Reject Fossil Fuels Waste Disposal Wells in Idaho!


Injection Well MapOn February 18, Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and concerned, regional residents testified at a WIRT-recorded, remote, public hearing, held via teleconference by the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington.  Most citizens who participated in oral remarks denounced a Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) permit application to convert the DJS 2-14 oil and gas extraction well into the first, Idaho, Class II oil and gas waste,  underground injection control (UIC) well, in the Willow Sands field northeast of New Plymouth in Payette County [1, 2].  The Friday morning meeting also addressed SROG’s request for an exemption of the surrounding aquifer from its current designation as an underground drinking water source.  The EPA has issued a draft record of decision claiming that the aquifer is so contaminated, either by the incompatible presence of hydrocarbons or by operation of dozens of nearby oil and gas wells, that it cannot practically provide recovery of water for human consumption in the future.  Idaho activists continue to assert in testimony and comments that the EPA should reject both proposals, due to the myriad, well-documented dangers of oil and gas waste injection wells.

According to EPA and SROG officials, fluids injected into the DJS 2-14 well to depths between 4,900 and 5,500 feet below the surface would be separated from shallow, drinking water aquifers by claystone confining intervals.  However, SROG would implement “high-pressure injection of radioactive, chemical-laden, carcinogenic, industrial waste deep underground, directly through critical drinking water aquifers,” a common industry method that has poisoned private and public waters and caused earthquakes in oil and gas producing states during the last few decades [2].  SROG contends that it is only reinjecting naturally produced “water” into its original formations, neglecting to mention the “trade secret” toxic substances and hazardous materials used to drill wells and produce hydrocarbons at associated, local facilities.  This waste injection well would serve as the dumping hole, with predictably cracked, leaking casings, for millions of gallons of contaminated and possibly distantly transported, industry byproducts.

Through a possibly ghost-written, opinion piece in the conservative, online publication, Idaho Dispatch, Richard Brown of SROG attempted to disparage and discredit the valid concerns of CAIA and jeopardized Idahoans defending themselves from SROG’s toxic practices and damaging Class II wells [3].  Fortunately, his inaccurate depictions of potentially harmed home and business owners provided opportunities for an excellent rebuttal by CAIA president Shelley Brock, full of information from the attorneys, FracTracker Alliance, and academic and oil and gas industry expert Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, who have assisted CAIA over the last 18 months.  These credible sources encourage people to fight the corporate and government corruption, water contamination, and methane emissions of this first Idaho and all injection well permits and aquifer exemptions [4, 5].

After receiving multiple requests from members of the public, during the February 18 hearing, the EPA extended the deadline for public comments on this injection well application and aquifer exemption, from February 28 to 5 pm Mountain time on Wednesday, March 30.  Please send written, emailed (not mailed) messages and attachments to Evan Osborne (U.S. EPA Region 10 Ground Water and Drinking Water Section, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 155, MS 19-H16, Seattle, Washington 98101) at osborne.evan@epa.gov, specifically requesting another 30-day, comment period extension and inclusion of your remarks in the public record for draft permit ID-2D001-A, as described in posted WIRT action alerts and their links [6].  Include “UIC Class II Injection Well Draft Permit & Draft Aquifer Exemption Public Comment” in the subject line and your name, address, and telephone number in your statement, or call 206-553-1747 between 1 and 4 pm on Mondays through Fridays, to offer oral comments by phone.

For relevant facts and public input suggestions, see the enclosed and previous, WIRT, talking points, listen to the 36-minute, EPA hearing, and review the well application, aquifer exemption, and associated fact sheet at the EPA website [1, 6, 7].  Although its airs only a few hours before the current comment period ends, we also invite you to listen to a conversation with Shelley Brock of CAIA, recorded for WIRT’s Climate Justice Forum radio program that weekly describes grassroots, frontline resistance to the fossil fuel causes of climate change, broadcast every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, from progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow [8].  By March 29, we further encourage you to sign an informal, ongoing, public petition that has gathered hundreds of regional, hard-copy signatures since September 2014, demanding bans of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well treatments and oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho [9].

Please load the public record with as much credible evidence as possible, including entire news articles and government documents, to influence the EPA to deny SROG’s Class II disposal well permit and aquifer exemption requests.  Unfortunately, like many federal agency personnel more pressured by industry than citizens, the EPA has mostly heard from the SROG/state of Idaho alliance about these proposals.  Educating the EPA on prior wrongs inflicted by SROG may cause agency professionals to doubt the geological evidence presented by industry, and to seek other assessments.  Contact CAIA or WIRT with questions and for additional information and comment guidance. Continue reading

EPA Hearing on First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well 2-18-22


On February 18, 2022, the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington, held a remote, public hearing via teleconference, on a permit application for an underground injection control (UIC) well, the first Class II oil and gas waste injection well in Idaho, in the Willow Sands gas field in Payette County.  The public meeting also addressed a draft record of decision for exemption of the surrounding aquifer from its current designation as an underground source of drinking water (USDW), as requested by the project applicant, Snake River Oil and Gas of Magnolia, Arkansas.  Most citizens who participated in oral testimony at this Friday morning hearing insisted that the EPA reject both proposals, due to the myriad, well-documented dangers of oil and gas waste injection wells.

