Regional events mark the Lac-Mégantic and Mosier disaster anniversaries
North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in the sixth annual, networked, Stop Oil Trains actions and workshops on Friday, June 28, through Monday, July 1, a week earlier than usual, due to Fourth of July, Canada Day, and local concert festivities on the following weekends. The five events honor and commemorate the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, explosions, and fires in the lakeside village of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and all rail corridor communities threatened and degraded by crude oil pipelines-on-rails.
During the six years since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades. Nonetheless, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway carries 22 volatile, Bakken crude oil trains every week, while Union Pacific hauls one to two trains of equally explosive and irretrievably sinkable tar sands per week, along and over rivers, lakes, and tributaries throughout north Idaho and the Northwest, such as the Kootenai, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Columbia, and other water bodies. Over 90 percent of these shipments must cross rail bridges above downtown Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille, where BNSF plans to drive 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, lake and stream bed, coal deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional lake and aquifer drinking water, to construct three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) rail bridges, two temporary, work spans, and two miles of doubled tracks west of the current rail line, for riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, oil and other train traffic.
The north Idaho community continues to actively oppose, through public processes, protests, and lawsuits, BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion, as we await and prepare for worst-case-scenario, project decisions by the lead agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, in charge of bridge permits and environmental and socioeconomic review, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, overseeing dredge, fill, and wetland activities. Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) has been scheming further legal maneuvers, since railroad and state lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, district court case against the Idaho Department of Lands encroachment permit in late March 2019, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a Clean Water Act water quality certification for the project in September 2018. With the #No2ndBridge situation soon quickly intensifying, we are arranging regional marches in response to those federal agency announcements, and coordinating a north Idaho, direct action camp with visiting trainers, on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8 . As part of WIRT’s yearly Panhandle Paddle, which always offers an issue forum, training workshops, and a flotilla around the railroad bridges, action camp skills-sharing bolsters inland Northwest communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries .
Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula activists of 350, Direct Action, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, WIRT, and regional, allied groups have participated with thousands of people around the Northwest and North America, in multiple, public, Stop Oil Trains actions and the one-year anniversary convergence supporting Mosier, hosted by conservation and climate groups [3-5]. Please join concerned citizens in these upcoming outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of all Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil risk our air, waters, lands, families, friends, homes, and businesses. Together, in appreciation and solidarity with grassroots and indigenous, environmental and social justice activists across Canada and the U.S., we are organizing various tactics and resources to stage powerful, effective actions defending and protecting frontline communities and the global climate impacted by oil-by-rail pollution and accidents. Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable, relevant information, connections, and on-the-ground support for these events. We welcome your ideas, questions, suggestions, and assistance at these upcoming actions: Reply through the enclosed, contact channels or on-site. Expect ongoing, issue descriptions and updates, via WIRT facebook posts and website pages. Continue reading
Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking
The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is initiating negotiated rulemaking until July 12, and holding statewide, public meetings during early June, for IDAPA 20.03.04, the administrative rules “governing the regulation of beds, waters, and airspace over navigable lakes in the state of Idaho” . These modifications may directly result from Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) litigation of different sections of these rules, in our eight-month petition for judicial review of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s IDL-granted, June 2018, encroachment permit for proposed rail bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille. We will provide more information for your comments, extracted from court records and insights, through a WIRT website post during the next few weeks . IDL is holding 5 pm MDT or PDT, public hearings in Sandpoint on Monday, June 17, in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday, June 18, in McCall on Wednesday, June 19, and in Boise on Thursday, June 20.
Oil & Gas Issues Presentation in Moscow
The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) is hosting a Skyped talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, June 18, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow. Shelley will discuss oil and gas fracking and acidizing issues in Idaho, including citizen court challenges of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) integration process that forces landowners to lease their privately owned mineral rights to oil and gas companies. WIRT encourages you to attend, videotape, and/or record this Moscow City Council Commission meeting that will consider Shelley’s report and take further, appropriate actions. Please see the linked, meeting agenda, and/or contact SEC at email@example.com or 208-883-7133 .
Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting
WIRT activists would greatly appreciate your help in arranging summer presentations, training workshops, direct actions, and probable litigation, while reaching out to trustworthy and competent activists and attorneys across our regional network. From among the good company of too few radicals always striving to slow and stop too many corporate conquests, WIRT invites you to attend a June potluck gathering, talk about tactics, offer your unique advice and assistance, and pursue your climate activism passion with us. As during previous seasons, we are meeting at 7 pm on the third Wednesday of every month: June 19 at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint. Continue reading
On July 12, 2019, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) provided these extensive, written, still publicly un-posted comments to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), for negotiated rulemaking on IDAPA 20.03.04, the administrative rules “governing the regulation of beds, waters, and airspace over navigable lakes in the state of Idaho,” and as information extracted from court records and litigation insights, available for other, public comments [*]. We encourage participation in this IDL rulemaking comment period through and beyond July 12, attendance of statewide, public meetings, and requests for additional public hearings contingent on the unaddressed issues and citizen-unfavorable outcomes arising from the present proceedings. Public meetings have or will occur as stated on the IDL website [*]:
Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 5 pm MDT
Idaho State University, Student Union Building, Salmon River Suite (third floor)
1065 Cesar Chavez, Pocatello, Idaho
Monday, June 17, 2019, 5 pm PDT
Bonner County Administrative Building, First Floor Conference Room
1500 Highway 2, Sandpoint, Idaho
Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 5 pm PDT
IDL Coeur d’Alene Office, Sundance Conference Room
3284 West Industrial Loop, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Wednesday, June 19, 2019, 5 pm MDT
Idaho First Bank, Basement Conference Room
475 Deinhard Lane, McCall, Idaho
Thursday, June 20, 2019, 5 pm MDT
Idaho Capitol Building, Majority Caucus Room (W-433, fourth floor)
700 West Jefferson Street, Boise, Idaho
[*] Public Trust: Rulemaking for IDAPA 20.03.04, Docket 20-0304-1901, Idaho Department of Lands
Thanks to each of you for your diligent, ongoing, resistance work on the north Idaho, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway bridge expansion issue! Since Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) #No2ndBridge Protest #3 and the extended, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), draft environmental assessment (EA) comment deadline on May 1, WIRT board members, activists, and allied groups have been scheming a Sandpoint area march on an unknown but rapid-response date [*]. The march will either celebrate the still undetermined, Coast Guard decision to recommend a full environmental impact statement (EIS) studying the implications of BNSF’s proposed railroad bridges across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, or protest USCG issuance of a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and less scientifically rigorous, final EA.
Because the involved Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula organizations are so proficient at together rallying successful, similar, regional marches and public hearings, we are asking for your and their assistance in co-planning, publicizing, and staging this event. Please share your ideas about this opportunity (best locations, activities, speakers, days and times of the week, etc.), notify your contacts about this upcoming march via phone, email, texts, and facebook messages, and especially RSVP your intentions to participate in this critical demonstration, by responding to this email note or the facebook event [*]. We need your preparation help with inviting and bringing at least 75 to 100 people to this Sandpoint area, family-friendly march and regionally coordinated solidarity actions. Please circulate the BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for updates, and expect a flash-action alert with further event information, within days of a Coast Guard decision during the next few weeks or months.
Please consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, at our mailing addresses or online at Donate to WIRT. Thanks!
Sunday, June 2: Extinction Rebellion Meeting, Moscow
An emerging chapter of Extinction Rebellion is organizing in the Moscow-Pullman area, as part of the international, apolitical network engaging non-violent, direct action to persuade governments to act on current climate and ecological emergencies . Gather for the first meeting between 5 and 6 pm on Sunday, June 2, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.
Sunday, June 2: Know Your Rights Training, Moscow
The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) of Eugene, Oregon, is hosting a know-your-rights training called Empowering People to Organize for the Climate and Community . While traveling to Montana for a workshops tour, Lauren Regan, the founder, executive director, and senior staff attorney of CLDC, is offering a special training for north Idaho climate defenders. With 22 years of experience as an activist defense lawyer, representing ShellNo and Break Free Northwest blockaders, many Standing Rock water protectors, and all of the tar sands pipeline valve turners, Lauren also serves as the legal coordinator for the Protect the Protest coalition against SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation, usually filed by corporations to stymie activist opposition). Please spread this event news, share the CLDC Know Your Rights Training Flyer, and join Lauren, Extinction Rebellion, and WIRT from 6 to 8:30 pm on Sunday, June 2, in the 1912 Center Fiske Room at 412 East Third Street in Moscow.
