Wednesday, June 20: Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussion in Sandpoint

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At 7 pm on Wednesday, June 20, please join #No2ndBridge and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and concerned, community members for refreshments and a Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussion and slideshow presentation, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  Event hosts of this free, open meeting invite participants to bring and share snacks, stories, images, and donations, and learn about the natural and human environment of Lake Pend Oreille, the ongoing and potential traffic, pollution, and derailment dangers of fossil fuel and hazardous freight trains, and the flawed infrastructure, earthquake resilience, and emergency response capacity of the north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel.’

Together, we plan to explore and consider the significant impacts of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector proposal to construct two temporary and three permanent, parallel bridges and two miles of doubled tracks across the lake, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint.  The project would affect regional, lake and aquifer water resources, air quality, noise, public and environmental health and safety, indigenous rights, wildlife, fish, and threatened bull trout and their habitat, wetlands and shorelines, historic sites, vehicle passage, boat navigation, recreation and tourism, businesses and residences, and other, public interest factors.

For further event information and issue updates, please visit the WIRT facebook and website pages and outreach tables at Sandpoint and Moscow farmers markets and public events during the emerging season, contact us with your concerns, and print and post the accompanying flyer.  We hope to talk with you and provide printed material about this critical situation on all of these occasions!  Ask the state and federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions to fully analyze this railroad expansion with an environmental impact study and statement, as requested by the Sandpoint city council and mayor.  Thanks!  #No2ndBridge!

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Friday, June 8, Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussion in Moscow

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At 7 pm on Friday, June 8, please join Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and concerned community members and activists for refreshments, an open meeting, and a slideshow presentation about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway plans to construct two temporary and three permanent, parallel bridges and two miles of doubled tracks across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, Idaho.  PESC and WIRT event hosts will provide snacks, offer printed material, and accept admission donations at this free event that opens at 6:30 pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street in Moscow.

Through images and stories, learn about the ongoing and potential, significant impacts of north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel’ infrastructure, transportation, and expansion on regional, lake and aquifer water supplies, air quality, noise, public and environmental health and safety, threatened bull trout and fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands and shorelines, indigenous rights, historic sites, fossil fuel trains and pollution, derailment hazards, emergency responses, vehicle traffic, boat navigation, recreation and tourism, businesses and residences, and other relevant, public interest factors.  Consider how you can participate in state and federal reviews and permit decisions on BNSF applications for the proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector project, ideally analyzed through an environmental impact statement, as requested by the City of Sandpoint.

For further event and issue information, please print, post, and share the accompanying, PDF flyer, check for updates on WIRT facebook and website pages, and visit the PESC and WIRT outreach tables at Moscow Farmers Market on Saturday, June 9, and at the Farmers Markets in Sandpoint and Moscow throughout the season.  We hope to talk with you about this critical situation at all these events!

May 23 #No2ndBridge Hearings & Rally

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For decades, the Sandpoint to Spokane, railroad “funnel” community, who cherishes and relies on the clean water, air, and lands of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho for our shared economy and life ways, has endured the ongoing dangers and pollution of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.  The company hauls 95 percent of the volatile, fracked, Bakken crude oil, all of the heavy metal-laden, Powder River Basin coal, and many other toxic substances through the region, via its Northwest pipeline-on-wheels.  It spews coal dust and diesel emissions, risks and degrades the health and safety of resident and visiting people and wildlife with pollution, noise, hazardous materials transport, derailments, and accidents, including three wrecked, coal and corn trains within 33 miles of Sandpoint, between March and August 2017, and dozens of injuries and deaths of pedestrians, family pets, and vehicle drivers and passengers over the last 20 years.  Meanwhile, BNSF coerces local, state, and national citizens, elected officials, and emergency and regulatory agencies to accept and promote these escalating abuses of discounted, rural and urban, rail-line communities, advocating the consumer complicity and corporate conquests that drive gratuitous, unjust, global capitalism, basic human rights violations, and climate change.

