Winter Solstice Thanks & Requests, Sandpoint Meeting, #No2ndBridge Attorney & Petition, Climate Strike Report, & More

Winter Solstice Thanks & Requests

As Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, board members, friends, contributors, and allies celebrate later sunsets since December 11, Winter Solstice at 8:19 pm PST on Saturday, December 21, and daylight growing another eight hours by Summer Solstice, we offer our gratitude for your participation and support during 2019, and share our hopes, dreams, and plans for the emerging, solar, new year [1, 2]. During the last nine years, volunteer, WIRT activists have urgently and actively worked to counter the current climate crisis, always asking everyone to engage their courage and dedication, and refusing to lose faith in the proven potential of local communities and governments to advance Northwest climate solutions.  Continuing vigilant resistance on the north Idaho, fossil fuels, pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontlines for a tenth year, we request your assistance with planning actions at WIRT meetings (1), participating in protests and demonstrations (2, 3), monitoring and documenting coal, oil, and tar sands trains and railroad infrastructure construction  (4), signing and delivering the #No2ndBridge petition (5), writing letters to regional editors and industries (6), recruiting an attorney (7), and contributing toward group expenses (8).

1) Sandpoint Action Planning Meeting

Grassroots, WIRT organizers invite your involvement in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, outreach, and #No2ndBridge litigation. We urge you to participate in WIRT, potluck gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, discuss tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate chaos, through direct actions and frontline solutions [3].  The WIRT climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with you and the regional, environmental and indigenous community about critical issues.  Join activity planning conversations on the first and third Thursdays (now instead of Wednesdays) of every month, starting at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Thursday, December 19, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  Due to winter conditions, WIRT will probably not hold monthly, Moscow meetings during January and February 2020, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street.  Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for informative posts and articles, and listen to WIRT’s soon resumed, weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, for updates about ongoing and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuels invasions and protests.

2) Climate Strike & #No2ndBridge Protest Report

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Climate Strike and Army Corps Permit Protest on Friday, December 6, at Serenity Lee Trail and Dog Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho [4, 5]! WIRT volunteers also offer our appreciation to the Sandpoint Reader and Sandpoint Online, for their editing and posting of public announcements of the demonstration, listed in print and website events calendars [6].  The community event protested Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector project that has begun constructing doubled tracks and three additional railroad bridges transporting coal, oil, and hazardous materials across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint.  This industrial invasion has received all of its required approvals, except perhaps one each from Bonner County and the City of Sandpoint, including federal permits for bridge building, from the U.S. Coast Guard on September 5, and for dredging and filling wetlands and shorelines, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on November 20.  Please see the WIRT facebook page for a full description and photos of WIRT activists registering the rally without response on the U.S. Climate Strike website and map, resisting BNSF’s ongoing, regional pollution, derailment, and climate risks and impacts to Idaho panhandle towns, awaiting participant input among noisy heavy equipment in the dusty construction zone, and encountering and documenting a westbound, unit, “bomb” train of black, oil tanker cars with one rear, BNSF locomotive 6668, near the outlet of the large, formerly forested wetland below the present, Sand Creek rail bridge [7, 8].

3) Spotlighting Demonstrations

WIRT launched its first, public spotlighting on Saturday evening, November 30, while crowds gathered outside the Panida Theater in downtown Sandpoint, for the annual Giving Thanks concert headlined by native north Idahoans the Shook Twins [9, 10]. From Spokane activists of the Occupy movement, with years of projecting experience and fondly remembered forays in Spokane, Boise, Moscow, Sandpoint, and throughout the inland Northwest, we acquired one of two sets of spotlighting equipment on August 30: a theater light, sawhorse, wagon, generator, and especially 13 gobos (graphic object before optics), mostly pertaining to coal and oil train and other fossil fuels resistance and related topics and group logos [11].  WIRT plans to continue to honor their amazing legacy with spotlighting across north Idaho and the region.  Although the equipment is heavy and cumbersome, and requires two people to transport and set up the tubular light on its stand, we welcome invitations from the activist community to shine messages and images about environmental, social justice, human rights, and diverse issues, to assist your outreach in a highly visible, targeted, fun way.  Passersby, who see the displays on tall buildings and other places (even on megaloads!) during weekend and special event nights, generally respond curiously and positively.  WIRT spotlight organizers would also gratefully accept donations supporting our purchases of the $300 spotlight equipment and the $40 ordered or handmade gobos on any topics you choose.

4) Train & #No2ndBridge Watches

Please consider joining the active, north Idaho, Portland-Vancouver, Seattle, and Northwest network of trainspotting partners, who benefit from WIRT’s monitoring, photographing, and public facebook-posting of westbound, BNSF, unit coal and oil trains, for the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch and down-track co-workers. Mid-December 2019 marks four years of continuous, WIRT presence and reports from the downtown Sandpoint and north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline.  We especially encourage detailed documentation of BNSF, #No2ndBridge construction sites near the Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille rail bridges.  Winds and precipitation around the railroad easement and the almost mile-long bridge over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake push bulldozed sand, gravel, and train-spewed coal dust into creek and lake bed, pollution deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional drinking water, into which BNSF plans to drive 1000-plus piles for two temporary, construction spans and three permanent, parallel, second (and likely later third) rail bridges, accommodating riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic.

