About WIRT

The WIRT collective is part of an international, grassroots network of groups and individuals who take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change and to promote local, community-based solutions to the climate crisis.

Climate Justice Forum: Interior Secretary Hearings, Biden & Idaho Oil & Gas Updates, Rail Traffic, Bridge Noise, & Collision, Coal Plant Shutdown, Pipeline Protests, Dakota Access & Youth Climate Lawsuits 2-24-21


The Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on nominated Interior Secretary Deb Haaland confirmation hearings, President Biden’s fracking and drilling orders, Idaho oil and gas policies and activities, railroad bridge construction noise, and comments on a Utah oil railway and Montana grizzly-killing trains, a Washington coal power plant shutdown, U.S. rail traffic levels, a fiery Texas truck and train collision, a Minnesota pipeline virtual resistance rally, a delayed Dakota Access pipeline hearing and closure, a British Columbia protest of pipeline insurance, and appeals court rejection of a federal youth climate case.  Broadcast for nine 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 Highway & Railroad Expansions, Oil Resistance Grant, City Water Problems, & Capitol Riot Arrests, Washington Reservation Flood & Oil Train Volatility, Minnesota Legislature Pipeline Opposition 2-17-21


The Wednesday, February 17, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on Idaho arrests for U.S. Capitol riot participation, highway and railroad expansions and bridge construction, and city water problems after an upriver diesel locomotive spill, a regional oil resistance grant, a Washington coast reservation flood and oil train derailment and volatility disputes, and Minnesota legislature opposition to rushed pipeline installation.  Broadcast for nine 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.

WIRT Comments on Uinta Basin Railway Draft EIS


…In conclusion, WIRT activists offer our perspectives and experiences of the constant pollution, noise, and terror that fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains violently and unilaterally impose on small, trackside communities: trauma that residents and businesses along all of the proposed Uinta Basin Railway routes will likely suffer if STB approves this project.  In downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, the WIRT office overlooks the BNSF tracks only 700 feet away, well within the deadly, 2,640-foot blast zone of fiery, exploding, derailed, oil trains.  This lakeside city endures about 60 trains per day on the rail line that BNSF is expanding to increase its traffic capacity up to 100 trains per day, including coal, oil, and other freight from converging Montana Rail Link (MRL) tracks, and in addition to cargo on the dangerously at-grade, bisecting, Union Pacific (UP) Railroad line.

As the largest, freight railroad network in North America, BNSF carries intermodal and manifest containers and bulk cargo, such as grain, coal, and crude oil, and burns the second largest volume of diesel fuel in the country, behind the U.S. Navy, spewing carcinogenic diesel emissions and toxic coal dust into the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille air and water sheds that contribute over 40 percent of the water to the Columbia Basin drainage.  As WIRT and other Northwesterners have directly experienced, railroad accidents will predictably and profusely happen on Utah’s heedless, needless, oil train bridge to nowhere.  Within much less than the length of the proposed Uinta Basin Railway, BNSF, MRL, and UP wrecked nine trains in four years, within a 50-mile radius of Sandpoint in north Idaho and western Montana.  Major derailments and collisions included: 1) a fatal, UP crash into a vehicle with two teenagers in a Post Falls, Idaho, on February 7, 2017, 2) a mountainside slide toward a river dam of a UP, grain train above Moyie Springs, Idaho, on March 15, 2017, 3) a derailment over a washout into Lake Pend Oreille of an empty, BNSF-MRL, coal train in Ponderay, Idaho, on March 17, 2017, 4) another, injurious, UP encounter with teenagers in a vehicle in Rathdrum, Idaho, on April 13, 2017, 5) a BNSF, grain train wreck near a historic, Cocolalla, Idaho, barn on May 1, 2017, 6) a derailment and dump of 7,000 pounds of coal into a Heron, Montana, river reservoir with endangered fish on August 13, 2017, 7) the submersion, 2,000-gallon diesel spill, and cross-river removal of two BNSF, mixed freight train locomotives in the Kootenai River, upstream of an indigenous fish hatchery and Bonners Ferry, Idaho, on January  1, 2020, 8) a fire under a combustible, coal car in Sandpoint, on June 4, 2020, and 9) an empty, grain train collision with a loaded log truck near Samuels, Idaho, on Election Day, November 3, 2020 [23].

