The Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), features Eriel Deranger of Indigenous Climate Action talking about the largest, proposed, Alberta tar sands surface mine, and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs explaining their British Columbia territory, lawsuits, and pipeline opposition. We also share news and reflections on ninth annual WIRT celebrations, United Nations climate change conference debriefings, Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions, tar sands train volatility and U.S. rail routes, Kentucky ethanol and Ontario oil train derailments, North Dakota approval of Dakota Access pipeline expansion, and Oregon denial of the Jordan Cove LNG project. 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, online, and podcast on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who have adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
The Wednesday, February 19, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features Gidimt’en Clan matriarch and land defender Molly Wickham and Mi’kmaq attorney and Eel River Bar First Nation member Pamela Palmater, discussing protests across Canada of police raids and gas pipeline construction in indigenous territories in British Columbia. We also share news and reflections on inland Northwest, Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions and United Nations climate change conference debriefings, rail transport and illegal disposal of radioactive fracking waste in an Oregon landfill, and plans to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline this year. 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, online, and podcast on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who have adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
Sandpoint, Idaho (Kalispel Territory): 12 pm on the southwest corner of North Third Avenue and Oak Street, across from the Farmin Park clock, with the weekly, 350 Sandpoint Climate Strike action
Spokane, Washington (Spokane Territory): 3 pm at the park on the southeast corner of North Division Street and East Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
Moscow, Idaho (Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Territory): 5:30 pm at Friendship Square on the west side of South Main Street at West Fourth Street, with the weekly, Palouse Peace Coalition demonstration
Fossil fuels extraction and transportation onslaughts continue to use public police for private profit, invade indigenous, private, and public lands, and criminalize defenders of healthy waters, climate, lands, and life ways. A British Columbia (B.C.) Supreme Court injunction granted in December 2019 seeks to block Wet’suwet’en people from their unceded, traditional territories in west central B.C., by establishing a tribal and public exclusion zone easing Coastal GasLink (CGL) access to its pipeline construction and work camp sites within the zone [1, 2]. Under Wet’suwet’en law, the hereditary chiefs of all five clans have unanimously opposed the fracked gas project and all pipeline proposals, and have not provided their free, prior, and informed consent . They closed the West Morice Road, and in early January, evicted the company from their lands, where “Coastal GasLink was building a work camp to house up to 400 people,” about 20 kilometers beyond the Unist’ot’en Healing Center at kilometer 66 . Wet’suwet’en chiefs have criticized Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for arbitrarily expanding the exclusion zone and moving their checkpoint closer to Highway 16.
With an office in Spokane, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) owns the Keystone tar sands pipeline that has leaked numerous times across the Great Plains and the Gas Transmission Northwest pipeline that runs from western Canada through north Idaho and eastern Washington. The company is proposing the Keystone XL pipeline across Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and is building the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline from northeastern B.C. to a coastal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Kitimat, B.C.
Amid rising tensions during the first week of February, RCMP attempted to enforce the injunction and allow Coastal GasLink to resume work. On Thursday, February 6, militarized police launched a pre-dawn raid on the first Wet’suwet’en camp at kilometer 39 of the Morice Road . They detained journalists, arrested six land defenders and their supporters at gunpoint, but later released them without charges, and dismantled the camp. With rifles, vehicles, and helicopters on Friday, February 7, tactical squad members invaded the Gidimt’en clan camp at kilometer 44 on the road, eventually arresting four people, while others refused to leave and remained in a cabin, and police towed their vehicles. On Saturday, February 8, RCMP arrested another 11 community members, who had barricaded and chained themselves inside the Gidimt’en checkpoint warming center. Police have accused Wet’suwet’en of placing two blockades and spikes in the road, to deter and damage vehicles, and cutting support beams of the kilometer 44 bridge, damaged by RCMP pulling down the metal, bridge gate with trucks.
