Last, Largest Coal Port DEIS Hearings


On Thursday, April 29, 2016, as required by the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County, Washington released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the huge Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export terminal proposed for Longview, Washington [1, 2]. Along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is preparing a separate federal draft EIS, the agencies are studying the potential environmental and social impacts and evaluating the risks of this project [3].  They will review and consider all concerned citizen input after the 45-day comment period ends on June 13, while performing further analyses for the final EIS.  Once this document emerges, terminal owners would begin application processes for local, state, and federal permits.

Millennium proponent Lighthouse Resources (formerly Ambre Energy) owns 62 percent of the project; 38 percent owner Arch Coal has filed for bankruptcy. Their potentially largest such facility in North America, built and operated on the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter, could annually transfer and stockpile 44 million metric tons of Powder River Basin coal, strip-mined in Montana and Wyoming, between unit coal trains and ships bound for Asia.  Besides eight empty, returning trains daily, the terminal would impose on trackside communities eight fully loaded, additional coal trains per day.

This last remaining Northwest coal export project of an original six proposals should concern Idahoans, who live among relatively clean air and water, abundant wildlife, and scenic beauty, just as much as Washington citizens [4]. Coal transport through Sandpoint and surrounding north Idaho communities, 400-plus miles away, directly pollutes, threatens, and impacts regional public and environmental health and safety and economic vitality, all for private profit.  Each coal train engine spews carcinogenic diesel fumes, and its 110 open rail cars together shed 55,000 pounds of coal dust from mine to port, laden with arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, tin, and other heavy metals.  Health experts link exposure to diesel exhaust and coal dust with decreased lung capacity and exacerbated asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, lung cancer, and heart disease.  Increased, slow-moving coal traffic can also obstruct and delay vehicles at rail crossings, extend the travel times of emergency responders, and block access to hospitals, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods.  Heavy coal trains damage rails with their pressure and clog the pores of gravel under tracks, reducing wet ballast permeability and stability and thus risking derailment of other hazardous and explosive freight.

Why support the significantly faltering coal industry and world markets [5, 6]? In recent months, owners of a dozen of the most productive coal mines in the Powder River Basin and country, Peabody, Arch, and Alpha Natural Resources, have filed for bankruptcy [7].  With the downturn in Wyoming coal, oil, and gas production, 2,400 dirty energy sector employees have lost jobs since January 1, most from the two largest coal companies [8].  Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has furloughed 4,600 workers nationwide over the last several months, and Union Pacific Railroad has laid off 4,100 employees.  After 30-plus years of endlessly fighting coal projects, tribal and Montana activists have stopped the Otter Creek coal mine in the Powder River Basin, and the federal Surface Transportation Board has dismissed the permit for the Tongue River Railroad [9].  Agencies temporarily suspended EIS preparation for the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham, before the Lummi Nation and supportive Northwest tribes convinced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject permits for the once biggest proposed coal port in North America, in defense of their Constitutionally-protected treaty rights to fishing grounds and practices [10].  And these developments represent only the most salient of recent, historic Northwest victories over extreme energy projects.

But the Washington Department of Ecology has announced three informational open houses and public hearings on the proposed Longview coal terminal draft EIS in three cities across the state. Various organizers with the Power Past Coal and Stand Up To Oil coalitions are hosting 4 pm rallies at each location, before oral testimony restarts after 5 pm agency presentations (also at 1 pm).  Please read the draft EIS on the Department of Ecology’s website, wear red, and come prepared to speak for only two minutes and/or provide comments to a court reporter and/or in written form during the meeting.

