WIRT Comments to the Idaho Department of Lands on Alta Mesa Services’ Permit Application for Drilling Well 1-21

The 1500+ members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) oppose Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) permitting of the Alta Mesa Resources (AMS) application to drill well number 1-21 of the Smoke Ranch lease on Birding Island in Payette County, Idaho.  We are concerned that AMS drilling through subsurface shale would require utilization of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in close proximity to the Payette River, Big Willow Creek, and their confluence and surrounding floodplains and wetlands.  Even without fracking, the majority of drinking water contamination problems across the United States have arisen from natural gas and oil drilling and improper well casing construction: Approximately half of all oil and gas well casings fail within twenty years.  Surface water contamination can carelessly occur from the fluids that result as a byproduct of this kind of drilling: the deeper the well, the more radioactive the returning material.

Furthermore, if the Smoke Ranch 1-21 well proves productive during this first foray into the deeper Willow gas field, Alta Mesa Services, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG), and their peers, backed only by questionable financial resources, could drill in the state lands (leased by IDL at ridiculously low rates) along the Payette River.  With only expensive, exploratory progress in the southwestern Idaho target area that geologists have stated holds very little oil and gas resources, AMS and SROG drilling in riverine places most vulnerable to water contamination is not in the best interests of the health and safety of Idahoans and the environment upon which we rely for our economic activities.  Moreover, oil and natural gas resources in Idaho can only be developed and moved to market with great difficulty and cost, due to lack of existing infrastructure. Continue reading

Don’t Frack Birding Island in Idaho’s Payette River

The Idaho Legislature’s changes to the state’s ballot initiative process will make it harder to change laws from the grassroots up and have stymied efforts to launch a statewide hydraulic fracturing and waste injection ballot initiative.

This year, Gem State lawmakers passed SB 1108, making it more difficult to gather enough signatures to push successful petition campaigns.

Currently, petitioners are required to collect six percent of registered voters’ signatures statewide.  Under the new law taking effect July 1, petitioners must collect six percent of registered voters’ signatures from a minimum of 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

Read more: Don’t Frack Birding Island in Idaho’s Payette River

(By Blair Koch, Earthworks Earthblog)

Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho

Idaho activists are concerned that Alta Mesa Services (AMS) of Houston, Texas, could hydraulically fracture rocks almost a mile underground to obtain natural gas and oil.  AMS submitted an application to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) on April 30, for a permit to directionally drill a natural gas well under Highway 52 in Payette County, Idaho, using a lease to the mineral rights under Smoke Ranch.

Like the 11 wells sunk by Bridge Resources in 2010 and 2011 through the “tight” gas sandstone formation of the Hamilton field under Payette River bottomlands (at about 1,400 to 1,750 feet), this well represents another incursion into the Willow gas field.  This deeper of two potential plays in southwestern Idaho lies beneath the lowlands, hills, and buttes surrounding the agricultural communities of New Plymouth and Fruitland, below the Hamilton sandstone and underlying shale, at depths between 4,500 and 5,800 feet in sands over basalt.

Read more: Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho

(By EcoWatch, from a Wild Idaho Rising Tide media release)

Stop the Frack Attack, Idaho!

Don’t Frack Birding Island

Alta Mesa Services (AMS) of Houston, Texas, submitted an application to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) on April 30, 2013, for a permit to directionally drill a natural gas well under Highway 52 in Payette County, Idaho (1).  Unlike the eleven wells sunk by Bridge Resources in 2010 and 2011 in the shallower (1400 to 1750 feet), “tight” gas sandstone formation of the Hamilton field under Payette River bottomlands, this well represents the first incursion into the Willow gas field.  This deeper of two potential plays in southwestern Idaho lies beneath the hills and buttes surrounding the agricultural communities of New Plymouth and Fruitland, below the Hamilton sandstone and underlying shale, at depths between 4500 and 5800 feet in sands over basalt.  Idaho activists are concerned that the company could hydraulically fracture (“frack”) rocks almost a mile underground, like drilling practices used to extract hydrocarbon deposits from shale formations, to obtain natural gas and/or oil from this Smoke Ranch lease of mineral rights.