For excellent sources of relevant facts, concerns, and public input suggestions, listen to this 36-minute hearing, review the well application, aquifer exemption, and associated fact sheet at the EPA website, and see posted, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) articles [1, 2].  Please comment on the injection well application and aquifer exemption before 5 pm MST on Wednesday, March 30, by sending email messages and attachments to Evan Osborne of the EPA at osborne.evan@epa.gov, and specifically requesting a 30-day comment period extension and inclusion of your remarks in the public record for draft permit ID-2D001-A, as described in WIRT alerts and their links.  By March 29, we also encourage you to sign an informal, public petition that has gathered hundreds of regional, hard-copy signatures since September 2014, demanding bans of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well treatments and oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho [3].  Contact Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability or WIRT with questions and for additional information.

Hearing Recording:

[1] Oppose First Idaho Oil and Gas Waste Injection Well! February 17, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Reject Fossil Fuels Waste Disposal Wells in Idaho! March 29, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[3] Petition to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing and Waste Injection Wells in Idaho, September 29, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Oppose First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well!


Oppose First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well FlyerProposed Injection Well & Aquifer Exemption

On Friday, January 14, 2022, the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington, issued public notice of a draft permit (ID-2D001-A) for an underground injection control (UIC) well application, authorizing the first Class II oil and gas waste well in Idaho, in the Willow Sands gas field in Payette County.  As also requested by the project applicant, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) of Magnolia, Arkansas, the EPA released a proposed record of decision for exemption of the aquifer surrounding the well from its current designation as an underground source of drinking water (USDW) [1-8].

The EPA notified local communities and tribal and state governments that it had opened a 45-day public comment period on this debacle, which concludes on March 30 and offers a public hearing via teleconference on Friday, February 18 [2].  It delivered the public announcement via electronic mail, for publication in the Independent Enterprise and Idaho Statesman, and to officials of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho departments of environmental quality, geological survey, historic preservation, lands, and water resources, the governor’s office, the nearby cities of Fruitland, New Plymouth, and Payette, Shelly Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), and Richard Brown of SROG.

These two EPA actions require public resistance and input via two sets of email comments, a remote public hearing, and any creative actions that arise.  The EPA plans to allow SROG to convert the existing, abandoned, DJS 2-14, hydrocarbon extraction well, located approximately five miles north-northeast of New Plymouth, into a Class II injection well, for dangerous disposal of fluids between depths of 4,900 and 5,500 feet.  In this well, SROG could commingle waste “waters” brought to the surface at its two dozen mostly conventional, oil and gas production wells in the Treasure Valley, with fluids not classified as hazardous waste from its gas plant operations.  Purportedly, “claystone confining intervals” would separate injected fluids from surrounding, shallow, drinking water aquifers.

The EPA also proposes to approve a drinking water aquifer exemption for approximately 269 acres within the injection zone of this Class II well, in the hills east of Little Willow Creek and Road and north of the Payette River and its floodplain, a few miles upstream from their confluence with the Snake River.  The federal agency has determined that this aquifer contained by several faults does not currently, and cannot in the future, serve as a source of drinking water.  However, within the 24 square miles (15,360 acres) surrounding the proposed waste injection well, multiple water wells presently provide potable and irrigation water.  (See the posted, southeast-facing photograph showing the highest-elevation, DJS 2-14 waste well, the closest, illegally acid-fracked, ML Investments 1-11 gas well [9], the lower, ML Investments 2-10 gas well, and the valley-bottom, Little Willow gas gathering facility, and an aerial map depicting the aquifer exemption boundary with yellow lines and existing water wells with light-blue dots [3].)

Regulating Class II injection wells after assuming authority over that program from the state of Idaho several years ago, the EPA cannot issue UIC permits under Part C of the Safe Drinking Water Act, if subsurface waste injection endangers underground sources of drinking water.  Accordingly, the EPA and SROG require impacted aquifer exemption to advance these otherwise prohibited, Class II injection well decisions and activities.  The fifth most seismically prone state of Idaho banned inherently risky, oil and gas waste injection wells in 1985.  But against strong public opposition, the EPA approved a 2018 rule change that transferred authority for permitting these wells, as requested by the Idaho Department of Water Resources, from the state to the federal agency, ostensibly overriding the ban and facilitating this controversial practice [6, 8, 10].

