UI Online Classes Petition, Gas Well Comments, Anti-Smelter Candidate, Panhandle Paddle, & More

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June 22 & Ongoing: WIRT Co-Founder Medical Support

Cass Davis, a “left-neck,” rebel rouser, and native Idahoan of the Silver Valley, has been building north Idaho community resistance in Moscow for decades.  As one of the co-founders of Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), he has tirelessly worked and served as a fellow board member and organizer with KRFP Radio Free Moscow, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, and Silver Valley Community Resource Center.  An early, WIRT, video compilation and call to action features Cass at 1:13, before his arrest during 2011-12 tar sands megaload protests and blockades [1].

Cass suffered a heart attack in late May 2020, and needs donations to help him recover and heal over the next year [2].  Please contribute however you can, by donating to this fundraiser for his medical and other basic expenses, and/or by volunteering more actively in social justice and environmental protection issues and participating in community events.  He says that “One of the biggest things that will ease my stress is seeing more people involved, more people civically engaged” [2].  We couldn’t agree more, dear comrade Cass!

July 18: Coalition Defense of Paradise Ridge Wetlands

In a letter to Moscow-Pullman Daily News editors, published on July 18, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) board members, including representatives of WIRT, one of the PRDC member organizations, responded to inaccurate, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 2 information echoed in a July 3 news article about expansion and relocation of 6.5 miles of U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow, from a two-lane roadway to a four-lane, divided highway [3-5].  Among other contentions addressed by PRDC, the piece states that ITD expects the $53 million project, “slated to start construction this year” but delayed until next spring, to reach completion in 2022 [5].

It dismissively asserts that “legal challenges to the project ended in December 2018, when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of ITD and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).  The [Paradise] Ridge Defense Coalition submitted a lawsuit against the FHA and ITD, regarding the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision in April 2017, which claimed the highway’s expansion would cut through a section of Paradise Ridge and lead to loss of wetlands, remnants of Palouse Prairie, farmland, and conservation reserve.  A federal judge ruled against the motion and in favor of the FHA and ITD in August 2017, but the coalition appealed…[ITD] does not anticipate another appeal or lawsuit” [5].

August 2: University of Idaho Online-Only Classes Petition

By late Sunday, August 2, please read, sign, and share a petition initiated, circulated, and supported by concerned residents of Moscow and the Palouse region [6].  In opposition to the unnecessary risks of performing on-campus, in-person teaching and learning, it requests that the University of Idaho (UI) engage innovative opportunities to hold online classes during fall semester 2020.  Seeking to ensure conditions conducive to the health and safety of UI and community students and employees, organizers will present the petition to UI president Scott Green on Monday, August 3.

With similar goals, UI staff and faculty members delivered a letter to Green, “urging university leaders to allow employees who work closely with students to choose to work remotely, without fear of reprisal or the need to fill out a [disability] waiver.  [It] neared 300 signatures as of Thursday, [July 30,]…including 123 tenured professors, eight of whom are distinguished professors.  …The letter said cases of COVID-19 in Idaho are increasing exponentially, with current case numbers far surpassing those seen in March, when the school canceled in-person instruction for the first time…An increasing number of colleges across the country are choosing to go online for the fall semester, including nearby Washington State University” [7]. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains 2020

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Thursday, June 25 to July 2, regional actions remember Lac-Mégantic and Mosier disasters

North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in the seventh annual, Stop Oil Trains week of training workshops and direct actions on Thursday, June 25, through Thursday, July 2.  Six 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 seven 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 moves 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 and Spokane 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) railroad 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.

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 expansion, through public vigilance, education, protests, and lawsuits, as we monitor project activities and prepare litigation challenging environmental and socioeconomic reviews and permit decisions by federal and state agencies.  With #No2ndBridge construction intensifying and extending into the lake, we are coordinating and requesting your involvement in these yearly, regional, Stop Oil Train actions.  Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula 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 Northwest and North America, in multiple, public, Stop Oil Trains demonstrations, climate strikes, #No2ndBridge and derailment spill protests, and the one-year anniversary convergence supporting Mosier [1-6].

