Megaload Moving In Idaho, Despite Protesters - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Megaload Moving In Idaho, Despite Protesters

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A giant shipment of oil refinery equipment trying to make its way to Canada through a scenic northern Idaho river corridor has resumed its journey, despite protesters who have gathered for a second night.
    
The Lewiston Tribune reports (http://is.gd/yEXiqM ) that the load started moving slowly late Tuesday night.
    
Idaho State Police, Nez Perce County sheriff's deputies and Nez Perce Tribal Police urged protesters to stay off U.S. Highway 12.
    
The Tribune says law enforcement officers have made at least two new arrests.
    
The first of two planned megaloads pulled out of a Washington port late Monday and was halted by a legion of protesters just outside of Lewiston.
    
Authorities said 20 protesters - including eight members of the Nez Perce Tribe - were arrested, jailed and charged with misdemeanors for disturbing the peace.
    
The load is bound for an oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.
    
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
    
The first of two planned megaloads pulled out of a Washington port late Monday and was halted by a legion of protesters just outside of Lewiston.
    
Authorities said 20 protesters - including eight members of the Nez Perce Tribe - were arrested, jailed and charged with misdemeanors for disturbing the peace.
    
The load is bound for an oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.
    
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
    
The environmental group that scored a legal victory in the first round of megaload shipments is scrambling to find a way to put the brakes on the latest big shipment of oil refinery equipment making its way through a scenic northern Idaho river corridor.
    
The first of two loads pulled out of a Washington port late Monday night and was halted by a legion of protesters just outside of Lewiston. Authorities said 20 protesters - including eight members of the Nez Perce Tribe - were arrested, jailed and charged with misdemeanors for disturbing the peace.
    
The shipment and its hauler, Oregon-based Omega Morgan, ended the first leg of the trip Tuesday morning, about 25 miles short of its planned stopping point along U.S. Highway 12.
    
Tribal leaders say they anticipate more protests Tuesday night when the shipment resumes and moves deeper into the reservation and along a winding highway that passes through a federally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor.
    
The Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee remains opposed to the transport and will continue to work with all federal and elected officials to see these loads are not hauled through the Reservation," said tribal chairman Silas Whitman, who was among the eight Nez Perce members arrested in the protest.
    
Meanwhile in Boise, attorneys for Idaho Rivers United are considering all legal options for short-circuiting the Omega Morgan load and called the company's decision to ignore federal officials and begin its trek across the state irresponsible.
    
The group filed a federal lawsuit in 2011 accusing the U.S. Forest Service of neglecting its duty under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to protect the corridor when ExxonMobil sought to move big, heavy equipment up the roadway. In February, a federal judge sided with IRU, concluding forest supervisors have authority to review state issued travel permits for over-legal loads.
    
On Monday, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell sent a letter urging Omega Morgan to delay the shipment until agency officials could review travel plans and consult with tribal leaders.
    
"The companies shipping this load have disrespected the Nez Perce Tribe, the Forest Service, a federal judge and the law, and it will not stand," said Kevin Lewis, IRU's conservation director.

    
Forest service officials said Tuesday they are taking a wait-and-see approach. The shipment is not expected to reach forest boundaries until Wednesday night.
    
Omega Morgan spokeswoman Olga Haley said the company is committed to doing its job, professionally and with what it believes is the appropriate permits.
    
The latest shipment is smaller in size and weight than the ExxonMobil loads, but still big enough to stir the passions of those opposed to seeing big trucks pass through the picturesque highway that traces the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers.
    
Omega Morgan received a permit from the Idaho Transportation Department last Friday to ship a pair of giant water purification units, measuring 225 feet long, 21 feet wide and weighing 644,000 pounds, across the state, up Lolo Pass into Montana and ultimately to the oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.
    
The shipments can only move at night and early morning hours.
    
When ITD issued the permits, agency officials urged Omega Morgan to consult with the forest service but also made the permit valid for transport starting Monday night.

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