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:
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 . 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 . 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 . 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. Continue reading
In September 2019, Rising Tide North America (RTNA) joined Shut Down DC and disrupted the morning commute in the nation’s capital. RTNA and allies then blockaded major banks funding oil, gas, and coal, created a two-block, street mural that showed a livable world, and shut down San Francisco’s financial district. Both of those demonstrations included hundreds of people stepping up to take action on a massive scale. Since then, inspiring, Oregon groups fighting pipelines have blocked the Port of Vancouver and occupied the governor’s office .
On Friday, December 6, people around the continent are organizing alongside the next youth climate strike, as an inflection point for other large, coordinated actions. In solidarity with student strikers and communities everywhere struggling against fossil fuels extraction, transportation, and production, we ask you to help us protest business-as-usual on the Idaho Panhandle frontline, where Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway received its last, needed, federal permit, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on November 20, for filling wetlands and constructing three additional railroad bridges and doubled tracks conveying coal, oil, and hazardous materials across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint, Idaho . Continue reading
COUNTY COMP PLAN ON SMELTER
Tuesday, December 3, 1:30 to 3:30 pm
Pend Oreille County commissioners will deliberate 2018 Comprehensive Plan Amendment CPU-18-001 that changes zoning of the proposed site of a PacWest silicon smelter in Newport, Washington, from public land to industrial uses [1, 2]. Amendment approval essentially allows the smelter project to continue, although the Pend Oreille County Planning Commission has recommended against such a decision. Northeast Washington and north Idaho citizens, the Kalispel Tribe, Citizens Against Newport Silicon Smelter (CANSS), Responsible Growth Northeast Washington (RG*NEW), and other environmental organizations in the region have overwhelmingly opposed the amendment.
During their regular board meeting on Tuesday, December 3, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm in the county courthouse at 625 West Fourth Street in Newport, the commissioners have set aside most of the afternoon for this agenda item, potentially the biggest event to date for community resistance to the Newport smelter. CANSS, RG*NEW, and other groups request that everyone who can attend this meeting participate, and they thank area residents for their support of this issue during the last year. Will the county commissioners listen to their constituents and the people they placed on the Planning Commission, or will they acquiesce to toxic, silicon smelter ambitions and pressures from PacWest and Washington governor Jay Inslee?
INLAND NW FOSSIL FUELS TALK
Wednesday, December 4, 12 to 1 pm
As part of weekly, public, Fall Speaker Series forums, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Moscow every autumn Wednesday, Lands Council executive director Mike Petersen will give a brief, PowerPoint presentation entitled Fossil Fuel Overview in the Inland Northwest [3, 4]. From 12 noon until 1 pm on Wednesday, December 4, in the 1912 Center Arts Workshop Room at 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Mike will discuss the history and current threats of Northwest fossil fuels proposals, covering coal, oil, gas, and tar sands trains and other rail and pipeline transportation in north Idaho and Spokane. Although Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists are concerned that Mike’s topic knowledgeable co-worker, Laura Ackerman, is not presenting, we are excited to attend, provide further information, and collect more #No2ndBridge petition signatures. While WIRT encourages resistance of other fossil fuels pipelines across Turtle Island (Trans Mountain, Pacific Connector, Dakota Access expansion, Keystone and Keystone XL, Line 3, Bayou Bridge, and many more), please do not overlook gas and oil pipelines in and near Idaho, depicted in linked descriptions and maps compiled by WIRT [5, 6]. No more fossil fuel infrastructure in Idaho and the Northwest!
WIRT MOSCOW MEETING
Thursday, December 5, 6 to 8 pm Continue reading
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER WIRT MEETINGS
Volunteer, grassroots, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) organizers invite and appreciate your assistance in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, outreach, and #No2ndBridge litigation. We urge you to participate in November and December 2019, potluck, WIRT gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, talk about tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate change, through direct resistance and frontline solutions. The WIRT climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with you about critical issues, and to share images, dispatches, and actions with the regional, environmental and indigenous community, while we continue our opposition and vigil on the north Idaho, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontline.
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, November 21 and December 19, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, and on Thursday, December 5, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow . Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for posts and pictures, and listen to WIRT’s weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, for updates about ongoing, recent, and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuel infrastructure invasions and protests, and share this information among your associates and contacts.
COMMENT ON KEYSTONE XL BY NOVEMBER 18
As activists in Montana, the Great Plains, and around the U.S. continue resistance in the courts and on the land, fossil fuel billionaires and their federal government cronies push for construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. On October 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of State released the project’s new, draft, supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) . Instead of an open, public hearing, the agency held a restrictive, October 29 meeting that only accepted comments via computers or stenographers in isolated rooms, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center in Montana . A few hundred people attended, and concerned groups hosted a cold rally in a fenced-off “free speech zone” outside the center, with speakers from the Fort Berthold and Fort Peck reservations and BOLD Nebraska, to provide opportunities to hear from communities impacted by the controversial project that threatens water quality, land rights, and climate health across the region. On the same day as the nation’s only public meeting on the draft SEIS, someone discovered that the previously built Keystone pipeline leaked about 383,000 gallons of tar sands oil in northeastern North Dakota . How many other pipeline spills have gone undetected and unreported, especially in rural and remote locations?
The final SEIS could guide future permitting decisions by the Bureau of Land Management and especially the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for a Clean Water Act section 408 permit, required for the KXL crossing of the Missouri River, located dangerously underneath the Fort Peck Dam spillway, subjecting the buried pipeline to immense volumes and velocities of water discharge and its scour erosion of the riverbed, which could expose it and cause leaks [5-7]. Drinking and agricultural water intake facilities for the 30,000 people of the Fort Peck reservation and northeastern Montana communities lie immediately downstream. But the State Department’s draft SEIS continues to downplay these and other risks and disruptions to healthy and stable, regional watersheds and global climate.
Please protect the Earth’s precious water and air from the Keystone XL pipeline, by requesting a 90-day, public comment period extension and additional public hearings on this proposal with such immense significance and scope, and by sending your written comments on the draft SEIS to the State Department by 9 pm PST on Monday, November 18. Pipeline industry groups, unions, and companies have apparently strongly recommended that their members and employees submit pro-pipeline comments. So raise your voice for the Earth, through this potentially last opportunity to oppose KXL through “the system.” Montana colleagues Northern Plains Resource Council and 350 Montana have identified problems with this current analysis that does not properly evaluate KXL risks to rivers and climate. They offer detailed suggestions and guides to help inform your comments [5-7] that we hope you post through the Regulations.gov federal website . Thanks!
MONTANA KXL LAWSUITS
In March 2017, Calgary-based oil and gas developer TransCanada (now TC Energy) had not yet made a final investment decision on the controversial, 1180-mile, $8 billion, Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska. Nonetheless, U.S. President Trump reversed former President Obama’s 2015 refusal to issue a federal permit for the pipeline desperately needed by Canadian oil producers. Indigenous Environmental Network, North Coast Rivers Alliance, Northern Plains Resource Council, and other environmental group plaintiffs immediately filed cases in a Great Falls, Montana, federal court, and have successfully challenged the U.S. State Department’s outdated, inadequate, environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed KXL, rejecting EIS flaws, exclusion of climate, water, and other threats, preparers’ conflicts of interest, and the Canada-U.S. cross-border permit [8, 9]. Continue reading