The January 1, $3.55 million, BNSF locomotive disaster, arguably the worst of all these accidents, may have caused downstream, drinking water contamination that has emerged during the last month.  It also underscores the potential for all fossil-fueled trains, no matter their cargo, to inflict seemingly endless, reckless risks, endangerment, and damages on trackside communities, especially in river and lake valleys of the mountainous West prone to rock falls, mudslides, floods, and wildfires.  But the February 13, 2020, CSX, ethanol/sand train crash into an eastern Kentucky landslide and river serves as a horrific omen of similarly possible, but more destructive, regional incidents involving oil trains moving through eastern Utah and crossing north Idaho [24].  Every day, BNSF hauls about three fully loaded, mile-long, volatile, Bakken crude oil trains along the remote, Highway 2 corridor, beside mountainous Glacier National Park and the Flathead River, and through rugged, Kootenai River canyons in Montana and north Idaho.  If the January 2020, rockslide-caused, BNSF locomotives derailment, diesel fuel spill, and cross-river removal in endangered fish habitat had ignited and engulfed oil or ethanol tank cars, it could have trapped crew members in a flammable locomotive submerged in a fiery river, like the CSX crash.  A similar scenario could arise instantaneously on the Uinta Basin Railway, among its more numerous oil trains.

Despite all of these railroad snafus, BNSF is risking additional, community harms with its construction since September 2019 of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project in and near downtown Sandpoint, doubling tracks and building three parallel rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Sand Creek and Bridge Street to popular City Beach Park, and almost one mile across Lake Pend Oreille.  Driving 1000-plus piles into lake and creek beds for temporary work barges and second railroad bridges, BNSF is accommodating passage of more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, and double-long trains through threatened bull trout critical habitat, regional drinking water, and accumulated railroad pollution.  As with the Uinta Basin Railway proposal, grassroots, WIRT, #No2ndBridge, and allied activists continue to denounce, observe, photograph, and document this infrastructure expansion and increasing numbers of westbound, BNSF, unit coal and oil trains and derailments that jeopardize environmental and public health and safety, as these climate disrupters rampage otherwise idyllic, Northwest enclaves, toward West Coast export terminals and refineries. (excerpt)

WIRT Comments on Uinta Basin Railway Draft EIS 2-12-21

WIRT Comments on BNSF Plans for Montana Grizzly Deaths & Habitat Conservation


…WIRT Demands Better Prevention of BNSF Grizzly Kills

On January 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) opened a 30-day, public comment period on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s application for an “incidental take permit” (ITP) allowing the company to lawfully kill up to 18 federally protected grizzly bears during the next seven years [1, 2].  BNSF operates 206 miles of tracks through significant grizzly habitat in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, composed of multiple national forests and Glacier National Park in northern Montana.  Trains paralleling Highway 2 have killed or contributed to the deaths of approximately 52 grizzlies since 1980.  The Endangered Species Act requires an ITP, which BNSF has never before sought, for killing even one individual of a threatened species like grizzlies.

At an average speed of 35 miles per hour between Whitefish and East Glacier Park, BNSF runs about 1.2 to 1.5 trains per hour, slightly increasing this frequency during the twilight hours when grizzlies feed.  Cubs and adult bears have died from direct collisions and/or railroad activities like grain spills and train-killed animals attracting grizzlies to the tracks.  But BNSF’s standard, business-as-usual application, including a habitat conservation plan, fails to propose any common-sense, substantially changed, business practices, like reduced train speeds or different train schedules that could potentially prevent unnecessary grizzly deaths.  Instead, BNSF’s application addresses minor mitigation measures and programs to offset predicable, train-caused, grizzly deaths, such as grain spillage cleanup, livestock fencing around tracks, off-site waste management funding, and public and hunter education and fairs.

