BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

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Thanks to each of you for your diligent, ongoing, resistance work on the north Idaho, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway bridge expansion issue!  Since Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) #No2ndBridge Protest #3 and the extended, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), draft environmental assessment (EA) comment deadline on May 1, WIRT board members, activists, and allied groups have been scheming a Sandpoint area march on an unknown but rapid-response date [*].  The march will either celebrate the still undetermined, Coast Guard decision to recommend a full environmental impact statement (EIS) studying the implications of BNSF’s proposed railroad bridges across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, or protest USCG issuance of a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and less scientifically rigorous, final EA.

Because the involved Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula organizations are so proficient at together rallying successful, similar, regional marches and public hearings, we are asking for your and their assistance in co-planning, publicizing, and staging this event.  Please share your ideas about this opportunity (best locations, activities, speakers, days and times of the week, etc.), notify your contacts about this upcoming march via phone, email, texts, and facebook messages, and especially RSVP your intentions to participate in this critical demonstration, by responding to this email note or the facebook event [*].  We need your preparation help with inviting and bringing at least 75 to 100 people to this Sandpoint area, family-friendly march and regionally coordinated solidarity actions.  Please circulate the BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for updates, and expect a flash-action alert with further event information, within days of a Coast Guard decision during the next few weeks or months.

Please consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, at our mailing addresses or online at Donate to WIRT.  Thanks!

[*] BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

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Idaho Lake Rules, Moscow Oil & Gas Talk, Sandpoint WIRT Meeting


Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is initiating negotiated rulemaking until July 12, and holding statewide, public meetings during early June, for IDAPA 20.03.04, the administrative rules “governing the regulation of beds, waters, and airspace over navigable lakes in the state of Idaho” [1].  These modifications may directly result from Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) litigation of different sections of these rules, in our eight-month petition for judicial review of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s IDL-granted, June 2018, encroachment permit for proposed rail bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille.  We will provide more information for your comments, extracted from court records and insights, through a WIRT website post during the next few weeks [2].  IDL is holding 5 pm MDT or PDT, public hearings in Sandpoint on Monday, June 17, in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday, June 18, in McCall on Wednesday, June 19, and in Boise on Thursday, June 20.

Oil & Gas Issues Presentation in Moscow

The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) is hosting a Skyped talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, June 18, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow.  Shelley will discuss oil and gas fracking and acidizing issues in Idaho, including citizen court challenges of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) integration process that forces landowners to lease their privately owned mineral rights to oil and gas companies.  WIRT encourages you to attend, videotape, and/or record this Moscow City Council Commission meeting that will consider Shelley’s report and take further, appropriate actions.  Please see the linked, meeting agenda, and/or contact SEC at sec@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7133 [3].

Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

WIRT activists would greatly appreciate your help in arranging summer presentations, training workshops, direct actions, and probable litigation, while reaching out to trustworthy and competent activists and attorneys across our regional network.  From among the good company of too few radicals always striving to slow and stop too many corporate conquests, WIRT invites you to attend a June potluck gathering, talk about tactics, offer your unique advice and assistance, and pursue your climate activism passion with us.  As during previous seasons, we are meeting at 7 pm on the third Wednesday of every month: June 19 at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint. Continue reading

Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking


(DRAFT) The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is initiating negotiated rulemaking and hosting statewide, public meetings during early June, for IDAPA 20.03.04, the administrative rules “governing the regulation of beds, waters, and airspace over navigable lakes in the state of Idaho” [1].  These modifications of different sections of the rules that Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) challenged, in our eight-month petition for judicial review of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s IDL-granted, June 2018, encroachment permit for its proposed rail bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, may directly alter WIRT litigation results.  After the May 23, 2018, hearings on the BNSF bridges and concurrent with our First District Court case, IDL also pursued lake rules amendments and hearings for the same regulations during 2018 and 2019 [2].  The Idaho Legislature approved the resulting, “negotiated” rules mere weeks after Judge John Judge dismissed our earnest appeal, on statutory standing issues, not the merits of our arguments. However, the sections under revision sidestep permit protocol for non-navigational encroachments, like industrial scale, railroad bridges, and do not remedy the state violations of “public trust” that concerned citizens opposed through comments, hearings, and the courts.

