WIRT Newsletter: Upcoming Events, Climate Activism, Community Rights, Coal Export, & Hanford Leaks

Co-Agitators for Climate Justice,

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious – makes you so sick at heart – that you can’t take part.  You can’t even passively take part.  And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.  And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” ~Mario Savio

We obviously have lapsed far behind on the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) newsletter due to Highway 95 re-routing campaign involvement and will update WIRT’s amazing activists through this and the next few messages about megaloads/tar sands and Idaho fracking this week, while we also launch another phase of our anti-fracking campaign.


Don’t Pave Paradise! (February 15 to March 24)

On the day before the February 23 public comment period deadline, the Federal Highway Administration and Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) extended opportunities for public input on the U.S. 95 Thorncreek to Moscow draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) until Monday, March 25.  A week earlier on February 15, the agencies denied the comment period extension request of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) and allied citizens and organizations including Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT).  But they granted deadline postponement last Friday to meet the requirement that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have enough time to review the DEIS.  Along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the EPA and IDFG oppose the eastern E-2 realignment of the ITD-proposed project south of Moscow and did not receive the DEIS until mid-February, likely after PRDC members sent their comment period extension request and DEIS comments to these agencies besides ITD.  Copies of the 725 nationwide, paper/online signatures of the PRDC Petition Opposing the E-2 Alternative Realignment of Highway 95 between Thorncreek Road and Moscow, Idaho arrived at ITD headquarters in Boise on the day of the deadline extension decision.  The associated ITD media release reasserted agency responsibility and jurisdiction over all “interstates, state highways, and U.S. routes” in the state system (and over “local, city, or county” control?).

As PRDC members, we will continue to relentlessly petition in the downtown Moscow streets and soon in neighborhoods, talking with as many of the 22,000 residents as possible.  Join us in stopping our state from building and encouraging use of an international industrial corridor through our shared rural home.  For just a few hours between 10 am and 2 pm on weekends and between 4 and 8 pm on weeknights, outside the Moscow Food Co-Op or One World Café or around downtown, you can collect up to 50 signatures on the PRDC petition.  Overwhelm ITD with the resistance it deserves and stop the tar sands megaload red carpet through extremely rare Palouse Prairie remnants on Paradise Ridge south of Moscow!  Please sign, comment, and share this petition to Idaho governor ‘Butch’ Otter, ITD director Brian Ness, and transportation board chairman Jerry Whitehead, which currently has 965 of the 2000 signatures that we would like to attain.  Because Highway 95 is a federal highway supported by the tax dollars of all Americans, every U.S. citizens can sign the PRDC petition.  See the following web links for more information, view the DEIS, and email your comments to Comments@ITD.Idaho.gov or mail them to the Office of Communications, Idaho Transportation Department, P.O. Box 7129, Boise, ID 83707-1129.


PRDC Petition

PRDC Website

WIRT Don’t Pave Paradise!

WIRT Highway 95 Re-Route Website Section

Moscow Mardi Gras Gathering (Saturday, March 2)

The Moscow Volunteer Peace Band has invited Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists to participate in this year’s Moscow Mardi Gras Parade turned Gathering on Saturday, March 2, in Friendship Square in downtown Moscow.  Event coordinators received too few parade registrations to justify expenses from city permit fees, police oversight, and event insurance.  So organizers are hosting a family-oriented convergence of kids, parents, pets, school groups, clubs, community organizations, and bands at 10 am until the 11 am children’s party at the Moose Lodge.  Because we wholeheartedly agree with parade entry instigator Fritz, who “can’t think of anything that a kid might want more than a livable planet,” let’s cavort for a stable climate in plenty of traditional Moscow Mardi Gras color and spirit.  With the Peace Band in full accompaniment, playing brass and percussion and other musical instruments, we could wear WIRT T-shirts and dress up like polar bears or weather-fried zombies or something more festive to attract a new, young audience for all our signs and props.  We could even flaunt our organization banner and Occupy Spokane’s cardboard coal train chugging against global warming, as we chant creative slogans and hand out organizational/educational flyers.  All are welcome to participate: please contact WIRT if you would like to help organize this fun event.

