A hearing officer is recommending that the Idaho Transportation Department issue permits sought by ExxonMobil for hauling giant truckloads of oil refinery equipment along U.S. Highway 12 in northern Idaho.

The recommendation issued Monday by hearing officer Duff McKee represents a victory for the oil company and its plans to ship 200 oversized loads from Lewiston along the scenic roadway into Montana en route to the oil sands in Alberta, Canada.

McKee presided over an April hearing requested by opponents of the shipments.

In his 63-page decision, McKee determined that none of the arguments offered by opponents were strong enough to deny the company travel permits.

The loads measure 29-feet in width, 28-feet high and 226-feet in length — some of the biggest, heaviest shipments ever approved for Idaho highways.

Associated Press