Also on Saturday, two helicopters reached the last of three Wet’suwet’en, pipeline opponent strongholds, with police ready to evict the residents of the Unist’ot’en Healing Center. The activists had built a large fire blockade on the snowy, Morice River bridge, and had strung dozens of red dresses along it and the road, symbolizing the violence against indigenous communities that transient, resource extraction “man camps” increase. Among legal observers at the camp gate, they donned regalia, engaged in songs and ceremony to save the waters and lands for all humans, rang bells to summon ancestors, named missing and murdered, indigenous women and girls, and burned a copy of the injunction. Unist’ot’en clan spokesperson and healing center director Freda Huson refused to talk with RCMP before they left the scene. On Monday, February 10, police invaded the Unist’ot’en camp with dogs, vehicles, and helicopters, and arrested and removed Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, including Freda, while in ceremony [5, 6]. Continue reading
January 29 & Onward: Resumed Climate Justice Forum
After an eleven-week break, the Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), resumed its eight years of broadcasts on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, on January 29 . Interspersed with protest songs, the show features conversations with activists and scientists and news and reflections on continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who have adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ. Listen every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM, online at KRFP, and podcast on Radio Free America [2, 3].
February 1: Fossil Fuels Train Pollution Protest Report
In Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint of the Idaho Panhandle, dozens more defenders of railroads and the January 1, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway locomotive derailment, 2,000-gallon diesel spill, disassembly, and removal in the Kootenai River showed up than north Idaho water protectors, at the Fossil Fuels Train Pollution Protest held by WIRT on February 1. The majority are apparently willing to support railroad operations, wrecks, and infrastructure expansions that spill hazardous materials into rivers, and to counter-protest concerned activists at WIRT demonstrations on the fossil fuels frontlines of air, climate, and water quality sacrifice zones. See the WIRT website and facebook pages for photos and descriptions of these event outcomes [4, 5].
February 16-29: UN COP25 Indigenous Debriefing
Backbone Campaign community supported organizer, friend, and fellow activist Jacob Johns, who participated in indigenous talks and demonstrations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, during December 2019, is hosting three public, inland Northwest talks about worldwide, indigenous efforts to protect approximately eighty percent of Earth’s biodiversity. Only five percent of humanity identifies as indigenous, but as globalization spreads, governments and corporations continue to work together to exploit biodiversity for profit and attack indigenous communities, through genocide, colonization, and greenwashing. Jacob’s presentation will show compiled photos and videos, and amplify often unheard, frontline voices and stories. He will also offer an indigenous organizing model, aimed at helping people to act in solidarity and co-create a livable future, and a closing, question-and-answer discussion. Please join Jacob and WIRT activists for these informative events:
Sunday, February 16, at 1 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, 4340 West Fort George Wright Drive in Spokane, Washington 
Saturday, February 22, at 3 pm at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, 702 East Front Avenue in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 
Saturday, February 29, at 3 pm at the East Bonner County Library, 1407 Cedar Street in Sandpoint, Idaho 
February 20: WIRT Sandpoint Movie & Meeting
The WIRT climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to involve you and the regional, environmental and indigenous community in critical issues, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate chaos, through frontline actions and solutions. WIRT organizers invite you to participate in potluck gatherings that include climate action films and conversations planning tactics, strategies, and activities, starting at 6 pm on the first and third Thursdays of every month, respectively in Moscow and Sandpoint . Due to winter travel conditions, WIRT is not holding Moscow meetings during January and February 2020, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street. But at the next Sandpoint meeting on Thursday, February 20, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street, we encourage you to offer your unique advice and assistance in arranging the Ninth Annual WIRT Celebrations in Moscow and Sandpoint at 7 pm on Friday, March 28, and Saturday, April 4, #No2ndBridge attorney search, litigation, and petition signature gathering and delivery at state and federal agency offices, documentary and panel presentations, direct actions and training workshops, and public outreach. For updates and articles on ongoing and emerging, Northwest and North American, fossil fuels issues, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages, listen to WIRT’s weekly radio program, and sign the Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project . Continue reading
The Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on regional, United Nations climate change conference debriefings, Idaho oil and gas drillers bankruptcies, a second, Saskatchewan oil train derailment and fire, an Illinois coal train wreck, northern Rockies grizzly deaths from collisions, gas pipeline and police invasions of unceded, indigenous territories in British Columbia, and solidarity protests across Canada. 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, online, and podcast on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who have adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
Thanks to everyone who attempted and/or considered participation in the Fossil Fuels Train Pollution Protest on Saturday, February 1 [1, 2]! Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), #No2ndBridge, and regional climate activists hosted a brief, information-sharing rally and carpool at 10 am at the City Beach Park pavilion in Sandpoint, and a planned march at 11 am from the Gateway Visitors Center in Bonners Ferry, with a return to Sandpoint by 1 pm. The gatherings in Bonner and Boundary counties raised resistance to fossil fuels and hazardous materials train pollution and risks to public and environmental health and safety, and to ongoing railroad disasters and infrastructure expansions increasing these threats, such as the rockslide derailment, 2,000-gallon diesel leak, and removal of two Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway locomotives in the Kootenai River, and BNSF proposals to double tracks and rail bridges across Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille. On BNSF’s Bakken crude oil pipeline-on-rails route across western Montana and north Idaho, both the Kootenai River wreck and the July 1989, tank cars spill of 20,000-plus gallons of still residual diesel into Whitefish Lake serve as warnings that confirm that ALL trains impose inherent hazards along and over water bodies .
