UI Online Classes Petition, Gas Well Comments, Anti-Smelter Candidate, Panhandle Paddle, & More

June 22 & Ongoing: WIRT Co-Founder Medical Support

Cass Davis, a “left-neck,” rebel rouser, and native Idahoan of the Silver Valley, has been building north Idaho community resistance in Moscow for decades.  As one of the co-founders of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), he has tirelessly worked and served as a fellow board member and organizer with KRFP Radio Free Moscow, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, and Silver Valley Community Resource Center.  An early, WIRT, video compilation and call to action features Cass at 1:13, before his arrest during 2011-12 tar sands megaload protests and blockades [1].

Cass suffered a heart attack in late May 2020, and needs donations to help him recover and heal over the next year [2].  Please contribute however you can, by donating to this fundraiser for his medical and other basic expenses, and/or by volunteering more actively in social justice and environmental protection issues and participating in community events.  He says that “One of the biggest things that will ease my stress is seeing more people involved, more people civically engaged” [2].  We couldn’t agree more, dear comrade Cass!

July 18: Coalition Defense of Paradise Ridge Wetlands

In a letter to Moscow-Pullman Daily News editors, published on July 18, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) board members, including representatives of WIRT, one of the PRDC member organizations, responded to inaccurate, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 2 information echoed in a July 3 news article about expansion and relocation of 6.5 miles of U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow, from a two-lane roadway to a four-lane, divided highway [3-5].  Among other contentions addressed by PRDC, the piece states that ITD expects the $53 million project, “slated to start construction this year” but delayed until next spring, to reach completion in 2022 [5].

It dismissively asserts that “legal challenges to the project ended in December 2018, when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of ITD and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).  The [Paradise] Ridge Defense Coalition submitted a lawsuit against the FHA and ITD, regarding the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision in April 2017, which claimed the highway’s expansion would cut through a section of Paradise Ridge and lead to loss of wetlands, remnants of Palouse Prairie, farmland, and conservation reserve.  A federal judge ruled against the motion and in favor of the FHA and ITD in August 2017, but the coalition appealed…[ITD] does not anticipate another appeal or lawsuit” [5].

August 2: University of Idaho Online-Only Classes Petition

By late Sunday, August 2, please read, sign, and share a petition initiated, circulated, and supported by concerned residents of Moscow and the Palouse region [6].  In opposition to the unnecessary risks of performing on-campus, in-person teaching and learning, it requests that the University of Idaho (UI) engage innovative opportunities to hold online classes during fall semester 2020.  Seeking to ensure conditions conducive to the health and safety of UI and community students and employees, organizers will present the petition to UI president Scott Green on Monday, August 3.

With similar goals, UI staff and faculty members delivered a letter to Green, “urging university leaders to allow employees who work closely with students to choose to work remotely, without fear of reprisal or the need to fill out a [disability] waiver.  [It] neared 300 signatures as of Thursday, [July 30,]…including 123 tenured professors, eight of whom are distinguished professors.  …The letter said cases of COVID-19 in Idaho are increasing exponentially, with current case numbers far surpassing those seen in March, when the school canceled in-person instruction for the first time…An increasing number of colleges across the country are choosing to go online for the fall semester, including nearby Washington State University” [7].

August 4: Phyllis Kardos for County Commissioner

If you are a Washington voter registered in Pend Oreille County, please vote for esteemed, fellow activist, Newport silicon smelter opponent, and Democratic candidate for county commissioner Phyllis Kardos [8]!  This former classroom teacher, school principal, and district administrator not only brings her professional experiences, education, skills, and successes to her potential position, but also her knowledge of the economic and environmental issues challenging the small, rural county just west of Bonner County and Sandpoint.  Based on our interactions with Phyllis during several, recent years, WIRT climate activists trust that, as a county commissioner, Phyllis will effectively partner with local and indigenous communities and businesses and state and federal agencies, diligently work to protect public and environmental health and safety, strongly support responsible economic development, change, and growth, competently manage county budgets and agricultural, forest, and public lands, and uncompromisingly serve the best interests of county constituents and taxpayers.  Please choose Phyllis Kardos as Pend Oreille County commissioner, via the Washington primary election, vote-by-mail ballot, before 8 pm on Tuesday, August 4!

