Fifth Anniversary Coal Train Protests


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

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

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

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

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Resist Andeavor/Tesoro Anacortes Refinery Megaloads!


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

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

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

Third Panhandle Paddle Report & Photos


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

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

Third Panhandle Paddle


August 25-27 Third Panhandle Paddle

No2ndBridge Panel, Action Training, & Flotilla Rally

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

Young, Climate Lawsuit Plaintiffs Visit Sandpoint on Saturday, August 12


On Saturday, August 12, from 12 noon to 2 pm, meet Gabe Mandell, Aji Piper, and Adonis Williams, three of the 21 world-famous children involved in “trials of the millennium” – climate lawsuits brought by young people against state and federal governments [1-3].  These court cases allege that governments’ roles in creating and perpetuating the climate crisis violate the U.S. Constitution and public trust doctrine.  Adonis, Aji, and Gabe will share their stories through words and music, depicting the renowned, federal, Juliana v. U.S. and Washington state lawsuits they have filed to ensure a sustainable, livable environment for them and future generations.

These incredible litigants also serve as climate justice ambassadors for the Pacific Northwest chapter of Plant for the Planet, an international organization with over 100,000 young members who have planted more than 14 billion trees in over 130 nations [4].  Through this public presentation and following youth event, with free but limited audience seating at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, learn what you can do to join this movement.  Event sponsors 350Sandpoint, Pacific Northwest Plant for the Planet, and Our Children’s Trust encourage family attendance.  For further information, see the enclosed links and attached flyer and media release, and email and call the hosts at info@350sandpoint.org and 208-627-9084.  Thanks! 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

Spokane Train Blockaders Talk in Sandpoint on July 29


On Saturday, July 29, from 11 am to 1 pm, North Idaho Resistance Movement (NIRM) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will gratefully co-host some of the six brave Raging Grannies and Veterans for Peace who blocked coal and oil trains in Spokane, Washington, twice in 2016 [1]. Their talk in the Rose Room of the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, will discuss their arrests and court cases, and will include a question-and-answer session followed by a potluck.  The free, public event welcomes food items to share and donations for the legal and travel expenses of these Spokane Climate Protectors, who are also raising funds online through GoFundMe [2].  For further event information and current media and grassroots coverage of this issue, see the following, expanded event announcement, and contact Sparrow Ivy of NIRM at 208-627-9084.  A June 26, WIRT alert, which appeared in the Earth First! Newswire, provides earlier issue descriptions [3, 4].

Raging Grannies Margie Heller, Nancy Nelson, and Deena Romoff and Veterans for Peace Maeve Aeolus, Rusty Nelson, and George Taylor stopped ever-increasing, dusty coal and explosive oil trains at two demonstrations on Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) tracks, near Trent and Napa streets in East Spokane, in late August and September 2016. Now known as the Spokane Climate Protectors, these six visionaries have contributed immensely to the struggle for clean air and water and the health of the planet, through their direct actions and state and federal court cases.  Since June 26, 2017, two hearings and presentations, expert testimony, and a federal court decision denying citizen rights to a livable climate and local self-governance have drastically altered the legal situation of these fossil fuel train blockaders.  Spokane attorneys Eric Christianson and Rachael Osborn anticipate advocating the necessity defense of Reverend George Taylor, the only remaining defendant going to trial, at an August 21, Spokane County District Court hearing.

George Taylor on Climate Justice Forum

The Wednesday, July 26, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective WIRT, will feature a 40-minute, recorded, telephone conversation with Lutheran pastor, Veteran for Peace, and Spokane Climate Protector George Taylor.  George will talk about the context and motivations of Spokane fossil fuel train blockades and associated, lawsuit hearings upholding the necessity defense and Constitutional rights to a healthy climate and community self-government.  Broadcast for five and a half years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online via livestream, the show covers news and interviews about continent-wide, community opposition to extreme energy projects, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ [5]. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho 2017 Actions Report


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

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

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

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

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

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho 2017 Actions


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

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

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

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

Spokane Train Blockaders’ Necessity Defense, Expert Testimony & Presentation, & Sandpoint Talk


Pre-Trial Motion Hearing: Necessity Defense & Expert Testimony

In late August and September 2016, Raging Grannies Margie Heller, Nancy Nelson, and Deena Romoff and Veterans for Peace Maeve Aeolus, Rusty Nelson (husband of Nancy), and George Taylor protested oil and coal trains moving through Spokane and the contribution of those pipelines-on-wheels to global climate change [1-6]. Police handcuffed and booked into jail these Spokane Climate Protectors assisted by Direct Action Spokane, and cited them with the misdemeanor charges of second degree trespassing and obstructing or delaying a train on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail lines.

At their pre-trial motion hearing on Monday, June 26, at 1:30 pm in Room 5 of the Public Safety Building, at 1100 West Mallon Avenue in Spokane, Washington, their attorney Eric Christianson will argue, before Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes, that the six activists have exhausted all other legally viable options, and that their direct actions were thus necessary to halt climate change [7, 8]. Judge Hayes will decide whether she will allow their “necessity defense.”  Recent, Northwest climate activist, court cases of the Delta 5 oil train blockaders in Everett, Washington, and the first of five multi-state, tar sands pipeline valve turner trials in Skagit County, Washington, have rejected this motion.  After a previous postponement and if Judge Hayes assents, three nationally recognized experts on climate change plan to testify in court about the dangers and impacts of transporting volatile oil by rail through Spokane.

On January 31, 2017, activists of Direct Action Spokane, along with physician Gunnar Holmquist and the six arrested Spokane Climate Protectors, filed a lawsuit against the federal government for violating Spokane citizens’ fundamental, constitutional rights to a stable, livable climate and local self-government, by allowing oil and coal trains to pass through the city [9]. They claim that the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 unconstitutionally prevents local governments from urgently enacting regulations to stop climate change, such as ballot measures banning crude fossil fuel transportation through Spokane.  In a similar, Oregon, federal case, 21 youths from across the country assert that government actions cause climate change, defying the “obligation to hold certain natural resources in trust for the people and for future generations,” and thus violate younger generations’ rights to “life, liberty and property.” [8]

Public Presentation: Witnesses for the Climate

Canceled since May 19, when the Spokane County court postponed, without explanation, the motion hearing to consider the necessity defense of the Spokane Climate Protectors, the Witnesses for the Climate public presentation has rescheduled to 7 pm on Monday evening, June 26 [10-12]. At the Community Building, 35 West Main Street in Spokane, three experts will speak about the necessity to defend rights to a healthy climate, through non-violent, direct actions stopping coal and oil train traffic.  They may testify at the hearing earlier in the day, on behalf of the necessity defense of the fossil fuel train-blockading Spokane Climate Protectors. Continue reading