Comment on Oil Movement Reports, Coal Mine Expansion, & Dakota Access Pipeline

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October 15: Oregon Coal Plant Closure

On October 15, Portland General Electric (PGE) shut down the 40-year-old Boardman Generating Station in eastern Oregon, the only, coal-fired, power plant in the state and one of three in the four-state Northwest [1].  In 2009, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Sierra Club, and other green groups filed a lawsuit that forced PGE to permanently close the Boardman facility by the end of 2020.  Boardman stood as one of four destinations for the average three daily, Powder River Basin, unit coal trains that traverse and pollute north Idaho, besides the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia, Washington, the Customs District of Seattle, Washington (the largest, U.S. West Coast, and fifth-biggest, American, coal export center), and Westshore Terminals coal export facilities in Delta, west of Vancouver, British Columbia [2-4].  As Washington’s third-largest electricity generator, Centralia’s two coal burners will each retire in 2020 and 2025, with energy offset by natural gas or renewable resources [3].  Two of four units of the coal power plant in Colstrip, eastern Montana, owned by several utility companies, remain the last, uncertain source of coal-fired electricity in the Northwest [5].

November 1: Washington Oil Train & Pipeline Reports

The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) is proactively inviting tribes, citizens, organizations, and agencies to participate in public hearings and a comment period on its rulemaking and proposed, draft revisions of Chapter 173-185 WAC, Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification, the Washington law that requires weekly, facility and quarterly, state reports on crude oil transportation [6].  The third and last of three webinars on this rulemaking occurred on October 20.  DOE offered opportunities to view a brief, basic presentation, ask questions afterwards, and give testimony, through an hour-long, online meeting that participants could join from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, or toll-free by phone.

WIRT activists attended and appreciate and support expansion of this Washington rule, to include receiving facility reporting of type and vapor pressure of crude oil-by-rail and type and gravity of pipeline oil.  But we recommend: 1) disclosure of ALL unit hydrocarbon trains traversing the state to receiving destinations outside Washington, including possible liquefied natural gas and petroleum liquids, 2) quarterly instead of current, biannual (twice yearly) reporting of pipeline oil volumes and descriptions, 3) required, not optional, updating of advance reports by facilities on actually received, oil-by-rail shipments, and 4) increased data to local, emergency planning groups and better notices to emergency personnel, in advance of oil and other hazardous materials trains crossing Washington, which, although not covered by this law, north Idaho first responders say they are not receiving.

Please express your interests and concerns in these important decisions that impact the health, safety, and lives of north Idaho trackside communities!  See the linked DOE announcement for further information about webinar agendas, proposed rule changes, and instructions for providing written comments by 11:59 pm on November 1 [6].  Contact Kim Morley of DOE (kim.morley@ecy.wa.gov, kmor461@ecy.wa.gov, 360-701-2398) with your questions about this rulemaking. Continue reading

Climate Justice Forum: Election Unrest Training, Closed Oregon Coal Plant, Washington Oil Movement Rules, Portland Chemical Weapons Lawsuit, Dakota Access Pipeline Comments, B.C. Pipeline Resistance 10-21-20


The Wednesday, October 21, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on training preparations for election unrest, a closed Oregon coal power plant, Washington rulemaking for oil train and pipeline notifications, a lawsuit against federal police use of chemical weapons in Portland, scoping comments on the Dakota Access pipeline, and indigenous resistance to two British Columbia pipeline river crossings.  Broadcast for eight years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots opposition to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Lakota, Wet’suwet’en, & Valve Turner Pipeline Resistance, Russell Means at Columbus Day Protest, Idaho Train Bridge & Gas Well Objections & COVID-19 Rates, Georgia Hazmat Derailment 10-14-20


In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day every day, the Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on frontline resistance to pipelines through Lakota and  Wet’suwet’en waters and lands, a Russell Means speech at a 2007 Columbus Day protest, Idaho train bridge and gas well objections and highest positive COVID-19 test rates, tar sands pipeline blockaders, a Georgia hazardous materials derailment and fire, and a vice presidential debate interloper. Broadcast for eight years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots opposition to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

Climate Justice Forum: Idaho Fossil Fuel Well Spacing, Train Increases, & Perceived Threats, Washington Methanol Refinery, LNG-by-Rail Hazards & Permits Forgiving Trump Loans 10-7-20


The Wednesday, October 7, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on a Latah County COVID-19 case surge, Idaho gas well spacing, fossil fuels train increases, perceived activist threats, and climate strikes, British Columbia gas pipeline protests, Washington methanol refinery comments, dangerous presidential indebtedness, and the hazards and federal permits for forgiven Trump loans of liquefied natural gas-by-rail. Broadcast for eight years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.

Methanol Refinery & BC Pipeline Alerts, Fossil Fuels Train Increases & Threats, Climate Wildfires, Strikes, & More


WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

Thanks to a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist and board member for noticing an investigative piece in the esteemed online journal The Intercept, and alerting comrades of its mention of WIRT as, along with environmental reporter Justin Mikulka, “one of a range of fossil fuel industry critics framed by the rail industry as a potential threat.  Another Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Report (RADAR) raised alarms about the creation of the philanthropic Climate Emergency Fund, noting that its board includes environmental journalists Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells.  Other documents detailed the activities of fossil fuel opponents like Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and the anti-Bayou Bridge pipeline L’eau Est La Vie camp in Louisiana” [1].

