BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest

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BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest

Saturday, September 21, 1 pm Global Climate Strike, 2 pm #No2ndBridge March

East Farmin Park, Third and Main Streets, Sandpoint

Sandpoint Monthly WIRT Meeting

7 pm Wednesday, September 18

Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street, Sandpoint

On Thursday, September 5, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final environmental assessment (EA), instead of a recommendation for a lengthier, more thorough environmental impact statement (EIS), essentially approving Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposal to build parallel, second (and consequently later third) bridges across Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho.  BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project would also double 2.2 miles of rail line through downtown Sandpoint, across Bridge Street, and almost one mile over Idaho’s  148-square-mile largest, 1,150-foot deepest lake, home to a variety of angler-prized fish and federally-listed, threatened bull trout and its critical habitat, and the heart of Bonner County’s recreation and tourism economy.

Thanks to thousands of regional citizens who diligently participated in state and federal hearings and comment periods, especially the extended, Coast Guard, draft EA, public input process that ended on May 1, several involved organizations can successfully insist on a widely requested, full, independent EIS study of this BNSF Railway bridge expansion.  Among ongoing, project resistance work since Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) #No2ndBridge Protest #3 in late April, WIRT activists, board members, and allied groups have been scheming a Sandpoint area march to protest the BNSF-pushed, USCG decision to sidestep examination of the environmental and socioeconomic implications of BNSF’s proposed railroad bridges, with a less scientifically rigorous, final EA [1].

Now, more than ever, WIRT needs your support and presence on the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline!  Join fellow, #No2ndBridge, and community activists at two events this week: 1) the Sandpoint, monthly, WIRT meeting and sign creation party at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 18, in the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, where participants will share ideas and assistance in coordinating, publicizing, and staging the upcoming march, and 2) the Global Climate Strike and BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest at 1 pm and 2 pm on Saturday, September 21, at east Farmin Park, Third and Main streets in Sandpoint, where friends and families will gather together to hear rally speakers and music, engage in climate solidarity activities, and march in opposition to climate-wrecking, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails transportation [2].

Please circulate the website-linked, PDF version of the BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for further event information and recent, #No2ndBridge issue updates, notify and invite your contacts, and bring protest signs, banners, and enthusiasm to these climate action opportunities [3].  Consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to this #No2ndBridge and WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, online through the Donate to WIRT button or by mail to our Sandpoint and Moscow mailing addresses [4].  Thanks!

Recent #No2ndBridge Issue Updates Continue reading

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Climate Justice Forum: Greta Thunberg, Idaho Climate Strikes & Gas Driller Bankruptcy, Houston Ship Channel Blockade, Valve Turner Necessity Defense Victory, Sleepy Engineer Train Wrecks 9-18-19


The Wednesday, September 18, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features a talk by European student climate strike leader Greta Thunberg, and news and reflections on upcoming climate crisis and fossil fuel infrastructure protests in Moscow, Sandpoint, and beyond, Idaho oil and gas drilling company bankruptcy and fraud investigation, a Houston ship channel blockade ahead of a presidential candidate debate, a Washington Supreme Court decision favoring a pipeline valve turner’s necessity defense, and trains wrecked by engineers with sleep apnea.  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, online, and podcast for several weeks afterward on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots 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.

Fifth Panhandle Paddle


#No2ndBridge Talk, Direct Action Training, Rally & Paddle

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists, friends, and supporters invite and heartily welcome your input and involvement during an upcoming weekend of opportunities to discuss, train for, and stage resistance to the fossil fuels and railroad industry degraders of basic, global, human, environmental, and climate health and rights.  Interior Northwest residents are coordinating and co-hosting fifth annual, Panhandle Paddle activities, to unite against regional trains hauling volatile Alberta tar sands, fracked Bakken crude oil, dusty Powder River Basin coal, and other hazardous materials, and to oppose Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s planned bridge and track construction across downtown Sandpoint, Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho [1].  We have chosen to maintain the yearly date and autonomy of Panhandle Paddle confrontations of government-rubberstamped, corporate transportation and infrastructure projects, separate from the massive, government-oriented bandwagon of September 20 and later, international, climate emergency strikes that divert and rely on local efforts to succeed, but rarely reciprocate such support [2].