WIRT activists appreciate Rising Tide North America friends, who shared the WIRT media release about the event on their website, and Sandpoint Reader staff, who printed the protest alert (without “Info: WildIdahoRisingTide.org”) in the event-ful calendar on the center pages of the January 30, 2020 issue [4, 5]. WIRT activists are also grateful for Keokee Publishing administrators, who listed the event among Civic Happenings in Sandpoint, one of the Sandpoint Online calendars, and for Kootenai Valley Times editors, who also published our full event announcement and Kootenai River railroad incident coverage [6, 7]. This online news outlet in Bonners Ferry additionally linked the article through a facebook post that received a handful of shares and over 100 mostly derogatory comments .
During the week before the protest, besides posting event flyers and sending notices by email, website, facebook, and radio program, WIRT contacted a few core activists and almost 200 Sandpoint and Spokane friends. We started conversations with everyone who had expressed interest in the event, to explore responses and ideas and to organize participation and carpools in advance, among activists from the Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, Spokane, and Moscow areas. Seeking to ensure that at least a few people, especially those with current, transportation obstacles, show up at both protest locations, we offered to provide gas funds for carpoolers who need them, despite WIRT’s poverty.
On Saturday morning, February 1, Sandpoint experienced intense, southwest winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour (mph) and gusts reaching 45 mph, while Fossil Fuels Train Pollution Protest participants gathered inside the open, City Beach Park, picnic pavilion beside Lake Pend Oreille . Known as “snow eaters,” these warm, dry, fast-moving, Chinook winds could vaporize a foot of snow within hours, before it had a chance to melt . Under such breezy conditions, WIRT activists could not display the unwieldy signs and large banners that we brought for the event. Potential participants either chose not to attend, due to the high wind advisory, or may have driven nearby without noticing the rally or getting out of the dozen vehicles that we saw circle past the pavilion. For an hour, only bicyclists and pedestrians without vehicles braved the weather and waited against the ferocious winds, for others to arrive at the park. Continue reading
The Wednesday, February 5, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on a protest of fossil fuels train pollution of north Idaho waterways, a Washington appeals hearing on a Newport silicon smelter land sale, a cancelled Idaho oil and gas forced pooling hearing, a Supreme Court case on a stalled Washington coal port, a withdrawn Jordan Cove LNG facilities application, a Canadian appeals court dismissal of indigenous claims against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, solidarity actions defending B.C. indigenous lands from gas pipeline construction, and an Idaho train collision with pronghorn. 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, online, and later podcast on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who have adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
After an eleven-week break, the Wednesday, January 29, 2020, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features a mid-November 2019 conversation with Phyllis Kardos of Responsible Growth Northeast Washington, discussing regional opposition and court cases against a proposed, Newport, silicon smelter. We also share news and reflections on a New Year’s Day, rockslide-caused, BNSF locomotive derailment, diesel spill, submerged engine removal, and planned protests on a north Idaho river, and a summary of Idaho oil and gas drilling company changes, state audits and private royalties lawsuits, and an upcoming forced pooling hearing. 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, online, and later podcast on Radio Free America, the show describes continent-wide, grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to generous, anonymous listeners who have adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
On Saturday, February 1, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) climate activists, members, friends, supporters, and allies for rallies and marches in Bonner and Boundary counties, objecting to fossil fuels and hazardous materials train pollution and risks to public and environmental health and safety, and to railroad infrastructure expansions and ongoing incidents increasing these threats, such as the rockslide derailment of two Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, mixed freight train locomotives onto the banks and submerged and leaking at least 2,100 gallons of diesel fuel and engine oil into the Kootenai River near Moyie Springs, north Idaho, since January 1, 2020.