Probable Harms from Oil & Gas Waste Wells

In oil and gas producing regions throughout the continent, hazardous oil and gas waste injection wells have caused well-documented, devastating, surface and ground water contamination and induced and increased seismic incidents, including extensive earthquake clusters many miles from these wells that have inflicted property damages, insurance claims, and lawsuits.  As Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) warns, “This method for disposing of oil and gas waste, while notoriously hazardous, presents an even greater risk when promoted through the use of ‘legacy’ wells.  Steel and cement casings have a long history of failing over time, allowing toxic fluids to migrate into drinking water aquifers and to the surface, where they can poison streams, rivers, irrigation systems, and critical wildlife habitat” [8].  Federal laws two decades ago exempted many oil field operations and wastes, such as drilling fluids, produced water, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluids, from the environmental and hazardous waste regulations that govern other businesses.  Moreover, the historically understaffed and often politically repressed EPA lacks capacities to adequately inspect, document, and enforce oil and gas operation violations [11]. Continue reading

Halt the Thacker Pass, Nevada, Lithium Mine!


On September 27, indigenous and allied activists and organizations, defending the sacred lands and water and critical wildlife habitat of Thacker Pass (Peehee Mu’huh in the Paiute language) in northern Nevada, from a proposed, massive, open-pit, lithium mine, launched a coordinated, public pressure campaign targeting public officials of the Biden administration, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior, and state of Nevada.  Within days, they learned that the BLM had quietly issued an archeological dig permit this week, which allows “professional archeologists” and excavators to desecrate known massacre sites of Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone ancestors, and conduct government-sanctioned looting, while also providing momentum for the mining companies Lithium Nevada, Lithium Americas, and Far Western to start construction of the mine.  At this decisive time in regional resistance, which includes an environmental lawsuit with indigenous interveners and an opposition camp established in January 2021, the Native coalition Atsa Koodakuh why Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) and frontline activists of Protect Thacker Pass (PTP) are calling on all of us to help stop sacred site disturbances that could happen within days.  Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) soon in these actions:

1) CARPOOL & CAMP with WIRT and allies journeying to Thacker Pass, where a small gathering of serious people and Native elders have been fervently praying, honorably working, and creatively resisting the proposed mine, with good hearts, minds, spirits, and clarity of purpose, during almost ten months on the Peehee Mu’huh frontline.  They are urgently encouraging your immediate, physical presence and support at Thacker Pass: “Now is the time to stand up!”  In 2019, a PTP organizer traveled to north Idaho, to offer direct action training for WIRT’s Panhandle Paddle and ongoing #No2ndBridge campaign against BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion.  We are grateful to reciprocally assist this mine opposition, beyond covering Thacker Pass updates via our weekly, Climate Justice Forum, radio program, despite recent facebook aversion and a posting backlog.  See the Protect Thacker Pass and Protect Peehee Mu’huh website and facebook pages, for campaign information, massacre history, fact sheets, and camp rules.  Contact WIRT to participate in inland Northwest trips to Nevada [1-3].

2) DEMAND THAT THE BLM recognize Thacker Pass massacres, cancel the planned archeological dig, and promise to engage in proper consultation with affected tribes, per the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.  People of Red Mountain, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the Burns Paiute Tribe, the National Congress of American Indians, the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, and the Nevada Statewide Native American Caucus have all spoken out against the Thacker Pass mine.  Ultimately, these stakeholders are asking Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to rescind the record of decision (the main BLM approval of the mine) and revoke all project permits.

With your edited version of this information and the enclosed talking points, share this message with your networks and social media platforms, call and write to everyone listed here with these demands, and know that your efforts make a significant difference.  If you represent an organization, tribal government, or are otherwise influential, leverage your power by pressuring these agencies, sending official letters, requesting meetings, and coordinating with Protect Thacker Pass (contact@protectthackerpass.org). Continue reading

Fifth Kalispel Remember the Water Canoe Journey


Kalispel Annual Canoe JourneysFor the fifth annual, Remember the Water, canoe journey on August 4 through 7, 2021, Kalispel tribal members and friends are again portaging and paddling over 50 miles in dugout, wooden canoes, through their home lands and waters in the Pend Oreille lake and river watershed.  They will tentatively begin from the Hope Peninsula on Wednesday, August 4, and/or re-start or initially launch from Sandpoint City Beach Park on Thursday morning, August 5, ultimately reaching their destination of the Kalispel Village in Cusick, Washington, on Saturday, August 7.  Like during previous years, as depicted in linked photos and articles about prior paddles, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and area groups plan to welcome the travelers at Sandpoint, during possible journey arrival on Wednesday and departure on Thursday [1-9].