The notice of intent to promulgate rules, on page 64 of the June 5, 2019 state administrative bulletin, and the first, preliminary draft of the negotiated rule posted to the IDL website on June 11 (a week after the comment period opened on June 5), addresses IDL shortfalls of funding to manage navigable waterway beds and process encroachment permit applications, collected exclusively from application fees for docks, water-intake lines, and assignments, not from general tax revenue.  Because current, IDL costs exceed these fees, IDL is considering raising such fees, and potentially removing the fee schedule from the rules, to have encroachment permit fees set within Idaho code limitations by the Idaho land board (besides IDL and intervenor BNSF, another WIRT lawsuit opponent).

The proposed rule changes would additionally specify that IDL provide notice to adjacent property owners of applications for all noncommercial, navigational encroachments covered in section 25 of the lake rules, but not similarly notify impacted parties of potential non-navigational encroachments, as prescribed in section 30.  While scrutinizing the state administrative record for the WIRT appeal of BNSF’s permit, we noticed many missing IDL letters to neighbors directly adjacent to the railroad right-of-way/easement.  Item 29 on page 7 of BNSF’s application to IDL requires railroad provision of contact information of all adjacent property owners.  As apparent in records supplied to the court, rubberstamping IDL sent letters to only four of the 14 BNSF-listed parties, at the onset of permitting and public participation processes in February 2018.  BNSF’s bridge and track expansion construction and continued operation would directly impact these stakeholders, who had previously shared their concerns with state and federal agencies, and their private, public, and commercial property values, use, and enjoyment. IDL dismissed its own blatant disregard of the public trust interests of adjacent landowners, with May 23, 2018 hearing testimony given by Dianne French of IDL, which the preliminary order recommending a BNSF rail bridges encroachment permit repeated verbatim, except the last sentence: Continue reading

June Meetings, Trainings, & Marches!


Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March! (excerpted elsewhere)

Sunday, June 2: Extinction Rebellion Meeting, Moscow

An emerging chapter of Extinction Rebellion is organizing in the Moscow-Pullman area, as part of the international, apolitical network engaging non-violent, direct action to persuade governments to act on current climate and ecological emergencies [1].  Gather for the first meeting between 5 and 6 pm on Sunday, June 2, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.

Sunday, June 2: Know Your Rights Training, Moscow

The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) of Eugene, Oregon, is hosting a know-your-rights training called Empowering People to Organize for the Climate and Community [2].  While traveling to Montana for a workshops tour, Lauren Regan, the founder, executive director, and senior staff attorney of CLDC, is offering a special training for north Idaho climate defenders.  With 22 years of experience as an activist defense lawyer, representing ShellNo and Break Free Northwest blockaders, many Standing Rock water protectors, and all of the tar sands pipeline valve turners, Lauren also serves as the legal coordinator for the Protect the Protest coalition against SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation, usually filed by corporations to stymie activist opposition).  Please spread this event news, share the CLDC Know Your Rights Training Flyer, and join Lauren, Extinction Rebellion, and WIRT from 6 to 8:30 pm on Sunday, June 2, in the 1912 Center Fiske Room at 412 East Third Street in Moscow.

Wednesdays, June 5 & 19: WIRT Monthly Meetings, Moscow & Sandpoint Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Solar Storm Auroras, Sandpoint Fire Demolition, Railroad Bridges EIS Support, Washington Opposition to Fracking, Oil Trains, & Gas Projects, Delayed Newport Smelter Study & Governor Support 5-15-19


The Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on a geomagnetic storm increasing U.S. aurora displays, Sandpoint demolition of burned downtown buildings, support for stronger environmental review of north Idaho railroad bridges expansion, Washington bans on fracking, volatile oil trains, and governor opposition to natural gas projects, and a delayed environmental study and inconsistent governor support for the Newport silicon smelter.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Portland Tar Sands Terminal Blockaders, Sandpoint Railroad Bridges Protest & Comments, Idaho Order Vacating Forced Oil & Gas Leases 5-1-19


