Events Across Idaho This Week (July 18 to 21)


Wednesday, July 18, 7 pm, Sandpoint

WIRT & #No2ndBridge Meeting & Petition

Since two public hearings in Ponderay and Sandpoint on May 23, and two Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussions in Moscow and Sandpoint during June 2018, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) issued a final order on Thursday, June 21, approving Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s encroachment permit application for its proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector project [1]. As explained in WIRT’s initial, draft analysis of the decision, IDL has deferred to antiquated, railroad land grant laws and 1000-plus pro-second bridge, BNSF, form letters [2].  Still requiring Clean Water Act water quality certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, dredge and fill approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and bridge permits from the lead, federal agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, BNSF plans to build two miles of doubled tracks, two temporary, work spans, and three permanent, parallel bridges west of existing rail infrastructure across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, Bridge Street, and downtown Sandpoint.

Grassroots, #No2ndBridge, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists are concerned about this near-conclusion of the state permitting process, and believe that our community should protect Lake Pend Oreille from this Northwest fossil fuels pipeline-on-wheels expansion, by resisting every advance of this proposal. Its construction could drill 1000 piles into train-spewed, lakebed, coal and other deposits in BNSF’s private right-of-way, releasing more pollution into regional, lake and aquifer, drinking water.  North Idaho groups and governments with greater capacity and non-profit status to litigate will probably not challenge dismissal by IDL and other state agencies of myriad, local concerns over significant, project impacts.  But we intend to dispute this permit through both conservative, Idaho courts and creative, frontline resistance, and are searching for attorney assistance around the IDL permit appeal filing deadline of Friday, July 20 [3].

Please participate in the third-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT, and #No2ndBridge meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday, July 18, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint. Event hosts invite everyone to bring and share snacks, refreshments, donations, and suggestions and referrals to lawyers who practice in Idaho and could advise or represent us before and after filing pro se in Bonner County district court.  We also ask that you print and circulate the accompanying, double-sided, informal #No2ndBridge Petition, and return it, filled with signatures, to WIRT at public events and farmers market outreach tables in Sandpoint and Moscow, on Saturdays throughout the season, where we hope to talk with you and provide printed material about this critical situation.

Visit the WIRT facebook and website pages for further, issue, and event updates and contact information for state and federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions. Request that local, state, and federal, elected, appointed, and agency officials conduct rigorous reviews and analyses of this north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel’ expansion, including federal, environmental impact studies and statements, and denounce, deny, and revoke all permits for this negligent and culpable project.

Thursday, July 19, 7 pm, Moscow

Reluctant Radical Movie Showing

The Unitarian Universalist Environmental Task Force and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) are screening The Reluctant Radical in the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse basement, 420 East Second Street in Moscow [4, 5].  The documentary film depicts the story of climate change activist Ken Ward, one of five valve turners who shut down all United States tar sands pipelines during a four-state action on October 11, 2016.

Threatened by imprisonment and lawsuits, Ken expresses no regrets for his shared, civil disobedience, and asks viewers to consider the moral question: If a crime is committed to prevent a greater crime, is it forgivable, if not necessary? He and his colleagues appeared in-person and via video conference for three WIRT and allied, educational, and fundraising events in Moscow and Sandpoint during December 2016 and March 2017 [6, 7].

Thursday, July 19, 1:30 pm, Boise

Federal Hearing on Idaho Oil & Gas Forced Pooling

Please join Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) in court room 3 of the United States Courthouse at 550 West Fort Street in Boise [8]. Starting promptly and for only one hour, the honorable, U.S. District Court, Idaho Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill will hear oral arguments on cross-motions for summary judgment, between CAIA and the state of Idaho.  Based on the evidence presented, he will decide whether to render a judgment or send the case to trial.  For CAIA, attorney James Piotrowski will assert that the state and its Department of Lands violated the U.S. Constitution, by granting Texas-based company Alta Mesa the right to take citizen-owned natural gas and oil, while failing to provide due process of law and adequate compensation to Idaho citizens, for the tremendous risks that the state forced them to assume.

Amidst this emotional situation, a phenomenal legal team is representing CAIA and impacted, private mineral holders before an excellent judge, in this precedent-setting lawsuit with huge ramifications for Treasure Valley residents near active drilling activities and for all Idaho communities facing similar, future incursions. A successful outcome of this legal challenge could also have far-reaching effects on oil and gas industry practices in other places around the nation.

If possible, attend this hearing, bring friends to watch the action, and witness the fruits of CAIA’s diligent work and fundraising over the last 18 months. Please help fill the court room, as a message to Alta Mesa and state regulators that Idaho citizens will take a stand to protect constitutional rights, property values, health and safety, and water, air, and soil.  CAIA asks that audience members act with courtesy and respect, and do not engage in any form of protest inside or outside of the building, to ensure no compromises of positive outcomes in the court and public and media perception.

Thanks for your responses and work on parallel issues, as we hope that you are enjoying an adventurous and healthy summer! #No2ndBridge!

[1] “Comment from Wild Idaho Rising Tide,… June 24, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] BNSF Rail Bridges Approved! June 22, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[3] Attorney Assistance Needed to Challenge IDL Approval of BNSF Lake Bridge Permit! July 12, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] Brief: Climate Change Film to be Shown at Unitarian Universalist Church, July 16, 2018 Moscow-Pullman Daily News

[5] The Reluctant Radical, 2017 Goodwin-Grayzel Productions

[6] Moscow and Sandpoint Host Tar Sands Pipeline Valve Turners, December 1, 2016 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[7] Valve Turners House Parties in Moscow and Sandpoint, March 6, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[8] CAIA’s Suit Against State for Violating Idahoans’ Constitutional Rights Moves Forward, May 21, 2018 Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability

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