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Observer 11/24/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow General Electric unit appeals Idaho judge’s megaloads ruling

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General Electric unit appeals Idaho judge’s megaloads ruling

A General Electric Co. subsidiary wants a federal judge to reconsider this month’s ruling blocking it from trucking giant oil-field equipment on a winding Idaho highway.

The company Monday filed an appeal in U.S. District Court in Boise, saying Judge B. Lynn Winmill committed “serious errors of law and fact” when he blocked its so-called megaload from traveling U.S. Highway 12’s federally-designated Wild and Scenic River corridor.

Winmill halted the shipments, at least until Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest managers assess impacts of the 225-foot-long, 640,000-pound water evaporator on the route before consulting with the Nez Perce Tribe over its concerns.

The GE unit, which has said it could lose millions if its equipment doesn’t arrive at northern Alberta’s tar sands on schedule, says it’s facing “imminent and continuing irreparable harm.”

Winmill’s Sept. 13 injunction was issued as part of a lawsuit brought by Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe.

The court is requiring the Forest Service to complete a corridor study, already under way, before it can determine the cultural and spiritual impacts of megaloads hauled by Omega Morgan of Hillsboro for GE traveling through the Nez Perce Reservation and along the federally designated Wild and Scenic corridor of the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.

“This is a win for all who cherish the esthetic, spiritual and recreational values of the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers,” said Kevin Lewis, Idaho Rivers United conservation director, of the ruling earlier this month. “The judge has provided the timeout needed to complete the environmental reviews, tribal consultation and rule-making necessary to protect this beautiful river corridor.”

Idaho Rivers United Executive Director Bill Sedivy said the implications of this case will be felt all over the country.

“River managers across the United States are watching this decision, which is a clear win for all the Wild and Scenic Rivers of America,” Sedivy said. “(The Sept. 13 ruling) shows that the oil industry and the world’s largest corporations can’t run roughshod over the Tribe, the people of Idaho or our nation’s most precious natural assets.”

The ruling said Winmill granted his 17-page injunction on the basis that the Nez Perce and Idaho Rivers are likely to win the case on its merits.

“The plaintiffs are not seeking damages. They are seeking to preserve their Treaty rights along with cultural and intrinsic values that have no price tag,” Winmill wrote.

General Electric filed Aug. 26 to intervene as a co-defendant alongside the Forest Service in the lawsuit filed by the Nez Perce and Idaho Rivers. The suit, filed Aug. 8, sought to protect the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor and Nez Perce homeland from the transport of megaloads.

— The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.

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