Groups stage week of action to #StopOilTrains in Idaho
Continent-wide demonstrations mark three-year anniversary of Lac-Mégantic explosion
North Idaho activists invite the public to join them at four events on July 9 and 12 commemorating the 47 lives lost to a Bakken crude oil train derailment and explosion in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013. During the three years since this tragedy, dozens of similar, fiery accidents have risked and wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades – including the Union Pacific oil train derailment, spill, and fire in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016.
In response, Sandpoint and Moscow groups 350Sandpoint, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide are participating with thousands of people across North America in the July 6 to 12 #StopOilTrains Week of Action.* Partner organizations providing event support around the continent include 350.org, Credo, Sierra Club, Sightline Institute, Oil Change International, and Waterkeeper.
The 25 million Americans within the mile-wide blast zones of potentially catastrophic oil train explosions and resulting toxic air and water pollution have rights to know about and ban crude oil trains that are inherently too dangerous for the rails. In the Idaho Panhandle, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad both carry volatile Alberta tar sands and fracked Bakken shale oil. But oil and railroad companies fail to share information about oil train logistics with under-prepared emergency responders, elected officials, and affected communities. These industries also continue to build new and expanded infrastructure to extract, transport, refine, and burn oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels throughout Canada and the United States.
Along the paths to extreme energy profit around the Pacific Rim, communities recklessly endangered by such hazardous train cargo are increasingly protecting their lives, homes, and livelihoods from the risks and environmental injustice of oil train traffic and subsequent climate change. Elected leaders at every level of government support their resistance. After the Mosier incident, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, some of both state’s Congressional delegates, the Spokane City Council, and the Washington State Council of Firefighters all requested an immediate ban on oil trains until federal regulators enforce stronger standards improving the safety of mile-long, multi-million-gallon train loads of explosive crude.
Through #StopOilTrains in Idaho Week of Action events and a petition, north Idaho groups are calling on fellow residents and government officials to end all oil train transportation. 350Sandpoint is hosting a social gathering at 9 am on Saturday, July 9, near the City Beach Park gazebo in Sandpoint. Its members welcome everyone to bring refreshments, friends, and relevant, local information to distribute. Jean Gerth of 350Sandpoint explains that “We are a global movement of citizens working to solve the climate crisis by organizing to transform our local communities. Our focus is education and local networking around climate change issues. But as 350.org so elegantly states: ‘Any movement that isn’t fun isn’t worth being a part of.’”
The Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) is converging at its Moscow Farmers Market outreach table at Friendship Square in Moscow at 11 am on Saturday, July 9, to remember the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster and support the Quinault Tribe’s Shared Waters, Shared Values event on Friday. Pat Rathmann of PESC notes that “We will have a petition for folks to sign in opposition to coal and oil trains traversing Idaho. Members of our group who marched in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in Alberta when the Lac-Mégantic accident occurred have written some of their thoughts to share.”
Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is hosting an oil train watch workshop, presented by Matt Landon of Vancouver Action Network in Washington, at 3 pm on Saturday, July 9, in the East Bonner County Library meeting rooms 101 and 102 in Sandpoint. Matt’s ongoing training sessions feature methods for widespread, track-side monitoring, documenting, and reporting of Northwest oil train passage. The regional climate activist group WIRT is also leading a candlelight march and vigil, to honor the Lac-Mégantic oil train victims, starting from the Farmin Park clock in Sandpoint at 8 pm on Tuesday, July 12. WIRT encourages concerned area citizens to bring protest signs, ideas for creative street theater, and stories and reflections on life in a rural, vulnerable, oil train corridor.
PDF attachment: Stop Oil Trains in Idaho Week of Action Flyer
About Wild Idaho Rising Tide: The WIRT collective confronts the root causes of climate change by asserting direct actions and promoting locally organized solutions, in solidarity with frontline communities of resistance and an international, volunteer, grassroots network of activists.