Grateful to leverage railroad and fossil fuels industries’ perceptions of growing citizen coalition threats to their ongoing pollution and looming derailments, WIRT will not relent in requesting, broadening, and normalizing community resistance to oil, gas, tar sands, and coal extraction, transportation, and infrastructure systems.  Undiscouraged by surveillance, criminalization, and isolation of peaceful, protective, civic duties predictably abandoned by industry-friendly government agencies and conservation groups, we will continue to engage opportunities to gather evidence, research, and disseminate information and encourage public opposition to fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails and production operations and expansions in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project (#No2ndBridge!) and Snake River Oil and Gas’ Payette riverside gas wells and processing plants.  Please support and work with a doubted, small group of thoughtful, committed activists, by participating physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a contributor, to together accomplish persistent and planned activities that are changing the world or, at least, the practices of climate change perpetrators [2].

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

Fossil fuels transportation fiascos, including the Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Coastal GasLink pipelines in the western U.S. and Canada, have continued 2020 build-out, despite and bolstered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide economic depression, and wildfires and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.  Likewise, BNSF’s pipeline-on-rails has been hauling the same or greater amounts of westbound, Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, and Canadian tar sands, unit trains through downtown Sandpoint and the Idaho Panhandle [3].  Even under ideal, summer and fall weather conditions, these daily trains seem to travel more dangerously in clusters at night, further polluting and risking the lives and livelihoods of local, tourism and recreation economies.  During September 2020, watchful, frontline, WIRT activists observed, documented, and/or publicly reported 81 fossil fuels trains, second in number only to the 92 coal and oil trains of August 2018.  Although July, August, and September 2019 witnessed the third, fourth, and fifth highest numbers of such trains (respectively 74, 73, and 73), summer 2020 months experienced similar or greater amounts (68, 71, 81), compared to healthier, more prosperous times.

These numbers indicate some of the strongest motivations for BNSF’s also pandemic-undeterred construction of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project, consisting of doubled tracks, temporary work spans, and second rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Bridge Street and Sand Creek, and almost one mile across Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille (#No2ndBridge!).  This industrial invasion expects to accommodate not only one third more trains (an increase to 80, from 60 trains per day) but also more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic over waterways and the extended, two-mile-long trains seen by WIRT and allies since April 2020.  BNSF’s expansion scheme additionally facilitates more trains spewing toxic coal dust, carcinogenic diesel emissions, and hazardous materials like crude oil, locomotive fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chlorine, and other chemicals into water and air sheds.  And by driving 1000-plus piles into railroad pollution accumulated in creek and lake beds, the project further jeopardizes regional drinking water and the critical, endangered species habitat of threatened bull trout. Continue reading

WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

Thanks to a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist and board member for noticing an investigative piece in the esteemed online journal The Intercept, and alerting comrades of its mention of WIRT as, along with environmental reporter Justin Mikulka, “one of a range of fossil fuel industry critics framed by the rail industry as a potential threat.  Another Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Report (RADAR) raised alarms about the creation of the philanthropic Climate Emergency Fund, noting that its board includes environmental journalists Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells.  Other documents detailed the activities of fossil fuel opponents like Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and the anti-Bayou Bridge pipeline L’eau Est La Vie camp in Louisiana” [1].

Grateful to leverage railroad and fossil fuels industries’ perceptions of growing citizen coalition threats to their ongoing pollution and looming derailments, WIRT will not relent in requesting, broadening, and normalizing community resistance to oil, gas, tar sands, and coal extraction, transportation, and infrastructure systems.  Undiscouraged by surveillance, criminalization, and isolation of peaceful, protective, civic duties predictably abandoned by industry-friendly government agencies and conservation groups, we will continue to engage opportunities to gather evidence, research, and disseminate information and encourage public opposition to fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails and production operations and expansions in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project (#No2ndBridge!) and Snake River Oil and Gas’ Payette riverside gas wells and processing plants.  Please support and work with a doubted, small group of thoughtful, committed activists, by participating physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a contributor, to together accomplish persistent and planned activities that are changing the world or, at least, the practices of climate change perpetrators [2].

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

Fossil fuels transportation fiascos, including the Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Coastal GasLink pipelines in the western U.S. and Canada, have continued 2020 build-out, despite and bolstered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide economic depression, and wildfires and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.  Likewise, BNSF’s pipeline-on-rails has been hauling the same or greater amounts of westbound, Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, and Canadian tar sands, unit trains through downtown Sandpoint and the Idaho Panhandle [3].  Even under ideal, summer and fall weather conditions, these daily trains seem to travel more dangerously in clusters at night, further polluting and risking the lives and livelihoods of local, tourism and recreation economies.  During September 2020, watchful, frontline, WIRT activists observed, documented, and/or publicly reported 81 fossil fuels trains, second in number only to the 92 coal and oil trains of August 2018.  Although July, August, and September 2019 witnessed the third, fourth, and fifth highest numbers of such trains (respectively 74, 73, and 73), summer 2020 months experienced similar or greater amounts (68, 71, 81), compared to healthier, more prosperous times.

These numbers indicate some of the strongest motivations for BNSF’s also pandemic-undeterred construction of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project, consisting of doubled tracks, temporary work spans, and second rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Bridge Street and Sand Creek, and almost one mile across Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille (#No2ndBridge!).  This industrial invasion expects to accommodate not only one third more trains (an increase to 80, from 60 trains per day) but also more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic over waterways and the extended, two-mile-long trains seen by WIRT and allies since April 2020.  BNSF’s expansion scheme additionally facilitates more trains spewing toxic coal dust, carcinogenic diesel emissions, and hazardous materials like crude oil, locomotive fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chlorine, and other chemicals into water and air sheds.  And by driving 1000-plus piles into railroad pollution accumulated in creek and lake beds, the project further jeopardizes regional drinking water and the critical, endangered species habitat of threatened bull trout. Continue reading