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Idaho environmentalists, USFS spar over 'megaloads

John Miller, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- An Idaho environmental group finally gets its day in front of a federal judge to argue the U.S. Forest Service shirked its responsibility to protect U.S. Highway 12 from giant oil-equipment shipments once slated to be hauled over the two-lane mountain thoroughfare through north-central Idaho.

Lawyers from Idaho Rivers United and the U.S. Forest Service will be in U.S. District Court Wednesday in the two-year-old case, filed at the height of tensions between ExxonMobil Corp., the state of Idaho and foes of the so-called "megaloads" shipments.

Idaho Rivers United argues the Forest Service should have intervened when the Idaho Transportation Department allowed ExxonMobil to haul loads between Lewiston and rich oil sands in southern Alberta.

The Forest Service argues it has no obligation to prevent Idaho from issuing oversized-load permits.