Last Winter Market (Saturday, March 2)

WIRT is seeking volunteers to engage our community with educational materials, raise climate change awareness, activism, and funds, and offer opportunities for citizen resistance to the root causes of climate chaos, such as tar sands, coal export, and fracking schemes.  Group representatives will showcase and celebrate the wide variety of ways in which people can participate in WIRT activities during Winter Market on Saturday, March 2.  Next to a PRDC booth, we will host an information display table in the 1912 Center east hallway above the Great Room (412 East Third Street in Moscow) between 10 am and 2 pm at the last such public event of the winter season.  Promote our collective, distribute WIRT brochures and donation envelopes, rally and recruit new members, and request physical and fiscal support for our many initiatives, direct actions, outreach work, and ongoing costs.  Please contact us if you can assist with this endeavor and/or visit our website and the WIRT Activist House to generously contribute to our shared work or purchase one of the few remaining commemorative, collectors’ item WIRT T-shirts from among the 40 off-white, large-size originals reserved for megaload protesters.

Highway 95 Re-Route Meeting with Shirley Ringo (Saturday, March 2)

For an hour starting at 2:30 pm on Saturday, March 2, members of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition and public are gathering at The Attic (up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow) to share our Highway 95 re-routing concerns with colleague and friend Idaho Representative Shirley Ringo.  Besides a copy of the organization’s official comments, PRDC encourages meeting participants to bring pertinent outlines or highlighted documents, such as deceptive ITD DEIS wording, so Shirley can later consider our deliberations in writing. Continue reading

U.S. Highway 95 DEIS Misinformation

Lahde Forbes, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 2/21/13

At the Idaho Transportation Department Hearing on January 23, I talked with Tim Long, district right of way supervisor, and Carmen Reese, senior right of way agent. We looked at which eight businesses would be displaced on alternative C-3. They informed me in fact no businesses will be displaced, and the widening of current U.S. Highway 95 would have no effect beyond a potential noise increase.

I was surprised ITD had the displacement of eight businesses as one of its main four reasons for not choosing C-3 as its preferred alternative since this information is inaccurate. Long wanted me to stress in my comment letter that “there will be no definitive displacement of businesses (on C-3) and that this is misleading to the public.” I expect to see this information corrected in the subsequent IDT hearing information boards and in the DEIS/FEIS. Continue reading

Consider All the Facts

Joann Muneta, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 2/20/13

It is not true all of those objecting to the proposed E-2 alignment for U.S. Highway 95 to go over the western shoulder of Paradise Ridge are residents of that area. People from throughout the city and county are writing letters and signing petitions to the Idaho Transportation Department asking that the central alignment (C-3) be chosen. I myself live near East City Park, yet I want to preserve and protect the Paradise Ridge area that is one of our area’s significant and treasured natural landmarks.

A highway is forever. Once paved, we cannot reclaim the Palouse Prairie or any other part of this area. Therefore it is important all the facts be carefully considered. Why choose E-2? It is only .09 mile shorter. The ITD safety data are not thorough enough to conclude any one alternative is safer than another. Continue reading

C-3 is Safest Route for U.S. Highway 95

John Crock, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 2/19/13

After speaking with an Idaho Transportation Department representative at the recent Highway 95 re-alignment forum, he admitted the safety numbers for the E-2 alternative are underestimates of the big picture, which in the E-2 option, old 95 still exists. People, including residents on that stretch, would still drive old 95. Accidents would occur and people would die on that old stretch. Of course, the traffic would be greatly less, so maybe accidents would only occur at one-tenth the current rate, but when you add in those numbers to the projected accident rate on E-2, E-2 is the most dangerous alternative.

C-3 obliterates the old 95 roadway, so there are no additional accidents and is thus safer in the big picture. In addition, ITD models E-2 as being safer than C-3 because there are no businesses on it since it hasn’t been built. As soon as there is high traffic flow on E-2, savvy business or property owners will develop the adjacent land, and it will soon be as congested as old 95 is today, meaning the lower accident projections will be short-lived. Continue reading

New Leaking Tank Reported at Hanford

The U.S. Department of Energy disclosed that one of its Hanford Nuclear Site underground storage tanks for toxic, radioactive waste has been leaking 200 to 300 gallons per year in eastern Washington.  In a press conference, Governor Jay Inslee asserted the state’s zero tolerance of such pollution and his concerns for reduced federal budgets and site personnel as well as potential state lawsuits against the federal government.  Listen to the KRFP Radio Free Moscow story between 33:25 and 31:40 of the story New Leaking Tank Reported at Hanford on the February 15, 2013, KRFP Evening Report, U.S. Highway 95 Displacements Wrong.