The Wednesday, May 1, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features a Portland conversation among Mia Reback, Jan Zuckerman, and Ken Ward, discussing two Zenith Energy tar sands train terminal blockades and city bans of fossil fuel infrastructure.  We also cover news and reflections on a deadly Seattle construction crane collapse, a possibly catastrophic West Coast earthquake and tsunami, a second British Columbia tar sands terminal tree-sit, indigenous B.C. anti-pipeline statements at a United Nations forum, a tribal legal victory against Ecuador oil development, a north Idaho railroad bridges protest, extended comment period, and first annual thunder rainbow, and an Idaho oil and gas commission order vacating forced landowner leases.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

#No2ndBridge Protest #3 & Extended Comments


#No2ndBridge Protest #3

At the third of many likely demonstrations, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and indigenous and climate activists for regional resistance to Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway expansion of its fossil fuels and hazardous materials pipelines-on-rails tracks and two temporary and three permanent bridges across the recreation, tourism, and vacation destination town of Sandpoint, Idaho,  through the downtown marinas, hotels, restaurants, and shops along Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest, forested mountain lake, Pend Oreille, home waters of the Kalispel and inland Northwest tribes and the critical habitat of threatened bull trout.  Bring protest signs, banners, voices, and snacks to share, along with the inspiration of speakers, drums, and prayers among fellow, water protectors and concerned, community members, at this frontline, Dog Beach Park rally southeast of Sandpoint, at 1 pm on Sunday, April 28.

#No2ndBridge Extended Comments

Perhaps due to the procedural mistakes of the lead, federal agency overseeing BNSF bridge permits and project analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), over 2,300 written and spoken comments opposing the project and demanding better environmental review, and WIRT and allied requests to extend the comment period to 90 days, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) re-opened for another 30 days (77 total days), until 9 pm on Wednesday, May 1, your potentially last chance to comment on BNSF’s insufficient, draft environmental assessment (EA) of benefits and harms resulting from BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project [1].  Although NEPA guidelines suggest preparation of concise EAs with no more than 10 to 15 pages, the length alone of the current, BNSF/Jacobs Engineering/U.S. Coast Guard, draft EA, with 116 pages and 12 appendices, indicates that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is needed for such a complex, flawed proposal with significant, but difficult to determine, environmental effects [2, 3].

For further information and comment suggestion resources to assist your letter, see the enclosed links and continually updated posts on the WIRT facebook and website pages [4-6].  Please search for USCG-2018-1085 at the federal, e-rulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov), and review your project issue(s) of concern among the draft EA documents.  With your individually unique comments addressing draft EA deficiencies and offering counter-facts, provide personal reasons and affiliations for your project-affected interests and your specific, substantive objections to BNSF project-inflicted harms.  Through the “Comment Now” button, respectfully ask the Coast Guard for:

1) A draft EA comment period extension to 120 days, to better engage seasonal and summer residents and diverse stakeholders,

2) Public, draft EA, and EIS scoping hearings, involving all pertinent agencies, organizations, and citizens, held in the most impacted city, Sandpoint,

3) Core samples and analysis of pollution in the lake bed, railroad right-of-way/easement,

4) Broader considerations of alternative, bridge and location designs and options, especially a rail route off the lake,

5) A more scientifically rigorous, unbiased, independent (not BNSF-contracted), full environmental impact study and statement that comprehensively evaluate the significant, direct, indirect, and cumulative project impacts, and

6) Inclusion of your remarks and accompanying material, supporting an EIS, not a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final EA, in the public record and final decisions for docket USCG-2018-1085.