Besides constantly reminding Sandpoint of BNSF train pollution and disaster risks, one of the best reasons for the WIRT and allied, train watch includes sharing our observations of crude oil tanker cars with red and white, 1267, hazmat placards and sometimes with additional, white, inhalation hazard placards denoting “dilbit” — diluted bitumen from Canadian tar sands fields. These sightings help coordinated, Portland area, and regional trainspotters identify the origins, types, volumes, routes, and destinations of oil trains traveling to Oregon and California facilities, where transporters and refinery and export terminal recipients are not required by law, as in Washington, to report oil-by-rail shipments.  The only known, Oregon, tar sands terminal, Zenith Energy in Northwest Portland, has especially stirred the concerns and scrutiny of citizens and government agencies [12].

5) #No2ndBridge Petition & Delivery

At community gatherings, protests, and the Moscow and Sandpoint Farmers Markets outreach tables of WIRT and allies, hundreds of visiting and resident, Northwest citizens have signed the Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project [13]. In spring 2019, WIRT included paper and online petition signatures and remarks with our comments to the U.S. Coast Guard.  We are planning January 2019 delivery to the state and federal agencies responsible for permitting decisions on BNSF’s proposed, north Idaho, bridge and track expansion.  The #No2ndBridge petition supports regional opposition to BNSF’s scheme and the insufficiency of federal and state, environmental reviews, by expanding citizen comments, testimony, and other public input.  It exposes the myriad, significant, adverse, and cumulative impacts to watershed, environmental, and public health and safety imposed by railroad bridge construction and operation.  Additionally, it includes these concerns as evidence of unaddressed issues in the administrative record, and preserves rights and bolsters claims objecting to permit decision outcomes and resulting harms.

BNSF’s $100 million gamble with the natural amenities foundation of the Sandpoint area, tourism and recreation economy and many aspects of our lives and livelihoods could jeopardize, degrade, and impede lake and aquifer water (is life!) and air sources, native fish, wildlife, bull trout, and their habitats, indigenous cultures, treaties, and rights, public, railroad worker, and environmental health and safety, scenic and economic qualities, values, and interests, historic sites and private residences, properties, and businesses, vehicle travel and boat navigation at road/rail/bridge crossings, emergency response capacities, earthquake and disaster resilience, and other, pertinent factors. This railroad expansion could also potentially, if not willfully, increase the ongoing traffic, noise, toxic coal and diesel pollution, and accident and derailment dangers of fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains that WIRT and Northwest, rail corridor residents have actively disputed through numerous, public comments, hearings, protests, and court cases during the last decade.

Please comment, sign, and widely circulate to your family and friends this informal petition that concludes with a “request that local, state, and federal, elected, appointed, and agency officials conduct rigorous reviews and analyses of this project, including environmental impact studies and statements, and denounce, deny, and revoke all permits for this negligent and culpable project” [13].

6) #No2ndBridge Letters to Editors & BNSF

Since 2011, WIRT has activated progressive, Idaho communities to oppose the corporations, governments, development, and wealth steamrolling them, while dirty energy exploitation and its private and public armies and purveyors transform the Earth into a war zone. Rejecting local complicity generated by climate apathy and industry propaganda and grants, Idahoans must consider and challenge fossil fuels infrastructure and transportation projects as the root causes of climate disruption, appreciate and apply the power and benefits of direct action, beyond fears of its prospects for arrest, and halt industry’s climate, environmental, and socioeconomic plunder and injustices.  We urge you to express your dissent however you can, as we thank WIRT activist Sue Koller for her assertive letter to the editor, in the November 14, Sandpoint Reader [14].  Lake Pend Oreille needs all of us to continue publishing similar, public notes of opposition to BNSF’s railroaded, rubberstamped, Sandpoint area, expansion plans.  And because various government agencies won’t listen to local resistance to yet another industrial invasion of wild north Idaho, we also encourage you to directly contact the corporate perpetrator of railroad pollution and derailment threats, with letters addressed to BNSF Railway, 2650 Lou Menk Drive, Fort Worth, Texas 76131 [15].

7) #No2ndBridge Attorney Search

The grassroots, volunteer, WIRT collective is now apparently the lead, if not lone, remaining group willing to work against BNSF bridge and track expansion in north Idaho, as the people with the power and privilege to slow and stop this onslaught say “It’s a done deal, and you have to pick your battles,” the same reason, whether due to capacity constraints or campaign choices, why big environmental groups have let environmentally devastating, activist heartbreaking destruction happen over decades and Sandpoint, BNSF expansion advance over the last three months [16]. WIRT has lately been #No2ndBridge question-bombing the public presentations and speeches of organizations like the Pend Oreille Basin Lakes Commission and Idaho Conservation League, who, along with politically ambitious Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, have recently seemingly dismissed the issue.  Ironically, some Sandpoint progressives shunned WIRT resistance in favor of organizations who spurned coordination with us, whose members both oppose and welcome this industry fiasco, whose boards may or may not commit to litigation, and who eventually acquiesced to fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion.