While BNSF questionably boasts about its local jobs and monetary incentives, interstate commerce rules ensure that Idaho receives no state taxes from transiting trains.  Compared to the origins and destinations of rail freight, remote north Idaho gains much less railroad revenue and employment, and supports fewer state track inspectors and emergency response personnel and equipment.  But like all greedy industrialists, BNSF now wants even more plunder for profit, in spite of the price already paid by people and the planet for its perpetually reinforcing, increasingly destructive expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and invasion of our natural habitat.  BNSF is planning to double two miles of tracks through Sandpoint, in close proximity to small, downtown businesses and the historic railroad station still used by Amtrak, and build two temporary, construction spans and three permanent, parallel bridges across the Bridge Street access to popular City Beach Park, over the Sand Creek outlet for stream flow, boat launches, and marinas to Lake Pend Oreille, and almost a mile and 1000 piles across Idaho’s largest lake, the fifth deepest in the United States.

Apparently attempting to avoid, minimize, and expedite required, state and federal permitting and public notice and participation processes for this $100 million-plus, three- to five-year construction project, BNSF nominally postponed its Sandpoint Junction Connector project for three years, then visibly staged equipment and drilled and tested two piles for their bridge load bearing capacity and “done deal” public perception, at Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint during summer 2017.  Beyond its 250-page, joint permit application, full of engineering diagrams and lingo and inadequate, biological assessments, BNSF has yet to provide any unbiased, independent studies or reports describing and thoroughly analyzing not only the purported, public benefits of increased railroad infrastructure and traffic but also their potential, significant, adverse impacts on environmental quality, endangered species, regional safety, emergency response, vehicle traffic flow, noise and pollution levels, recreational experiences, tourism businesses, economic opportunities, and critical, lake and aquifer water resources.

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and #No2ndBridge allies in halting BNSF’s track and bridge expansion proposal: We need everyone on this frontline!  Bring your best ideas, energies, comrades, and protest signs to a community resistance rally, with speakers and drummers at 5 pm on Wednesday, May 23, at the intersection of South Division Avenue and U.S. Highway 2 in Sandpoint.  Attend and testify at one or both Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) hearings on the same day, at 8 am PDT in Suite E of the Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way in Ponderay, and at 6 pm PDT in the Sandpoint Middle School gymnasium, 310 South Division Avenue in Sandpoint.  Reasonably demand that IDL and the U.S. Coast Guard (USGC), who will also take public comments at these state meetings, respectively deny permits for lakebed encroachments, like temporary and permanent bridge piles, and for bridges across Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille. Continue reading

May 2 PRDC & WIRT Moscow Meetings, #No2ndBridge Updates

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PRDC Annual Membership Meeting

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) invites its supporters and members of PRDC affiliated, environmental groups (Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide) to attend the PRDC Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, May 2, at the Yellow House next to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street (near the 1912 Center and Van Buren Street) in Moscow, Idaho.  Please come to this casual event anytime between 5 and 7 pm, to talk with PRDC board members Cass Davis, Steve Flint, David Hall, Al Poplawsky, Pat Rathmann, Mary and Steve Ullrich, and Helen Yost, ask questions, vote for board candidates, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and pay $5 annual dues.  If you cannot participate, please send donations and dues to this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, via mail to P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID  83843, to assist its lawsuit efforts to protect native Palouse prairie remnants from U.S. Highway 95 expansion onto Paradise Ridge, and to “ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs” (PRDC mission statement).

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition

Moscow WIRT Meeting & #No2ndBridge Presentation

Invite your friends and families, and join the regional, climate activist community, #No2ndBridge group members, and WIRT organizers for the May, first-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT gathering at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 2.  Discussions and action plans include Farmers Market outreach in Moscow and Sandpoint, an oil and gas waste injection well protest and petition presentation in Boise, and ongoing, dirty energy transportation monitoring and reporting.  We especially need your participation in work on a #No2ndBridge petition, brochures, banners, a peaceful, public, Sandpoint protest, regional attendance and expert testimony at May 23 hearings and rallies with speakers in Ponderay and Sandpoint, and a summer, direct action training camp, all opposing Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway track and bridge expansion of the coal, oil, hazmat, and possibly tar sands pipeline-on-wheels across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho.

At this WIRT convergence, we are starting to present #No2ndBridge information sessions with slide shows in Moscow, Sandpoint, Missoula, Spokane, and other, inland Northwest locations.  All are welcome to bring their creative ideas and energies and potluck food and beverages, to share current, issue updates and background, and to explore strategies and tactics in support and solidarity with grassroots, Northwest resistance to the power and pollution of the fossil fuel and railroad industries.  Contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions about potential meeting topics and activities, and to coordinate overlapping campaigns and upcoming events among allies.