Besides writing and posting your comments to USCG at Regulations.gov, also send them to the following agency officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (regulating dredge and fill discharges and wetland impacts through a pending permit), the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (overseeing project water quality impacts with a Clean Water Act section 401 certification issued on September 21, 2018), and the Idaho Department of Lands (rubberstamping lake bed and water impacts with an encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, and challenged by WIRT, but dismissed on statutory standing grounds by Idaho district courts).

If you and your friends and family cannot find time to write to the Coast Guard and other agencies, we encourage you to sign with your comments WIRT’s Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, which lists significant impacts of railroad bridge construction and operation on multiple, pertinent factors [7].  We will send petition signatures and remarks posted by midnight on April 30 to the Coast Guard et al.

#No2ndBridge Background & Context Continue reading

Forced Pooling & Acid Fracking in Idaho


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is completing newsletters about eighth WIRT celebrations, dismissal of our state court case against doubled, north Idaho, railroad bridges, a re-opened, Coast Guard, comment period on that BNSF proposal, and other related topics, delayed by a recent week of long-overdue rest.  But we are sending this 2019, southwest Idaho, oil and gas information first, drawn from WIRT facebook posts and lodged on the WIRT website on April 17, in solidarity and support of a Tuesday evening, April 16, talk in Moscow.

CAIA Presentation in Moscow

The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) will host a Skyped, slide presentation and talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, April 16, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow, Idaho [1].  Shelley will discuss oil and gas well issues in Idaho, including landowner and CAIA, legal challenges of state forced pooling/integration processes, by which the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Department of Lands force property owners to lease their mineral resources and rights to oil and gas companies.  Please attend this insightful event and/or contact SEC at sec@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7133, for further information.

Forced Pooling Court Decisions & Public Input

“U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill had ruled in August that the Idaho Department of Lands’ procedure for forcing mineral rights from unconsenting owners into pools for extraction violated due process.  After Winmill reaffirmed the ruling on February 1, the state faced a deadline early in March to formally appeal…CAIA, an Eagle-based group which had joined in the suit challenging the forced pooling methods, noted…that the state had opted not to contest Winmill’s ruling…Idaho Department of Lands hasn’t announced next steps to address the due process shortcoming [2].

…Unlike the CAIA-led suit against Idaho gas and oil regulators, the class action complaint filed March 1 in Payette County was brought by [nine local] lessors who signed [six] agreements to lease their mineral rights.  The complaint seeks to end [gas producer] Alta Mesa’s alleged practice of deducting a portion of the producer’s midstream expenses from the lessors’ royalty checks [that the oil and gas leases do not expressly authorize].  It also points to a requirement under the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Act that interest of 12 percent be added to royalty payments not paid within 60 days of their due date…The action is brought on behalf of the class of all ‘persons who are or were royalty owners in Idaho wells where defendants [various Alta Mesa entities and others] are or were the operator…from January 1, 2014 to the date class notice is given…The class claims relate to royalty payments for gas and its constituents (such as residue gas, natural gas liquids, or drip condensate)’” [2].

Despite a Tuesday, April 9, deadline for comments, please write an email to Kourtney Romine (kromine@idl.idaho.gov) at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and blind-copy your input to CAIA (sb-caia@hotmail.com), objecting to the state practice of forced lease pooling that allows oil and gas drilling operations against property and mineral owners’ wishes, and providing suggestions for better processes to protect vulnerable communities from similar, future activities, as prompted by the linked, CAIA, talking points and ideally regulated by proposed rulemaking [3].  If possible, also attend and/or watch the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) hearing at 1 pm on Tuesday, April 23, to pack room EW 42 of the state capitol and/or testify for three minutes about “just and reasonable” terms for future, forced pooling applications that impose inadequate compensation and profound risks on Idaho citizens.  Thanks to Shelley Brock of CAIA for her action alert!

