March 21: Sandpoint WIRT Meeting & Screening


Invite your friends and families, and join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), the #No2ndBridge group, and the regional, climate activist community at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 21, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, for conversations about strategies and tactics opposing Northwest, fossil fuel extraction and transportation.  Among potluck food, beverages, and ideas, we will share current, issue updates and background on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway proposal to expand rail bridges and tracks across Lake Pend Oreille and downtown Sandpoint, and associated, state and federal, public comment periods, hearings, and other participation processes [1, 2].  Besides the March 30 and 31, Seventh Annual Celebration of WIRT benefit concerts in Moscow and Sandpoint, we are planning #No2ndBridge, public information sessions, targeted protests, and a summer, direct action camp, to further catalyze resistance to ongoing train derailments and fossil fuel pollution of essential watersheds and the shared, global climate.  See the January through March, Moscow and Sandpoint, meeting alerts on the WIRT website, for other, possible topics of discussion, and contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions.

For this third-Wednesday monthly, March 2018 gathering, we will screen Momenta, a 42-minute documentary released in Bellingham in June 2014, which describes the first years of the Northwest movement dedicated to “educating, raising awareness, and activating communities to stop all proposed coal exports,…rethink fossil fuels [and] their impacts on climate and environment, and accelerate the clean energy revolution” [3].  We will also present the trailer for the upcoming documentary Choke Point, the story of the “Inland Northwest’s fight against exploding oil trains and fossil fuels,” produced by grassroots, Spokane videographers Rosie Ennis and Joe Comine of Dancing Crow Media, who need your donations for their ongoing work [4].  Choke Point “is about trains transporting coal and highly combustible crude from the Bakken oil fields, through the area between Sandpoint, Idaho, and Cheney, Washington, known as the ‘choke point.’  These trains travel over our aquifer and water resources, across unstable infrastructure, and through the heart of our home,…[and] tend to blow up when there’s a derailment or due to equipment failure.”  The completed film could include excerpts, which we will show, of talks by Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart, Sightline Institute policy director Eric de Place, Spokane tribal activist Twa-le Abrahamson, and Railroad Workers United organizer Jen Wallis, recorded at the June 2015 Coal Exports, Oil Transport, and Solutions Forum, held at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Continue reading

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Lake Bridge Comment Period, Moscow WIRT Meeting & Film, Seventh WIRT Celebration

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February 26: BNSF Lake Bridge Permit Application Release

On Monday, February 26, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) released for mere, 30-day, public review Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s (BNSF) joint application to construct a “2.2-mile-long, second, mainline track west of the existing, BNSF mainline, to connect the North Algoma Siding track (MP 5.1) south of Sandpoint, to the Sandpoint Junction switch (MP 2.9), where the BNSF and the Montana Rail Link (MRL) mainlines converge in Sandpoint…[The] applicant proposes to start construction in the fall of 2018.  The permit would authorize construction for a period of five years,” including rail bridges over Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille [1].

The City of Sandpoint, bigger green, organizational partners, coal/oil train/terminal opposition network, local, #No2ndBridge group, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allied activists are coordinating responses and will send comment suggestions soon, continuing frontline, second BNSF lake bridge vigilance and resistance commenced in August 2014.  “The second rail bridge is likely to be a contentious proposal within Sandpoint.  BNSF officials say the second bridge will help alleviate wait times caused by rail traffic in town.  However, with train traffic estimated to double in the area by 2035, Sandpoint officials and conservation activists worry the convenience carries a higher risk of a disastrous accident.” [2]  “The bridge proposal has drawn the opposition of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, which contends the span will ultimately exacerbate climate change, because it will facilitate the trade of domestic coal and oil products.” [3]  Although the “Port of Vancouver and Vancouver Energy, which wanted to build the nation’s largest rail-to-marine, oil terminal at the port, mutually agreed to end the company’s lease on Wednesday, [February 28,] a month early,” “an estimated 58 trains use the BNSF rail line per day.  It’s expected by 2035, that number will increase to 114 trains daily, according to a [Spokane] city report.” [4, 5]

Before sending your more thorough, written comments addressing the application for and myriad impacts of this expansion of the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels over the fifth deepest U.S. lake, please demand from the Army Corps and IDL a comment period extension of 90 days, public hearings, and a full environmental impact statement.  Alongside diverse, citizen stakeholders, many indigenous, federal, and state agencies involved in or affected by this decision (U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, and Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho departments of Environmental Quality, Historic Preservation, Lands, and Water Resources, and the Coeur d’Alene, Kalispel, Kootenai, Salish, and Spokane tribes) require additional opportunities, time, and documentation to responsibly share information and analyze this largest construction project in decades on and near Lake Pend Oreille and the hundreds of pages of the BNSF application [6].