#No2ndBridge Updates

On February 26, 2018, the public received notices of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s joint application for “individual” (not more lenient, “general”) permits to double 2.2 miles of tracks west of its existing, main line through Sandpoint, Idaho, and to construct three permanent, parallel, rail bridges and two temporary, work spans across Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and almost a mile over Lake Pend Oreille.  This $100 million, five-year, “Sandpoint Junction Connector” project would begin in fall 2018 and degrade human and natural environments from the BNSF-Montana Rail Link track convergence, near the historic, Sandpoint, train station still utilized by Amtrak, to the North Algoma siding track across the lake, south of Sandpoint. Continue reading

Lake Bridge Comment Period, Moscow WIRT Meeting & Film, Seventh WIRT Celebration

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February 26: BNSF Lake Bridge Permit Application Release

On Monday, February 26, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) released for mere, 30-day, public review Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) joint application to construct a “2.2-mile-long, second, mainline track west of the existing, BNSF mainline, to connect the North Algoma Siding track (MP 5.1) south of Sandpoint, to the Sandpoint Junction switch (MP 2.9), where the BNSF and the Montana Rail Link (MRL) mainlines converge in Sandpoint…[The] applicant proposes to start construction in the fall of 2018.  The permit would authorize construction for a period of five years,” including rail bridges over Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille [1].

The City of Sandpoint, bigger green, organizational partners, coal/oil train/terminal opposition network, local, #No2ndBridge group, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allied activists are coordinating responses and will send comment suggestions soon, continuing frontline, second BNSF lake bridge vigilance and resistance commenced in August 2014.  “The second rail bridge is likely to be a contentious proposal within Sandpoint.  BNSF officials say the second bridge will help alleviate wait times caused by rail traffic in town.  However, with train traffic estimated to double in the area by 2035, Sandpoint officials and conservation activists worry the convenience carries a higher risk of a disastrous accident.” [2]  “The bridge proposal has drawn the opposition of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, which contends the span will ultimately exacerbate climate change, because it will facilitate the trade of domestic coal and oil products.” [3]  Although the “Port of Vancouver and Vancouver Energy, which wanted to build the nation’s largest rail-to-marine, oil terminal at the port, mutually agreed to end the company’s lease on Wednesday, [February 28,] a month early,” “an estimated 58 trains use the BNSF rail line per day.  It’s expected by 2035, that number will increase to 114 trains daily, according to a [Spokane] city report.” [4, 5]

Before sending your more thorough, written comments addressing the application for and myriad impacts of this expansion of the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels over the fifth deepest U.S. lake, please demand from the Army Corps and IDL a comment period extension of 90 days, public hearings, and a full environmental impact statement.  Alongside diverse, citizen stakeholders, many indigenous, federal, and state agencies involved in or affected by this decision (U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, and Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho departments of Environmental Quality, Historic Preservation, Lands, and Water Resources, and the Coeur d’Alene, Kalispel, Kootenai, Salish, and Spokane tribes) require additional opportunities, time, and documentation to responsibly share information and analyze this largest construction project in decades on and near Lake Pend Oreille and the hundreds of pages of the BNSF application [6].

The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest.  This decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources…Comments are used in the preparation of an environmental assessment [the current, inadequate, Army Corps choice] and/or an environmental impact statement, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing, and to determine the overall public interest in the proposed activity.

…Any person may request in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing is held to consider this proposed activity.  Requests for a public hearing shall state specific reasons for holding a public hearing.  A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.

…Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed activity, which will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final decision.  Please mail all comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, Attn: Shane Slate, Coeur d’Alene Regulatory Office, 1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814-2676, or email NWW_BNSF_Pendoreille@usace.army.mil.  Comments should be received no later than the comment due date of March 28, 2018, as indicated on this notice, to receive consideration. [1]

Issuing a separate, public notice, the Idaho Department of Lands is also holding a public comment period on the proposed project and associated materials, ending on March 30, 2018 [7].  Send your message encouraging BNSF permit denial to comments@idl.idaho.gov or through the IDL website.  Citizens can also share their concerns with the U.S Coast Guard, charged with issuing or denying permits for bridges and causeways in or over navigable waters of the United States, and overseeing compliance with National Historic Preservation Act and Endangered Species Act consultation, for the proposed bridge projects over Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille.  But the Army Corps and Coast Guard cannot grant permits until the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) evaluates whether to issue, waive, or deny Clean Water Act water quality certification for discharge of project dredge and fill material, within 60 days or, by IDEQ-requested extension, longer.  Please see the Army Corps public notice about this project, for pertinent agency contact information [1].