Fossil fuel infrastructure use, expansion, and deterioration along and over inland Northwest waterways recklessly endanger air, water, climate, lands, lives, and communities, with the ongoing, increasing pollution and risks of coal and diesel emissions and catastrophic train wrecks, spills, fires, and explosions occurring weekly throughout the country.  Within eight months after a derailed oil train fire and spill jeopardized a nearby school, water treatment plant, and the Columbia River, in the small, scenic town of Mosier, Oregon, BNSF, Montana Rail Link, and Union Pacific imposed seven north Idaho and northwest Montana train derailments and collisions within 44 miles of Sandpoint in seven 2017 months, involving two grain and two coal trains, two vehicles with four teenagers, one dog, and two deaths [3, 4].  While WIRT directly confronted and documented BNSF’s preliminary, pile load testing for a second lake rail bridge at Dog Beach Park near Sandpoint, between May and September 2017, area railroad accidents culminated in the mid-August, wrecked train dump of tens of thousands of tons of coal into the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille watershed near Heron, Montana, upstream of river and lake drinking water sources [5].  Fully laden, flammable, crude oil and hazardous materials trains frequented the tracks surrounded by deep mounds of wreckage and spontaneously combusting, smoldering coal, which remained unremedied during five weeks of an unusually smoky wildfire season.

Since August 2014, when BNSF first proclaimed bridge expansion, and September 2015, when its plans dropped along with the price of oil, WIRT and #No2ndBridge activists have been preparing for a worst case scenario in north Idaho, as we await decisions by the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers on BNSF’s still federally unpermitted, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails bridge expansion through Sandpoint and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille [6-8].  For now, we are scheming legal maneuvers and planning regional marches in rapid response to these agency announcements, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued an uncontested, water quality certification in September 2018, and railroad and state attorney general lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, underdog, district court case against a June 2018, Idaho Department of Lands, encroachment permit for BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, in March 2019 [9, 10].  Among myriad, significant, immitigable, cumulative impacts to  the environmental and public health and safety of north Idaho, BNSF’s $100 million gamble would drive over 1000 piles into regional drinking water, threatened bull trout critical habitat, train-spewed coal deposits, and the natural amenities foundation of the Sandpoint area tourism and recreation economy, for second (and likely third), parallel, railroad bridges and temporary work spans facilitating riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic  [11].  Meanwhile, on the downtown Sandpoint, fossil fuels frontline, WIRT continues to daily document, for the #IDoiltrainwatch, #WAoiltrainwatch, and Portland tar sands opponents, every westbound, BNSF, unit train of dangerous, black tanker, and coal cars moving toward disasters waiting to happen in Lake Pend Oreille and downstream.

As the #No2ndBridge situation intensifies, we are reaching out to you, our regional network comrades, to share direct action skills and ask you to join with north Idaho, rail line communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries, to resist fossil-fueled climate change through these annual, Panhandle Paddle events on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8, in Sandpoint.  We would appreciate your participation in the talk, workshop, and paddle, your RSVP of your intentions for spots in kayaks, canoes, carpools, and camps, and your help with publicizing these free events, by sharing this event description, and printing and posting the color, letter-sized, PDF version of the WIRT website-linked Fifth Panhandle Paddle Flyer. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Fifth Panhandle Paddle, Declining Idaho Driller Stocks, Keystone XL Nebraska Approval & Boise-Built Camps, Intentional Amazon Fires 8-28-19


The Wednesday, August 28, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on the Fifth Panhandle Paddle, north Idaho fossil fuels train and railroad bridge resistance, a 2017 Montana coal train spill, declining Idaho gas driller stock prices, Boise-built Keystone XL pipeline construction camps, the death of billionaire climate denier David Koch, a Native-hosted presidential candidate forum, the first hearing of telescope blockading Hawai’in elders, a cancelled Democratic climate change debate, intentionally set Amazon fires, and Nebraska Supreme Court approval of an alternative Keystone XL route.  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, online, and podcast for several weeks afterward on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots 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: Coal Terminal Court Defeat, Thunderstorm-Derailed Trains, Railroad Crew Size Lawsuits, Bismarck Rail Bridge Dispute, North Dakota & Idaho Oil Spills, New Fruitland Forced Pooling, Federally Upheld Tribal Rulings, Line 3 & Trans Mountain Blockades 8-21-19


The Wednesday, August 21, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on a Washington court order against the Millennium coal export terminal, hundreds of railroad cars derailed by Kansas thunderstorm winds, state laws and lawsuits on train crew sizes, a controversial Bismarck railroad bridge, oil spills in Lake Pend Oreille and North Dakota, recent Montana earthquakes, a new Idaho oil and gas forced pooling application, a federal court decision upholding tribal court rulings, and Line 3 and Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline blockades.  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, and podcast for several weeks afterward on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots 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: Lake Railroad Bridge Opposition, LNG-by-Rail, Pipeline Expansions & Protests, Colville & Iowa Derailments, Railroad Street Blockage Citations 8-7-19