The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest.  This decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources…Comments are used in the preparation of an environmental assessment [the current, inadequate, Army Corps choice] and/or an environmental impact statement, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing, and to determine the overall public interest in the proposed activity.

…Any person may request in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing is held to consider this proposed activity.  Requests for a public hearing shall state specific reasons for holding a public hearing.  A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.

…Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed activity, which will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final decision.  Please mail all comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, Attn: Shane Slate, Coeur d’Alene Regulatory Office, 1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814-2676, or email NWW_BNSF_Pendoreille@usace.army.mil.  Comments should be received no later than the comment due date of March 28, 2018, as indicated on this notice, to receive consideration. [1]

Issuing a separate, public notice, the Idaho Department of Lands is also holding a public comment period on the proposed project and associated materials, ending on March 30, 2018 [7].  Send your message encouraging BNSF permit denial to comments@idl.idaho.gov or through the IDL website.  Citizens can also share their concerns with the U.S Coast Guard, charged with issuing or denying permits for bridges and causeways in or over navigable waters of the United States, and overseeing compliance with National Historic Preservation Act and Endangered Species Act consultation, for the proposed bridge projects over Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille.  But the Army Corps and Coast Guard cannot grant permits until the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) evaluates whether to issue, waive, or deny Clean Water Act water quality certification for discharge of project dredge and fill material, within 60 days or, by IDEQ-requested extension, longer.  Please see the Army Corps public notice about this project, for pertinent agency contact information [1].

Besides contributing written comments, and hopefully oral testimony, toward the lopsided and thus oppressive, power dynamics of these “public participation processes,” WIRT and regional allies are planning public information sessions, targeted protests, and a summer, #No2ndBridge, direct action camp, to catalyze further resistance to this industrial invasion of crucial, home waters and wetlands. Continue reading

Second Rail Bridge Application, WIRT & Smelter Resisters Meeting & March


2/13 Second Lake Rail Bridge Application

At the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) After Hours convergence in Sandpoint on February 13, ICL conservation associate Matt Nykiel revealed that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for an individual (not a more lenient, general) permit to construct a second, parallel, 4800-foot, rail bridge over Lake Pend Oreille in north Idaho [1].  The public comment period on this federal, BNSF application could open any day and last 30 to 90 days.  BNSF must also first receive a permit from the notoriously oil and gas industry-friendly Idaho Department of Lands, before the Army Corps can approve the project.  North Idaho activists and residents are calling on the Northwest community to halt this expansion of the longest water crossing and most bottlenecked section of the Northwest, coal and oil pipeline-on-wheels.

In the wake of four significant, northern Idaho and western Montana, train derailments during 2017, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s January 29 rejection of the proposed, Tesoro Savage, oil train terminal at the Port of Vancouver, on the day after WIRT hosted the Idaho to Inslee: No Vancouver Oil Terminal! rally in Sandpoint, and BNSF ran four oil trains through north Idaho in eight hours, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) continues to monitor and document full, westbound, coal and oil unit trains through the downtown Sandpoint frontline, the present, single-track, lake bridge, and the second bridge, pile load-testing site at Dog Beach Park, southeast of Sandpoint.

2/21 WIRT & Smelter Resisters Meeting

Please join the regional, climate activist community and #No2ndBridge group members at 7 pm on Wednesday, February 21, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, for ongoing discussions and actions opposing Northwest, fossil fuel megaloads, trains, terminals, derailments, rail and lake bridge double-tracking, drilling, and waste injection wells, HiTestSand’s silicon smelter proposed for Newport, Washington, and exploratory, silicon drilling near Lakeview, Idaho.  For WIRT’s third-Wednesday monthly, Sandpoint gathering, we have reserved a larger venue than the usual, Eichardt’s Pub, upstairs room, to foster interest and participation in these issues and to host organizers of several groups of Old Town, Idaho, and Newport residents, including Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter (CANSS), presenting an information session about smelter resistance, and linking our various, overlapping campaigns.