The canoe journey always happens just before the annual Kalispel Powwow and around the time of the Festival at Sandpoint music concerts.  The Festival poster this year portrays vibrant, past and rekindled, Kalispel and regional, indigenous culture with sturgeon nose canoes and teepees in the painted foreground of the Festival stage tents [10].  With late-week thunderstorms looming, and wildfires only seven miles from the journey start producing heavy, valley smoke and reduced air quality, we are concerned about the health and safety of paddle participants.  But even while fossil fuels pipeline and pipeline-on-rails infrastructure expansions impose and risk further harms to indigenous people and places across Turtle Island (North America), Native neighbors are upholding and continuing their sustainable, traditional practices, through admirable endeavors like this canoe journey and culminating powwow.

Please see the updated, enclosed, Remember the Water schedule, join WIRT in observing, supporting, and sharing this joyful, cultural resurgence at various journey route locations, and contact Nathan or Betty Jo Piengkham via facebook and/or respond to WIRT, for further information, logistics, and ways to help. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains & Pipelines 2021


Stop Oil Trains & Pipelines 2021 FlyerNorth Idaho activists invite everyone to participate in eighth annual, Stop Oil Trains and Pipelines training workshops and direct actions on Thursday, July 15, through Saturday, July 17.  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, the northwestern hamlet of Custer, Washington, on December 22, 2020, and all rail and pipeline corridor communities threatened and degraded by crude oil.  This year, we also welcome your participation in protesting Line 3 tar sands pipeline construction through hundreds of water bodies, wild rice lakes, and treaty territories of Anishinaabe and Ojibwe indigenous nations in northern Minnesota.

During the eight years since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar wrecks have harmed public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades.  Nonetheless, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway moves 12 to 22 volatile, Bakken crude oil trains every week, while Union Pacific hauls one to two trains of equally explosive and irretrievably sinkable, Canadian tar sands per week, beside and over rivers, lakes, and tributaries throughout north Idaho and the Northwest, such as the Kootenai, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Columbia, and other rivers.  Along with a similar, weekly number of Powder River Basin coal trains, over 95 percent of these shipments must cross BNSF rail bridges above downtown Sandpoint and Spokane and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille.  BNSF is expanding this pipeline-on-rails by drilling, removing, and re-drilling 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, accumulated, coal and diesel dust and other railroad pollution in lake and stream beds, to anchor noisily floating, fish-killing, temporary, construction barges precariously holding half-million-pound cranes, and to build two miles of doubled tracks and three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) rail bridges west of the current rail line.  This Sandpoint Junction Connector project will accommodate more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, and double-long train traffic polluting critical habitat for threatened bull trout and other native, aquatic inhabitants and regional air sheds and lake and aquifer, drinking water.

In solidarity with people all over Turtle Island (North America), rejecting new and expanding, fossil fuels infrastructure, to protect the water, air, and climate essential to all lives, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and inland Northwest communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries continue to actively oppose BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, through public vigilance, education, protests, and lawsuits, as we monitor project activities, document environmental and socioeconomic violations, and gather evidence challenging permit reviews and decisions by local, state, and federal agencies.  With #No2ndBridge construction intensifying and extending into Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint, we are coordinating and requesting your involvement in these yearly, regional, Stop Oil Trains and Pipelines actions.  Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, Seattle, and Spokane activists of 350, Direct Action, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, WIRT, and allied, conservation and climate groups have hosted and participated with thousands of people around the continent, in numerous Stop Oil Trains demonstrations, climate strikes, #No2ndBridge and derailment protests, and a first anniversary convergence supporting Mosier [1-6].

Please join concerned citizens at these outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of Canadian tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and rail and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil jeopardize our 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 pipeline and railroad pollution and snafus.  Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable information, connections, and support for these summer events and ongoing, regional, fossil fuels resistance.  We welcome your ideas, questions, suggestions, and assistance at these upcoming actions.  Reply through WIRT contact channels or on-site, and expect further issue descriptions and updates, via WIRT facebook posts, website pages, and radio programs. Continue reading

