WIRT Newsletter: Giving Events, Idaho Gas Plant/Bomb Train Hearing, & Highway 95 Safety Petition

Giving Tuesday

On this worldwide day dedicated to giving back to various causes, December 2, we received news that a generous contributor will match year-end donations to Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) in your honor before December 31, 2014.  By helping to meet this challenge, your gift to WIRT doubles, for instance, from $25 to $50, or $50 to $100, etc.  Please consider donating so our grassroots collective can continue to confront the root causes of climate change through direct actions and locally organized solutions that protect Idaho’s world-renowned clean water, fresh air, and rural and remote environments from dirty energy schemes like coal, oil, gas, and tar sands extraction and transportation.  Your contributions and participation support WIRT’s climate activism and outreach and legal expenses for fossil fuel opposition with frontline resistance communities and an international activist network.  WIRT appreciates, celebrates, and honors such generosity and solidarity in joining protests and/or supporting our work through the electronic, website “Donate to WIRT” button, or by check to the group mailbox at P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843, or by calling us at 208-301-8039 [1].  Thanks for your gracious assistance!  We could not do this work without you!

Four December Giving Events

WIRT is seeking volunteers and donors for four public events over the next few weeks.  From 4 to 8 pm on Wednesday, December 3, meet us outside the 2014 Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse at the 1912 Center, 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho [2].  We will distribute donation envelopes and accept contributions for holiday card index-card-sized inserts that sustain WIRT activism and outreach.  WIRT will also offer these cards in any number and dollar amount outside the Buy Local Moscow Seventh Annual Winter Fest at the 1912 Center from 5 to 8 pm on Thursday, December 4 [3].  Please additionally find the WIRT information table among other community groups in the 1912 Center Fiske Room, during the 10 am to 2 pm Winter Markets on December 6 and 13, February 7, and March 7 [4].  Visit WIRT at these appreciated opportunities to enhance winter holidays with climate activism and provisions.  THANKS!

Gas Processing & Train Loading Facility Appeal Hearing

Please attend a public hearing of three appeals of Alta Mesa’s industrial hydrocarbon processing and rail transfer facility at 7 pm on Thursday, December 4, at the Payette County Courthouse [5].  The Payette County Planning and Zoning Commissioners, who have mostly leased their mineral rights to Alta Mesa, rubber-stamped a conditional use permit for this project, located less than one mile from New Plymouth High School, in early September.  Nearby landowners Joli and Pete Eromenok, Joe Morton of Gem County Concerned Citizens, and Alma Hasse of Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment have filed initial and amended appeals and supporting documents disputing this fossil fuel infrastructure that would degrade public health and safety, private property rights, uses, and values, and the local economy of the area.  We all greatly appreciate their work on this opposition, as we wish that we could participate in this distant Payette County meeting more than any other (except a few public, pre-permitting, private property site visits), but WIRT travel funds are depleted and two fundraising event times conflict.  At the hearing, please tell Payette County officials that their unacceptable approval decision on this gas plant does not benefit southwest Idaho citizens and sets an adverse precedent for other Idaho gas processing facilities.

Texas-based corporation Alta Mesa continues to exploit New Plymouth, Idaho, citizens and their natural gas via “legal plunder” [6].  As a vast, state-constituted machine purposely designed to take and transfer property from people without their consent, legal plunder attains its full meaning as a form of income redistribution from the poor and majority of citizens to the favored, wealthy elites.  For instance, the State 1-17 well, Idaho’s only producing gas well since March 2014, provided only $357 for cities and counties, public schools, and local economic development during the combined 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.  How many more gas wells will Idaho seek to fill its coffers?

In 2012, the Idaho Legislature conducted legal plunder by enacting a bill forcing citizens to relinquish their natural resources for the sake of Idaho’s “best economic interest.”  Law 47-315 asserts that

It is declared to be in the public interest to…promote…oil and gas in the state of Idaho in such a manner…to encourage…operations in order that the greatest possible economic recovery of oil and gas may be obtained within the state to the end that…the producers…may realize and enjoy the greatest possible good from these vital natural resources.

Idaho legislators returned to the statehouse in 2013 and passed another law limiting local authority over oil and gas development, in section 47-317, stating, “The [Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation] commission shall have and is hereby given jurisdiction and authority over all persons and property, public and private…”

Highway 95 Reisenauer Hill Safety Petition

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) anticipates that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will release the final Thorn Creek Road to Moscow Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) sometime this winter, likely before the holidays.  ITD has again chosen its preferred E2 alternative for realignment and expansion to four lanes of six-plus miles of U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow.  This most destructive and invasive route, farthest up the slopes of Paradise Ridge, will not mitigate traffic dangers on and around Reisenauer Hill.  PRDC recommends that ITD implement alternative C3, a lower-elevation traverse that will permanently improve safety on this section of highway and minimize impacts to wildlife and the critically endangered Palouse Prairie.

Meanwhile, during two impending years of highway construction, PRDC and citizens of Latah County, Idaho, remain concerned about serious accidents during inclement weather on this substandard, dangerous stretch of Highway 95 on Reisenauer Hill.  We again strongly urge ITD to immediately implement significant, site-specific measures to mitigate highway conditions.  By midnight on Wednesday-Thursday, December 17-18, please sign the PRDC highway safety petition linked below, requesting that ITD lower and seek enforcement of the speed limit, erect reduced speed limit warning signs, and install rumble strips in appropriate places on this section of Highway 95 [7].  PRDC members are arranging mid-December, Highway 95 roadside demonstrations on the south side of Moscow, as we prepare for another possible lawsuit and further direct actions, in response to predictable, pernicious ITD and Federal Highway Administration decisions about highway re-routing.

[1] Support WIRT (Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse (facebook page)

[3] Buy Local Moscow 7th Annual Winter Fest (facebook event)

[4] What’s Happening at the 1912 Center (1912 Center)

[5] Dear Fellow Citizens and Neighbors and Friends (November 29, 2014 Joe Morton)

[6] How Many Gas Wells Will It Take to Fill Idaho State Coffers? (November 25, 2014 Joe Morton)

[7] Petition to the Idaho Transportation Department Requesting Immediate, Site-Specific Actions to Mitigate Dangerous Conditions on Reisenauer Hill (November 28, 2014 Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition)

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