Invite your friends and families for an evening of conversations sharing knowledge, exploring connections, and creating strategies and tactics in support and solidarity with the movement against extreme fossil fuels and for clean energy and livable communities.  Welcoming your ideas and input, we offer potluck food and beverages and current, issue updates and background at this meeting.  See the January and February, Sandpoint meeting alerts for other possible topics of discussion (dirty energy protesting, monitoring, and reporting and direct action training, mobilizing, and fundraising), and contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions [2, 3].

2/24 Newport Anti-Smelter March

CANSS and allies are coordinating and co-hosting a peaceful, public protest of HiTestSand’s proposed, Newport, silicon smelter [4].  Staging at Stratton Elementary School, 1201 West Fifth Street in Newport, at 10 am on Saturday, February 24, they welcome the participation of fellow citizens, WIRT activists, and the regional media, in the march that will proceed on U.S. Highway 2 sidewalks into Newport, down Washington Avenue to Union Street, and back to Highway 2.  Wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing, bring anti-smelter signs, and demonstrate your smelter resistance for city, county, state, and company officials.  See the accompanying link to the CANSS March through Newport event announcement on facebook, and/or attend the February 21, WIRT meeting, where smelter objectors provide further information and material describing this event [4].

Expand your involvement in activism confronting the root causes of climate change with local, grassroots, and indigenous partners, by sharing this alert (also posted on the WIRT website and facebook pages) and participating in these ongoing, networking opportunities to enhance continent-wide work to stop fossil fuel infrastructure, extraction, and transportation.  Thanks! Continue reading

February WIRT & Allied Events


Tuesday, February 13: ICL Rail Bridge Update

Among a convergence of members, food, and beverages, Idaho Conservation League (ICL) conservation associate Matt Nykiel will offer current updates, background, and informal discussion about Washington Governor Inslee’s recent denial of the Tesoro Savage oil train terminal at the Port of Vancouver, significant, northern Idaho, and western Montana, train derailments during 2017, and ICL work in opposition to construction of the second, parallel, Lake Pend Oreille, rail bridge proposed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway [1]. Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) encourages regional, frontline activists and especially members of the #No2ndBridge group formed in spring 2017 to participate and share their knowledge and actions on these issues, from 6 to 7 pm on Tuesday, February 13, at Eichardt’s Pub, 212 Cedar Street in Sandpoint.

Wednesday, February 21: WIRT Sandpoint Meeting with Smelter Resisters

At WIRT’s January, third-Wednesday monthly, Sandpoint gathering, community and tribal activists talked about resistance to Northwest, fossil fuel terminals and HiTestSand’s silicon smelter proposed for Newport, Washington. We have since been exploring the connections between the nightmarish, Newport project and BNSF and Union Pacific double-tracking and planning for a second, lake, rail bridge in north Idaho during 2017, megaload shipments moving through late-night, downtown Sandpoint over the last year, and exploratory drilling for silicon near Green Mountain by Lakeview, Idaho.  WIRT has invited organizers of several groups of Old Town, Idaho, and Newport residents, including Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter (CANSS), to present an information session about smelter resistance, linking our various, overlapping campaigns. Continue reading

Know Your Rights Training Workshop


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is hosting a know-your-rights (KYR) training workshop presented by Dana Johnson, a public interest attorney, wildlands, wildlife, and megaload activist defender, and Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) board secretary.  At 7 pm on Wednesday, February 7, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, the free talk provides legal resources for activists and community members, to effectively invoke and protect their rights during demonstrations and interactions with government agents.  Event organizers welcome donations for training and travel costs, and appreciate the input of everyone who can attend the workshop and the following, first-Wednesday, monthly, Moscow, WIRT meeting.

“Realizing that social and environmental justice often demand a firm challenge to the status quo,” Dana has previously given know-your-rights sessions in Moscow, as part of the October 2015 Idaho Flood the System Trainings and the initial, January 2011 gathering of 50 citizens who catalyzed WIRT inception, concerned about regional, tar sands megaload onslaughts [1-3].  Her north Idaho legal practice offers groups and activists creative, legal analysis, representation, and federal litigation in protection of the northern Rockies Big Wild, including legal observer coordination and activist education and support services.

The indigenous, grassroots, and climate justice movements have expanded across the Northwest and the continent over the last decade, as the extreme energy/fossil fuel industry and facilitating governments have rampaged common lands and civil liberties, violating the constitutional and treaty rights of frontline activists and communities.  As environmental, social, and political strife intensifies in the United States and around the world, and asserting rights becomes imperative, the surge of activists filling roads, rails, and rivers with resistance demands their greater understanding “of the historical and ongoing threats to the safety and security of the broader, activist community,” from corporations, governments, and other institutions attempting repression [4].