Pipeline Resistance Solidarity Actions


In solidarity with all water protectors, land defenders, and climate activists across Turtle Island (North America), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied, Northwest groups and individuals are planning and hosting solidarity actions in Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, to uphold and support indigenous-led resistance to construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through treaty territories in northern Minnesota.  We are also celebrating the June 9 termination of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, by Calgary-based TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), and the January 2021 presidential cancellation of the project, grateful for sustained KXL opposition, from First Nations impacted by Alberta tar sands exploitation to Gulf Coast tree sitters obstructing its route.  Each of these proposed pipelines, if constructed, would transport almost a million barrels of toxic tar sands oil per day from Canada, under hundreds of waterways and wetlands, including Mississippi River headwaters and wild rice lakes crucial for drinking water and indigenous food sovereignty.  Tar sands “black snakes” jeopardize pristine and sensitive landscapes, watersheds, aquifers, and ecosystems from the Great Lakes across the Great Plains to the Salish Sea (Puget Sound).  And these pipelines would enable further tar sands mining and refining operations, built by megaloads of equipment that WIRT and co-workers have opposed since our group inception a decade ago.  Tar sands extraction continues to devastate the air, water, lands, wild plants and animals, and subsistence practices honored by First Nations, and exacerbates the droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods of fossil fueled climate chaos around the Earth.

Regionally, during the seven to twelve years of the Line 3 and Keystone XL battles, WIRT and Northwest, frontline activists have uplifted these campaigns with outreach through our radio, facebook, and newsletter programs, while constantly resisting, monitoring, documenting, and alerting our communities to fossil fuels extraction and transportation onslaughts on Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon frontlines.  We have confronted tar sands megaloads on rivers and roads, coal and oil trains and terminals on pipelines-on-rails and at ports, oil and gas extraction and forced leasing in southwest Idaho, and infrastructure expansions also accommodating nuclear waste and new power plants and other hazardous materials across the Northwest.  All of these invasions would and do daily pollute the Columbia Basin and threaten the lives and livelihoods of residents, businesses, and entire communities and economies.

Since November 2020, when the Line 3 pipeline reached the last of its regulatory challenges, and despite ongoing court cases and calls for federal, administrative relief, construction encroaching on indigenous lands in northern Minnesota has been clearing a path for Canadian oil pumped for export to and beyond the United States.  The movement to #StopLine3 has courageously escalated through legal advocacy, on-the-ground actions, prayer ceremonies, and over 500 arrests at blockades of Enbridge offices, pipeline equipment staging areas, pump stations, river drilling sites, and worker and resistance camps.  Thousands of people powerfully converged and put their bodies in the way of Line 3 construction for 30 hours, during the Treaty People Gathering on June 5 to 8 in Minnesota, where both direct resistance and the need for more people on the frontlines is increasing [1, 2].  Supporting Line 3 opposition throughout and before 2021, Rising Tide North America, Rising Tide Chicago, Portland Rising Tide, and the network of volunteer Rising Tide groups have provided online webinars, meetings, and virtual, non-violent direct action trainings that introduce concerned citizens to the principles, strategies, tactics, and skills of protest.  In solidarity with northern Minnesota communities blocking local tar sands expansion, grassroots resistance to Line 3 has staged hundreds of actions across the country and around the world, confronting banks, financiers, and insurance companies that facilitate the water-risking venture.

WIRT organizers understand that almost-post-pandemic re-emergence has been difficult for everyone, especially for activists who do not engage in electronic teleconferences for security reasons.  At Solstice time, regional activists who recently organized travel to and participated in blockades disrupting Line 3 construction are asking for your involvement in outreach and solidarity demonstrations objecting to Line 3 and celebrating Keystone XL termination.  On Friday, June 25, in Sandpoint, and on Saturday, June 26, during Farmers Market in Moscow, we invite you to bravely partake in the #StopLine3 movement.  On behalf of future generations and voiceless, fellow, Earth inhabitants, join the continent-wide call for the end of all tar sands and fossil fuels pipelines, such as the illegally flowing Dakota Access (DAPL) and Enbridge Line 5 and the currently under-construction but fiercely rebuked Trans Mountain and Mountain Valley pipelines.  Come and stand with and for frontline communities confronting the oil and gas industry, corporate interests, and green-washed, false, climate solutions.

Friday, June 25, near Farmin Park in Sandpoint

Saturday, June 26, in Friendship Square in Moscow Continue reading

November 3 & Sooner or Later: Vote & Resist a Coup


Resist a Trump/Republican Coup

Even during a global pandemic, economic emergency, and increasingly dysfunctional, neoliberal governance, the reformist approach of U.S. progressive politics attempts to rehabilitate capitalism’s purported dynamism with approximations of social democracy for working people, without admitting the intrinsic control and impediments to reform that economic and political elites wield over fundamental structures of policymaking.  This tendency is partially a response to the Trump administration, “whose pursuit of tax cuts, corporate bailouts, and deregulation exemplifies not so much artful subterfuge but a brazen contempt for proper oversight of industry” [1].  Challenges for current, social movements to fight injustice are formidable, especially with “the Trump administration’s exercise of a new and despotic, federal police power, in reaction to nationwide, Black Lives Matter protests against police violence” [1].  But electoral politics face greater limits to advancing a more egalitarian social contract and strategies.  “The path to enduring change requires mobilization that inflicts real costs on capitalists and disrupts the nexus of elite interests…While progressive, political allies are instrumental…to implementing reform, they are never its true locus” [1].