* Tuesday, May 24, 1 to 9 pm at the Cowlitz Regional Conference Center, 1900 Seventh Avenue in Longview, Washington [11]

* Thursday, May 26, 1 to 9 pm at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 West Spokane Falls Boulevard in Spokane, Washington [12]

* Thursday, June 2, 1 to 9 pm at the TRAC Center, 6600 Burden Boulevard in Pasco, Washington [13] Continue reading

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Climate Justice Forum: Break Free Pacific Northwest Talks 5-25-16


The Wednesday, May 25, 2016 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) shares excerpts of talks given by Swinomish, Samish, and other Salish Sea area tribal members, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, and an oil train rail line blockader at Break Free Pacific Northwest actions in Anacortes, Washington, on May 13 to 15.  Other discussions include public hearings in Longview, Spokane, and Pasco, Washington, on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed largest coal export terminal in North America, Millennium Bulk Terminals at Longview, Washington.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community opposition to extreme energy projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Break Free Northwest Events, Tar Sands Wildfires, Bill McKibben at WSU 5-18-16


The Wednesday, May 18, 2016 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) airs the second half of a keynote address, entitled The Human Element in Nature: From Harm to Hope, and audience conversations with climate movement leader, educator, and author Bill McKibben at Washington State University on April 13.  Other discussions include a resurgence of wildfires around the tar sands extraction outpost, Fort McMurray, Alberta, and outcomes of Break Free Pacific Northwest actions in Spokane and Anacortes, Washington.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community opposition to extreme energy projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Ahmed Gaya of Break Free Pacific Northwest & Abby Brockway & Patrick Mazza of the Delta 5 5-11-16


The Wednesday, May 11, 2016 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide gratefully shares May 9 on-air conversations with Ahmed Gaya, an organizer of the thousands-strong Break Free Pacific Northwest direct actions against two March Point oil refineries near Anacortes, Washington, on May 13 to 15, and with Abby Brockway and Patrick Mazza, two of the Delta 5 oil train blockaders in an Everett, Washington rail yard in September 2014, both with Praxis radio show producer Taylor Weech on KYRS Spokane. Ahmed, Abby, and Patrick discuss their backgrounds and reasons for climate activism and the impacts and precedents that their civil disobedience and court cases impart to fossil fuel resisters in the climate change movement.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show also covers the Fort McMurray and Alberta tar sands wildfires, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denial of a Gateway Pacific coal export terminal permit threatening Lummi Nation treaty-protected fishing rights at Cherry Point, Washington, and continent-wide climate activism and community opposition to extreme energy projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Are You Participating in Break Free in Anacortes & Spokane?


Over the last few months, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and allies have been working diligently at online education through various channels and on interpersonal outreach at dozens of regional events*, to mobilize hundreds of inland Northwest residents to participate in the Break Free from Fossil Fuels mass action in Anacortes, Washington, on May 13 to 15. After contributing copious amounts of time, energy, and funds to reach out to you and request your participation, and to contact about 60 people from Idaho and eastern Washington signed up through the Break Free Pacific Northwest website, we hope to hear from you: Are you training and traveling to Anacortes?

WIRT is forming carpools and ride shares or possibly renting a van and caravanning with activists from Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington who plan to put their bodies in the way of the government-assisted fossil fuel industry, by non-violently protesting and/or risking arrest. Please RSVP about your travel arrangements if you have not already responded, and catch these associated, upcoming events in Spokane:

May 7: Inland NW Break Free Planning & Training Workshop

After workshops in Moscow on Tuesday evening and in Sandpoint on Wednesday evening, WIRT is holding the third Inland Northwest Break Free logistics planning and direct action training session at 4 pm on Saturday, May 7, at the Liberty Park United Methodist Church, 1526 East Eleventh Avenue in Spokane, Washington. Encouraging local empowerment and resulting strong, urgent actions against volatile oil trains, dirty coal cars, and explosive natural gas facilities, these free workshops offer guidance on:

Personal grounding for direct actions

Transportation and lodging options

Knowing your rights

Possible legal consequences of protests

Action roles and tactics

Action planning and practice

We welcome your friends and families at these gatherings providing workshop materials, snacks, and beverages. Please forward this event announcement to your comrades and invite them to support this historic protest by attending this well-anticipated workshop and the thousands-strong Break Free action in mid-May.  For further information and to discuss these opportunities, please call, text, email, or facebook message WIRT through the enclosed contact channels.

