Fifth Anniversary Coal Train Protests


Please join climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and regional allies for Fifth Anniversary Coal Train Protests on Friday, November 10, from 4 to 6 pm, at the North Division & Ruby Streets ‘V’ in Spokane, Washington, and on Saturday, November 11, from 2 to 4 pm, meeting at Farmin Park to protest elsewhere in Sandpoint, Idaho. Dress warmly and bring your friends, family, neighbors, voices, drums, musical instruments, and signs and banners addressing coal, fossil fuel, and railroad industry impacts on people, places, and the planet. WIRT will provide pizza, beverages, and safe, direct action opportunities at these public demonstrations commemorating the first, November 2012, coal train and terminal protest in Sandpoint, organized by Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane activists [1, 2].

Since 2010, the shared resistance of Northwesterners to dozens of proposals for new and expanded fossil fuel infrastructure and transportation projects has halted six planned, coal export train terminals in Boardman, Clatskanie, and Coos Bay, Oregon, and Cherry Point, Hoquiam, and Longview, Washington. In the last few months, the Washington departments of Ecology and Natural Resources have denied essential permits to the proposed, Millennium Bulk Terminals coal transfer facility in Longview [3, 4]. In response, Millennium has filed multiple lawsuits against Washington agencies, and continues to seek county and state land use permits, while a coalition of citizens and conservation groups participates in local, public hearings and celebrations of the company’s likely defeat in this epic, regional struggle against dirty, dangerous coal, to protect healthy air, water, climate, and communities.

But in eastern Washington, north Idaho, and western Montana during 2017, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Montana Rail Link (MRL), and Union Pacific Railroad have caused eight catastrophic derailments and collisions with resulting deaths, injuries, and destruction, spilled and polluted the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River watershed with grain, coal, and track washout-released, smelter slurry, dumped additional coal and imposed fire hazards from combusted coal on adjacent communities, through damaging and delayed, wreck clean-ups, spewed ongoing coal dust and diesel emissions from six-plus, empty and fully loaded, daily, coal trains, consequently and cumulatively risking and harming community and environmental health and safety [5-11].

On the summer 2017, Idaho Panhandle, fossil fuels frontline and sacrifice zone, BNSF and Union Pacific constructed double tracks along much of their routes between the Canadian and Montana borders with Idaho and Spokane, Washington [12]. BNSF ran noisy, smoky, pile load tests with a huge crane and heavy equipment, near the popular, recreation area of Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint, Idaho, in preparation for the keystone project of its regional, railroad corridor expansion: a proposed, second, parallel, 4800-foot-long, rail bridge that could carry more coal, oil, and hazardous materials trains (the Northwest pipelines-on-wheels) over Lake Pend Oreille to Salish Sea refineries and a Vancouver, B.C., coal export terminal [13]. The relentless observations and documentations of WIRT activists, contributing to the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch over several years, by monitoring westbound, unit, coal and oil trains traversing downtown Sandpoint, suggest that BNSF may be planning to build (over our blockading bodies) a second lake span to alleviate the westward bottleneck of increased, Bakken shale oil and Powder River Basin coal train traffic, like the MRL coal trains frequently seen and heard idling for hours, near the trackside, regional, lake water intake and purification plant at the Sandpoint-Ponderay, Idaho, boundary, awaiting eastside access to the current (but soon also doubled), single-track, BNSF rail line through downtown Sandpoint and over the lake bridge [14, 15]. Continue reading

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Resist Andeavor/Tesoro Anacortes Refinery Megaloads!


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists learned on Wednesday, October 4, that Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) and its hauler Mammoet will soon transport nine massive, prefabricated, refinery upgrading components from the Port of Anacortes to March Point, Washington [1-3].  These “module movements” started rolling through Anacortes between Monday, October 2, and Thursday, October 5, off-loaded at the port and transfered multiple times during daylight hours (8 am to 5 pm) to a staging area at R Avenue and Ninth Street in Anacortes.  For their part in this scheme, Washington Department of Transportation crews did some overnight work on Wednesday-Thursday, October 4 and 5, requiring single lane closures and brief traffic holds while preparing to swing some intersection signal lights out of the path of the behemoths.  The first three “superloads” measure more than 30 feet wide and high and 200-plus feet long, but the last six cargos are smaller.