Moreover, USFWS aims to grant BNSF continued, decades-long impunity to favor profits over wildlife, by considering this grizzly slaughter permit application through a categorical exclusion to the National Environmental Policy Act, which absolves USFWS legal obligations to consider the proposal’s environmental impacts, offers minimal environmental analysis, and limits public input and participation in this decision. (excerpt)

WIRT Comments on BNSF Plans for Montana Grizzly Deaths & Habitat Conservation 2-11-21

 

Climate Justice Forum: Train Bridge & Washington Oil Derailments, Utah Oil Railroad, Montana Grizzly-Killing Trains, Northwest Gas Projects Rejection, Dakota Access Pipeline Ruling & Resistance, Minnesota Line 3 Decisions 2-10-21


The Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on a Washington oil train derailment, wrecks of coal cars and a remote-controlled locomotive on bridges, comments on a Utah oil railroad and Montana grizzly-killing trains, federal rejection of an Oregon gas pipeline and terminal, Tacoma gas plant protests, a Dakota Access pipeline ruling, indigenous youth run, and grand jury resistance, and court and agency decisions on halting Minnesota Line 3 construction. Broadcast for nine 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: Deb Abrahamson on Mine & Dam Impacts, Increased Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains, Washington Oil Transport Rules, Tank Car Derailments, Utah Oil Railway Comments, New Mexico Track Sabotage, Minnesota Pipeline Protests, Nevada Mine Resistance 2-3-21


The Wednesday, February 3, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features a recording of indigenous environmental justice advocate Deb Abrahamson, and news and reflections on increased north Idaho fossil fuels trains, revised Washington oil transport reporting rules, full and empty tank cars derailments, a proposed Utah oil railway comments extension, an arrested New Mexico track saboteur, Minnesota tar sands pipeline protests and supportive fundraisers, and a Nevada lithium mine resistance camp.  Broadcast for nine 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: Winona LaDuke on Line 3 & Just Transitions, Idaho Fossil Fuels Concerns, Washington Oil Train Disaster, Northwest Gas Facilities Rejection, Nevada Mine Resistance, Keystone XL Cancellation 1-27-21


The Wednesday, January 27, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features indigenous activist and author Winona LaDuke talking about Minnesota tar sands pipeline resistance and just transitions from extractive economies.  We also share news and reflections on Idaho fossil fuels production and transportation concerns, a Washington oil train disaster, permit denials of Northwest methanol and gas export facilities, Nevada lithium mine resistance, and Keystone XL pipeline cancellation and responses.  Broadcast for nine 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: Capitol Riot Involvement, Impeachment, Police Encounters, Idaho Train Bridge Near-Miss, Washington Coal Terminal Bankruptcy, Montana Railroad Grizzly Kills, Utah Oil-by-Rail, Minnesota & Other Pipeline Resistance 1-20-21


The Wednesday, January 20, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on Congress members and organizations involved in U.S. Capitol riot, a second presidential impeachment, police encounters advice, an averted Idaho train bridge collision, Washington coal export terminal bankruptcy, a Montana grizzly-killing railroad permit, a Utah oil-by-rail comment period, Minnesota tar sands pipeline resistance, and indigenous requests and president-elect plans to stop oil pipelines.  Broadcast for nine 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: U.S. Capitol Riots & Responses, Oil & Gas Pipelines & Resistance, Arctic Refuge Oil Lease Auction, Northwest Derailments 1-13-21


The Wednesday, January 13, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on Idaho, western militia, and fascist participation in U.S. Capitol riots, response statements by Congress, President Trump, and indigenous leaders, and further demonstrations by Trump supporters, oil and gas pipeline construction, lawsuits, and resistance in Michigan, Minnesota, and British Columbia, a failed, Arctic wildlife refuge, oil lease auction, and Northwest oil and lumber train derailments and investigations.  Broadcast for nine 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.

Climate Justice Forum: Kootenai River Derailment Anniversary, Northwest Train Wrecks & Record Coal & Oil Trains, Highway 95 Expansion Permit & Overview, Idaho COVID-19 Outbreaks 1-6-21


The Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features news and reflections on the Kootenai River derailment and diesel spill anniversary, Northwest train wrecks and reversals, railroad bridge construction, and record coal and oil train numbers, a Highway 95 expansion wetlands permit and issue overview, and Idaho, COVID-19 outbreaks and case rates. Broadcast for nine 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.