May 12: Not Your Average Climate Rally

Activists of the Spokane community and Occupy movement are hosting a parody party of a climate rally at the intersection of North Division Street and East Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Spokane, Washington, next Thursday, May 12, from 12 noon to 1 pm. As Break Free Northwest participants converge from Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington, to head to the Anacortes area fossil fuel resistance actions, Spokane friends are staging a fun and supportive send-off celebration with music, speakers, poetry, drumming, and dancing.  Please bring your voice, guitar or other instruments, drums, and props of solar panels, wind turbines, etc. and join us! Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Bill McKibben WSU Speech, Fort McMurray Fire, Inland NW Break Free Workshops 5-4-16


The Wednesday, May 4, 2016 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) airs part of a keynote address entitled The Human Element in Nature: From Harm to Hope, presented by climate movement leader, educator, and author Bill McKibben at Washington State University on April 13.  Other discussions include the historically huge wildfires in the tar sands extraction world epicenter, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Northwest fossil fuel infrastructure projects abandoned due to public opposition, and inland Northwest Break Free planning and training workshops this week in Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community opposition to extreme energy projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Inland NW Break Free Planning & Training Workshops


Inland NW Break Free Workshops Flyer

Through the ongoing participation of Northwest fossil fuels resisters in public events, hearings, marches, and media stories, we have clearly registered our opposition to the expansion of coal, oil, and gas infrastructure projects across the region. Accelerating impacts of climate change call for ever stronger messages and unified, non-violent, civilly disobedient, direct actions.  For months, Pacific Northwest organizers have been planning a Break Free from Fossil Fuels action, a mass 350.org and allied protest of two crude oil refineries at March Point near Anacortes, Washington, on May 13 to 15, 2016 (http://breakfreepnw.org/).  Please join us in risking arrest or supporting others as part of ongoing Northwest resistance to fossil fuels.

In late March 2016, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies promised hundreds of participants in well-attended screenings and panel discussions of the global climate activism documentary This Changes Everything in Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, and at WIRT’s Fifth Annual Celebration in Moscow, that we intend to stage regional direct action and kayaktivist trainings before the Anacortes uprising.  Over the last month, we have incessantly requested that our western Oregon and Washington colleagues send trainers to the inland Northwest, to further recruit, mobilize, and prepare activists for the mid-May Break Free Pacific Northwest action.  After pouring years of energy into supporting opposition to Washington state fossil fuel infrastructure projects, we are understandably eager for some West Coast input toward receptive inland Northwest frontlines.

A small team of Oregon comrades generously proposed to travel to northern Idaho and eastern Washington and present several trainings on consecutive days, among a dozen similar workshops scheduled across the region. But considering the time and expense involved in providing guidance to predictably low Idaho turnouts, they decided to cancel their plans.

Unwilling to sacrifice our networks to the strong tendency to discount interior Northwest activism, due to low participation numbers, unnecessary competition and targeted suppression from larger groups, and the limited capacity of a few climate activism organizers dismissed by their communities as too radical or criminal, WIRT is now hosting three Break Free logistics planning and direct action training convergences. Although we would prefer to concentrate our efforts on local empowerment and resulting strong, relatively urgent actions like those against tar sands megaloads and Shell Arctic drilling armadas, not to mention volatile bomb trains and explosive gas facilities, please expand our work supporting this historic protest by attending these workshops:

* Tuesday, May 3, 7 pm at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho

* Wednesday, May 4, 7 pm at the WIRT office, 301 North First Avenue in Sandpoint, Idaho

* Saturday, May 7, 4 pm at the Liberty Park United Methodist Church, 1526 East Eleventh Avenue in Spokane, Washington Continue reading