Climate Justice Forum: Vancouver Celebration, Regional Rallies, & Washington Governor Rejection of Oil Terminal, Spokane Train Blockader Court Case, Gas Well Drilling near Payette River, Legal Challenge of Bayou Bridge Pipeline 1-31-18

The Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on regional celebrations and articles applauding Washington Governor Inslee’s rejection of the Tesoro Savage oil train terminal in Vancouver, Sandpoint and Spokane oil pipelines-on-wheels and terminal decision influences, Spokane fossil fuel train blockader George Taylor’s court case, Alta Mesa gas well drilling near the Payette River in southwest Idaho, and a legal challenge of Bayou Bridge pipeline construction in Louisiana.  Broadcast for six years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, community resistance to fossil fuel projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Idaho to Inslee: No Vancouver Oil Terminal!

The summer and fall of 2017 brought the devastating storms, floods, wildfires, and smoke that fossil-fueled climate change is increasingly inflicting on communities throughout the world.  On any day before February 17, the four-state, Northwest resistance to the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal expects a decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee on this proposed, environmental and public health disaster.  The facility at the Port of Vancouver, Washington, would transfer up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day from five additional, daily, oil trains to storage tanks and marine ships, handling oil quantities comparable to 42 percent of proposed, Keystone XL pipeline capacity.  Consequently, the terminal would bring ten fully and residually loaded, mile-long, explosive oil trains each day through Sandpoint, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, threatening regional, rail-line communities and critical water bodies, like Lake Pend Oreille, with possible oil train derailments, spills, and fires.  This project would also sharply increase oil train, barge, and ship traffic along the Columbia River, risking oil spills that could kill large numbers of already dwindling salmon populations.

On Thursday afternoon, January 18, 350 Spokane and The Lands Council co-hosted a public rally and press conference with speakers, at the Saranac/Community Building in Spokane, to urge Governor Inslee to deny state approval of the Tesoro Savage oil terminal in Vancouver, and to stand in solidarity with people across the Northwest opposed to the facility [1].  Several, west-side Washington groups – Stand Up to Oil, 350 Seattle, Columbia Riverkeeper, Earth Ministry, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, Washington Environmental Council, and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility – are also co-sponsoring a rally, media conference, and speakers at the King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, on Thursday, January 25 [2].  They plan to thank Governor Inslee in advance for rejecting North America’s largest, oil train terminal and all other fossil fuel infrastructure and transportation projects in Washington, including fracked gas and petrochemical proposals.

In north Idaho and western Montana in 2017, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Montana Rail Link (MRL), and Union Pacific Railroad have jeopardized regional residents with seven derailments and accidents and two deaths [3].  During summer and fall 2017, BNSF double-tracked much of its north Idaho corridor, and drilled two pile load tests for a second, planned, rail bridge parallel to the almost mile-long span carrying coal and oil trains over the regional, Lake Pend Oreille water source.  Meanwhile, BNSF and MRL moved volatile, Bakken crude oil trains, like the one that wrecked and ignited in Mosier, Oregon, in June 2016, through an eventually combusted, coal train spill along and into the upstream Clark Fork River, neglected for clean-up during six weeks of an extraordinarily smoky, wildfire season in the surrounding watershed.

With plenty of momentum in our favor, concerned, interior Northwest citizens have been peacefully protesting the Tesoro Savage, pipeline-on-wheels terminal since its first, public scoping hearing in Spokane, on December 11, 2013 [4].  At 10 am on Sundays, January 28 and February 4 and 11, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and grassroots allies are providing some of the last opportunities for north Idahoans to together express our ongoing resistance to the largest, crude oil-by-rail terminal in North America.  Please wear red to symbolize your opposition to fossil fuels, bring your friends, family, and distantly visible signs and banners, and gather at the City Beach Park pavilion in Sandpoint, to help stop this Earth and climate polluting, dirty energy infrastructure.  WIRT will send photos of the convergences near the BNSF rail bridge, along with letters to Governor Inslee, encouraging him to reject the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal.  See and share the description and links about recent issue developments, and contact us with your questions and ideas and for further information.