WIRT apologizes to everyone concerned about recent, BNSF-inflicted, watershed damages, which we unrealistically assumed that allies would counter with continued resistance. As fellow activists have warned, “the powerful co-opt the civility of the privileged class, whose sensibilities police and oppress the impoverished and outraged, thus not only supporting the powerful but their own wealthier position, too” [17].  Despite the unprecedented, campaign finances foisted against Seattle City Council, socialist candidate Kshama Sawant, she ultimately won re-election and accordingly declared, “All of this clarified to people that big business is not on our side…This mythology that, ‘Oh, if only we behaved nicely, and we brought big business to the table, things would work out.’  Well, that’s been blown to smithereens.  They are not on our side, and in fact, they will use every dollar that they can, to try and crush the movement” [18].  But marginalized communities have understood such socioeconomic and environmental oppression for centuries: “The rate of destruction is not even slowing down, let alone stopping.  We have a world to save, and there is no saving it without destroying settler colonialism and capitalism.  That is the bottom line of any real rebellion to save ourselves from extinction.  Is the white, middle class, environmental movement going to abandon the very oppressive system destroying the earth, which provides them comfort?  [Hell no!]  Black, Indigenous, and other frontline communities will be fighting regardless, for there is no liberation on a dead planet” [19].

Since late October, WIRT has been pursuing mostly futile outreach to larger, more “respectable,” green groups and attorneys with busy agendas and more preferences than WIRT for industry-facilitating, government processes and laws. We have talked with over 50 Northwest associates and lawyers, about a potential, federal case against the Coast Guard decision.  If we cannot find and retain an attorney soon, we may have to file (again!) without legal representation.  We would appreciate your suggestions and referrals to effective (and pro bono!), environmental attorneys you may know, who can help us force a full, environmental impact statement analysis for this BNSF project.  Thanks to everyone in the Northwest network who has provided to WIRT the names and contact information of lawyers, with whom we have shared this linked and other information, and assessed their experience, interest, and availability to assist #No2ndBridge climate activists [20].

8) Contribute to WIRT Activism

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide at upcoming events and consider contributing physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a funding supporter of WIRT campaigns building the regional, climate justice movement and challenging the fossil fuel sources of climate chaos. WIRT is part of Rising Tide North America, an international, volunteer, grassroots network of groups and individuals who organize locally, promote community-based alternatives to the climate crisis, and engage in direct actions to confront the root causes of climate change during the last two decades.  Whether $5, $50, or $500 during this holiday giving season, please pitch in generously toward WIRT’s “paid forward,” regional, climate activism, online through our website Donate to WIRT button, or via mail to our Sandpoint and Moscow addresses [21].  Thanks!

[1] Why Isn’t the Year’s Earliest Sunset on the Winter Solstice? December 3, 2019

[2] Sandpoint, Idaho, USA — Sunrise, Sunset, and Day Length, December 2019, December 3, 2019

[3] #No2ndBridge Climate Strike, NW Fossil Fuels Talk, Smelter Zoning, WIRT Meetings, December 3, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] Climate Strike and USACE Permit Protest, December 3, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[5] Climate Strike and USACE Permit Protest, December 3, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[6] Thanks to Beth Hawkins, the Sandpoint Reader, and Sandpoint Online…, December 5, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[7] Climate Strike and Army Corps Permit Protest 12-6-19, December 8, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[8] Climate Strike and Army Corps Permit Protest 12-6-19, December 8, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[9] WIRT launched its first, public spotlighting…, November 30, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[10] Giving Thanks Concert Spotlight 11-30-19, December 1, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[11] Thanks to Spokane activists of the Occupy movement…, August 31, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[12] Opponents Struggle to Stop a New Breed of Oregon Fuel Terminals, December 12, 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

[13] Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, September 30, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[14] Thanks to WIRT activist Sue Koller…, November 15, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[15] Pulse: Project News for the Week of December 2, 2019, November 27, 2019 Engineering News-Record

[16] WIRT #NO2NDBRIDGE RESPONSIBILITY! December 14, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[17] Thanks to Carol, for her (paraphrased here) “statement to blast to the world”! November 9, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[18] Blow to Amazon as Seattle Socialist Looks to Have Triumphed in Key Vote, November 9, 2019 Guardian

[19] A Real Extinction Rebellion Means the End of Colonialism, Imperialism, and Capitalism, September 22, 2019 Common Dreams

[20] PLEASE SHARE WITH THOSE WHO CAN HELP…, November 1, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[21] Donate to WIRT, Wild Idaho Rising Tide Everbutton

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