KRFP recorded all except the first 15 minutes of the Tuesday, December 4, public scoping hearing for the environmental impact statement assessing a proposed new coal export facility at Cherry Point north of Bellingham. As one of up to six new planned West Coast terminals, it could increase sales of Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming to China and other Asian markets. At the meeting held in Spokane by the Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Whatcom County, most of the first 30 speakers reflected pro-coal objectives, because the Northwest Alliance for Jobs and Exports paid temporary workers to wait in line from 8 am until the start of the hearing and reserve the numbered cards that indicate the sequence of speakers. In Spokane Coal Train Hearing – Full – Part 1, KRFP Radio Free Moscow presents the first two-hour block of the three-hour hearing. It provides the rest of the recording, plus a few interviews done in the hall outside the hearing, in Spokane Coal Train Hearing – Full – Part 2.
Concerns over proposed rail shipments of coal through Montana, Idaho’s panhandle, and Washington state before being shipped to China drew more than 800 people on Tuesday to a public hearing at Spokane’s County Fairgrounds.
Boise Weekly first told you in February about how some of the globe’s biggest mining companies want to ship hundreds of millions of tons of coal through the northernmost sections of the United States.
This morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press reports that opponents of the shipments outnumbered supporters on Tuesday. Opponents waved signs that said, “Check the Facts,” and wore T-shirts that said, “Coal is a dirty, old source of energy, and its time has passed.”
Boise Weekly reported on similar protests on November 17, when members of Moscow-based Wild Idaho Rising Tide joined Occupy Spokane to rally in the Idaho panhandle town of Sandpoint, where many of the shipments would roll through.
(By George Prentice, Boise Weekly)
On Wednesday, November 28, performer and environmental educator Dana Lyons will bring his Great Coal Train Tour to Pullman, Washington, offering a community organizing workshop from 3 to 4 pm and a concert between 7 and 9 pm. Since September 8, he has visited dozens of communities throughout four Northwestern states, from Billings to Bellingham and from Portland to Coos Bay. Along the route of proposed coal export trains that could carry 160 million tons of coal per year from Montana and Wyoming to the Columbia River and West Coast and via supertanker to China, Dana’s fun, inspiring, and family-oriented concerts intermingled with place-based storytelling have fostered interest and understanding of this significant regional issue. Extending into 40-plus shows through April 13, his tour provides accurate and intricate descriptions of coal export impacts, as it catalyzes public engagement, discussion, and opposition to this regionally and globally detrimental scheme.
Singer and guitarist Dana Lyons hails from Bellingham, Washington – ground-zero of Northwest resistance to coal exports, near the largest proposed coal port facility in North America, SSA Marine’s Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Best known for his comedy hit song Cows with Guns, Dana has recorded eight albums during his lifetime artistic career, including Circle the World and At Night They Howl at the Moon: Environmental Songs for Kids. Working around the Earth to raise awareness, activism, and funds for environmental and social justice issues, Dana has collaborated with Dr. Jane Goodall and her environmental group Roots and Shoots. Besides bolstering community knowledge of potential Northwest coal exports, Dana has been meeting, learning, and networking with local residents and organizers across the region who are working to stop proposed coal mines, trains, and ports for health, safety, traffic, economic, and environmental reasons. Continue reading
With so many things happening on November 19, Tar Sands Blockade unfortunately was not able to give a proper shout-out to many of our comrades who also did solidarity actions and sent in photos during their Day of Mass Action on November 19. So with their many apologies, here are the solidarity actions that they didn’t get to post earlier.
Sandpoint, ID – Nov 17
Moscow, ID – Nov 19
Read more: Solidarity Actions
(By Tar Sands Blockade)
“When we start putting jobs and the economy ahead of the environment and our children, we’re fools”
A plan by some of the globe’s biggest mining companies to ship hundreds of millions of tons of coal by rail through Idaho’s panhandle is still in its infancy, but that’s not stopping activists from raising a ruckus.
Members of Moscow-based Wild Idaho Rising Tide joined Occupy Spokane on November 17 to take their opposition to the Idaho panhandle town of Sandpoint, where many of the shipments would roll through on a journey from Montana to the Pacific Coast. The coal would ultimately be loaded onto ships bound for China or India.
(By Zach Hagadone, Boise Weekly)
Cross-posted in the Earth First! Newswire: Groups Protest Proposed Coal Shipments through Idaho Panhandle
Nick Gier, Moscow
Bonner County Daily Bee 11/20/12
If the coal companies and their allies have their way, the nation’s largest coal terminal will be built just north of Bellingham, and 40 to 60 extra trains loaded with low-sulfur coal from southeastern Montana and Wyoming will pass through Sandpoint and Spokane.
The residents of Spokane will at least have a chance to have their concerns heard. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a “scoping” hearing on December 4 from 3 to 7 pm at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. Activists all along various rail routes are demanding that the scope of the environmental impact review be “from mines to ports,” not just the terminals themselves.
