Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) today for Imperial Oil's contentious Kearl Module Transportation Project, stating "The EA [environmental assessment] includes elements that satisfy the purpose of and need for the project." According to MDT Public Involvement Coordinator Paul Grant, the FONSI was signed Feb. 7. Before Imperial Oil begins moving the first of its 207 oversized modules from the Port of Lewiston to the Port of Sweetgrass, MDT still must issue the appropriate permits for the loads.
However, this isn't the first time the acronym FONSI has cropped up around Imperial Oil's transportation plan. Last fall, Eugene Weekly reporter Camilla Mortensen unearthed an MDT finding of no significant impact for the Kearl project dated August 2010. MDT Director Jim Lynch later denied that his department had drafted the document and suggested to the Helena Independent-Record that it was perhaps put together by oil company planners. This week's FONSI announcement came to local media directly from MDT. It's currently available for public review online or at the Missoula Public Library.