Tar Sands – Montana Judge Sides With NWF Over Environment Impacts

Conservationists achieved a victory in slowing the rush to mine Alberta tar sands this evening.

In a Montana District Court case brought by Missoula County, the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club; the parties are suing the state over the permits to allow the haul of massive tar sands mining equipment from Asia through parts of the U.S. The oversize loads, or megaloads, are disruptive to ecosystems and wildlife NWF has argued. NWF has asked the judge to halt the shipments until the effects and potential hazards of the loads are thoroughly analyzed. Western Regional Executive Director and Montana based NWF attorney Tom France has pressed the case along with his co-plaintiffs.

Two months after the hearing on NWF’s motion to preliminarily enjoin Imperial Oil from moving the massive components across Montana highways to the Alberta mining operations, the Montana District Court issued an order this evening granting our motion and halting the project. The court held that the Montana Department Transportation violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider alternative routes, failing to consider decommissioning the highway modifications needed for the project and failing to conduct an independent evaluation of the proposal.  The document can be viewed here: Montana Court Order

The order comes as the state deals with a spill from the Silvertip Exxon pipeline purported to carry tar sands, and as the U.S. government considers approval of a massive tar sands pipeline project called “Keystone XL” that would cut through Montana.

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Published: July 19, 2011