Recent Issue Background

Check the WIRT facebook page for ongoing, current updates.

On August 29, 2013, Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) and Savage corporations, partnering as Tesoro Savage Petroleum LLC, submitted their application to build and operate the largest, oil-by-rail terminal in North America, at the Port of Vancouver, Washington [5].  As partially summarized in a timeline of this fossil fuel infrastructure saga, compiled by the Stand Up to Oil coalition opposed to the facility, the project approval process has met resistance from government agencies and the public throughout the Northwest [6]. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Tacoma LNG Blockader Cynthia Linet, Washington Capitol Occupations, Idaho Oil & Gas Issues, Health-Hazardous Coal & Longer Trains, TransCanada Pipeline Spill Dump, Burnaby Pipeline Protester Arrests 1-17-18

The Wednesday, January 17, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on citizen disruptions and indigenous occupations of the Washington state capitol, Idaho oil and gas issue developments and waste injection wells, an Oklahoma mineral rights lawsuit against Idaho driller Alta Mesa, health-hazardous coal and longer trains, TransCanada pipeline spill dirt dumped in road ditches, Burnaby pipeline protester arrests, and jury-acquitted, Tacoma liquefied natural gas plant blockader Cynthia Linet on direct action and the U.S. justice system.  Broadcast for six years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, community opposition to fossil fuel projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Wednesday, January 17, Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies invite everyone to the first, 2018, Sandpoint, WIRT meeting, one of two gatherings held every month at 7 pm on the first Wednesday at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 E. Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, and on the third Wednesday in Sandpoint, Idaho.  This Wednesday, January 17, we are converging at 7 pm in Eichardt’s Pub upstairs game room, 212 Cedar Street in Sandpoint [1].  Join regional, climate activists for an evening of food, beer and wine, and conversations creating campaign strategies and tactics for actions and events supporting the movement against extreme fossil fuels and for clean energy, livable communities, and especially climate justice.  Topics of discussion may include updates, suggestions, and plans for:

* Resistance to new and expanded, Northwest coal, oil, gas, and tar sands leases, wells, processing plants, pipelines, megaloads, trains, rail bridges, terminals, and refineries, such as on-the-ground opposition to likely soon unbanned, Class II, oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho, and to megaloads upgrading the Andeavor (Tesoro) Anacortes refinery

* Mobilization of Idaho residents for coordinated, peaceful protests, agency hearings, and public expression advancing anti-fossil fuels campaigns, such as a late-January, Sandpoint rally, like events in Spokane and Seattle on January 18, encouraging Washington Governor Inslee to reject the Vancouver Energy oil train terminal [2, 3]

* Enhancement of observing, monitoring, documenting, and reporting north Idaho, frontline, fossil fuel train traffic and the proposed, second, Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge site, via photos, videos, social media, and further, skill sharing sessions

* Organization of monthly, speaker and film presentations, community forums, educational workshops, and direct action trainings, all sharing activist knowledge, like the successful Olympia Stand and valve turner talks, Radical Movie Night screenings, and Third Panhandle Paddle kayaktivist weekend Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Oil & Gas Waste Injection Wells, Withdrawn & Lease-Cancelled Oil Terminals, Trump Plan for Northwest Offshore Drilling, Upper Midwest Tar Sands Pipeline Resistance 1-10-18

The Wednesday, January 10, 2018 Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on Idaho and Oklahoma oil and gas waste injection wells, earthquakes, and pollution, a withdrawn, Grays Harbor, oil train terminal proposal, a cancelled, Port of Vancouver lease for the Tesoro-Savage, oil-by-rail terminal, a Trump administration plan to open the Northwest coast to offshore drilling, and Upper Midwest, indigenous and grassroots resistance to several, tar sands pipelines.  Broadcast for almost six years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, community opposition to fossil fuel projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Urgent! Comment by 1/11 Against Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Wells