Wednesdays, June 5 & 19: WIRT Monthly Meetings, Moscow & Sandpoint Continue reading
The Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on a geomagnetic storm increasing U.S. aurora displays, Sandpoint demolition of burned downtown buildings, support for stronger environmental review of north Idaho railroad bridges expansion, Washington bans on fracking, volatile oil trains, and governor opposition to natural gas projects, and a delayed environmental study and inconsistent governor support for the Newport silicon smelter. Broadcast for seven 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 resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
The Wednesday, May 1, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features a Portland conversation among Mia Reback, Jan Zuckerman, and Ken Ward, discussing two Zenith Energy tar sands train terminal blockades and city bans of fossil fuel infrastructure. We also cover news and reflections on a deadly Seattle construction crane collapse, a possibly catastrophic West Coast earthquake and tsunami, a second British Columbia tar sands terminal tree-sit, indigenous B.C. anti-pipeline statements at a United Nations forum, a tribal legal victory against Ecuador oil development, a north Idaho railroad bridges protest, extended comment period, and first annual thunder rainbow, and an Idaho oil and gas commission order vacating forced landowner leases. Broadcast for seven 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 resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listeners who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.
At the third of many likely demonstrations, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and indigenous and climate activists for regional resistance to Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway expansion of its fossil fuels and hazardous materials pipelines-on-rails tracks and two temporary and three permanent bridges across the recreation, tourism, and vacation destination town of Sandpoint, Idaho, through the downtown marinas, hotels, restaurants, and shops along Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest, forested mountain lake, Pend Oreille, home waters of the Kalispel and inland Northwest tribes and the critical habitat of threatened bull trout. Bring protest signs, banners, voices, and snacks to share, along with the inspiration of speakers, drums, and prayers among fellow, water protectors and concerned, community members, at this frontline, Dog Beach Park rally southeast of Sandpoint, at 1 pm on Sunday, April 28.
#No2ndBridge Extended Comments
Perhaps due to the procedural mistakes of the lead, federal agency overseeing BNSF bridge permits and project analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), over 2,300 written and spoken comments opposing the project and demanding better environmental review, and WIRT and allied requests to extend the comment period to 90 days, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) re-opened for another 30 days (77 total days), until 9 pm on Wednesday, May 1, your potentially last chance to comment on BNSF’s insufficient, draft environmental assessment (EA) of benefits and harms resulting from BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project . Although NEPA guidelines suggest preparation of concise EAs with no more than 10 to 15 pages, the length alone of the current, BNSF/Jacobs Engineering/U.S. Coast Guard, draft EA, with 116 pages and 12 appendices, indicates that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is needed for such a complex, flawed proposal with significant, but difficult to determine, environmental effects [2, 3].
For further information and comment suggestion resources to assist your letter, see the enclosed links and continually updated posts on the WIRT facebook and website pages [4-6]. Please search for USCG-2018-1085 at the federal, e-rulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov), and review your project issue(s) of concern among the draft EA documents. With your individually unique comments addressing draft EA deficiencies and offering counter-facts, provide personal reasons and affiliations for your project-affected interests and your specific, substantive objections to BNSF project-inflicted harms. Through the “Comment Now” button, respectfully ask the Coast Guard for:
1) A draft EA comment period extension to 120 days, to better engage seasonal and summer residents and diverse stakeholders,
2) Public, draft EA, and EIS scoping hearings, involving all pertinent agencies, organizations, and citizens, held in the most impacted city, Sandpoint,
3) Core samples and analysis of pollution in the lake bed, railroad right-of-way/easement,
4) Broader considerations of alternative, bridge and location designs and options, especially a rail route off the lake,
5) A more scientifically rigorous, unbiased, independent (not BNSF-contracted), full environmental impact study and statement that comprehensively evaluate the significant, direct, indirect, and cumulative project impacts, and
6) Inclusion of your remarks and accompanying material, supporting an EIS, not a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final EA, in the public record and final decisions for docket USCG-2018-1085.
Besides writing and posting your comments to USCG at Regulations.gov, also send them to the following agency officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (regulating dredge and fill discharges and wetland impacts through a pending permit), the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (overseeing project water quality impacts with a Clean Water Act section 401 certification issued on September 21, 2018), and the Idaho Department of Lands (rubberstamping lake bed and water impacts with an encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, and challenged by WIRT, but dismissed on statutory standing grounds by Idaho district courts).