To commemorate the one-month anniversary of this major environmental disaster, which prompted multiple, emergency response agencies to rescue both a two-person, BNSF crew and a remote, forested, international river, we are gathering at 10 am around the City Beach Park pavilion in Sandpoint, Idaho, for a brief, information sharing rally. Carpooling to the Gateway Visitors Center in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, near the city parking lot off U.S. Highway 2 and 95, we are marching at 11 am and returning to Sandpoint by 1 pm, to accommodate participants attending a later event.
Respond early with your intentions to participate in this protest, bring your friends, family, relevant signs and banners, and warm, winter and rain gear, and contact us if you can assist with sign creation, event transportation, #No2ndBridge petition signatures, and attorney recruitment for a legal challenge insisting on a full, #No2ndBridge, environmental impact study and statement. We are demanding that government agencies enforce the remedial and preventative measures described in this announcement, as we express our resistance to further ecosystem and economic devastation imposed on rural communities, either through disaster or design, by the private profiteers of inherently perilous, fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails. Frontline, WIRT activists and allies will not relent in opposing BNSF bridge and track expansion across Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille.
Sign the Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, and see the BNSF Kootenai River Wreck and Spill facebook album for almost 70 photos, links to nine previously posted, WIRT articles, and forthcoming updates on fisheries impacts, spill “cleanup,” and engine removal, describing the Kootenai River derailment situation closely scrutinized by WIRT [1, 2]. Local and industry news outlets printed some of the last WIRT newsletter, and we are working on media releases and comments to agencies, offering the dissenting side of this catastrophe story [3, 4].
Regional Fossil Fuels & Hazardous Materials Trains
Across the Idaho Panhandle, BNSF hauls about six each, loaded and residually empty, Powder River Basin coal and Bakken crude oil unit trains every day; Union Pacific carries three-plus Canadian tar sands and Bakken oil unit trains per week; and both pull numerous, fossil fuels and hazardous materials tank cars, intermixed with other freight, daily between interior, hydrocarbon extraction fields and West Coast refineries, power plants, and crude export terminals. Just one derailment of any of these trains could devastate entire communities and watersheds with deadly, explosive, fiery, and inhalation hazard chemicals and toxic cargo spills in the rugged river canyons of north Idaho and western Montana, vulnerable to floods, avalanches, landslides, and wildfires. First responders trained and funded by the perpetrators of anticipated derailments attempt to protect rail line communities from the harms of such tragedies, but they cannot prevent them with emergency preparation. Despite litigation to enforce better railroad procedures, hundreds of pounds of coal dust fly off uncovered coal cars every day, into the regional river sources of socioeconomic vitality.
A Decade of Idaho & Montana Derailments Continue reading
Since late on Wednesday, New Year’s Day, north Idahoans and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) have been enduring a major environmental disaster: Two rockslide-derailed, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway locomotives in the Kootenai River, one nose-down on the bank and one submerged and leaking at least 2,100 gallons of diesel fuel toward a Kootenai Tribe fish restoration hatchery, 2.5 miles downstream, and into the critical habitat of three endangered species (sturgeon, burbot, and bull trout) and private and municipal water sources. Industry-friendly, mainstream media have been repeating and embellishing hero stories about multiple emergency response agencies rescuing the trapped, almost drowned, two-person, BNSF crew with a county sheriff boat, two hours after a BNSF co-worker climbed down the now fully sunk, front engine and sledge-hammered and kicked its window open. But is potential and proven emergency preparedness truly heroic when its enables the further ecosystem and economic devastation imposed on rural communities by private profiteers’ inherently perilous, fossil-fueled railroads?