The people of Sandpoint will have no official say in this dramatic increase in train traffic. As a result, on Saturday, November 17, activists from the region converged on Sandpoint to stage demonstrations, distribute information, and protest proposals for more coal trains and ports. Continue reading
On Saturday, November 17, between noon and 4 pm, two dozen activists from Occupy Spokane and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) converged in several high vehicle and pedestrian traffic areas in Sandpoint, Idaho, with a people’s train of “rail car” protest signs, sidewalk parades, and chants. Rebuking schemes for five coal export facilities on the Columbia River and Washington and Oregon coasts and increased toxic coal train traffic from Montana and Wyoming across the Northwest, demonstrators distributed coal issue flyers and door hangers, encouraged northern Idaho participation in December 4 scoping hearings in Boardman, Oregon, and Spokane, Washington, on proposed Coyote Island and Cherry Point coal terminals, and mobilized a network of activists for direct actions at the hearings and in the field before respective December 12 and January 21 public comment deadlines. As federal, state, and county decision makers and industry perpetrators of pollution and climate change discount the concerns of communities most adversely affected by potential coal export train traffic through eastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana, by staging distant opportunities for purported public input, anti-coal organizers are demanding rescheduling of the overlapping hearings, a mine-to-port programmatic environmental impact study and statement for all coal export proposals, and hearings in Idaho and Montana to expand the current exclusionary scoping process.
Nick Gier, Moscow
Moscow-Pullman Daily News 11/16/12
If the coal companies and their allies have their way, the nation’s largest coal terminal will be built at Cherry Point, Washington, just north of Bellingham. It is estimated that 40 to 60 extra coal trains from southeastern Montana and Wyoming will pass through Sandpoint and Spokane.
Nine trains per day will be redirected to Bellingham, and the remainder will be sent to other proposed ports, through a rail system that is already at 80 percent capacity. Nearly 140 million tons of additional coal will be sent to China each year.
The residents of Spokane will at least have a chance to have their concerns heard. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a “scoping” hearing from 3 to 7 pm on December 4 at the Spokane Fairgrounds. Activists all along various rail routes are demanding that the scope of the environmental impact review be “from mines to ports,” not just the terminals themselves.
The hearings have been billed as the “biggest experiment in environmental democracy the Northwest has ever seen.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined the activists in supporting a regional impact study, and the Army Corps has already received 30,000 letters. Continue reading
Thanks to our amazing Occupy Spokane and Wild Idaho Rising Tide comrades, two dozen activists contributed to a great seven-hour November 3 brainstorming/strategizing convergence, full of enthusiastic and insightful conversations, alliances, and upcoming actions! Following through on the successes of the Northwest Extraction Resistance Workshop in June, we networked with activists from the Spokane area, northern Idaho, British Columbia, Montana, and Oregon. Among a whirlwind of creative ideas, we designed a coal export train demonstration in Sandpoint on Saturday afternoon, November 17, to instigate more public participation in the December 4 Spokane scoping hearing on proposed West Coast coal port facilities. As we learned local hearing logistics from Crystal Gartner, who has diligently worked with numerous Coal-Free Spokane volunteers over the last year to secure and populate the event, we also planned tactics and props to augment the rally and citizen involvement in the hearing and to stage an on-the-ground action before the January 21 comment deadline. Heartfelt thanks to Terry for initiating this gathering and inviting western Washington allies’ input, to Val for workshop food provision, Nick for round-trip alternative fuel transportation between Moscow and Spokane, and to Andy, Peter, Cheryl, and Kerry for traveling so far to participate. As we left this last event ever held in the former Rainbow Tavern of the International District in Spokane, Peter of Oregon said, “You know, 100 years from now, people will point to that building and say ‘That is where a small group of people met and made the plans that stopped the coal trains.’” To join in discussions about coal export train direct actions, please join the facebook group Stand Up Fight Back Against Big Coal in the Northwest and/or our Spokane workshop email list shared among about 30 activists.
(All photos provided by Aaron Kathman of OUTSIDEmedia.)
FIRST UPDATE: On Friday and Saturday, January 4 and 5, Wild Idaho Rising Tide and Occupy Spokane are hosting coal export direct action training, brainstorming, and planning sessions in Moscow and Spokane, with a preview screening of the British climate activism film Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day Outlaws, to organize a multi-state, concurrent action on Saturday, January 12. We anticipate train track/roadside coal protests in Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, Spokane, and perhaps other Montana cities, against the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal port at Cherry Point near Bellingham, associated coal mining and railroad transport and subsequent devastation of land, water, air, and human and wildlife health, and an environmental impact scoping process that blatantly excludes Idaho, Montana, and eastern Washington concerns. Join us at 7 pm on Friday evening, January 4, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, and/or at noon on Saturday, June 5, in Room 1A of the Spokane Public Library, 906 West Main Street in Spokane. We welcome all concerned activists at this discussion of demonstration strategies and legal protest rights followed by the movie screening. Expect another update about protest logistics on Sunday, January 6, and please comment by Thursday, January 3, on Morrow Pacific project proponent Ambre Energy’s removal-fill permit application to the Oregon Department of State Lands, to build coal transfer facilities at Boardman, Oregon. For more information, see WIRT member Nick Gier’s essay, Coal Trains Threaten Environment and Public Health, this WIRT website post, and the December 19 WIRT Newsletter: Solstice Party, Coal Export Comments, Hearings, & Other News. Continue reading