A dangerous method of oil and gas well stimulation, fracking forces millions of gallons of pressurized water and toxic substances down wells to crack subsurface rocks and release small, substandard pockets of oil and natural gas.  In dozens of states across the country, this process has produced hazardous, radioactive wastewater, contaminated air and water, generated cancer-causing pollution, compromised human and environmental health and safety, and released greenhouses gases causing climate change.  Earthquakes triggered by fracking’s explosive charges and wastewater well injections could exacerbate Idaho’s fifth greatest amount of seismic activity in the nation and consequently shatter the mechanical integrity of such inherently toxic oil and gas wells.

The proposed Smoke Ranch well would drill and potentially frack Birding Island, within the extensive wetlands and floodplain confluence of the Payette River and Big Willow Creek, only a few miles upriver from the City of Fruitland drinking water intake and the Payette/Snake River convergence (2).  Under the surrounding landscape full of farms, ranches, livestock, and wildlife dependent on clean surface streams and irrigation canals, aquifers only 660 feet deep perch, without much distance or barriers, over gas-bearing zones in porous layers punctured by drilling activities. Continue reading

Second Tar Sands Solidarity Journey


Wild Idaho Rising Tide and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition are coordinating a carpool/caravan to Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, Canada, to join with First Nations elders, indigenous residents, grassroots allies, and anti-tar sands activists from across the continent and world in the Fourth Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk on Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6.  The Second Tar Sands Solidarity Journey will tentatively depart Moscow, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, just before the Fourth of July weekend, on Wednesday morning, July 3, and return on Tuesday afternoon, July 9.  This life-changing, week-long adventure offers opportunities to inexpensively provide and share food, fuel, equipment, and fees for a summer camping trip to and from the largest industrial project on Earth.

Event coordinators enthusiastically invite regional community involvement in the solidarity journey, healing walk, and local planning meetings at 7 pm on Tuesday, May 28, and at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, June 11, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.  Organizers also welcome ideas for and co-leadership of actions in the interior Northwest concurrent with the healing walk, such as Native drum circles or other demonstrations of solidarity.  For further information, please visit the enclosed websites and contact Wild Idaho Rising Tide at wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com or 208-301-8039 and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition at epfuerst@frontier.com or 509-339-5213, with your questions, suggestions, comments, and RSVP. Continue reading

Rising Tide Continental Gathering

Rising Tide North America

Our strength comes from our connection, our power from our unity.

Rising Tide Continental Gathering

July 18-20, 2013 Utah

17th arrival, 21st departure

Contact: gathering@risingtidenorthamerica.org

The Pitch

This July, many of the members of Rising Tide-affiliated, anti-extraction, and climate justice groups around the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will converge in beautiful Utah to train, discuss, strategize, and develop the structure, dynamics, and capacity of the Rising Tide network.

Rising Tide is an international, all-volunteer, grassroots network of groups and individuals who organize locally, promote community-based solutions to the climate crisis, and take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change.  Some network members are called Rising Tide, others are not.  In its essence, Rising Tide seeks to create a broad, long-term, international, collaborative platform for direct action and climate justice organizing.

The Rising Tide North America network consists of groups and local contacts throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  Local groups work on a wide variety of issues that pertain to the local communities in which they reside.  If you are already part of the Rising Tide network, if you are interested in joining as an individual or a group, or if you want to find out how a grassroots, horizontally-organized, dedicated network of direct action-oriented, climate justice organizations can change the world, the Rising Tide Continental Gathering may just be the place to come.

All of the groups involved in the Rising Tide network are actively organizing on the ground in their communities.  Many are taking the lead in staging bold direct actions that are altering the course of the climate fight.  Many are participating in national and international projects that are at the forefront of movement building and solidarity work against tar sands, fracked oil and natural gas, and coal exploitation.

The Rising Tide Continental Gathering will provide a significant venue for networking and forwarding proposals that will impact the course of the burgeoning anti-extraction and climate justice movement.  The gathering will also promote solidarity work with frontline and fenceline communities that must be a part of our struggles.  The network itself is collaboratively creating the agenda for the gathering, ensuring that participants will get out of the gathering what they put into it.  Come, participate, and help it grow.