More deeply troubling than encountering armed, right wingnuts in the downtown streets of Sandpoint, Idaho, is experiencing “liberals” who notify police in advance of their protests, say that they trust local cops, and ask for police protection from such vigilantes [2].  Did they overlook the attack dogs, water cannons, and other harmful weapons used by local cops on water protectors at Standing Rock?  The munitions applied by local cops to clear Washington D.C. dissenters, for Trump’s bible-holding, church photo-op?  The physical and chemical assaults and abductions aimed and abetted by local cops and their civil war-mongering, paramilitary friends at protesters in Portland, Minneapolis, New York, Spokane, and other cities?  Who could ever sign a letter saying that they trust local cops?  Do they not understand the Black Lives Matter and civil rights movements?  Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and land defense?  Immigrants terrorized, caged, neglected, and deported?  Local cops in support of eliminating COVID-19 precautions and liberal protests of a likely Trump/Republican coup?  Are people who trust local cops actually cops?

On October 22, for the weekly, Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) webinar, two guests joined Lauren Regan and fellow staff attorneys: Jim Wheaton, a CLDC friend, former co-counsel, and First Amendment Project ally, and Scott Parkin, a seasoned organizer with Rising Tide North America and Rainforest Action Network (RAN), for a training called Rights, Dissent, and the State: Preparing for a Turbulent Election [3].  The lively and informative, roundtable discussion considered scenarios and preparations against possible, far-right, extremist efforts to disrupt and destroy democratic processes, which could unfold around the upcoming, November 2020, U.S. elections.  With the goals of helping activists more clearly understand potential threats, expected charges from engaging in protests during this time, and collective, legal recourse against a coup and other outcomes, speakers addressed actions that governments may take to restrict citizen freedoms, rights, and responsibilities, in response to escalations of unrest.  If you missed and would like to access this online webinar, please email communications @cldc.org and request the secure, registration login information for the recording.  The RAN website also offers links to numerous civil disobedience resources [4].  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is planning upcoming, training sessions and protests adapted to emerging, political events, despite north Idaho community reticence to participate in the meaningful and effective, direct actions that continue to provide our only recourse to justice.

“…Things are moving further in an alarming direction.  They’re planning to steal the election…for an unaccountable man at the top and his armies of spies and soldiers and cops, openly plotting some kind of coup, not in some backroom like they usually would do…Whatever might happen to this corporate crook, no one will be heeding the rules in the book…Perhaps the stock market crashes, then we’ll see if the madmen in power start World War 3…” [5].  But “if the right is prepared to steal the election, then we must be prepared to disrupt the status quo and resist.  [The Stopping the Coup] guide offers resources for organizing in your communities across the country.  It does not encourage or endorse bringing harm to any living thing” [6].

Despite our lack of faith in American electoral, political, or legal systems, WIRT activists encourage you to vote, as “we will vote.  We will refuse to accept election results, until all the votes are counted.  We will nonviolently take to the streets, if a coup is attempted.  If we need to, we will shut down this country, to protect the integrity of the democratic process” [7].  Please prepare for the November 3 to January 21 sh!tstorm, by availing yourself and your contacts of the Signal application, for end-to-end encrypted calls and texts relayed via device data, not phone signal [8].  You will find that many of your contacts already or will soon protect their communities from government/corporate snoopiness with the downloadable application, effective only when both sides securely communicate through the program (symbolized by locks and checkmarks), which also reaches non-Signal users (shown with open lock symbols).  Stop talking and texting on a third “party line”!

According to Fox television program scientist (an oxymoron?) Neil deGrasse Tyson and creative scientist, musician, and tar sands megaload-blockading, WIRT activist Jeanne Louise, an asteroid named 2018VP1 will coincidentally, closely approach Earth the day before the November 3 election, but it poses much less threat to humanity than one of the candidates [9].  As an appropriate antidote to increasingly “impactful” times, please consider voting early!  Thanks to Jeanne for revising the lyrics and re-recording her decade-old song Asteroid that “serves as an apt metaphor for our angst about the pandemic, the planet, and presidential politics,…[and that] argues for the pursuit of peace, love, and happiness, no matter how things turn out,” with the time we together have left [9].  Compared with the deteriorating state of American encounters all over the country, her new video version, posted and shared on facebook and played on the October 28, WIRT, Climate Justice Forum radio program, is a blessing!