CLDC and WIRT support movements striving to dismantle systems of inequality and forces of destruction, by sharing specialized, field-experienced knowledge adapted to workshop participants [5].  This KYR session aims to impart the skills and confidence crucial to making informed choices, protecting rights and private data, and upholding accountability, while engaging in activism.  Training discussion topics could include the specific rights of individuals living in the U.S., when and in which circumstances those rights apply, and how personal actions, or perceived actions, can limit the extension of rights.  What are the differences between legal and potentially illegal, protester and police behaviors?  Which questions and statements said to law enforcement officers can invoke rights?  How have recent laws, prosecutions, grand juries, and digital communication impacted the progression of movements? Continue reading

Idaho to Inslee: No Vancouver Oil Terminal!


The summer and fall of 2017 brought the devastating storms, floods, wildfires, and smoke that fossil-fueled climate change is increasingly inflicting on communities throughout the world.  On any day before February 17, the four-state, Northwest resistance to the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal expects a decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee on this proposed, environmental and public health disaster.  The facility at the Port of Vancouver, Washington, would transfer up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day from five additional, daily, oil trains to storage tanks and marine ships, handling oil quantities comparable to 42 percent of proposed, Keystone XL pipeline capacity.  Consequently, the terminal would bring ten fully and residually loaded, mile-long, explosive oil trains each day through Sandpoint, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, threatening regional, rail-line communities and critical water bodies, like Lake Pend Oreille, with possible oil train derailments, spills, and fires.  This project would also sharply increase oil train, barge, and ship traffic along the Columbia River, risking oil spills that could kill large numbers of already dwindling salmon populations.

On Thursday afternoon, January 18, 350 Spokane and The Lands Council co-hosted a public rally and press conference with speakers, at the Saranac/Community Building in Spokane, to urge Governor Inslee to deny state approval of the Tesoro Savage oil terminal in Vancouver, and to stand in solidarity with people across the Northwest opposed to the facility [1].  Several, west-side Washington groups – Stand Up to Oil, 350 Seattle, Columbia Riverkeeper, Earth Ministry, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, Washington Environmental Council, and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility – are also co-sponsoring a rally, media conference, and speakers at the King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, on Thursday, January 25 [2].  They plan to thank Governor Inslee in advance for rejecting North America’s largest, oil train terminal and all other fossil fuel infrastructure and transportation projects in Washington, including fracked gas and petrochemical proposals.

In north Idaho and western Montana in 2017, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Montana Rail Link (MRL), and Union Pacific Railroad have jeopardized regional residents with seven derailments and accidents and two deaths [3].  During summer and fall 2017, BNSF double-tracked much of its north Idaho corridor, and drilled two pile load tests for a second, planned, rail bridge parallel to the almost mile-long span carrying coal and oil trains over the regional, Lake Pend Oreille water source.  Meanwhile, BNSF and MRL moved volatile, Bakken crude oil trains, like the one that wrecked and ignited in Mosier, Oregon, in June 2016, through an eventually combusted, coal train spill along and into the upstream Clark Fork River, neglected for clean-up during six weeks of an extraordinarily smoky, wildfire season in the surrounding watershed.

With plenty of momentum in our favor, concerned, interior Northwest citizens have been peacefully protesting the Tesoro Savage, pipeline-on-wheels terminal since its first, public scoping hearing in Spokane, on December 11, 2013 [4].  At 10 am on Sundays, January 28 and February 4 and 11, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and grassroots allies are providing some of the last opportunities for north Idahoans to together express our ongoing resistance to the largest, crude oil-by-rail terminal in North America.  Please wear red to symbolize your opposition to fossil fuels, bring your friends, family, and distantly visible signs and banners, and gather at the City Beach Park pavilion in Sandpoint, to help stop this Earth and climate polluting, dirty energy infrastructure.  WIRT will send photos of the convergences near the BNSF rail bridge, along with letters to Governor Inslee, encouraging him to reject the Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal.  See and share the description and links about recent issue developments, and contact us with your questions and ideas and for further information.

Recent Issue Background

Check the WIRT facebook page for ongoing, current updates.