Read more: Rising Tide Continental Gathering (facebook page)

(By Rising Tide North America)

Paradise Ridge Field Tour

Paradise Ridge Field Tour Flyer

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC), Palouse Prairie Foundation, and Idaho Native Plant Society encourage everyone to join a field tour of sites along and near the proposed U.S. Highway 95 E-2 realignment on the west flank of Paradise Ridge.  On Sunday, May 19, starting at 2:00 pm, participants will meet at the parking lot of the University of Idaho Arboretum, 1200 West Palouse River Drive in Moscow, and carpool to Zeitler Road east of Highway 95.  People attending the field tour will view sites with ungulate/big game habitat, spring wildflowers, and native Palouse Prairie.  Regional botanists and wildlife biologists who know the area well will help guide the tour.  The co-sponsors are inviting the public as well as the Moscow mayor and city council, Latah County commissioners, Idaho state legislators, and the press.  After the planned field tour, hosts will also lead a hike to the top of Paradise Ridge, for participants who wish to enjoy the natural areas and vast views of the ridge. Continue reading

WIRT Newsletter: Recent/Upcoming Events & Summer Actions

Dear fellow activists and friends,

Here is a quick update on Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activities, before a tar sands oriented newsletter in a few days.

WIRT on Twitter

We are now on Twitter: Follow us at WildIdahoRT.

WIRT Events Calendar

Wild Idaho Rising Tide and our allies are ready for a non-stop #FearlessSummer, full of events expanding the movement against extreme energy, with powerful convergences, training camps, and actions for a livable future!  On our new website page, a calendar lists and links to activities in the Northwest region and in which WIRT activists will participate, including emerging solidarity actions with our comrades across the continent.  Visit this constantly updated events page often and get involved in grassroots resistance to the root causes of climate change!  For more information about nationwide Fearless Summer initiatives, view the Energy Justice Network calendar.

Oil/Tar Sands Speaker Protest (April 17)

The last time that the Alberta tar sands industry visited Moscow, we blockaded it, hurled protest signs at it, and gestured at its escorts.  We were nicer this time but no less insistent that it is wrong and that it should stop its pillage immediately.  See the photos and descriptions of WIRT’s latest action.

Bidder 70 Screening & Tim DeChristopher Discussion (April 22)

Thanks to each of you for attending and/or assisting the simultaneous, nationwide screenings of the documentary Bidder 70 and the live-streamed discussion with Utah climate activist Tim DeChristopher on Earth Day.  Almost 40 people participated locally in this seminal show and conversation hosted by WIRT and Gathr Films in Moscow.  As anticipated, Tim’s question-and-answer session inspired climate activists and community members continuing our struggles against dirty energy development in the Northwest.  KRFP Radio Free Moscow recorded and aired Tim’s talk during the April 22 Climate Justice Forum radio program, about an hour later on the same evening.  We offer our gratitude and congratulations for a successful event and encourage you to listen to Tim’s incisive and insightful, first public appearance after almost two years in federal prison and watch the following videotaped excerpt.

Tim DeChristopher: Clip 1 Next Step in the Climate Movement (May 2 Bidder70 Film video) Continue reading

WIRT Activist House Party


On a beautifully balmy Moscow Saturday evening in May (especially with reduced university traffic noise and carbon emissions!), Wild Idaho Rising Tide invites you and your friends and family to our humble house to celebrate our collective, its amazing activists, allies, and base camp, and to strategize and energize for a summer of successful actions.  The party starts at 7 pm on Saturday, May 18, and continues far into the evening.  Come and bring beverages, snacks, or dishes to share with your comrades, for a lively night of radical elbow-rubbing, merry-making, and music-playing.  Activists inclined to jam can join the acoustic fray in the front room, dancers can enjoy the roomy kitchen, and party-goers can relax in the back porch and yard.  WIRT would be delighted and infinitely grateful for the honor of your revolutionary presence amongst this revelry! Continue reading

French Royalty at 40th Ren Fair

Bill and Dianne French are the king and queen of the 40th Moscow Renaissance Fair.

Bill and Dianne French are the king and queen of the 40th Moscow Renaissance Fair.

This year’s Moscow Renaissance Fair king and queen planted their roots here 25 years ago, and have been accepted locally as business owners and activists fighting to keep their kingdom pristine.

Bill and Dianne French grew up together in Lincoln, Nebraska, eventually moving to Indiana where Bill studied to be an optometrist.

“I got my eyes dilated a lot when he was going through optometry school,” said Dianne.  “…We knew that we wanted to be self-employed, so we started looking at communities around the country.”

The Frenchs were drawn to Moscow in 1988, because they said it was a good place to raise a family, affect local change, and be heard.

“And the downtown was alive,” Dianne said, “and we saw a lot of towns in ’88 where the downtown was boarded up.”

Together the Frenchs own and operate Palouse Ocularium and recently purchased Ex-Sightment Optical in Moscow.  Dianne is also a client. Continue reading