Upcoming WIRT November Events


Upcoming WIRT November Events

Thanks to Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, allies, and friends for your patience during a November that opened opportunities for a long-overdue, month-long, event-free break, especially from the rigors of side-job wage slavery. With more time and energy for activism emerging from this healing phase, we plan to soon re-establish a regular WIRT email newsletter and to post WIRT radio program recordings, both drawn from our active facebook page.  Please support ongoing WIRT and allied mobilization of regional residents for coordinated, region-wide actions and agency hearings and comment periods, confronting Northwest coal, oil, gas, and tar sands facility and transportation projects.  Look for upcoming announcements throughout autumn and winter 2016-17 about participatory events including educational presentations, direct action training workshops, peaceful protests, and benefit concerts that advance our shared anti-fossil fuel/climate change campaigns.

Tuesday, November 29: Comment against the Millennium Bulk (Coal) Terminals

During this last opportunity for public input on Millennium Bulk Terminals, please comment on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and a dredging permit application for the Longview, Washington coal export facility proposed by Lighthouse Resources [1-3]. Before the public comment period ends on Tuesday, November 29, urge the Corps to oppose construction and operation of the largest coal export terminal in North America, and to protect public health and natural resources, by supporting the “no action” alternative of the draft EIS and rejecting the permit application.  Millennium’s eight additional, fully loaded, unit coal trains per day and the coal transfer and storage site, annually handling up to 44 million metric tons of coal, would harm the health and safety, air and water quality, and natural resources of communities throughout the Northwest.

As the draft EIS describes, Millennium would receive coal via trains from western U.S. mines and transfer it to Asia-bound, ocean-going vessels, at the 190-acre, leased site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter. Its facilities would include an operating rail track and unloading station, a coal stockpile area and eight-track rail loop for storage, a conveyor and two independent ship loaders, and two new docks to berth Panamax-class vessels.  Because Lighthouse Resources seeks to dredge up to 48 acres out to the Columbia River navigation channel, the company has applied for a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Between April 29 and June 13, 2016, most of the 250,000 commenters on a separate Millennium draft EIS, issued by the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County, opposed this coal export facility [4]. But the Corps granted the proposal a favorable review in its federal draft EIS released on September 30.  In its 3,000-plus-page document, the agency described potential project damages to air, water, fish, wildlife, and communities, including more train traffic congestion, elevated railroad noise levels, and increased wait times at rail crossings, especially in low-income and minority communities.  The Corps held only two public hearings on its draft EIS, on October 24 in Longview, Washington, and on October 25 in Ridgefield, Washington, “to provide the public an opportunity to share its views and opinions” on this last of six proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington [5, 6].  It did not offer hearings beyond the Longview/Vancouver/Portland area for citizens of Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington, and no one coordinated testifier buses from these areas to the southwest Washington hearings.

An increase in coal trains across the Idaho panhandle would not only pollute our waters, lands, and bodies with coal dust and diesel fumes, it could also take human and non-human lives. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Idahoans experienced 21 accidents between vehicles and trains at public and private rail crossings of all railroads in the state between August 2015 and July 2016.  In the northernmost Idaho counties, four incidents without injuries or deaths occurred at one private and three public crossings in Boundary and Kootenai counties.  Two people died at private and public crossings in Bonner County during the last year-plus.

Please join us in working together to stop Millennium Bulk Terminals, by convincing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to NOT approve project dredging, construction, and operation. Send your comments on the Corps draft EIS to http://www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov/submit-comments.html, and your remarks on the dredging permit application, referencing NWS-2010-1225, by e-mail to NWS.MBTL@usace.army.mil.  The Corps will review and consider all comments offered during the public input period.

Wednesday, November 30: Energy Crossroads: A Community Forum

Please attend a forum emceed by Laura Ackerman of The Lands Council, to together learn about, envision, and share the current revolution that is winning a just and equitable shift to a clean energy economy [7]. Speakers include KC Golden of Climate Solutions, Evita Krislock of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, and Gavin Tenold of Pura Vida High Performance Builders.  The Lands Council, Climate Solutions, and Gonzaga Environmental Law and Land Use Clinic are co-sponsoring this event, and WIRT and a dozen other Washington and Idaho groups are co-hosting it.  Join us at 7 pm on Wednesday, November 30, in the Gonzaga Moot Law Court at the Gonzaga University School of Law, 721 North Cincinnati Street in Spokane, Washington.

Mass mobilization against unnecessarily expanded development, transportation, and dependence on coal, oil, and other fossil fuels in Northwest communities has increased opposition to their unacceptably devastating local and global impacts. Cleaner, local, and more efficient energy options, like solar and wind power and electric vehicles, have simultaneously improved in their availability, use, and price.  This crossroads is increasing investments in healthier, stronger, and better communities, resources, democracies, and jobs, all building a brighter, more viable future for all.  Thanks!

[1] Comments Sought on Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview Permit Application and Draft EIS, September 30, 2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

[2] Joint Public Notice: Application for Department of the Army Permit and Washington Department of Ecology Water Quality Certification and Release of NEPA Draft Environmental Impact Statement, September 30, 2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Washington Department of Ecology

[3] Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview NEPA/SEPA Environmental Impact Statements, Cowlitz County,  Washington State Department of Ecology,  and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

[4] More Rail Congestion and Noise among Impacts of Longview Coal Terminal, September 30, 2016 EarthFix

[5] Longview Coal Facility Hearings Draw Crowds, October 24, 2016 Columbian

[6] Coal Project Proponents, Opponents Have Their Say at Public Hearing in Ridgefield, October 26, 2016 Clark County Today

[7] Energy Crossroads: A Community Forum, Climate Solutions

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