Please join concerned citizens in these upcoming outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil jeopardize 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 summer events and ongoing, regional, fossil fuels opposition.  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 and website pages. Continue reading

Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions


Friday, February 21:

Sandpoint, Idaho (Kalispel Territory): 12 pm on the southwest corner of North Third Avenue and Oak Street, across from the Farmin Park clock, with the weekly, 350 Sandpoint Climate Strike action

Spokane, Washington (Spokane Territory): 3 pm at the park on the southeast corner of North Division Street and East Martin Luther King, Jr. Way

Moscow, Idaho (Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Territory): 5:30 pm at Friendship Square on the west side of South Main Street at West Fourth Street, with the weekly, Palouse Peace Coalition demonstration

Fossil fuels extraction and transportation onslaughts continue to use public police for private profit, invade indigenous, private, and public lands, and criminalize defenders of healthy waters, climate, lands, and life ways.  A British Columbia (B.C.) Supreme Court injunction granted in December 2019 seeks to block Wet’suwet’en people from their unceded, traditional territories in west central B.C., by establishing a tribal and public exclusion zone easing Coastal GasLink (CGL) access to its pipeline construction and work camp sites within the zone [1, 2].  Under Wet’suwet’en law, the hereditary chiefs of all five clans have unanimously opposed the fracked gas project and all pipeline proposals, and have not provided their free, prior, and informed consent [3].  They closed the West Morice Road, and in early January, evicted the company from their lands, where “Coastal GasLink was building a work camp to house up to 400 people,” about 20 kilometers beyond the Unist’ot’en Healing Center at kilometer 66 [1].  Wet’suwet’en chiefs have criticized Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for arbitrarily expanding the exclusion zone and moving their checkpoint closer to Highway 16.

With an office in Spokane, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) owns the Keystone tar sands pipeline that has leaked numerous times across the Great Plains and the Gas Transmission Northwest pipeline that runs from western Canada through north Idaho and eastern Washington.  The company is proposing the Keystone XL pipeline across Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and is building the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline from northeastern B.C. to a coastal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Kitimat, B.C.

Amid rising tensions during the first week of February, RCMP attempted to enforce the injunction and allow Coastal GasLink to resume work.  On Thursday, February 6, militarized police launched a pre-dawn raid on the first Wet’suwet’en camp at kilometer 39 of the Morice Road [4].  They detained journalists, arrested six land defenders and their supporters at gunpoint, but later released them without charges, and dismantled the camp.  With rifles, vehicles, and helicopters on Friday, February 7, tactical squad members invaded the Gidimt’en clan camp at kilometer 44 on the road, eventually arresting four people, while others refused to leave and remained in a cabin, and police towed their vehicles.  On Saturday, February 8, RCMP arrested another 11 community members, who had barricaded and chained themselves inside the Gidimt’en checkpoint warming center.  Police have accused Wet’suwet’en of placing two blockades and spikes in the road, to deter and damage vehicles, and cutting support beams of the kilometer 44 bridge, damaged by RCMP pulling down the metal, bridge gate with trucks.

Also on Saturday, two helicopters reached the last of three Wet’suwet’en, pipeline opponent strongholds, with police ready to evict the residents of the Unist’ot’en Healing Center.  The activists had built a large fire blockade on the snowy, Morice River bridge, and had strung dozens of red dresses along it and the road, symbolizing the violence against indigenous communities that transient, resource extraction “man camps” increase.  Among legal observers at the camp gate, they donned regalia, engaged in songs and ceremony to save the waters and lands for all humans, rang bells to summon ancestors, named missing and murdered, indigenous women and girls, and burned a copy of the injunction.  Unist’ot’en clan spokesperson and healing center director Freda Huson refused to talk with RCMP before they left the scene.  On Monday, February 10, police invaded the Unist’ot’en camp with dogs, vehicles, and helicopters, and arrested and removed Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, including Freda, while in ceremony [5, 6]. Continue reading

Fossil Fuels Train Pollution Protest


On Saturday, February 1, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) climate activists, members, friends, supporters, and allies for rallies and marches in Bonner and Boundary counties, objecting to fossil fuels and hazardous materials train pollution and risks to public and environmental health and safety, and to railroad infrastructure expansions and ongoing incidents increasing these threats, such as the rockslide derailment of two Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, mixed freight train locomotives onto the banks and submerged and leaking at least 2,100 gallons of diesel fuel and engine oil into the Kootenai River near Moyie Springs, north Idaho, since January 1, 2020.

To commemorate the one-month anniversary of this major environmental disaster, which prompted multiple, emergency response agencies to rescue both a two-person, BNSF crew and a remote, forested, international river, we are gathering at 10 am around the City Beach Park pavilion in Sandpoint, Idaho, for a brief, information sharing rally.  Carpooling to the Gateway Visitors Center in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, near the city parking lot off U.S. Highway 2 and 95, we are marching at 11 am and returning to Sandpoint by 1 pm, to accommodate participants attending a later event.

Respond early with your intentions to participate in this protest, bring your friends, family, relevant signs and banners, and warm, winter and rain gear, and contact us if you can assist with sign creation, event transportation, #No2ndBridge petition signatures, and attorney recruitment for a legal challenge insisting on a full, #No2ndBridge, environmental impact study and statement.  We are demanding that government agencies enforce the remedial and preventative measures described in this announcement, as we express our resistance to further ecosystem and economic devastation imposed on rural communities, either through disaster or design, by the private profiteers of inherently perilous, fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails.  Frontline, WIRT activists and allies will not relent in opposing BNSF bridge and track expansion across Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille.

Sign the Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, and see the BNSF Kootenai River Wreck and Spill facebook album for almost 70 photos, links to nine previously posted, WIRT articles, and forthcoming updates on fisheries impacts, spill “cleanup,” and engine removal, describing the Kootenai River derailment situation closely scrutinized by WIRT  [1, 2].  Local and industry news outlets printed some of the last WIRT newsletter, and we are working on media releases and comments to agencies, offering the dissenting side of this catastrophe story [3, 4].

Regional Fossil Fuels & Hazardous Materials Trains

Across the Idaho Panhandle, BNSF hauls about six each, loaded and residually empty, Powder River Basin coal and Bakken crude oil unit trains every day; Union Pacific carries three-plus Canadian tar sands and Bakken oil unit trains per week; and both pull numerous, fossil fuels and hazardous materials tank cars, intermixed with other freight, daily between interior, hydrocarbon extraction fields and West Coast refineries, power plants, and crude export terminals.  Just one derailment of any of these trains could devastate entire communities and watersheds with deadly, explosive, fiery, and inhalation hazard chemicals and toxic cargo spills in the rugged river canyons of north Idaho and western Montana, vulnerable to floods, avalanches, landslides, and wildfires.  First responders trained and funded by the perpetrators of anticipated derailments attempt to protect rail line communities from the harms of such tragedies, but they cannot prevent them with emergency preparation.  Despite litigation to enforce better railroad procedures, hundreds of pounds of coal dust fly off uncovered coal cars every day, into the regional river sources of socioeconomic vitality.

A Decade of Idaho & Montana Derailments Continue reading

Climate Strike & USACE Permit Protest


In September 2019, Rising Tide North America (RTNA) joined Shut Down DC and disrupted the morning commute in the nation’s capital.  RTNA and allies then blockaded major banks funding oil, gas, and coal, created a two-block, street mural that showed a livable world, and shut down San Francisco’s financial district.  Both of those demonstrations included hundreds of people stepping up to take action on a massive scale.  Since then, inspiring, Oregon groups fighting pipelines have blocked the Port of Vancouver and occupied the governor’s office [1].

On Friday, December 6, people around the continent are organizing alongside the next youth climate strike, as an inflection point for other large, coordinated actions.  In solidarity with student strikers and communities everywhere struggling against fossil fuels extraction, transportation, and production, we ask you to help us protest business-as-usual on the Idaho Panhandle frontline, where Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway received its last, needed, federal permit, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on November 20, for filling wetlands and constructing three additional railroad bridges and doubled tracks conveying coal, oil, and hazardous materials across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint, Idaho [2]. Continue reading

WIRT Meetings, Comments on Keystone XL Pipeline


NOVEMBER & DECEMBER WIRT MEETINGS

Volunteer, grassroots, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) organizers invite and appreciate your assistance in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, outreach, and #No2ndBridge litigation.  We urge you to participate in November and December 2019, potluck, WIRT gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, talk about tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate change, through direct resistance and frontline solutions.  The WIRT climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with you about critical issues, and to share images, dispatches, and actions with the regional, environmental and indigenous community, while we continue our opposition and vigil on the north Idaho, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontline.

Join activity-planning conversations on the first and third Thursdays (now instead of Wednesdays) of every month, starting at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Thursday, November 21 and December 19, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, and on Thursday, December 5, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow [1].  Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for posts and pictures, and listen to WIRT’s weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, for updates about ongoing, recent, and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuel infrastructure invasions and protests, and share this information among your associates and contacts.

COMMENT ON KEYSTONE XL BY NOVEMBER 18

As activists in Montana, the Great Plains, and around the U.S. continue resistance in the courts and on the land, fossil fuel billionaires and their federal government cronies push for construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline.  On October 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of State released the project’s new, draft, supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) [2].  Instead of an open, public hearing, the agency held a restrictive, October 29 meeting that only accepted comments via computers or stenographers in isolated rooms, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center in Montana [3].  A few hundred people attended, and concerned groups hosted a cold rally in a fenced-off “free speech zone” outside the center, with speakers from the Fort Berthold and Fort Peck reservations and BOLD Nebraska, to provide opportunities to hear from communities impacted by the controversial project that threatens water quality, land rights, and climate health across the region.  On the same day as the nation’s only public meeting on the draft SEIS, someone discovered that the previously built Keystone pipeline leaked about 383,000 gallons of tar sands oil in northeastern North Dakota [4].  How many other pipeline spills have gone undetected and unreported, especially in rural and remote locations?

The final SEIS could guide future permitting decisions by the Bureau of Land Management and especially the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for a Clean Water Act section 408 permit, required for the KXL crossing of the Missouri River, located dangerously underneath the Fort Peck Dam spillway, subjecting the buried pipeline to immense volumes and velocities of water discharge and its scour erosion of the riverbed, which could expose it and cause leaks [5-7].  Drinking and agricultural water intake facilities for the 30,000 people of the Fort Peck reservation and northeastern Montana communities lie immediately downstream.  But the State Department’s draft SEIS continues to downplay these and other risks and disruptions to healthy and stable, regional watersheds and global climate.

Please protect the Earth’s precious water and air from the Keystone XL pipeline, by requesting a 90-day, public comment period extension and additional public hearings on this proposal with such immense significance and scope, and by sending your written comments on the draft SEIS to the State Department by 9 pm PST on Monday, November 18.  Pipeline industry groups, unions, and companies have apparently strongly recommended that their members and employees submit pro-pipeline comments.  So raise your voice for the Earth, through this potentially last opportunity to oppose KXL through “the system.”  Montana colleagues Northern Plains Resource Council and 350 Montana have identified problems with this current analysis that does not properly evaluate KXL risks to rivers and climate.  They offer detailed suggestions and guides to help inform your comments [5-7] that we hope you post through the Regulations.gov federal website [2].  Thanks!

MONTANA KXL LAWSUITS

In March 2017, Calgary-based oil and gas developer TransCanada (now TC Energy) had not yet made a final investment decision on the controversial, 1180-mile, $8 billion, Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska.  Nonetheless, U.S. President Trump reversed former President Obama’s 2015 refusal to issue a federal permit for the pipeline desperately needed by Canadian oil producers.  Indigenous Environmental Network, North Coast Rivers Alliance, Northern Plains Resource Council, and other environmental group plaintiffs immediately filed cases in a Great Falls, Montana, federal court, and have successfully challenged the U.S. State Department’s outdated, inadequate, environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed KXL, rejecting EIS flaws, exclusion of climate, water, and other threats, preparers’ conflicts of interest, and the Canada-U.S. cross-border permit [8, 9]. Continue reading

Weekend, WIRT & Allied Events


Regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully requests your participation in these weekend events and ongoing issues.

Friday & Saturday, October 4-5: Moscow WIRT Meeting & Tabling

Volunteer, grassroots, WIRT organizers would greatly appreciate your help in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, and #No2ndBridge litigation, and reaching out to allies, attorneys, and our regional network.  So we encourage you to participate in October potluck gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, talk about tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate change, through direct resistance and frontline solutions.  Starting in October 2019, we are meeting on the first and third Thursday (instead of Wednesday) of every month, except this week on Friday in Moscow.  Activity-planning conversations begin at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Friday, October 4, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, and on Thursday, October 17, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.

We also hope to talk with you about critical issues, at the Farmers Market outreach tables hosted by Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) and WIRT, at Friendship Square in Moscow on Saturday, October 5, and near Farmin Park in Sandpoint throughout the rest of the season.  Please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for posts since September 21, on recent and ongoing, regional, climate strikes and #No2ndBridge protests, and share this information among your associates and contacts [1, 2].  We anticipate forthcoming, WIRT newsletters on railroad bridge expansion document deficiencies, Treasure Valley oil and gas hearings, lawsuits, and driller bankruptcy, and released, federal investigation files on local, fossil fuels opponents.

Sunday, October 6: A Vigil for the Healing of the Earth

The Silver Valley Community Resource Center and tribal and faith leaders, social/environmental justice groups, and elected officials of eastern Washington and north Idaho invite everyone to a gathering from 3 to 5 pm on Sunday, October 6, at Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park, 31732 South Mission Road, at Exit 39 off Interstate 90 in Cataldo, Idaho.  Thousands of regional residents have voiced opposition to the toxic waste site at the Old Mission at Cataldo.  Many concerned citizens within the Bunker Hill Superfund site support establishment of a community lead health clinic, with a portion of multi-million-dollar, settlement funds, for reparation of generations of families living with health conditions imposed by a mining legacy of lead pollution.  See the attached flyer for further event information, and join us in protecting the future of Silver Valley children, community, environment, and economic development. Continue reading

September 21 Lake Communities Climate Strike & #No2ndBridge March


Global Event in Sandpoint Offers a Public Rally & Coast Guard Decision Protest

350 Sandpoint, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and communities around Lake Pend Oreille are hosting two north Idaho activities in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike and in resistance to the ongoing pollution, climate impacts, and regional risks of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s present and proposed, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho.  Event organizers request that participants bring signs and voices addressing the climate crisis, and gather together with friends and families on Saturday, September 21, at East Farmin Park, Third and Main Streets in Sandpoint.  At 1 pm, the Lake Pend Oreille Climate Strike held by 350Sandpoint features speakers and music.  The BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest led by WIRT marches from the park at 2 pm, in opposition to climate-wrecking, fossil fuels trains and infrastructure expansion [1, 2].

People in 150 countries are organizing Global Climate Strikes on September 20 to 27, with urgent actions to protest fossil fuel pipeline proposals, expansions, and bank funding, to oppose coal, oil, and tar sands extraction and train transportation, to protect local and global air, water, forests, and species, and to push for just and equitable, clean energy solutions.  Amid increasingly chaotic weather, floods, droughts, wildfires, “natural” disasters, and widespread harm to people everywhere, worldwide demonstrations are calling for an end to corporate and government business-as-usual.

Your support and presence on the north Idaho fossil fuels frontline becomes more necessary every day!  Please circulate the website-linked, PDF version of the BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for further event information and recent, #No2ndBridge issue updates, notify and invite your contacts, and bring your ideas and enthusiasm to these climate action opportunities [3].  Consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to #No2ndBridge and WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, online through the Donate to WIRT button or by mail to our Sandpoint and Moscow mailing addresses [4].

Issue Background

During 2018 and 2019, thousands of Northwest citizens diligently participated in state and federal hearings and extended comment periods, requesting a scientifically rigorous, environmental impact statement (EIS) analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic harms inflicted by BNSF Railway’s proposed construction and operation of parallel, second (and consequently later third) bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s largest, deepest lake [5].  BNSF’s 2.2-mile, Sandpoint Junction Connector project would also double rail line through downtown Sandpoint and across Bridge Street, the only access to a regional, water intake plant, residences, and popular beaches, marinas, and resorts.  The three- to five-year BNSF scheme plans to drive 1000-plus piles for two temporary work spans and three permanent railroad bridges, into over 100 years of train- and coal-polluted, lakebed sediment, critical habitat for threatened bull trout and angler-prized fish, surface and aquifer drinking water, and the heart of Bonner County’s recreation and tourism economy, to enable riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, fossil fuels, hazardous materials, and other train traffic. Continue reading

BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest


BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest

Saturday, September 21, 1 pm Global Climate Strike, 2 pm #No2ndBridge March

East Farmin Park, Third and Main Streets, Sandpoint

Sandpoint Monthly WIRT Meeting

7 pm Wednesday, September 18

Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street, Sandpoint

On Thursday, September 5, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final environmental assessment (EA), instead of a recommendation for a lengthier, more thorough environmental impact statement (EIS), essentially approving Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposal to build parallel, second (and consequently later third) bridges across Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho.  BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project would also double 2.2 miles of rail line through downtown Sandpoint, across Bridge Street, and almost one mile over Idaho’s  148-square-mile largest, 1,150-foot deepest lake, home to a variety of angler-prized fish and federally-listed, threatened bull trout and its critical habitat, and the heart of Bonner County’s recreation and tourism economy.

Thanks to thousands of regional citizens who diligently participated in state and federal hearings and comment periods, especially the extended, Coast Guard, draft EA, public input process that ended on May 1, several involved organizations can successfully insist on a widely requested, full, independent EIS study of this BNSF Railway bridge expansion.  Among ongoing, project resistance work since Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) #No2ndBridge Protest #3 in late April, WIRT activists, board members, and allied groups have been scheming a Sandpoint area march to protest the BNSF-pushed, USCG decision to sidestep examination of the environmental and socioeconomic implications of BNSF’s proposed railroad bridges, with a less scientifically rigorous, final EA [1].

Now, more than ever, WIRT needs your support and presence on the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline!  Join fellow, #No2ndBridge, and community activists at two events this week: 1) the Sandpoint, monthly, WIRT meeting and sign creation party at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 18, in the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, where participants will share ideas and assistance in coordinating, publicizing, and staging the upcoming march, and 2) the Global Climate Strike and BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest at 1 pm and 2 pm on Saturday, September 21, at east Farmin Park, Third and Main streets in Sandpoint, where friends and families will gather together to hear rally speakers and music, engage in climate solidarity activities, and march in opposition to climate-wrecking, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails transportation [2].

Please circulate the website-linked, PDF version of the BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for further event information and recent, #No2ndBridge issue updates, notify and invite your contacts, and bring protest signs, banners, and enthusiasm to these climate action opportunities [3].  Consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to this #No2ndBridge and WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, online through the Donate to WIRT button or by mail to our Sandpoint and Moscow mailing addresses [4].  Thanks!

Recent #No2ndBridge Issue Updates Continue reading

Fifth Panhandle Paddle


#No2ndBridge Talk, Direct Action Training, Rally & Paddle

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) 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 fuels and railroad industry degraders of basic, global, human, environmental, and climate health and rights.  Interior Northwest residents are coordinating and co-hosting fifth annual, Panhandle Paddle activities, to unite against regional trains hauling volatile Alberta tar sands, fracked Bakken crude oil, dusty Powder River Basin coal, and other hazardous materials, and to oppose Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s planned bridge and track construction across downtown Sandpoint, Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho [1].  We have chosen to maintain the yearly date and autonomy of Panhandle Paddle confrontations of government-rubberstamped, corporate transportation and infrastructure projects, separate from the massive, government-oriented bandwagon of September 20 and later, international, climate emergency strikes that divert and rely on local efforts to succeed, but rarely reciprocate such support [2].

Fossil fuel infrastructure use, expansion, and deterioration along and over inland Northwest waterways recklessly endanger air, water, climate, lands, lives, and communities, with the ongoing, increasing pollution and risks of coal and diesel emissions and catastrophic train wrecks, spills, fires, and explosions occurring weekly throughout the country.  Within eight months after a derailed oil train fire and spill jeopardized a nearby school, water treatment plant, and the Columbia River, in the small, scenic town of Mosier, Oregon, BNSF, Montana Rail Link, and Union Pacific imposed seven north Idaho and northwest Montana train derailments and collisions within 44 miles of Sandpoint in seven 2017 months, involving two grain and two coal trains, two vehicles with four teenagers, one dog, and two deaths [3, 4].  While WIRT directly confronted and documented BNSF’s preliminary, pile load testing for a second lake rail bridge at Dog Beach Park near Sandpoint, between May and September 2017, area railroad accidents culminated in the mid-August, wrecked train dump of tens of thousands of tons of coal into the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille watershed near Heron, Montana, upstream of river and lake drinking water sources [5].  Fully laden, flammable, crude oil and hazardous materials trains frequented the tracks surrounded by deep mounds of wreckage and spontaneously combusting, smoldering coal, which remained unremedied during five weeks of an unusually smoky wildfire season.

Since August 2014, when BNSF first proclaimed bridge expansion, and September 2015, when its plans dropped along with the price of oil, WIRT and #No2ndBridge activists have been preparing for a worst case scenario in north Idaho, as we await decisions by the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers on BNSF’s still federally unpermitted, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails bridge expansion through Sandpoint and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille [6-8].  For now, we are scheming legal maneuvers and planning regional marches in rapid response to these agency announcements, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued an uncontested, water quality certification in September 2018, and railroad and state attorney general lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, underdog, district court case against a June 2018, Idaho Department of Lands, encroachment permit for BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, in March 2019 [9, 10].  Among myriad, significant, immitigable, cumulative impacts to  the environmental and public health and safety of north Idaho, BNSF’s $100 million gamble would drive over 1000 piles into regional drinking water, threatened bull trout critical habitat, train-spewed coal deposits, and the natural amenities foundation of the Sandpoint area tourism and recreation economy, for second (and likely third), parallel, railroad bridges and temporary work spans facilitating riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic  [11].  Meanwhile, on the downtown Sandpoint, fossil fuels frontline, WIRT continues to daily document, for the #IDoiltrainwatch, #WAoiltrainwatch, and Portland tar sands opponents, every westbound, BNSF, unit train of dangerous, black tanker, and coal cars moving toward disasters waiting to happen in Lake Pend Oreille and downstream.

As the #No2ndBridge situation intensifies, we are reaching out to you, our regional network comrades, to share direct action skills and ask you to join with north Idaho, rail line communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries, to resist fossil-fueled climate change through these annual, Panhandle Paddle events on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8, in Sandpoint.  We would appreciate your participation in the talk, workshop, and paddle, your RSVP of your intentions for spots in kayaks, canoes, carpools, and camps, and your help with publicizing these free events, by sharing this event description, and printing and posting the color, letter-sized, PDF version of the WIRT website-linked Fifth Panhandle Paddle Flyer. Continue reading