Besides contributing written comments, and hopefully oral testimony, toward the lopsided and thus oppressive, power dynamics of these “public participation processes,” WIRT and regional allies are planning public information sessions, targeted protests, and a summer, #No2ndBridge, direct action camp, to catalyze further resistance to this industrial invasion of crucial, home waters and wetlands. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Cocolalla & Pend Oreille Lakes Railroad Expansion, Dakota Access & Other Pipeline Leaks, Montana Tribal Anti-Pipeline Rally, Bayou Bridge Resistance, Appalachia Tree-Sitter Blockades, G20 Fossil Fuels Agreement 6-13-18


The Wednesday, June 13, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on railroad bridge and track construction around Cocolalla and Pend Oreille lakes, Moscow and Sandpoint #No2ndBridge discussions, allied, June fundraising events, Dakota Access and other pipeline leaks during 2017, a tribal, anti-pipeline rally in Great Falls, Montana, Louisiana resident resistance to the Bayou Bridge pipeline, tree-sitter blockades of an Appalachian pipeline, anti-G7 protests in Quebec, and a G20 agreement to invest in fossil fuels.  Broadcast for six 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 opposition to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Sandpoint Lake Rail Bridge Testimony & Moscow Discussion, Washington Train Injury of Teen, Newport Silicon Smelter Lawsuit, Exploratory Silica Drilling Approval, EPA Head Scott Pruitt Transfer of Water Pollution Oversight to Idaho, Small Nuclear Reactors Planned for Idaho 6-6-18


The Wednesday, June 6, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features recorded, Idaho Department of Lands hearing testimony on proposed, Sandpoint area, railroad bridge and track construction, and news and reflections on a second lake rail bridge discussion in Moscow, a teen injured by a Washington train, a lawsuit against the Newport silicon smelter land sale, Forest Service approval of exploratory, silica drilling near Lake Pend Oreille, a Boise visit by EPA head Scott Pruitt to transfer federal, water pollution authority to the state, and small nuclear reactors planned for Idaho.  Broadcast for six 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 listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Sandpoint Railroad Expansion Hearing Testimony, Rail Worker Compensation for Hearing Participation, Record Northwest Train Traffic, Tar Sands Pipeline Purchase by Canada 5-30-18


The Wednesday, May 30, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features recorded, Idaho Department of Lands hearing testimony on proposed, Lake Pend Oreille railroad bridge and track expansion, and news and reflections on Canadian government purchase of a tar sands pipeline construction project, railroad compensation of worker participation in public hearings, and recent, record-setting, Northwest train traffic.  Broadcast for six 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 listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Lake Pend Oreille Rail Bridge Hearing Testimony & Rally, Railroad Safety Violation Whistleblower, Idaho Oil & Gas Forced Pooling & Millennium Coal Terminal Rejection Lawsuits 5-23-18


The Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features recorded, Idaho Department of Lands hearing testimony on Lake Pend Oreille railroad bridge and track expansion impacts, and news and reflections on a No2ndBridge rally, railroad employee disclosure of safety violations, and federal lawsuits against Idaho oil and gas forced pooling of mineral owners and Washington state rejection of the Millennium coal terminal.  Broadcast for six 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 listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Lake Pend Oreille Railroad Expansion Hearings, Rallies, & Chamber of Commerce Speech, North Idaho Flooding, Native Idaho Governor Paulette Jordan Election Victory, Minnesota Tar Sands Pipeline Corridor Denial 5-16-18


The Wednesday, May 16, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on upcoming rallies and hearings resisting Lake Pend Oreille railroad bridge and track expansion impacts, a railroad speech at a Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Pend Oreille lake and river flooding, primary election victory for Native, Idaho gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan, and a Minnesota judicial report denying a new corridor for tar sands pipeline Line 3.  Broadcast for six 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 opposition to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.