PRDC Annual Membership Meeting
The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) invites its supporters and members of PRDC affiliated, environmental groups (Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide) to attend the PRDC Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, May 2, at the Yellow House next to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street (near the 1912 Center and Van Buren Street) in Moscow, Idaho. Please come to this casual event anytime between 5 and 7 pm, to talk with PRDC board members Cass Davis, Steve Flint, David Hall, Al Poplawsky, Pat Rathmann, Mary and Steve Ullrich, and Helen Yost, ask questions, vote for board candidates, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and pay $5 annual dues. If you cannot participate, please send donations and dues to this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, via mail to P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID 83843, to assist its lawsuit efforts to protect native Palouse prairie remnants from U.S. Highway 95 expansion onto Paradise Ridge, and to “ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs” (PRDC mission statement).
Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition
Moscow WIRT Meeting & #No2ndBridge Presentation
Invite your friends and families, and join the regional, climate activist community, #No2ndBridge group members, and WIRT organizers for the May, first-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT gathering at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 2. Discussions and action plans include Farmers Market outreach in Moscow and Sandpoint, an oil and gas waste injection well protest and petition presentation in Boise, and ongoing, dirty energy transportation monitoring and reporting. We especially need your participation in work on a #No2ndBridge petition, brochures, banners, a peaceful, public, Sandpoint protest, regional attendance and expert testimony at May 23 hearings and rallies with speakers in Ponderay and Sandpoint, and a summer, direct action training camp, all opposing Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway track and bridge expansion of the coal, oil, hazmat, and possibly tar sands pipeline-on-wheels across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho.
At this WIRT convergence, we are starting to present #No2ndBridge information sessions with slide shows in Moscow, Sandpoint, Missoula, Spokane, and other, inland Northwest locations. All are welcome to bring their creative ideas and energies and potluck food and beverages, to share current, issue updates and background, and to explore strategies and tactics in support and solidarity with grassroots, Northwest resistance to the power and pollution of the fossil fuel and railroad industries. Contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions about potential meeting topics and activities, and to coordinate overlapping campaigns and upcoming events among allies.
On February 26, 2018, the public received notices of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s joint application for “individual” (not more lenient, “general”) permits to double 2.2 miles of tracks west of its existing, main line through Sandpoint, Idaho, and to construct three permanent, parallel, rail bridges and two temporary, work spans across Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and almost a mile over Lake Pend Oreille. This $100 million, five-year, “Sandpoint Junction Connector” project would begin in fall 2018 and degrade human and natural environments from the BNSF-Montana Rail Link track convergence, near the historic, Sandpoint, train station still utilized by Amtrak, to the North Algoma siding track across the lake, south of Sandpoint.
The announcement came in the wake of four 2017, significant, northern Idaho and western Montana, train derailments within 33 miles of the proposed project, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s January 29 rejection of the Tesoro Savage, oil train terminal at the Port of Vancouver, on the day after Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) hosted the Idaho to Inslee: No Vancouver Oil Terminal! rally in Sandpoint, while BNSF ran four oil trains through north Idaho in eight hours. Complicated, public input processes, overseen by multiple, federal and state agencies, require BNSF permit decisions by the U.S. Coast Guard (bridges), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (dredge/fill material discharges), notoriously oil and gas industry-friendly Idaho Department of Lands (lakebed encroachments, like piles), Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (water quality certification), and other regulatory bodies.
North Idaho residents and activists are calling on the Northwest community to learn about and halt this expansion of the longest water crossing and most bottlenecked section of the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels. BNSF is threatening watershed, environmental, and economic devastation of our region, by building infrastructure that escalates the risks of toxic and explosive oil, coal, and hazardous materials spills, imposed on critical water, wildlife, recreation, and small business resources. Please see the enclosed links and forthcoming WIRT alerts for comment suggestions, write to the listed agencies before and after their deadlines, and attend and testify at the Idaho Department of Lands hearings in Ponderay and Sandpoint on May 23. Providing specific, personal, and substantive reasons, respectfully insist on: 1) a full environmental impact statement (EIS) that comprehensively analyzes the significant, direct, indirect, and cumulative project impacts on the region, 2) public comment period extensions to 120 days from notice dates, to accommodate summertime, area residents and diverse stakeholders, 3) public hearings involving all pertinent agencies and interested persons and organizations, before and after draft EIS release, and especially 4) consideration of your input in final decisions and inclusion of your comments in the public record for BNSF joint permit applications PN_NWW-2007-01303 and associated documents.
On the Sandpoint to Spokane, railroad funnel and fossil fuels frontline, WIRT, 350Sandpoint, and #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch allies continue to monitor and document with photos all observed, BNSF and Union Pacific, westbound, loaded, unit, coal and oil trains, maintenance of present, single-track, rail lines and bridges across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho, and changes at the Dog Beach Park, pile load-testing site, one mile southeast of downtown Sandpoint. We will also share comment suggestions on the WIRT website, compiled from three months of social media outreach, posted later this week as Significant, Regional Impacts of BNSF-Proposed, Lake Pend Oreille & Sandpoint Bridge & Track Expansions, and updated periodically, as we further scrutinize BNSF’s applications.
Public Notices, February 26, 2018 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
BNSF Railway Company Application (and posted public comments), February 26, 2018 Idaho Department of Lands
BNSF Plans Second Bridge over Lake Pend Oreille to Ease Rail Congestion, April 6, 2018 BNSF Railway video
Lake Bridge Comment Period, Moscow WIRT Meeting and Film, Seventh WIRT Celebration, March 6, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
Significant, Regional Impacts of BNSF-Proposed, Lake Pend Oreille & Sandpoint Bridge & Track Expansions, May 5, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
Take Action! Your Voice Matters. Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper
Protect Lake Pend Oreille from a Second Rail Bridge, Idaho Conservation League
Agency Contacts, Deadlines, & Hearings
U.S. Coast Guard, District 13, bridge program administrator Steven Fischer, 915 Second Avenue, Room 3510, Seattle, WA 98174, D13-PF-D13BRIDGES@uscg.mil, 206-220-7282, before and during a still unannounced, comment period
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, project manager Shane Slate, Coeur d’Alene Regulatory Office, 1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814-2676, NWW_BNSF_Pendoreille@usace.army.mil (or email@example.com if the other email address closes after the comment period), 208-433-4474, 208-667-9790, by and after Monday, April 30, 2018
Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), Pend Oreille Lake Supervisory Area, manager Tom Fleer and senior resource specialist Amidy Fuson, 2550 Highway 2 West, Sandpoint, ID 83864-7305, firstname.lastname@example.org or through the IDL website at https://www.idl.idaho.gov/comment.html (comments posted on the IDL project page), TFleer@idl.idaho.gov, AFuson@idl.idaho.gov, 208-263-5104, by or on Wednesday, May 23, 2018
IDL Public Hearings on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at 8 am PDT at the Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way, Suite E, in Ponderay, and at 6 pm PDT in the Sandpoint Middle School gymnasium, 310 South Division Avenue in Sandpoint
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ), Coeur d’Alene Regional Office, regional water quality compliance officer June Bergquist, 2110 Ironwood Parkway, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814, email@example.com, 208-666-4605, 208-666-6838, by and after Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The Army Corps, IDL, and Coast Guard cannot respectively grant dredge/fill, lakebed encroachment, and bridge permits, until IDEQ issues, waives, or denies Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification for overall project discharges of dredge and fill materials, which could violate existing, water quality standards. During a Monday, March 19, phone conversation, June Bergquist said that IDEQ has not yet released its draft certification for public review. Please request notification of the comment period for this decision, and IDEQ water quality certification denial.