The Wednesday, August 7, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on a Veterans for Peace convention in Spokane, the Fifth Panhandle Paddle, Lake Pend Oreille railroad bridge opposition outreach, public input on LNG-by-rail and Dakota Access pipeline expansion, Trans Mountain pipeline construction approval and protest, train derailments in Colville and northwest Iowa, and Oklahoma citations of railroads for road blockages.  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, and podcast for several weeks afterward on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots 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: Tribal Canoe Journeys, #No2ndBridge Actions, LNG-by-Rail Comments, Oil Train Volatility, Tar Sands Mine Approval, Kalispel Airshed Protection, Hawaiian Telescope Blockade 7-31-19


The Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on canoe journeys to the Kalispel and Lummi nations, north Idaho railroad bridge resistance and outreach, Spokane climate and veterans conferences, LNG-by-rail comment opportunities, Washington oil train volatility law pushback, Canadian panel approval of a new tar sands mine, an Idaho nuclear facility wildfire, Kalispel reservation air shed re-designation, a Missouri frack sand derailment, an ExxonMobil refinery fire in Houston, and a Native Hawaiian blockade of Big Island telescope construction.  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.

Spokane Conferences, Kalispel Canoe Journey, #No2ndBridge Actions, Fifth Panhandle Paddle


Grassroots, volunteer activists of the regional collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) invite you to participate in the following, crucial opportunities for outreach and activism during the next few weeks, as we together confront the root, fossil fuel sources of climate change through direct, frontline resistance and locally organized solutions.  Please consider contributing physically as an activist and/or fiscally as a supporter of WIRT campaigns, by contacting us at our website-posted addresses or donating online at the Donate to WIRT button.  Thanks!

Online #No2ndBridge Petition

As promised to some of the hundreds of visiting and resident, Northwest citizens who have signed the paper version of the #No2ndBridge petition at the Moscow and Sandpoint Farmers Markets outreach tables of WIRT and allies, we are sharing its online version and text, to outline the numerous harms that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed, bridge and track expansion almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille and across Sand Creek and Sandpoint, Idaho, would impose on regional communities and watersheds [1].  We ask that you, too, comment and sign this Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project: THANKS!

Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

Since the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) closed its extended, May 1 deadline for public hearings and comments on the draft environmental assessment (EA) of BNSF’s north Idaho, railroad bridge expansion proposal, WIRT activists, board members, and allied groups have been preparing for the still undetermined, USCG decision and scheming upcoming, rapid-response, Sandpoint and regional marches [2, 3].  Announced within days of an outcome, during the next few weeks or months, these #No2ndBridge solidarity marches will either celebrate a Sandpoint City Council-requested, community-preferred, Coast Guard recommendation for a full environmental impact statement (EIS) studying all the environmental and socioeconomic implications of the project, or they will protest USCG issuance of a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and less scientifically rigorous, final EA.  As we vigilantly coordinate march locations, activities, and speakers, not to mention EIS-advocating attorneys, please circulate the attached, event flyer, notify your contacts, and RSVP your intentions to participate in these critical demonstrations.  Expect ongoing, issue updates and a flash-action alert with march information, via WIRT email notes, weekly radio programs, and facebook and website posts.

July 30 & 31: Indigenous Climate Summit in Spokane

With an abstract sent on June 30, WIRT requested the possibilities of giving a three-minute, “lightning” talk and presenting a poster at the 2019 Tribes and First Nations Climate Change Summit, held at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights (Spokane), Washington, on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 30 to 31 [4, 5].  Organizers for the event hosts, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), accepted our abstract entitled Regional Resistance to Fossil Fuels Pipelines on Rails and Bridges, but could not fit WIRT’s few-minute, #No2ndBridge talk into the agenda [6].  During the poster session from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, we hope to share information with Northwest tribes, whom federal agencies have not properly consulted, about proposed, BNSF expansion of its north Idaho, pipeline-on-rails bridges, for hauling Alberta tar sands, Bakken crude oil, and Powder River Basin coal.  Although the summit focuses primarily on climate change adaptation policies, we plan to interject suggestions for banning the infrastructure expansion and confronting the corporate and government sources of the fossil fuels perpetuation of the climate crisis.  Purposely frugal, radical, WIRT rejecters of the capitalism that supports fossil fuels destruction and corruption greatly appreciate ongoing, community support and three WIRT contributors who generously donated through the WIRT website button, toward the $215 registration and table fees required to host a WIRT outreach table at the conference [7, 8].

