Much of the attention being paid to so-called mega-loads—those monolithic hunks of equipment being trucked across the Northwest to assist in the extraction of tar-like bitumen from the Alberta oil sands of Canada—has been among local activists and Native communities, reported in regional or local media.
But in at least one instance, the issue has made it to the national stage. The New Yorker recently ran a long story on the matter. About a quarter of the way in, the story mentions the Nez Perce reservation, and a bit later describes the turning point for the tribe, “which had been sitting on the legal sidelines” as the battle against mega-loads unfolded along scenic Highway 12, watching as loads grew from “logging trucks, to freight haulers, then hazardous materials,” Nez Perce Tribal Council Chairman Silas Whitman told The New Yorker ’s website.
“I’ve been at this for forty years and seen the way that they have treated the corridor,” he said.
It was when Omega Morgan tried to transport humongous evaporators through their territory that the Nez Perce took direct action, blocking the road for hours last August.
From there the conflict headed to court. The New Yorker chronicles that fight to its end, when a judge ruled in the Nez Perce’s favor.
Read Another Oil-Sands Challenge: Transporting Equipment in The New Yorker’s online edition.