Mammoet is moving only one combination of tractor pull and push trucks, trailers, and pieces of refinery equipment per night during five early morning hours (midnight to 5 am), eastbound along sections of road successively closed then reopened to all regular traffic.  The oversized units will each travel 6.5 miles over minimal hills on Friday night, October 6-7, through Sunday morning, October 15.  During the first hour (midnight to 1 am), they will disrupt R Avenue between the staging area and Washington Highway 20, and according to posted warning signs, impede Highway 20 to March Point Road between 1 and 2:30 am, March Point Road to the North Texas Road intersection between 2 and 3:30 am, and that intersection to the North Texas gate and into the refinery between 3:30 and 4:30 am.  Mammoet must safely cover each segment of the route, from the staging area to its destination, during the designated time slots, or abandon its attempt for the night.

Andeavor claims that, “as part of our Clean Products Upgrade Project, the new modules will enable the refinery to further reduce the sulfur content of its transportation fuels, and meet the new Federal Tier 3 standards to reduce emissions.”  But WIRT encountered other likely deceptive, oil company propaganda concerning sulfur when the last three mining and refining megaloads crossed Idaho and Montana to a Great Falls tar sands refinery in fall 2014.  We believe that these megaloads upgrading the Andeavor refinery at March Point could expand its capacity to process Canadian tar sands, and thus impose myriad harms and forestall transitions to clean, alternative energy sources: Continue reading

Third Panhandle Paddle Report & Photos


Third Panhandle Paddle 8-27-17 (35 event photos)

Thanks to each and all of the grassroots activists who converged from across the country, for third, annual, Panhandle Paddle activities co-hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies, on August 25 to 27 in Sandpoint, Idaho. Participants discussed, trained for, planned, and staged resistance to Alberta tar sands, Bakken shale oil, and Powder River Basin coal trains and terminals that have caused wrecks, fires, spills, and pollution throughout the Northwest, from the Clark Fork upriver town of Heron, Montana, to the Columbia River Gorge village of Mosier, Oregon, and dozens of other locations.  Their enthusiastic involvement shows that Northwest residents will continue to protest fossil fuel and railroad industry proposals of new and expanded infrastructure, like north Idaho, double track construction and a second, Lake Pend Oreille, rail bridge.  After seven Idaho and Montana train derailments and collisions, two deadly, in seven months within 43 miles of Sandpoint, concerned citizens are rising up against coal and oil train traffic that recklessly endangers the health and safety of Northwest communities, environments, and the global climate. Continue reading

Third Panhandle Paddle


August 25-27 Third Panhandle Paddle

No2ndBridge Panel, Action Training, & Flotilla Rally

The Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) collective and allied activists, friends, and supporters invite and heartily welcome your input and involvement during an upcoming weekend of opportunities to discuss, train for, and stage resistance to the fossil fuel and railroad industry degraders of basic, global, human, environmental, and climate health and rights. In the wake of seven north Idaho and northwest Montana train derailments and collisions in five months, the disastrous, oil and coal train wrecks, spills, and pollution in the Columbia River Gorge village of Mosier, Oregon, and the upstream, Clark Fork River town of Heron, Montana, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) north Idaho, double track construction and second, Lake Pend Oreille, rail bridge proposal and preparation, interior Northwest residents are rising up, organizing, and co-hosting third annual Panhandle Paddle activities, to stand against the volatile Alberta tar sands and fracked Bakken crude oil trains, dusty Powder River Basin coal trains, and fossil fuel infrastructure use, expansion, and deterioration that recklessly endanger our lives, communities, lands, water, air, and climate [1-3].  Please join us at these annual events at the Gardenia Center, City Beach Park, and Dog Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho, on August 25 to 27! Continue reading

Early August Climate & Indigenous Activism Opportunities!