July 31 to August 3: Third Remember the Water Canoe Paddle

Canoe families and river warriors are continuing the annual tradition of the Kalispel and allied tribal, Remember the Water canoe journey, and welcome everyone to participate in different parts of the trip [9, 10].  This year, two legs of this paddle begin on Wednesday, July 31, at Priest Lake and on Thursday, August 1, at Sandpoint City Beach, then combine in Oldtown and finish at the Kalispel reservation, during the start of the Powwow on Saturday, July 3.  The dugout canoes will paddle from the Beaver Creek Campground to upper Priest Lake on Thursday, August 1, to search for rock art, pick berries, and fish.  They will next portage to the Oldtown ramp and voyage on the Pend Oreille River, to a boat-in camp on Downs Island on Friday, August 2.

Another canoe will depart Sandpoint City Beach at 9 am, after 8 am breakfast in the park, on Thursday, August 1.  Paddlers on this difficult 21 miles of Pend Oreille lake and river request that participants bring plenty of food and other provisions and be properly prepared for a solid day of work on the water.  The organizer guarantees that up to 15 first-day paddlers will receive large, free, personally-picked, huckleberry pies, available on Saturday, August 3, after landing at the Kalispel Powwow, where tribal representatives hope to recognize the paddlers before the 11 am grand entry and barbeque.

Visitors and paddlers can also join the canoe journey on Friday at Oldtown, Pioneer Park, or Sandy Shores near Newport, or on Saturday at Char Springs, Greggs Addition, Bear Paw Campground, Pondoray Shores or Davis roads, or the Usk General Store.  Contact Betty Jo Piengkham through posted phone or email avenues, for further information about the Priest Lake and later launches [9].  Send a facebook message to Nathan Piengkham, to offer food and paddling assistance for the Sandpoint leg of the canoe journey [10].  Safe paddling, everyone! Continue reading

Portland Tar Sands Terminal Comments, Moscow Oil & Gas Talk, Monthly WIRT Meetings, Idaho Lakes Rulemaking


As prompted and supported by this Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) newsletter, please consider maximizing your opportunities to participate in resistance to a Portland, tar sands export, train terminal, a southern Idaho, oil and gas issues presentation in Moscow, rescheduled, monthly, WIRT meetings in Sandpoint and Moscow, and further, public comments and hearings on Idaho navigable lakes, negotiated rulemaking.

Portland Tar Sands Terminal Forum & Comments

Anticipating a big crowd on Monday evening, July 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the University of Portland Buckley Center (5000 North Willamette Boulevard), Portland City Commissioners are hosting a public forum and hearing on the Zenith Energy tar sands crude oil terminal on the Willamette River in northwest Portland [1-2].  In 2016, the Commissioners banned new, bulk, fossil fuel terminals, but this company has pre-existing permits.  Although the City is not currently deliberating any Zenith decisions, this listening session provides an important opportunity to again wear red, share concerns, and demand action.  More than seven organizations encouraging participation in the meeting suggest requesting that the City deny all Zenith permits to expand its terminal capacity and dangerous oil-by-rail, for the following, described reasons [1].  Between April 21 and 28, 2019, Extinction Rebellion Portland twice stopped tar sands trains for four days, with 11 arrested and other blockaders amidst a “victory over fossil fuels” garden planted on the terminal tracks [3].

As a former asphalt plant, Zenith has gradually converted its terminal to exporting tar sands crude, and has transformed regional rail lines to less voluminous, Keystone XL pipelines.  Climate-wrecking, Canadian, tar sands extraction and Northwest transportation and production threaten the health and safety of First Nations and their air, water, lands, and traditional subsistence practices.  Two mid-winter, tar sands train derailments and fires in northern Ontario in 2015 proved that “dilbit” (diluted bitumen) is as volatile and flammable as Bakken crude.  Oil companies mix diluents with bitumen (the tar drawn from tar sands) to form more fluid and transportable oil.  But this crude contains odorless and deadly hydrogen sulfide gas that is heavier than air and accumulates in low places if leaked.  Worse than any other grade of oil, dilbit also sinks to the beds of water bodies when spilled, while its diluents evaporate and seriously sicken or kill nearby communities.

According to the Washington Department of Ecology, one to two Alberta and Saskatchewan, tar sands trains pass through Sandpoint and Spokane every week.  Because “Ecology” does not require oil train reports from out-of-state destinations, additional such trains could also be moving across the Northwest toward Portland.  They usually travel south from Canada, through western Washington or north Idaho and Spokane, along the Columbia River, and through Camas and Vancouver, southwest Washington, before crossing the rail bridge to north Portland.  Idaho observers of the Union Pacific Railroad line, which needs more citizen monitors, note that oil train numbers have increased during the last year.  #No2ndBridge activists watching the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway tracks through Sandpoint fear that potentially derailed, sinkable tar sands trains may traverse the Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge [4].  Portland, Seattle, and Sandpoint trainspotters are working together to determine tar sands train routes and numbers, but request more north Idaho assistance: Contact WIRT if you can help! Continue reading