U.S. Highway 95 Displacements Wrong

A KRFP Radio Free Moscow interview with former Paradise Ridge resident and current Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) member Lahde Forbes reveals that Highway 95 realignment along a central route analyzed by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) would only encroach upon eight businesses, not displace them as described in ITD’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS).  Also contrary to DEIS estimates, an ITD-preferred eastern re-routing alternative would displace an entire mobile home park, house, and two supporting domestic wells, while the PRDC-favored central alignment would only dislodge one home.  The feature Friday edition newscast also airs testimony offered by Mary Ullrich at the ITD public hearing on the DEIS on January 23.  Listen to between 20:36 and 0:50 of the news story Resident Says Talk with ITD District Right-of-Way Manager Shows Business and Residence Displacement Figures in ITD Draft U.S. 95 EIS are Wrong on the February 15, 2013, KRFP Evening Report, U.S. Highway 95 Displacements Wrong.

Don’t Pave Paradise!

Don't Pave Paradise

In the wake of 75 megaloads of equipment shipments initiating an international industrial corridor to Alberta tar sands mining operations, the oil corporation accommodating Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) plans to re-locate and expand 6.5 miles of two-lane U.S. Highway 95 just south of Moscow over a cherished, natural, local landmark, Paradise Ridge.  Higher and more exposed to winter weather and thus dangerous driving conditions, ITD’s preferred four-lane route would risk critical patches of the remaining 0.1 percent of the native Palouse Prairie ecosystem that thrived throughout the region before agricultural monocultures of wheat and beans.  Other potential alternative routes would skirt the ridge, enhance highway traveler safety, and impose much less environmental and cultural damage.

Please join members of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) in reaching out to the Moscow area community to encourage petition signatures and comments on ITD’s proposal before the Monday, March 25, deadline for public input.  Volunteers are gathering in the dining area near the door of the Moscow Food Co-Op (121 East Fifth Street in Moscow) at 4 pm on weeknights and at 10 am on weekends, between February 15 and March 24, to circulate and distribute the Highway 95 DEIS B&W Brochure 3, along with the petition and member sign-up sheets, to downtown passersby: Join us!

See the PRDC brochure text, detailing the discrepancies in ITD’s draft environmental impact statement for the highway realignment project, sign the petition to the Idaho governor and ITD, and get more comment suggestions at the PRDC website and the Highway 95 Re-Route section of the WIRT blogsite, where more belated posts will emerge soon.  Email PRDC@Paradise-Ridge-Defense.org with your insights, suggestions, and questions, but most importantly, send your comments for the record to Comments@ITD.Idaho.gov and/or Office of Communications, Idaho Transportation Department, P.O. Box 7129, Boise, ID 83707-1129 before March 25.

Climate Justice Forum: Mary Ullrich 2-18-13

On the Monday, February 18, Climate Justice Forum radio program, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes Mary Ullrich, board secretary of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition and longstanding resident of Paradise Ridge.  Mary will discuss the history of Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) plans to expand and reroute U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow and current citizen concerns for traveler safety, residence and business displacement, and degradation of native Palouse Prairie remnants and wildlife on weather-exposed Paradise Ridge.  Please share your issue insights and resistance stories during the show broadcast on KRFP Radio Free Moscow between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST live at 92.5 FM and online, by calling the station studio at 208-892-9200.  For more information about this ITD scheme, see the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website and the Highway 95 Re-Route section of the WIRT blogsite.  Thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as his KRFP DJ, the show also covers regional and continent-wide dirty energy developments and climate activism news.  Visit the station website soon to learn how you can adopt our inspiring fellow DJs.

Idaho Rivers United Conservation Director Kevin Lewis Discusses Recent Victory in U.S. Highway 12 Megaload Lawsuit

During excerpts from the Monday, February 11, Climate Justice Forum radio show hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide, program guest Kevin Lewis talks about the legal specifications of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and about the evolution and effects of tar sands megaload use on government reconstruction and responsibility for the Highway 12 easement through the designated wild and scenic Clearwater/Lochsa river valley.  Listen to the KRFP Radio Free Moscow news story Idaho Rivers United Conservation Director Kevin Lewis Discusses Recent Victory in U.S. Highway 12 Megaload Lawsuit between 8:02 and 3:35 of the February 12, 2013, Evening Report, Idaho Rivers United on U.S. Highway 12.  For further information about this case, see the February 7 Idaho Rivers United press release Federal Judge: Forest Service Has Authority to Regulate Megaloads with links to Judge Winmill’s ruling and judgement.

Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission to Weigh-In on U.S. Highway 95 Re-Route Plans

The Moscow city council and supervisor deliberate city concerns about a proposal by the Idaho Transportation Department to re-route Highway 95 south of Moscow and about city submission of a notebook of comments from the council and commissions.  Listen to the KRFP Radio Free Moscow news story Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission to Weigh-In on U.S. Highway 95 Re-Route Plans between 14:32 and 9:19 of the February 12, 2013, Evening Report, Idaho Rivers United on U.S. Highway 12.