August 3-5: Remember the Water Kalispel Pow Wow & Paddle

From 9 am on Thursday, August 3, until Saturday, August 5, descendants of the original inhabitants of remote, north Idaho, the Kalispel people, will paddle 51 miles in traditional canoes and camp twice, between City Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho, and the Kalispel Pow Wow Grounds north of Usk, Washington. Nathan Piengkham and other organizers of the event called Remember the Water invite regional, canoe families, water protectors, and supporters to join them in part or all of their amazing journey on Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River, emphasizing respect for water throughout their aboriginal homeland.  They ask for help with extra food, canoes, and kayaks, brought to the Thursday morning send-off and later camps.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists have been eagerly awaiting this event, grateful, encouraged, and elated that Kalispel and other tribal families are reviving traditional canoes and accompanying ceremonies that restore and show inspiring interactions with sacred lake and river waters. Potential participants can reserve and rent kayaks and paddle boards at two downtown Sandpoint businesses, and converge with any type of manual watercraft at “Sand Place,” the Kalispel name for current City Beach Park, the site of some of the largest, Northwest gatherings and festivals of Natives until the 1930s.  Or plan to meet at one of the various camping spots and/or paddle on shorter sections of the trip.  See the following links and the Kalispel facebook page, for event flyers, route maps, updates, and further information about event schedules and locations, subject to change.

Remember the Water Kalispel Pow Wow 51-Mile Paddle, July 19, 2017 Ivy Sparrow Robin

Remember the Water Pow Wow & 51-Mile Paddle, July 25, 2017 Nathan Piengkham

Sandpoint City Beach Park to Kalispel Pow Wow Grounds Route, July 19, 2017 Helen Yost

August 3-6: Base Camp: Shut Down the Fossil Fuel Empire Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho 2017 Actions Report


Stop Oil Trains in Idaho 2017 Actions 7-6to8-17 photos

Thanks to the volunteer, Sandpoint, Spokane, and Vancouver activists who participated in Stop Oil Trains in Idaho 2017 Actions on July 6 to 8, commemorating the fourth anniversary of the oil train derailment, spill, and fire in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, and honoring the 47 disaster victims and all lives impacted by oil-by-rail traffic and accidents [1, 2]!

On Thursday evening, July 6, we gathered at the Gardenia Center in Sandpoint, Idaho, for a Skyped, oil train watch training workshop presented by Matt Landon of Vancouver Action Network in Washington. Besides sharing handouts, information, and insights on methods of observing, documenting, and reporting Northwest fossil fuels trains, we conversed about train characteristics and Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) commitment to the skills and successes of non-violent, creative, civil resistance.

Occupy allies from Spokane, Washington, joined us for a family-friendly demonstration against oil trains, with homemade, protest signs around the Farmin Park clock tower in Sandpoint, on Friday evening, July 7. We soon moved to the Church Street silos near Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, for their light projection display of social and climate justice messages, seen from the surrounding neighborhood and U.S. Highway 2, as the sky darkened.  We posted photos of the light show on social media, distributed WIRT brochures, and discussed Northwest oil train and terminal issues with curious passersby on foot and bike.

After enjoying pizza and beverages at the downtown Sandpoint, WIRT office overlooking the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) tracks, we walked without signs or candles through the one-mile-wide, “bomb train” blast zone, over the Sand Creek bridge, to the historic/Amtrak train station and BNSF rail line in Sandpoint, which carries 95 percent of the Alberta tar sands and Bakken crude oil, unit trains across north Idaho. Under an almost-full moon, we marched to City Beach Park, sharing reflections and stories about Sandpoint and Spokane vulnerabilities to coal and oil train pollution and catastrophes.  Our peaceful activities drew police presence and drained our cell phone batteries throughout the evening. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho 2017 Actions


Continent-wide events mark the four-year Lac-Mégantic disaster anniversary

North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in three events on July 6, 7, and 8, commemorating the 47 lives lost to a Bakken crude oil train derailment, spill, fire, and explosion in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on Saturday night, July 6, 2013.  During the four years since this tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades – including the Union Pacific oil train disaster in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016.  In response, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), Vancouver Action Network (VAN), Occupy, and allied Sandpoint and Spokane area activists and partner groups are participating with thousands of people around North America in fourth anniversary, July 6 and later, Stop Oil Trains actions [1-3].