Acid Fracking of Payette County Wells

Since July 2018, Alta Mesa has been matrix acidizing the tight sandstone formation reservoirs reached by Payette County oil and gas wells, with extremely hazardous hydrofluoric acid and xylene, chemically dissolving deposits and stimulating hydrocarbon flow under lower pressures than hydraulic fracturing (fracking), without providing essential information, undergoing application review, and sending final reports on well treatments and waste fluid disposal to state regulators, who did not file an unpublicized, administrative complaint and charges until February 5, 2019.  Meanwhile, IDL and Alta Mesa officials have countered numerous citizen concerns about hydraulic fracturing with public statements like one by Lieutenant Governor Brad Little during a televised, late-October 2018, gubernatorial debate: “There is no fracking in Idaho” [4].  Hundreds of informal, WIRT petition signatures against fracking and associated waste injection wells were stolen from a vehicle within days of that broadcast. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Eighth WIRT Celebrations, Lake Rail Bridge Case Dismissal, Oil & Gas Royalties & Acidizing Lawsuits, Utility Clean & Nuclear Energy Pledge, Train Road Blockage 4-3-19


The Wednesday, April 3, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news, reflections, and music from eight annual celebrations of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, proposed north Idaho railroad bridges comments and state permit litigation dismissal, citizen and state lawsuits against underpaid royalties and acid fracking of Idaho oil and gas wells, Idaho utility “clean energy” pledge inclusion of mini-nuclear power, eastern Washington train blockage of roads, and other topics.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

Eighth Annual Celebrations of Wild Idaho Rising Tide


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is celebrating its March 31, eighth anniversary as a regional, climate activist collective confronting the root causes and perpetrators of climate change, through direct actions and locally organized solutions.  We invite and welcome everyone of all ages to share this milestone at two Eighth Annual Celebrations of Wild Idaho Rising Tide in Moscow and Sandpoint.  These benefit concerts offered by north Idaho poets and musicians feature potluck snacks and beverages and a background slide show of WIRT activities at both locations.  Come and enjoy our yearly festivities that raise awareness, involvement, and funds supporting our #No2ndBridge lawsuit and relentless, volunteer, WIRT activism, in solidarity with frontline communities and grassroots networks of fossil fuel resistance [1, 2].

WIRT activists, members, friends, and allies eagerly anticipate these lively musical and social gatherings.  Suggested admission donations of $5 or more at the doors to these otherwise free, public events assist the dedicated work of WIRT and allies to banish new and expanded, fossil fuel infrastructure throughout the Northwest.  Please join dirty energy resisters for a well-deserved, reinvigorating evening full of shared camaraderie, spirited conversations, exuberant dancing, good food and drink, and live music of multiple genres, played by talented, visiting, and resident songwriters and performers.

Moscow: Friday, March 29, 7 to 10 pm at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street

Fiddlin’ Big Al & Guests

KRFP Radio Free Moscow DJ and board member and core WIRT and Standing Rock activist, Fiddlin’ Big Al Chidester of Moscow plays ragtime, honky-tonk piano, fiddle, and guitar, singing old-timey, country blues and original, socio-political satire songs.  Al started the practice of playing traditional, phase-shifted, electric viola, adding to his multi-instrumental, experimental Americana repertoire on mandolin, banjo, dobro, and lap steel guitar.  He writes humorous, topical songs about peace, freedom, and political hypocrisy, some recorded on his 2004 album Where Were You the Night New Orleans Drowned? and Other Songs for Our Time.  Besides performing at Northwest barter fairs and hosting a long-running, jam session at the Moscow Moose Lodge, Fiddlin’ Big Al broadcasts several, weekly, KRFP, music shows, giving airplay to an eclectic mix of genre-bending music, recorded performances from regional venues, and occasional, live, studio sessions [3].

Sandpoint: Saturday, March 30, 7 to 10 pm at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street

Open-Mic Poetry

Everyone who would like to read or perform their creative work can sign up starting at 7 pm for a five-minute spot on the stage mic opening at 7:30 pm.

Kevin Dorin

A one-man band who performs folk, rock, and blues, Kevin hales from his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, as a soulful blues traveler influenced by the music of Ryan Adams, Feist, Jack Johnson, and Maticulous. He plays electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, and sings covers and original songs [4]. Continue reading