On August 29, 2013, Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) and Savage corporations, partnering as Tesoro Savage Petroleum LLC, submitted their application to build and operate the largest, oil-by-rail terminal in North America, at the Port of Vancouver, Washington [5].  As partially summarized in a timeline of this fossil fuel infrastructure saga, compiled by the Stand Up to Oil coalition opposed to the facility, the project approval process has met resistance from government agencies and the public throughout the Northwest [6]. Continue reading

Urgent! Comment by 1/11 Against Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Wells


On July 22, 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and the state of Idaho has since maintained primary, state regulation and enforcement authority (primacy) over all five classes of injection wells in Idaho, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, section 1422, through the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.  Because 1985 Idaho regulations prohibited Class II, oil and gas wastewater injection wells in the state, this ban was codified in those EPA rules.  In 2013, the Idaho Legislature passed laws allowing these wells.  But during 2017 Idaho legislative hearings on oil and gas bills and rules, Idaho Governor Otter became aware that the lack of state government oversight of Class II injection wells was delaying oil and gas development in the Treasure Valley.  IDWR has not issued any Class II well permits, because the EPA has not approved the state’s proposed changes to its Class II, UIC program.  On August 25, 2017, the EPA received a letter from IDWR, formally requesting transfer of its responsibility for managing Class II, oil and gas wastewater injection wells in Idaho to the EPA.  According to the EPA’s November 2017, Federal Register notice of this proposed rule revision, state-administered, Class II injection wells remain illegal in Idaho, under federal law [1-3].

Idaho agency efforts to uncharacteristically and aggressively transfer authority over Class II wells in our fifth most seismically active state to the EPA, headed by oil and gas industry friend and former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, seem like thinly veiled attempts to again hastily accommodate corporate profits at the expense of Idahoans’ public and environmental health.  Instead of conscientiously updating Idaho’s injection control program, the state is calling for this transfer of responsibility to the EPA, to facilitate cheaper, underground disposal of oil and gas drilling byproducts than in evaporation ponds near the Boise Airport, as soon as possible.  IDWR is thus side-stepping the existing, three-decade ban of Class II injection wells, risking and polluting Idaho groundwater and seismic stability, and circumventing both impacted, Idaho citizen review of Class II injection well regulations and lawsuits against the state for any damages resulting from these wells [4].  As suggested by state agency presentations on Class II wells, given to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on December 7, 2017, the Texas company currently producing oil and gas in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Alta Mesa, may request Safe Drinking Water Act exemptions of precious, water aquifers for its injection well program, and use already drilled, shut-in, (and defective?), hydrocarbon wells in Payette County, such as the DJS 2-14 well [5].

“Injection wells – which involve the high-pressure, underground dumping of millions of gallons of frack wastewater, which contains toxins, carcinogens, and other chemicals – cause earthquakes, can contaminate drinking water, and bring other environmental and public health impacts” [6].  In Oklahoma, insurance policies neither covered nor did anything to assist residents and businesses suffering huge losses from earthquakes, because the jolts were created by the oil and gas industry injecting massive quantities of wastewater and ‘produced’ water, laced with heavy salts, toxic chemicals, and radioactivity, directly into their aquifer, drinking water sources.  “In a normal year – that is, in almost any before 2009 – the state only saw one or two quakes.  It now experiences one to two quakes per day.  In 2015, it endured 857 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or higher, more than struck the rest of the lower 48 states combined” [7].  The EPA, Pulitzer Prize-winning journal ProPublica, popular videos, and others have all documented the inherent risks of Class II injection wells [8, 9].

Based on decades of observations and interactions with Idaho agencies and natural resource issues, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists do not necessarily agree that Idaho regulations would protect clean air, water, and lands, potentially degraded by Class II, oil and gas waste injection wells, better than federal agencies like the EPA [10].  But together, we, the people of Idaho, should not condone any local, state, or federal government or private company overturning the ongoing ban on Class II injection wells in Idaho, and thus let corporate forces once again elevate the rights of fossil fuel companies over the communities they violate with innumerable, significant harms.  WIRT suspects that any agency permitting Class II, waste injection wells could open the toxic floodgates for oil and gas well stimulation treatments like hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Idaho, and its profuse use and pollution of our relatively pristine water.  In the high-desert environment of the rapidly growing, Treasure Valley population, where communities depend on clean water-based agriculture and recreation for their economic sustenance, we cannot afford to risk or waste underground water supplies also challenged by a warming, drying climate.

KEEP THE BAN ON EARTHQUAKE-INDUCING, WATER-POLLUTING, CLASS II, OIL & GAS WASTE INJECTION WELLS IN IDAHO! Continue reading

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

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