Through multiple, Stop Oil Trains in Idaho, training, protest, and outreach events, concerned citizens continue to actively oppose and call for an end to all Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil exploitation and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil threaten and risk our families, friends, homes, businesses, lands, waters, and air.  Together with environmental and social justice activists across the U.S. and Canada, we are organizing various tactics and resources to stage powerful, effective actions defending and protecting frontline, rail corridor communities and the global climate.

Please join these Sandpoint, Idaho, demonstrations and/or host or attend an event in your vicinity around July 6, to stand in solidarity with Lac Mégantic and other communities demanding an immediate ban on the extreme energy and railroad industries’ pipelines-on-wheels.  Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable, relevant ideas, information, connections, and on-the-ground support for these events.  We welcome your questions, suggestions, assistance, and refreshments at these upcoming actions: Please respond to WIRT through the enclosed contact channels.  Expect an accompanying description of the background and recent updates on the Northwest oil trains and terminals issue soon. Continue reading

Second Rail Bridge Meeting & Earth First! Workshops & Gathering


Activist groups RADAR and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and north Idaho residents opposing a second Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail bridge across Lake Pend Oreille invite community members to three rescheduled events on Thursday and Friday, June 22 and 23, in Sandpoint, Idaho. To accommodate outcomes envisioned by numerous participants converging from across the region, including indigenous activists, we have revised the times and dates of these opportunities.

1) Second Lake Rail Bridge Meeting #2 at 6 pm on Thursday evening, June 22, at Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint

A few dozen local, opposition group members and visitors will share issue information and brainstorm tactics and strategies (besides the usual, regulatory hoops pushed by mainstream, green groups) close to the BNSF pile load test site. Please propose subjects for discussion, bring camp chairs, and RSVP for bike trailer transportation for participants who cannot walk to the park.

2) Earth First! Road Show and Direct Action Camp from 9 am until 5 pm on Friday, June 23, at a wooded, private farm in the Selle Valley, about nine miles north of Sandpoint

The Earth First! Road Show collective crew will offer training workshops on a variety of assertive, protective, activist skills chosen by participants, for resistance to fossil fuels, climate change, and harmful infrastructure. See the following, linked, updated announcements for further logistics, and contribute potluck and donated food, if possible [1, 2].  We will disclose the event location address only to people attending, so please RSVP to WIRT.

3) Social gathering, campfire, music, etc. at 6 pm and beyond, on Friday evening, June 23, at several Sandpoint area places

Organizers encourage fellow activists to expand camaraderie and coalitions, share ideas and concerns, and enjoy band performances at downtown pubs later on Friday night. We heartily welcome your input and involvement during as many of these upcoming activities as you can join to create change.  Respond with your questions and suggestions, via the enclosed contact channels.  Thanks! Continue reading

Earth First! Road Show & Direct Action Camp!


RADAR and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) are grateful to co-host the 2017 Earth First! Road Show and Direct Action Camp on Thursday and Friday, June 22 and 23 in Sandpoint, Idaho [1]!  Activists are converging for a camp over several nights, training sessions from 9 am to 5 pm on Friday, and a gathering starting at 6 pm on Friday, at several locations disclosed by RSVPing to WIRT.  To connect with, learn about, and support the various ecological and social resistance struggles for a better world, a group of Earth First!ers has been offering skills sharing workshops for rabble rousers, water protectors, land defenders, anti-fascists, and other instigators of a wild revolution, since late April 2017 [2].  On a two-month, cross-continent tour beginning in south Florida and ending at the annual, July 2 to 9  Round River Rendezvous, this year in northern California, the road show collective has been nurturing the inspiring seeds of dissidence throughout the country, along a route that coincides with action camps and conferences.

