BOISE -- An American Indian tribe and environmentalists pleaded with a federal judge Monday afternoon, asking him the only thing standing between the next giant oil-field equipment shipments on a winding Idaho mountain highway is his order to halt the transport.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for a General Electric Co. subsidiary told U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill the courts had no authority to interfere.
“So this is a passion in us to see this stop,” said Nez Perce tribal member Judy Oatman from Kamiah Idaho.
Oatman was out protesting in front of the Idaho Statehouse Monday afternoon, before lawyers for the tribe as well as lawyers for Idaho Rivers United met in federal court later that day.
The Nez Perce Tribe, joined by environmentalists, says further shipments of GE gear will cause irreparable harm to the rights of its people and damage environmental values in the federally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor.
“It’s a winding mountainous road two lane highway,” explained Executive Director of Idaho Rivers United Bill Sedivy. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”
Resource Conservation Company International, an affiliate company of General Electric is in the business of making the loads. They are roughly 300 ton water vaporizers that will to bring clean water back to the Alberta Tar Sands oil fields.
“We have made sure that we put plans in place to really address those concerns that we have control over,” said Bill Heins with RCCI.
Sedivy said members of his organization are hoping the judge will issue an emergency injunction and RCCI will find another route.
He adds that there are federal protections for the tribe as well as the Clearwater and Lochsa River byways.
“For us this is mainly about protecting America’s first wild and scenic river corridor,” he said.
GE's second 225-foot-long, 640,000-pound water evaporator is slated to travel on U.S. Highway 12 September 18.
Winmill promised a ruling by week's end.