On July 22, 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and the state of Idaho has since maintained primary, state regulation and enforcement authority (primacy) over all five classes of injection wells in Idaho, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, section 1422, through the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.  Because 1985 Idaho regulations prohibited Class II, oil and gas wastewater injection wells in the state, this ban was codified in those EPA rules.  In 2013, the Idaho Legislature passed laws allowing these wells.  But during 2017 Idaho legislative hearings on oil and gas bills and rules, Idaho Governor Otter became aware that the lack of state government oversight of Class II injection wells was delaying oil and gas development in the Treasure Valley.  IDWR has not issued any Class II well permits, because the EPA has not approved the state’s proposed changes to its Class II, UIC program.  On August 25, 2017, the EPA received a letter from IDWR, formally requesting transfer of its responsibility for managing Class II, oil and gas wastewater injection wells in Idaho to the EPA.  According to the EPA’s November 2017, Federal Register notice of this proposed rule revision, state-administered, Class II injection wells remain illegal in Idaho, under federal law [1-3].

Idaho agency efforts to uncharacteristically and aggressively transfer authority over Class II wells in our fifth most seismically active state to the EPA, headed by oil and gas industry friend and former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, seem like thinly veiled attempts to again hastily accommodate corporate profits at the expense of Idahoans’ public and environmental health.  Instead of conscientiously updating Idaho’s injection control program, the state is calling for this transfer of responsibility to the EPA, to facilitate cheaper, underground disposal of oil and gas drilling byproducts than in evaporation ponds near the Boise Airport, as soon as possible.  IDWR is thus side-stepping the existing, three-decade ban of Class II injection wells, risking and polluting Idaho groundwater and seismic stability, and circumventing both impacted, Idaho citizen review of Class II injection well regulations and lawsuits against the state for any damages resulting from these wells [4].  As suggested by state agency presentations on Class II wells, given to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on December 7, 2017, the Texas company currently producing oil and gas in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Alta Mesa, may request Safe Drinking Water Act exemptions of precious, water aquifers for its injection well program, and use already drilled, shut-in, (and defective?), hydrocarbon wells in Payette County, such as the DJS 2-14 well [5].

“Injection wells – which involve the high-pressure, underground dumping of millions of gallons of frack wastewater, which contains toxins, carcinogens, and other chemicals – cause earthquakes, can contaminate drinking water, and bring other environmental and public health impacts” [6].  In Oklahoma, insurance policies neither covered nor did anything to assist residents and businesses suffering huge losses from earthquakes, because the jolts were created by the oil and gas industry injecting massive quantities of wastewater and ‘produced’ water, laced with heavy salts, toxic chemicals, and radioactivity, directly into their aquifer, drinking water sources.  “In a normal year – that is, in almost any before 2009 – the state only saw one or two quakes.  It now experiences one to two quakes per day.  In 2015, it endured 857 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or higher, more than struck the rest of the lower 48 states combined” [7].  The EPA, Pulitzer Prize-winning journal ProPublica, popular videos, and others have all documented the inherent risks of Class II injection wells [8, 9].

Based on decades of observations and interactions with Idaho agencies and natural resource issues, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists do not necessarily agree that Idaho regulations would protect clean air, water, and lands, potentially degraded by Class II, oil and gas waste injection wells, better than federal agencies like the EPA [10].  But together, we, the people of Idaho, should not condone any local, state, or federal government or private company overturning the ongoing ban on Class II injection wells in Idaho, and thus let corporate forces once again elevate the rights of fossil fuel companies over the communities they violate with innumerable, significant harms.  WIRT suspects that any agency permitting Class II, waste injection wells could open the toxic floodgates for oil and gas well stimulation treatments like hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Idaho, and its profuse use and pollution of our relatively pristine water.  In the high-desert environment of the rapidly growing, Treasure Valley population, where communities depend on clean water-based agriculture and recreation for their economic sustenance, we cannot afford to risk or waste underground water supplies also challenged by a warming, drying climate.