If you and your friends and family cannot find time to write to the Coast Guard and other agencies, we encourage you to sign with your comments WIRT’s Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, which lists significant impacts of railroad bridge construction and operation on multiple, pertinent factors . We will send petition signatures and remarks posted by midnight on April 30 to the Coast Guard et al.
#No2ndBridge Background & Context Continue reading
Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is completing newsletters about eighth WIRT celebrations, dismissal of our state court case against doubled, north Idaho, railroad bridges, a re-opened, Coast Guard, comment period on that BNSF proposal, and other related topics, delayed by a recent week of long-overdue rest. But we are sending this 2019, southwest Idaho, oil and gas information first, drawn from WIRT facebook posts and lodged on the WIRT website on April 17, in solidarity and support of a Tuesday evening, April 16, talk in Moscow.
CAIA Presentation in Moscow
The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) will host a Skyped, slide presentation and talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, April 16, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow, Idaho . Shelley will discuss oil and gas well issues in Idaho, including landowner and CAIA, legal challenges of state forced pooling/integration processes, by which the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Department of Lands force property owners to lease their mineral resources and rights to oil and gas companies. Please attend this insightful event and/or contact SEC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-883-7133, for further information.
Forced Pooling Court Decisions & Public Input
“U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill had ruled in August that the Idaho Department of Lands’ procedure for forcing mineral rights from unconsenting owners into pools for extraction violated due process. After Winmill reaffirmed the ruling on February 1, the state faced a deadline early in March to formally appeal…CAIA, an Eagle-based group which had joined in the suit challenging the forced pooling methods, noted…that the state had opted not to contest Winmill’s ruling…Idaho Department of Lands hasn’t announced next steps to address the due process shortcoming .
…Unlike the CAIA-led suit against Idaho gas and oil regulators, the class action complaint filed March 1 in Payette County was brought by [nine local] lessors who signed [six] agreements to lease their mineral rights. The complaint seeks to end [gas producer] Alta Mesa’s alleged practice of deducting a portion of the producer’s midstream expenses from the lessors’ royalty checks [that the oil and gas leases do not expressly authorize]. It also points to a requirement under the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Act that interest of 12 percent be added to royalty payments not paid within 60 days of their due date…The action is brought on behalf of the class of all ‘persons who are or were royalty owners in Idaho wells where defendants [various Alta Mesa entities and others] are or were the operator…from January 1, 2014 to the date class notice is given…The class claims relate to royalty payments for gas and its constituents (such as residue gas, natural gas liquids, or drip condensate)’” .
Despite a Tuesday, April 9, deadline for comments, please write an email to Kourtney Romine (email@example.com) at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and blind-copy your input to CAIA (firstname.lastname@example.org), objecting to the state practice of forced lease pooling that allows oil and gas drilling operations against property and mineral owners’ wishes, and providing suggestions for better processes to protect vulnerable communities from similar, future activities, as prompted by the linked, CAIA, talking points and ideally regulated by proposed rulemaking . If possible, also attend and/or watch the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) hearing at 1 pm on Tuesday, April 23, to pack room EW 42 of the state capitol and/or testify for three minutes about “just and reasonable” terms for future, forced pooling applications that impose inadequate compensation and profound risks on Idaho citizens. Thanks to Shelley Brock of CAIA for her action alert!
Acid Fracking of Payette County Wells
Since July 2018, Alta Mesa has been matrix acidizing the tight sandstone formation reservoirs reached by Payette County oil and gas wells, with extremely hazardous hydrofluoric acid and xylene, chemically dissolving deposits and stimulating hydrocarbon flow under lower pressures than hydraulic fracturing (fracking), without providing essential information, undergoing application review, and sending final reports on well treatments and waste fluid disposal to state regulators, who did not file an unpublicized, administrative complaint and charges until February 5, 2019. Meanwhile, IDL and Alta Mesa officials have countered numerous citizen concerns about hydraulic fracturing with public statements like one by Lieutenant Governor Brad Little during a televised, late-October 2018, gubernatorial debate: “There is no fracking in Idaho” . Hundreds of informal, WIRT petition signatures against fracking and associated waste injection wells were stolen from a vehicle within days of that broadcast. Continue reading