Idaho Supreme Court ruling opens door for mega-loads

BOISE - The Idaho Supreme Court Monday vacated a 2nd District Court ruling by Judge John Bradbury that had halted so called mega-load shipments of oil equipment by ConocoPhillips on U.S. Highway 12.

Justices claimed Idaho's Constitution limits their power to act in the appeal filed by opponents of the shipments.

They said those opposed to the giant loads being transported on a designated scenic highway may have real grievances with the Idaho Transportation Department, but dismissed the case on grounds that state courts lacked jurisdiction. In the opinion released Monday, Justice Warren Jones said "Actions by state agencies are not subject to judicial review unless expressly authorized by statute." Jones said the case should have gone to ITD for a contested case hearing.

The opinion says ITD declined to initiate a contested case and that the issue should be handled internally through ITD.

Borg Hendrickson and her husband Lin Laughy are two of the plaintiffs in the case. She said they see the ruling as a good thing. She said it clarifies the procedure that is set for this type of concern, so they know how to proceed. Hendrickson said they are not sure at this time if a contested case will be petitioned. However, Hendrickson, Laughy and the other plaintiff, Peter Grubb, have petitioned for a contested case hearing in the Imperial Oil mega-loads case.

The court said apparently the ConocoPhillips permits will lie dormant until such time as the state of Montana issues permits.

The court wrote: "This creates an interesting situation, since the Idaho permits make no provision for inclement weather conditions. If the state of Montana were to approve permits for the loads on January 1 of 2011, the Idaho permits would automatically become valid for a period of five days. Thus, ConocoPhillips/Emmert would be faced with a situation where they would either have to make the risky decision to proceed over snow-covered roads or allow the permits to expire upon the fifth day from their issuance. It is unknown why ITD made no provision for inclement weather conditions."

ITD officials were still reviewing the decision late Monday afternoon and were not releasing a statement.

 

To read the court's ruling: Click Here

 

(Associated Press contributed to this story.)