Regional events mark the Lac-Mégantic and Mosier disaster anniversaries
North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in the sixth annual, networked, Stop Oil Trains actions and workshops on Friday, June 28, through Monday, July 1, a week earlier than usual, due to Fourth of July, Canada Day, and local concert festivities on the following weekends. The five events honor and commemorate the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, explosions, and fires in the lakeside village of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and all rail corridor communities threatened and degraded by crude oil pipelines-on-rails.
During the six years since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades. Nonetheless, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway carries 22 volatile, Bakken crude oil trains every week, while Union Pacific hauls one to two trains of equally explosive and irretrievably sinkable tar sands per week, along and over rivers, lakes, and tributaries throughout north Idaho and the Northwest, such as the Kootenai, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Columbia, and other water bodies. Over 90 percent of these shipments must cross rail bridges above downtown Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille, where BNSF plans to drive 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, lake and stream bed, coal deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional lake and aquifer drinking water, to construct three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) rail bridges, two temporary, work spans, and two miles of doubled tracks west of the current rail line, for riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, oil and other train traffic.
The north Idaho community continues to actively oppose, through public processes, protests, and lawsuits, BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion, as we await and prepare for worst-case-scenario, project decisions by the lead agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, in charge of bridge permits and environmental and socioeconomic review, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, overseeing dredge, fill, and wetland activities. Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) has been scheming further legal maneuvers, since railroad and state lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, district court case against the Idaho Department of Lands encroachment permit in late March 2019, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a Clean Water Act water quality certification for the project in September 2018. With the #No2ndBridge situation soon quickly intensifying, we are arranging regional marches in response to those federal agency announcements, and coordinating a north Idaho, direct action camp with visiting trainers, on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8 . As part of WIRT’s yearly Panhandle Paddle, which always offers an issue forum, training workshops, and a flotilla around the railroad bridges, action camp skills-sharing bolsters inland Northwest communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries .
Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula activists of 350, Direct Action, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, WIRT, and regional, allied groups have participated with thousands of people around the Northwest and North America, in multiple, public, Stop Oil Trains actions and the one-year anniversary convergence supporting Mosier, hosted by conservation and climate groups [3-5]. Please join concerned citizens in these upcoming outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of all Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil risk our air, waters, lands, families, friends, homes, and businesses. Together, in appreciation and solidarity with grassroots and indigenous, environmental and social justice activists across Canada and the U.S., we are organizing various tactics and resources to stage powerful, effective actions defending and protecting frontline communities and the global climate impacted by oil-by-rail pollution and accidents. Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable, relevant information, connections, and on-the-ground support for these events. We welcome your ideas, questions, suggestions, and assistance at these upcoming actions: Reply through the enclosed, contact channels or on-site. Expect ongoing, issue descriptions and updates, via WIRT facebook posts and website pages.
Spotlight Message Projection by Occupy
Friday, June 28, 9 pm, downtown Sandpoint
Saturday, June 29, 9 pm, downtown Spokane
As the sun sets, Occupy comrades will generously provide a brief, light projection display of social and climate justice messages on tall buildings in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington. Meet after 9 pm, respectively on Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, wherever you see this light show, for discussions among activists and curious passersby, about Northwest oil train and terminal issues.
Tabling Outreach by PESC
Saturday, June 29, 8 am to 1 pm, Friendship Square, Moscow
The Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) will host its Moscow Farmers Market outreach table on Friendship Square, Fourth and Main streets in Moscow, Idaho, between 8 am and 1 pm on Saturday, June 29, to commemorate the Lac-Mégantic and Mosier oil train disasters and support regional opposition to BNSF’s second, north Idaho, rail bridges. Along with WIRT, PESC will circulate a #No2ndBridge petition and offer updates on coal and oil trains traversing Idaho . At similar, past events, PESC members have shared their written thoughts about the Lac-Mégantic catastrophe, which occurred on the night before their march in the 2013 Tar Sands Healing Walk in Alberta.
#No2ndBridge Outreach & March by WIRT
Saturday, June 29, 9 am to 1 pm, Farmin Park, Sandpoint
Saturday, June 29, 1 pm, Farmin to City Beach Parks, Sandpoint
Gather with volunteer activists and citizens between 9 am and 1 pm on Saturday, June 29, at the WIRT outreach table during the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint, under the Farmin Park clock at Third and Main streets, Sandpoint, Idaho. We plan to talk with residents and visitors of the one-mile-wide, north Idaho “bomb train blast zone,” and provide petitions, flyers, handouts, and brochures about Northwest oil and coal trains, terminals, and bridges [6-8].
Bring your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, protest signs, and creative spirit, to show community resistance to oil trains and accommodating railroad infrastructure, like the nearby, present and proposed, BNSF rail bridges. Starting from the Farmin Park clock at 1 pm on Saturday afternoon, June 29, we will walk with banners and signs protesting the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels and railroad expansion, through downtown Sandpoint and over the Sand Creek bridge, to the historic train station and City Beach Park. At these public destinations, we will share reflections and stories about the isolated vulnerability of rural, rail corridor people and places to oil train catastrophes.
Train Watch Workshop by 350 Seattle
Monday, July 1, 5 pm, East Bonner County Library, Sandpoint
For the sixth workshop of annual, training sessions on regional coal, oil, and tar sands train spotting, David Perk of 350 Seattle in Washington will present methods for track-side observing, documenting, and reporting Northwest fossil fuel train traffic, via photos, videos, and social media. He will discuss rail routes from the plains to the coast, train descriptors (date, time, location, direction of travel, locomotive colors, numbers, and orientation, and tanker and buffer car types, marks, and hazmat codes), refinery and receiving facilities, regular rail system operations, stopovers, and transit times, and train watch motivations and resources. Please join this appreciated, Skyped conversation with David, sharing images, handouts, skills, and insights, beginning at 5 pm on Monday, July 1, at the East Bonner County Library, 1407 Cedar Street in Sandpoint, Idaho. WIRT needs more train monitors, especially along the Union Pacific tracks of the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline, to document for the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch westbound, unit trains of black tanker cars hauling Alberta tar sands.
Thanks! #No2ndBridge for Bomb Trains!
 BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March! May 31, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Fourth Panhandle Paddle, September 3, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Stop Oil Trains in Idaho: July 5-7, 2018 Actions, July 1, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Sandpoint and Spokane Stand with Mosier, May 29, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Saturday, June 29, to Wednesday, July 3: Stop Oil Trains Week of Action…, June 3, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, September 30, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide
 Do You Live in an Oil Train Blast Zone? 2019 Stand.Earth
 North American Crude by Rail, 2019 Oil Change International