“Coming to a town near you,” the Earth First! Road Show is giving priority to friends, comrades, and agitators in rural areas, while bringing its direct action training to 40-plus cities and communities of resistance [3].  Prior to their north Idaho visit, our guests will stop in Spokane, Washington, on June 20, and in Missoula, Montana, on June 21, before trekking back to the West Coast of Seattle and Olympia, Washington, on June 25 and 26.  Their goal of encouraging and assisting local resistance through these events will help the Idaho Panhandle build momentum to oppose important but delicate area infrastructure (like the proposed, second, Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge), which facilitates fracked Bakken shale and Alberta tar sands oil and gas extraction and transportation.  These trainers would like to understand traditional indigenous territories and regional demographics, movements, and resources, and explore our amazing, beloved “neck of the woods.” Continue reading

June 7 Last Comments on Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal


The Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) has notified the public of a comment period and hearing on its preliminary determination to approve air pollution permit application materials for the Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal Facility proposed by Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies at the Port of Vancouver, Washington [1].  The Notice of Construction Air Permit provides coverage for industrial activities, a Technical Support Document summarizes the permit conditions, and a Test Protocol for the Direct Measurement of Uncollected Volatile Organic Compound Loading Losses during Marine Vessel Loading describes resulting air pollution.

The Tesoro Savage joint venture, Vancouver Energy (5501 NW Old Lower River Road, Vancouver, Washington), plans to develop a new, 360,000-barrel-per-day, oil-by-rail terminal, to receive Alberta tar sands and Bakken crude oil from Northwest trains, store it onsite, and load it onto marine vessels [2].  On land leased from the port, and on behalf of the joint venture, Savage would oversee and manage the design, construction, and operation of the facility requiring an approximate investment of $75 to $100 million.  The originally stated, principal purpose of the facilities was to offset or replace declining Alaska North Slope and California crude production and more expensive, foreign oil imports with delivery of other North American crude to U.S. West Coast refineries.  But with federal law currently allowing export to other countries of crude oil extracted in the United States, the Tesoro Savage oil terminal could primarily serve as an export facility on the Columbia River.

Comments, Hearing, & Rally

By Wednesday, June 7, and beyond, please offer written comments on these draft permit documents, to the State of Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, in person at1300 S. Evergreen Park Drive SW, Olympia, Washington, by mail to P.O. Box 43172, Olympia, WA 98504-3172, or electronically online through the EFSEC website [1].  Before making a final determination on construction permit issuance, EFSEC will hold a public meeting to accept and consider oral and written comments on June 7, from 1 until 9 pm or the last speaker, whichever comes first, in Gaiser Hall on the Clark College central campus, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way in Vancouver.  For further EFSEC information, please contact siting manager Sonia E. Bumpus at 360-664-1363 or sbumpus@utc.wa.gov.

Besides packing the June 7, air pollution permit hearing, the Northwest community and coalition groups, including Stand Up to Oil, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and Sierra Club, are staging a rally with hundreds of participants, during the 4 to 5 pm, hearing break [3, 4].  If you live in the Vancouver area, we encourage you to attend the hearing and join the rally, by coming early and staying late, wearing your favorite, red shirt, and preparing, practicing, timing, and reading your testimony under two minutes long.  Begin your remarks by saying your name and address, and express how the Tesoro Savage oil terminal could affect you and your family.  Even if you do not intend to publicly talk, showing up as part of the Northwest fossil fuels resistance makes opposition visible!  Please sign up and give your speaking ticket to coalition staff members, to share with late arrivals.

At this major hearing on the Tesoro Savage project, the voting members of Washington EFSEC will have their last opportunities to see and hear from affected, regional, rail-line communities, before making a final recommendation to Washington Governor Jay Inslee on denial, conditional approval, or approval of the largest, proposed, oil train terminal in North America.  Organizers believe that Governor Inslee will reject the project, unless he gets conflicting advice from EFSEC or his staff.  But his final decision, expected this year, must wait until all permit processes are complete, thus the voices of resistance must remain powerful. Continue reading