permits to a similar plan by energy giant ConocoPhillips, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The energy supermajor will move four mega-loads down United States Highway 12 – a winding two-lane highway crossing ground once travelled by Lewis and Clark – to a refinery in Montana.

Local residents and environmental groups have for months opposed the shipments. They cite a wide range of safety, aesthetic and ecological concerns, sometimes framing their struggle in biblical terms.

They’ve received support from the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council, which worries initial shipments could eventually transform one of America’s most scenic highways into an industrial corridor supporting oil sands development.

The recent state decision allows ConocoPhillips to begin moving megaloads this Monday. That decision will likely bode well for Imperial Oil, the Canadian arm of supermajor ExxonMobil.

Massive Korean-built modules destined for Alberta’s oil sands have been piling up in Idaho's Port of Lewiston.

The industrial machinery, stretched the length of a football field and weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds, will be moved at night by Imperial in order to minimize traffic disruptions.

Shipments are destined for Imperial’s Kearl oil sands project. The company estimates open pit mining may eventually yield 4.6 billion barrels of bitumen over 40 years.

Click here to read a recent Tyee report examining why six of the planet's largest corporations -- including ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips -- are relying on Alberta's oil sands to maintain their stock values.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus