WIRT Newsletter: Solstice Party, Coal Export Comments, Hearings, & Other News

Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day OutlawsHappy Winter Solstice, Brave Comrades!


Wednesday, December 19: Palouse Transition (to a post-fossil fuel world!) meeting, including possible working groups addressing food, transportation, and energy, at 5:30 pm in the lower room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse

Thursday, December 20: Public comment period deadline, which should be extended upon your request, for Australian coal company Ambre Energy’s applications for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality air and storm water pollution permits to operate the proposed Coyote Island coal terminal at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon

Friday, December 21: Winter Solstice Party Core Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) radical Cass Davis personally invites you and all of his local fellow activists and friends to his shared home on the south side of Paradise Ridge, for a kid-friendly winter solstice party on Friday, December 21.  He and his partner Erika are providing fried fish – crappie caught in north Idaho lakes – and french fries grown in their garden on the ridge, cooked between 4:30 and 6:00 pm, after which they hope to light a bonfire.  Although not necessary, they encourage guests to bring their drinks of choice and other potluck food, but no dogs.  They have two of their own dogs and their visiting friends have another two, so the chaos of constantly watching additional dogs could mar the party enjoyment of both hosts and guests.  But if snow still covers the ground on Friday, please come early for skiing and sledding during daylight hours before the fish fry.  Engaging in plenty of political discussion around the table and fire, the party will last until the end of the world or until we all run out of steam.

Thursday, January 3, 2013: Comment period conclusion for Coyote Island port proponent Ambre Energy’s removal-fill permit application to the Oregon Department of State Lands, extended to a third thirty days thanks to the Yakama Tribe’s alleged notification exclusion and 16,000 dissenting petition signatures (website includes other comments)

For more information and comment suggestions on these Morrow Pacific Project proposals, fast-tracked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with only an environmental assessment, not a full environmental impact statement (EIS) like for the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal near Bellingham, see the Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and WIRT websites, listen to Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky of Columbia Riverkeeper on the Monday, December 3, Climate Justice Forum radio program, and read the following articles and attached three documents (DEQ Hearing Talking Points, Memo Re Land Use at Port Westward, and Coalition Public Comment on Removal-Fill Permit Application).  With your submitted remarks, request comment period extensions, public hearings in Idaho and Montana, and a region-wide programmatic EIS examining the cumulative impacts of ALL associated coal mines, trains, and ports, as advised by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Saturday, January 5 (tentative): Coal export direct action training, brainstorming, and planning session in Moscow or Spokane, perhaps with a public screening of the British climate activism film Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day Outlaws, to organize a multi-state, concurrent action on January 12

Saturday, January 12 (tentative): Track/road-side coal protests in Sandpoint, Spokane, Missoula, and perhaps other Montana cities, against the proposed Gateway Pacific coal port at Cherry Point near Bellingham and its scoping process exclusion of Idaho and Montana concerns

Sunday, January 13 (tentative): Community-led presentation/field trip exploring the Highway 95 re-routing over western Paradise Ridge proposed by the Idaho Transportation Department and the Federal Highway Administration (Please see ongoing issue updates at Highway 95 Re-Route on the WIRT website.)

Monday, January 21: Deadline for comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County for public scoping of an upcoming draft environmental impact statement concerning the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal port at Cherry Point near Bellingham

Like your messages to the two Oregon state agencies deliberating Morrow Pacific permits, we encourage you to send multiple comments, especially from Idaho and Montana, raising the distant environmental, social, and cultural concerns that the Corps and lead Washington agencies currently discount in their project reviews.  Your testimony about any and all potential problems that they should study forms the foundation for future legal actions and underscores the necessity of a mine-to-port programmatic EIS and hearings in Idaho and Montana.  For comment logistics and prompts, explore the partner organization links in the WIRT website post Four-State Coal Export Protests & Hearings and the following articles and audio files derived from successful anti-coal export rallies and hearings in Spokane, Vancouver, and Seattle.  Voice your outrage about every possible detriment of coal export schemes to railroad dirty coal through regional terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for combustion in China that blows climate-wrecking, mercury-laden smoke back into the Northwest.

Wednesday, January 23: Public informational/comment hearing about the draft environmental impact statement for eastern realignment of U.S. Highway 95 between Thorn Creek Road and Moscow, held by the Idaho Transportation Department and Federal Highway Administration between 2 and 8:30 pm at the Best Western University Inn

Wednesday, February 6: Anti-megaload, oral arguments before Judge B. Lynn Winmill in U.S. District Court in Boise, in a landmark case brought by Advocates for the West representing Idaho Rivers United, who assert the responsibility and authority of the Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration to protect the wild and scenic Middle Fork Clearwater/Lochsa river corridor surrounding Highway 12 from destructive megaload transports

January: WIRT could host Kai Huschke of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in Spokane, to describe a prospective (county) community bill of rights that may provide the most (if not only) effective, pro-active measure and litigation tool when (not if) the final record of decision forces Highway 95 up Paradise Ridge.  As WIRT has explained to a few dozen area conservation and human rights organizations over the last year, more than 150 towns, cities, and counties have codified such a local “declaration of independence” to check harmful corporate activities and their government facilitation.  Pittsburgh enacted such a bill to ban fracking, and Bellingham qualified one for its ballot to reject increased coal train traffic.

January/February: the last legislative hearings and citizen and corporate hurdles before first fracking in Idaho…


Columbia River Coal Plan Gets First Hearing in Boardman (December 4 Northwest Public Radio)

Coal Export Meeting in Portland Draws a Crowd of About 800 (December 6 Oregonian)

Coal Opponents, Supporters Speak at Hearing (December 12 Clatskanie Chief)


Spokane, Washington: Tuesday, December 4

Many citizens and organizations contributed to the democratic successes of the Tuesday, December 4, Spokane scoping hearing about the proposed Bellingham area coal port.  We offer our heartfelt appreciation of all of our comrades who organized near home and who traveled so far to advance our battle against Big Coal.  Organizer Crystal Gartner, the Sierra Club, Coal-Free Spokane, and Power Past Coal, as well as the Spokane and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers, worked during the last year to raise issue awareness and hearing turnout.  But dedicated, unselfish groups of activists from four states played crucial on-the-ground roles before and during the public meeting and reminded us all that, like Bill Moyer of Backbone Campaign says, “You can accomplish anything as long as you aren’t interested in who gets the credit.”  But because we esteem the myriad efforts of our colleagues, we would like to acknowledge the hearing participation of some of our region’s strongest activists.  We are proud to be associated with all of the people who poured their energies into this event, each contributing to our shared endeavor in their own unique way, with whatever abilities and resources they have to offer.  We Idahoans are fortunate to be part of the Spokane area community and to work with Occupy Spokane as our closest partnering group.  We thoroughly enjoyed networking at the scoping hearing, even though we missed both of our oral testimony opportunities, due to relinquishing a late-attained spot to Native American women and our even later number never being called.  Thanks to Ashley, Cindy, and Pat of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Brett and Gary of Friends of the Clearwater, Brian and his fellow WSU students, and Cass, Nick, and Helen of WIRT for traveling almost 100 miles to participate and maintain your strong level of activism in the Northwest.  We are proud to stand with each of you and look forward to more collaborative events.

Montanans Bus 1,000 Miles for Voice in Coal-Export Debate (December 11 Missoula Independent)

Spokane graciously hosted many out-of-town guests at the hearing: Donna and Mark traveled from Bellingham, and Kim, who we first met at our Sandpoint action, came from Hayden.  The Northern Plains Resources Council and possibly Power Past Coal chartered a Montana bus that began its trip from Billings at 4 am and stopped to pick up passengers, including members of the Blue Skies Campaign who organized the Coal Export Action, in Helena, Missoula, and other cities along the way.  We spoke to the busload of our Montana allies before their departure and suggested a coordinated Idaho, Montana, and eastern Washington track-side protest in mid-January, before the January 21 scoping period deadline.  Occupy Spokane and WIRT are coordinating another brainstorming/networking/planning session soon to accomplish this and related goals.

Day Laborers Being Used as Pro-Coal Placeholders for Today’s Public Hearing (December 4 Pacific Northwest Inlander)

Alerted by comrades and a Daily Kos report about pro-coal interests packing a Ferndale coal export hearing, Occupy Spokane activists Hank, Larry, Steve, Valerie, Ziggy, and others arrived as early as 7 am, stood in the cold all day, and secured the first five oral testimony places in line at the hearing, allowing Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and a Cherokee elder from Wyoming to give opening comments.  But over 30 Labor Ready temporary day laborers, hired for minimum wage by Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports and other pro-coal groups, saved speaking spots at 9 am, before the 4 to 7 pm hearing at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.  “Those people are definitely not testifying; they’re not staying for the meeting,” said Alliance spokesperson Lauri Hennessey about the day laborers.  Nonetheless, anti-coal export advocates provided the majority of extensive, factual testimony, while railroad workers whined about jobs.

Public Commenters at Coal-Export Hearing to be Selected by Drawing (December 7 Seattle Times)

Activists in Spokane and northern Idaho called for volunteer placeholders and/or speakers for the hearing, to counter the common (legal?) practice of industry paying line-savers to horde oral testimony spots for the few supporters of these bulk export terminals that typically show up for such events, like at various megaload meetings.  Our early arriving Occupy Spokane comrades alerted April Beasley of the dramatic free-speech lock-out situation, and she notified the Spokane press, who verified and exposed the scandal involving hired day laborers.  Many news outlets reported and spread the story, ultimately impacting speaker selection processes at the last two Gateway Pacific Terminal hearings in Vancouver and Seattle, where officials drew the names of testifiers by lottery.  Our Spokane colleagues made this difference: Good job!

Coal Export Rally – Local & Regional Leaders & Activists Speak (Aaron Kathman, OUTSIDEmedia video)

Terry and Valerie of Occupy Spokane invested plenty of work preparing for this Spokane event, crafting fantastic coal train protest signs, organizing people and setting up props, and driving folks around in the OccuVan.  But our Bellingham comrades also contributed greatly to public outreach and effective messages to the panel of official meeting presiders.  Bill Moyer and Eric Ross from Backbone Campaign, hosted by Joan and Ted while they were in town, travelled from Vashon Island in western Washington and shared their props, hung banners, and shined their NO COAL lights with Occupy folks around Spokane during a few nights before the hearing.  Liz advised the pro-coal Labor Ready placeholders that it was time to go home, and Lorie asked them about the last book that they ever read!  Oh, and did we mention the robust songs of the Raging Grannies?  Occupy Spokane achieved many incredibly beneficial goals at and before the hearing: it is our privilege to contribute to events and the regional community with them!

Coal Export Hearing (Aaron Kathman, OUTSIDEmedia photos)

Thanks to Aaron for these great photos of the rally and scoping hearing in Spokane on Tuesday afternoon and evening, December 4: they depict the busload of 50 Montana citizens, 30 hired pro-coal line placeholders, Backbone Campaign, Occupy Spokane, Sierra Club, Waterkeeper, and WIRT activists, and stalwart Spokane organizers and residents voicing and demonstrating their resistance to yet another corporate dirty energy incursion: the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, Washington.

Coal Shipment Opponents: ‘They’re the Dirtiest, Most Dangerous Trains’ (December 5 Boise Weekly) (website excerpted)

The Sierra Club’s Coal-Free Spokane organizer, Crystal Gartner, rocked the December 4 Gateway Pacific Terminal scoping hearing, sending ripples all the way to Boise, who again mentioned WIRT/Occupy Spokane’s Sandpoint coal export protest…

Northwest Coal Port Hearing Draws 800 at Fairgrounds (December 5 Spokesman-Review)

Spokane, Missoula, and Moscow coal export opponents Wayne, Ginger, April, Nick, Valerie, Ziggy, Helen, and Cindy appeared in the front-section photo of the December 5 Spokesman-Review.  The picture showed their physical responses to a pro-coal speaker’s testimony, in the only silent, permissible manner allowed by hearing officials receiving public comments on the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal.