Responsible Growth*NE Washington (RG*NEW) and Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter (CANSS) have previously filed cases in Spokane Superior Court and the Washington Court of Appeals, against the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District (PUD), Pend Oreille County, and HiTest Sand, the parent company of PacWest, alleging that PUD officials illegally sold land at the site of planned smelter construction [9].  Both courts upheld the PUD transaction, so the anti-smelter groups are filing a petition for review with the Washington Supreme Court, by August 2.  CANSS, RG*NEW, the Kalispel Tribe, and allied groups continue to stand strongly against the air and water pollution and perils to regional health and safety of this dirty, dangerous industry, while the ‘on-hold’ PacWest smelter project awaits possible Pend Oreille County rezoning of the PUD land for industrial use.

August 5: Idaho Gas Well Drilling Comments

Please comment against the Barlow 2-14 gas well application, and widely share this call to action by August 5!  Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists received this email message from Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) in the Treasure Valley:

“On July 20, 2020, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) applied for a permit to drill yet another gas and oil well identified as Barlow 2-14.  This well is slated to be drilled on the banks and in the floodplain of the Payette River, a mere 20 feet from the Barlow 1-14 well that was drilled by Alta Mesa in 2018.  These wells present potential dangers to the Fruitland city water supply, as they are just upstream from the city’s water intake plant.  They also pose threats to nearby homes and farms, as well as wildlife and livestock living in or near the river.  Despite the risks, drilling is scheduled to begin by September 1, pending permit approval by the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL).

Citizens have until 5 pm MDT on Wednesday, August 5, to submit public comments and objections to the Barlow 2-14 gas and oil well.  Our goal is to flood the department with letters, letting state regulators know how Idahoans feel about this well and this industry operating here, putting our property values, the health and safety of our families, livestock, and wildlife, and our most precious, irreplaceable natural resource — our water — at risk.

If you would like to express your views and concerns about this well, please send your letters via ‘Submit a Comment’ on the IDL ‘Contact Us’ page [10].  You can also mail comments to Idaho Department of Lands, 300 North Sixth Street, Suite 103, Boise, ID 83702.  While we consider all potential avenues for protecting the river and human and animal populations, a heavy outpouring of public comments is a crucial first step.  Please respond to CAIA, if you have any other questions [11].  Thank you for your advocacy!”

August 28-30: Sixth Panhandle Paddle

WIRT is hosting the Sixth Panhandle Paddle on Friday through Sunday, August 28 to 30, in solidarity with fossil fuels frontlines and climate emergencies around the Earth enduring and resisting ongoing, industry infrastructure and transportation onslaughts undeterred or abetted by the pervasive, health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This annual convergence of Northwest activists will again feature a community forum on fossil fuel trains, bridges, and terminals on Friday evening, August 28, direct action workshops with West Coast trainers on Saturday, August 29, and a flotilla of canoes, kayaks, and non-motorized watercraft on Lake Pend Oreille, around present and proposed, railroad bridge sites on Sunday, August 30.  As we finalize event arrangements at WIRT meetings during the next few weeks, we encourage your involvement in planning and participating, and will provide further information soon.

[1] Wild Idaho Rising Tide Welcome, May 28, 2012 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Cass Medical Expense Fund, June 22, 2020 Hannah Smith and Dana Johnson

[3] In a letter to Moscow-Pullman Daily News editors…, July 14, 2020 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[4] ITD Wasting Time, Resources, July 18, 2020 Moscow-Pullman Daily News

[5] Highway 95 Expansion Delayed Until Spring, July 3, 2020 Moscow-Pullman Daily News

[6] University of Idaho: Hold Online Classes for the Safety of Everyone, July 31, 2020 Holly Kim

[7] UI Faculty, Staff Push to Make Decisions, July 31, 2020 Moscow-Pullman Daily News

[8] Phyllis Kardos, Pend Oreille County Commissioner, District #1

[9] Anti-Smelter Groups Will Take Land Sale to Washington Supreme Court, July 9, 2020 Sandpoint Reader

[10] Contact Us, Idaho Department of Lands

[11] Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability

1 thought on “UI Online Classes Petition, Gas Well Comments, Anti-Smelter Candidate, Panhandle Paddle, & More

  1. Pingback: Gas Well Spacing & Lakeside Logging Comments, Tribal Paddle & Oil Train Protest Reports, & More | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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