Vote Against President Donald Trump Continue reading

Comment on Oil Movement Reports, Coal Mine Expansion, & Dakota Access Pipeline


October 15: Oregon Coal Plant Closure

On October 15, Portland General Electric (PGE) shut down the 40-year-old Boardman Generating Station in eastern Oregon, the only, coal-fired, power plant in the state and one of three in the four-state Northwest [1].  In 2009, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Sierra Club, and other green groups filed a lawsuit that forced PGE to permanently close the Boardman facility by the end of 2020.  Boardman stood as one of four destinations for the average three daily, Powder River Basin, unit coal trains that traverse and pollute north Idaho, besides the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia, Washington, the Customs District of Seattle, Washington (the largest, U.S. West Coast, and fifth-biggest, American, coal export center), and Westshore Terminals coal export facilities in Delta, west of Vancouver, British Columbia [2-4].  As Washington’s third-largest electricity generator, Centralia’s two coal burners will each retire in 2020 and 2025, with energy offset by natural gas or renewable resources [3].  Two of four units of the coal power plant in Colstrip, eastern Montana, owned by several utility companies, remain the last, uncertain source of coal-fired electricity in the Northwest [5].

November 1: Washington Oil Train & Pipeline Reports

The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) is proactively inviting tribes, citizens, organizations, and agencies to participate in public hearings and a comment period on its rulemaking and proposed, draft revisions of Chapter 173-185 WAC, Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification, the Washington law that requires weekly, facility and quarterly, state reports on crude oil transportation [6].  The third and last of three webinars on this rulemaking occurred on October 20.  DOE offered opportunities to view a brief, basic presentation, ask questions afterwards, and give testimony, through an hour-long, online meeting that participants could join from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, or toll-free by phone.

WIRT activists attended and appreciate and support expansion of this Washington rule, to include receiving facility reporting of type and vapor pressure of crude oil-by-rail and type and gravity of pipeline oil.  But we recommend: 1) disclosure of ALL unit hydrocarbon trains traversing the state to receiving destinations outside Washington, including possible liquefied natural gas and petroleum liquids, 2) quarterly instead of current, biannual (twice yearly) reporting of pipeline oil volumes and descriptions, 3) required, not optional, updating of advance reports by facilities on actually received, oil-by-rail shipments, and 4) increased data to local, emergency planning groups and better notices to emergency personnel, in advance of oil and other hazardous materials trains crossing Washington, which, although not covered by this law, north Idaho first responders say they are not receiving.

Please express your interests and concerns in these important decisions that impact the health, safety, and lives of north Idaho trackside communities!  See the linked DOE announcement for further information about webinar agendas, proposed rule changes, and instructions for providing written comments by 11:59 pm on November 1 [6].  Contact Kim Morley of DOE (kim.morley@ecy.wa.gov, kmor461@ecy.wa.gov, 360-701-2398) with your questions about this rulemaking. Continue reading

Methanol Refinery & BC Pipeline Alerts, Fossil Fuels Train Increases & Threats, Climate Wildfires, Strikes, & More


WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

Thanks to a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist and board member for noticing an investigative piece in the esteemed online journal The Intercept, and alerting comrades of its mention of WIRT as, along with environmental reporter Justin Mikulka, “one of a range of fossil fuel industry critics framed by the rail industry as a potential threat.  Another Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Report (RADAR) raised alarms about the creation of the philanthropic Climate Emergency Fund, noting that its board includes environmental journalists Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells.  Other documents detailed the activities of fossil fuel opponents like Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and the anti-Bayou Bridge pipeline L’eau Est La Vie camp in Louisiana” [1].

Grateful to leverage railroad and fossil fuels industries’ perceptions of growing citizen coalition threats to their ongoing pollution and looming derailments, WIRT will not relent in requesting, broadening, and normalizing community resistance to oil, gas, tar sands, and coal extraction, transportation, and infrastructure systems.  Undiscouraged by surveillance, criminalization, and isolation of peaceful, protective, civic duties predictably abandoned by industry-friendly government agencies and conservation groups, we will continue to engage opportunities to gather evidence, research, and disseminate information and encourage public opposition to fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails and production operations and expansions in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project (#No2ndBridge!) and Snake River Oil and Gas’ Payette riverside gas wells and processing plants.  Please support and work with a doubted, small group of thoughtful, committed activists, by participating physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a contributor, to together accomplish persistent and planned activities that are changing the world or, at least, the practices of climate change perpetrators [2].

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

Fossil fuels transportation fiascos, including the Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Coastal GasLink pipelines in the western U.S. and Canada, have continued 2020 build-out, despite and bolstered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide economic depression, and wildfires and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.  Likewise, BNSF’s pipeline-on-rails has been hauling the same or greater amounts of westbound, Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, and Canadian tar sands, unit trains through downtown Sandpoint and the Idaho Panhandle [3].  Even under ideal, summer and fall weather conditions, these daily trains seem to travel more dangerously in clusters at night, further polluting and risking the lives and livelihoods of local, tourism and recreation economies.  During September 2020, watchful, frontline, WIRT activists observed, documented, and/or publicly reported 81 fossil fuels trains, second in number only to the 92 coal and oil trains of August 2018.  Although July, August, and September 2019 witnessed the third, fourth, and fifth highest numbers of such trains (respectively 74, 73, and 73), summer 2020 months experienced similar or greater amounts (68, 71, 81), compared to healthier, more prosperous times.

These numbers indicate some of the strongest motivations for BNSF’s also pandemic-undeterred construction of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project, consisting of doubled tracks, temporary work spans, and second rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Bridge Street and Sand Creek, and almost one mile across Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille (#No2ndBridge!).  This industrial invasion expects to accommodate not only one third more trains (an increase to 80, from 60 trains per day) but also more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic over waterways and the extended, two-mile-long trains seen by WIRT and allies since April 2020.  BNSF’s expansion scheme additionally facilitates more trains spewing toxic coal dust, carcinogenic diesel emissions, and hazardous materials like crude oil, locomotive fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chlorine, and other chemicals into water and air sheds.  And by driving 1000-plus piles into railroad pollution accumulated in creek and lake beds, the project further jeopardizes regional drinking water and the critical, endangered species habitat of threatened bull trout. Continue reading

WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

Thanks to a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist and board member for noticing an investigative piece in the esteemed online journal The Intercept, and alerting comrades of its mention of WIRT as, along with environmental reporter Justin Mikulka, “one of a range of fossil fuel industry critics framed by the rail industry as a potential threat.  Another Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Report (RADAR) raised alarms about the creation of the philanthropic Climate Emergency Fund, noting that its board includes environmental journalists Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells.  Other documents detailed the activities of fossil fuel opponents like Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and the anti-Bayou Bridge pipeline L’eau Est La Vie camp in Louisiana” [1].

Grateful to leverage railroad and fossil fuels industries’ perceptions of growing citizen coalition threats to their ongoing pollution and looming derailments, WIRT will not relent in requesting, broadening, and normalizing community resistance to oil, gas, tar sands, and coal extraction, transportation, and infrastructure systems.  Undiscouraged by surveillance, criminalization, and isolation of peaceful, protective, civic duties predictably abandoned by industry-friendly government agencies and conservation groups, we will continue to engage opportunities to gather evidence, research, and disseminate information and encourage public opposition to fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails and production operations and expansions in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project (#No2ndBridge!) and Snake River Oil and Gas’ Payette riverside gas wells and processing plants.  Please support and work with a doubted, small group of thoughtful, committed activists, by participating physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a contributor, to together accomplish persistent and planned activities that are changing the world or, at least, the practices of climate change perpetrators [2].

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

Fossil fuels transportation fiascos, including the Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Coastal GasLink pipelines in the western U.S. and Canada, have continued 2020 build-out, despite and bolstered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide economic depression, and wildfires and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.  Likewise, BNSF’s pipeline-on-rails has been hauling the same or greater amounts of westbound, Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, and Canadian tar sands, unit trains through downtown Sandpoint and the Idaho Panhandle [3].  Even under ideal, summer and fall weather conditions, these daily trains seem to travel more dangerously in clusters at night, further polluting and risking the lives and livelihoods of local, tourism and recreation economies.  During September 2020, watchful, frontline, WIRT activists observed, documented, and/or publicly reported 81 fossil fuels trains, second in number only to the 92 coal and oil trains of August 2018.  Although July, August, and September 2019 witnessed the third, fourth, and fifth highest numbers of such trains (respectively 74, 73, and 73), summer 2020 months experienced similar or greater amounts (68, 71, 81), compared to healthier, more prosperous times.

These numbers indicate some of the strongest motivations for BNSF’s also pandemic-undeterred construction of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project, consisting of doubled tracks, temporary work spans, and second rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Bridge Street and Sand Creek, and almost one mile across Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille (#No2ndBridge!).  This industrial invasion expects to accommodate not only one third more trains (an increase to 80, from 60 trains per day) but also more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic over waterways and the extended, two-mile-long trains seen by WIRT and allies since April 2020.  BNSF’s expansion scheme additionally facilitates more trains spewing toxic coal dust, carcinogenic diesel emissions, and hazardous materials like crude oil, locomotive fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chlorine, and other chemicals into water and air sheds.  And by driving 1000-plus piles into railroad pollution accumulated in creek and lake beds, the project further jeopardizes regional drinking water and the critical, endangered species habitat of threatened bull trout. Continue reading