Supporters, Opponents Gather for Coal Train Hearing (December 4 Spokane KXLY TV)

North Idaho WIRT member Cheryl noted that the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports ran a full page ad in The Spokesman-Review on Thursday, November 29, in support of building “new bulk export terminals.”  The Alliance asked people to “Stand up for Northwest jobs at a public hearing on December 4 to discuss the Gateway Pacific Terminal.”  In this news report, Kylee Cruz of Spokane KXLY TV confirms that “Hundreds of supporters and opponents were at the Spokane County Fairgrounds to rally in support of – or protest against – coal trains moving west through Spokane.”

Battle Over Coal Trafficking Heats Up at Hearing (December 5 EcoWatch)

Because we have shared previous campaigns with each of them, WIRT activists were exhilarated to see Spokane Riverkeeper Bart Mihailovich and Waterkeeper Alliance’s Western Regional Director Lesley Adams at the scoping hearing in the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on December 4 and to continue to work with them against coal exports.

Waterkeepers Worldwide Stand Strong against Global Impacts of Coal Trafficking (December 4 EcoWatch)

The people, activists, and their supporters in India and China, who live at the destinations of dirty Northwest coal exported by amplified train traffic, five proposed new ports, and thousands of annual ship voyages, are protesting and working diligently to prevent increased transport and consumption of coal within and into their countries.  Like us, they neither need nor want additional coal from aggressive U.S. and Australian companies further fueling their economies, polluting their environment, and poisoning and displacing their people.

Spokane Scoping Hearing Oral Testimony & Interviews (December 5 to 9 KRFP Radio Free Moscow) (some website excerpted)

Hear oral testimony excerpts from the December 4 EIS scoping hearing in Spokane on the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal near Bellingham, Washington, and updates on the Omega Morgan-hauled tar sands waste water evaporator on Highway 12 in Idaho.  Listen to Hundreds Turn Out for Spokane Coal Train Export Hearing and more between 24:44 and 8:02 on the KRFP Radio Free Moscow Evening Report for Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Coal Train Hearing.

At the December 4 coal export scoping hearing in Spokane, KRFP station manager Leigh Robartes interviewed Shannon Williamson of Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper on Coal Trains traversing over and around the largest freshwater body in Idaho near Sandpoint, between 6:57 and 2:17 of the Thursday, December 6, 2012, KRFP Evening Report, Slickspot Peppergrass Off ESA List.

Between 27:56 and 0:55 of the Friday, December 7, 2012, KRFP Evening Report, U.S. 95 East Route + Coal Hearing, Radio Free Moscow provided additional excerpts of oral Testimony from the Spokane Coal Train Hearing, recorded at the December 4 scoping meeting for environmental review of the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal near Bellingham Washington.

Vancouver, Washington: Wednesday, December 12

Coal Export Opponents Dominate Vancouver Hearing (December 12 Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Seattle, Washington: Thursday, December 13

Coal-Export Hearing Packed, Mostly by Opponents (December 14 Seattle Times)

Jay Julius Speech at Seattle Rally (December 14 KRFP Evening Report)

Lummi Nation council member Jay Julius speaks at a coal protest rally in a park near the Washington State Convention Center, where a scoping hearing for the Gateway Pacific Terminal drew 2300 participants.  Listen to the KRFP Radio Free Moscow Evening Report for Friday, December 14, 2012, Legislative Preview, between 53:29 and 47:17.


Dirty Train (Spokane song-writer/performer Greg Gower)

Increased Traffic Dangerous (December 2 letter to The Spokesman-Review)

Accident at Delta Port (December 7 Vancouver CKNW AM 980)

Ship Crashes into Dock at Westshore Terminals, Spilling Coal into Water (December 9 The Vancouver Sun, with video)

Carbon-Addicted U.S. Shifts from User to Pusher While Repudiating Renewable Energy Solutions (December 3 EcoWatch)


This holiday season, please remember and support the WIRT climate activists who have worked diligently all year to assure a wintery December solstice.  Thanks!


Please comment on these disastrous coal export schemes before December 20 and January 3 and 21,

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org & on facebook


2 thoughts on “WIRT Newsletter: Solstice Party, Coal Export Comments, Hearings, & Other News

  1. Pingback: Four-State Coal Export Protests & Hearings | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

  2. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Highway 95 DEIS, Coal Export Comments & Meetings This Week | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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