Early on January 2, hazardous materials and other crews placed oil containment booms and shut down water intake pipes, as precautionary measures at the Kootenai Tribe’s Twin Rivers Hatchery on the Moyie-Kootenai rivers confluence. On Friday, January 3, Boundary County declared a state of emergency and closed the Kootenai River for a week, and then extended the emergency order until February 8 on Monday, January 6, banning all motorized, public boat traffic from the Montana border eight miles upstream of the derailment, to Bonners Ferry eight miles down-current. Belatedly on January 4, Boundary County issued a water quality advisory cautioning residents against direct, river water use during derailment “clean-up” operations. Officials say that the diesel-polluted water is not flammable and does not endanger public health, safety, and drinking water supplies.
Regulating and documenting derailment impacts, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded its incident oversight, calling the spill “minor,” although divers recovered only water from the BNSF locomotive fuel tank and crank case in the river last week, which together held between 2,100 and 5,200 gallons. Spokane television news reporters earlier noticed and videoed oily sheens on the river in Bonners Ferry, among 6,200-plus feet of containment boom placed in the waterway. But the EPA, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and Boundary County are testing water every 24 hours in six places, and allowing BNSF employees and contractors to conduct river water sampling for pollution, an activity obviously conflicted by railroad avoidance of fines and legal challenges, not to mention its operation and profit motives that risk further catastrophes.
Do you remember regional citizens’ concerns, during the initial, 2010-11 years of resistance to tar sands mining and refining megaloads on U.S. Highway 12, about a megaload tumbling into the wild and scenic Lochsa and Clearwater rivers and Nez Perce Reservation waters? Predictably, it has happened (again!) in north Idaho, except the megaload is one of hundreds of diesel-spewing, half-million-pound locomotives that daily rampage the shores of three Columbia River basin watersheds — the Kootenai, Pend Oreille, and Spokane — hauling loads as benign as lumber and grain and as deadly as Bakken crude, Canadian tar sands, and other hazardous substances. The same fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails perpetrator that WIRT and #No2ndBridge activists and recently issue-mute, bigger green allies have opposed for its bridge and track expansion over Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, BNSF still has not and perhaps cannot carefully remove its submerged locomotive from the Kootenai River. Without contingency plans for similar, future predicaments, the corporate interloper may abandon its megaload until spring and drag it across the river to sand bars, to dismantle and float it downstream for scrap. Potentially culpable for worker endangerment, river contamination, and indigenous, rare fisheries ruin, BNSF could have prevented or alerted the derailed train operators of the rockslide that caused the wreck, if it had replaced a rock barrier and warning fence in the derailment area, which it removed during rail corridor maintenance several years earlier.
While reviewing, writing, and sharing daily media and WIRT activist articles, insights, and site visit photos during the last few weeks, WIRT has been overwhelmed by grief, outrage, and the voluminous but fact-vacuous, media information about this Kootenai River derailment. BNSF assumes that the mostly complicit Panhandle inhabitants who bear the ongoing pollution and disaster risks of this multi-billion-dollar business will not ask questions or challenge its false narratives or remember its snafus that increasingly offer evidence unfavorable to its Northwest infrastructure and operations expansions. But WIRT is determined to continue our investigation of this instance of inevitable derailments, and to insist that local, state, and federal agencies protect the public trust and watersheds by collecting and analyzing independent data on water quality degraded by the railroad industry. Please contact us if you can assist with ground-truthing the environmental impacts of this corporate crime scene in a canyon constrained by steep cliffs, forested private lands, and the BNSF-requested, extended river closure. We also intend to gather and condense our continuing facebook posts about this situation into an emailed and website-shared newsletter. For now, we have linked those posts and their embedded news articles through this ever-expanding photo compilation: