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


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


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

Sandpoint & Spokane Stand with Mosier


Mosier Gathering

On Saturday, June 3, to honor the one-year anniversary of the oil train derailment, spill, and fire in Mosier, Oregon, Northwest community members are gathering together in support of Mosier area and tribal communities and cities like Spokane, Vancouver, and Portland, who are threatened by, but standing up to, oil trains [1-5].  At a public event in Mosier, hosted by Stand Up to Oil, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Columbia Riverkeeper, Washington Environmental Council, and Climate Solutions, participants will demand a thorough, Union Pacific cleanup of Mosier and an end to reckless oil trains, reminding Washington Governor Jay Inslee and other decision makers to heed the warnings of this catastrophe.

From 12 noon to 3 pm at the Mosier Community School, 1204 Historic Columbia River Highway (U.S. 30 East), regional activists will rally against oil-by-rail and hear from speakers including Yakama Nation Tribal Council chair JoDe Goudy, Mosier City Council members, Mosier physician Dr. Maria McCormick, Hood River mayor Paul Blackburn, Vancouver City Council member Alisha Topper, and several other tribal and faith leaders, elected officials, health professionals, and group representatives.

Friends of the Columbia Gorge conservation organizer Ryan Rittenhouse will emcee the gathering followed by a short walk to the Columbia River, for more commemorations.  Afterwards, Friends’ land trust manager Kate McBride will lead an optional hike to the nearby Mosier Plateau.  Columbia Riverkeeper will live-stream the event through its facebook page, and @standuptooil will live-tweet #mosier.  Bring friends and family, lunch and snacks, hats and sturdy shoes, and colorful banners and signs, and email Ryan@GorgeFriends.org with any questions or concerns.

Sandpoint & Spokane Solidarity Actions & Carpools

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and Occupy activists and allies for carpools to Mosier, Oregon, and solidarity actions in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, to represent interior Northwest, rail-line communities solemnly remembering the June 3, 2016, oil train derailment, resulting devastation, and ongoing water contamination in Mosier.

Opposing Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) proposed, second rail bridge over Lake Pend Oreille and double downtown tracks, Sandpoint area activists are converging at 12 noon on Friday, June 2, at City Beach Park.  Before Sandpoint carpools to Spokane and Mosier depart at 2 pm that afternoon, and return on Saturday evening, June 3, participants are marching north with Mosier solidarity signs on Sandpoint Avenue, to the Lake Pend Oreille surface water treatment plant.  Completed in 2012 and operated by the City of Sandpoint, the facility treats and distributes 10 million gallons per day to two on-site, two-million-gallon reservoirs and over 4000 connections in Dover, Kootenai, Ponderay, Sandpoint, and surrounding Bonner County [6].  Only 65 feet from the BNSF tracks carrying full, explosive, Bakken shale and Alberta tar sands crude oil trains and dusty, Powder River Basin coal cars toward and over the lake rail bridge, this critical, community source of treated lake water is just as vulnerable to an oil train fire and spill as the Mosier wastewater treatment plant adjacent to the Union Pacific train derailment that inundated the facility with 13,000 gallons of the estimated 47,000 gallons of oil released from four derailed tanker cars in early June 2016 [7].

Occupy activists are meeting between 4 and 6 pm on Friday, June 2, for the weekly, public demonstrations of Free Speech Friday at the V, where Ruby and Division streets split north of the Spokane River bridge and North River Drive in downtown Spokane.  Organizers invite everyone to bring smiles and Mosier train wreck anniversary signs and banners, and address concerns about coal and oil train traffic through Spokane, while exercising rights to freedom of speech and assembly in public places.  Music, singing, and dancing may also emerge, before regional activists depart for Mosier at 6 pm. Continue reading

Second Lake Rail Bridge Protest #1


THANKS to everyone who contributed practical and passionate insights to the Thursday evening, May 4, Second Rail Bridge Community Meeting. Resulting from this amazing, shared, grassroots organizing, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies have initiated three ongoing projects in resistance to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) proposed, second, rail bridge in Lake Pend Oreille.

First, we have opened conversations and continue to seek information from city, county, state, and federal regulatory agencies responsible for bridge testing and building permits. As further discussed in an upcoming report with issue background and recent developments, on Monday, May 8, BNSF will commence two preliminary pile load tests on land (not near water or in the lake, as assumed) below the railroad tracks north of Dog Beach Park just outside Sandpoint, Idaho, in its right-of-way property, requiring no permitting.

Second, we are composing a legally defensible, sign-on letter to include numerous, regional groups in opposition to initial pile load tests and proposed construction of a second lake rail bridge. Our coordinated outreach is asking for the support of elected officials, media, allies, and the regional community, as we build a strong case against this BNSF plan.

Third, as the first of many likely demonstrations, we are protesting BNSF pile drive work near Dog Beach Park. Please join WIRT and allied climate and community activists and Kalispel Nation members at 9 am on Monday, May 8, for the Second Lake Rail Bridge Protest #1.  Meet us in the parking lots near the Power House (120 East Lake Street) or visitor center/trailhead at the East Superior Street/Highway 95 intersection or on the bike path north of Dog Beach Park.  Bring your protest signs and banners, drums, voice, and, for protection from pile drive noise, ear plugs, to vote early and often with your body against this first and subsequent, second bridge invasions!

Power Up!  Resist, Insist, Persist!  Warriors Up!

Friday, April 14, Spokane Megaload Alert!


According to Spokane television media sources shared by a core Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist, one of at least three half-million-pound megaloads heading to an oil refinery near Blaine, northwest Washington, will move from the Idaho panhandle into Washington at 7 pm this evening, Friday, April 14 [1].  The Washington State Department of Transportation and the huge size of the boiler and truck/trailer combination, together weighing 480,000 pounds and measuring 213 feet long and almost 22 feet wide, require that this megaload only moves during overnight hours on a route avoiding low, interstate overpasses and bridges that may not withstand its weight.

The megaload will travel along Washington Highway 290 and Trent Avenue, south on Pines Road to the Interstate 90 westbound lanes, then exit onto Broadway Avenue in Spokane [2].  After turning south on Fancher, it will proceed west onto Third then Second Avenues past Altamont, before re-entering the westbound interstate.  Detouring through Cheney on Washington Highway 904, the megaload will take I-90 south to the Country Travel Plaza at Highways 395 and 26, where it will stop for the day.  Please see the following media coverage, megaload route map, and facebook posts, and join Spokane and north Idaho activists for multiple protests of this fossil fuel infrastructure, starting at the Trent and Pines intersection at 7:30 pm. Continue reading