Wednesday, June 20: Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussion in Sandpoint

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At 7 pm on Wednesday, June 20, please join #No2ndBridge and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and concerned, community members for refreshments and a Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussion and slideshow presentation, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  Event hosts of this free, open meeting invite participants to bring and share snacks, stories, images, and donations, and learn about the natural and human environment of Lake Pend Oreille, the ongoing and potential traffic, pollution, and derailment dangers of fossil fuel and hazardous freight trains, and the flawed infrastructure, earthquake resilience, and emergency response capacity of the north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel.’

Together, we plan to explore and consider the significant impacts of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector proposal to construct two temporary and three permanent, parallel bridges and two miles of doubled tracks across the lake, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint.  The project would affect regional, lake and aquifer water resources, air quality, noise, public and environmental health and safety, indigenous rights, wildlife, fish, and threatened bull trout and their habitat, wetlands and shorelines, historic sites, vehicle passage, boat navigation, recreation and tourism, businesses and residences, and other, public interest factors.

For further event information and issue updates, please visit the WIRT facebook and website pages and outreach tables at Sandpoint and Moscow farmers markets and public events during the emerging season, contact us with your concerns, and print and post the accompanying flyer.  We hope to talk with you and provide printed material about this critical situation on all of these occasions!  Ask the state and federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions to fully analyze this railroad expansion with an environmental impact study and statement, as requested by the Sandpoint city council and mayor.  Thanks!  #No2ndBridge!

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Friday, June 8, Second Lake Rail Bridge Discussion in Moscow

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At 7 pm on Friday, June 8, please join Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and concerned community members and activists for refreshments, an open meeting, and a slideshow presentation about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway plans to construct two temporary and three permanent, parallel bridges and two miles of doubled tracks across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, Idaho.  PESC and WIRT event hosts will provide snacks, offer printed material, and accept admission donations at this free event that opens at 6:30 pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street in Moscow.

Through images and stories, learn about the ongoing and potential, significant impacts of north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel’ infrastructure, transportation, and expansion on regional, lake and aquifer water supplies, air quality, noise, public and environmental health and safety, threatened bull trout and fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands and shorelines, indigenous rights, historic sites, fossil fuel trains and pollution, derailment hazards, emergency responses, vehicle traffic, boat navigation, recreation and tourism, businesses and residences, and other relevant, public interest factors.  Consider how you can participate in state and federal reviews and permit decisions on BNSF applications for the proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector project, ideally analyzed through an environmental impact statement, as requested by the City of Sandpoint.

For further event and issue information, please print, post, and share the accompanying, PDF flyer, check for updates on WIRT facebook and website pages, and visit the PESC and WIRT outreach tables at Moscow Farmers Market on Saturday, June 9, and at the Farmers Markets in Sandpoint and Moscow throughout the season.  We hope to talk with you about this critical situation at all these events!

May 23 #No2ndBridge Hearings & Rally

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For decades, the Sandpoint to Spokane, railroad “funnel” community, who cherishes and relies on the clean water, air, and lands of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho for our shared economy and life ways, has endured the ongoing dangers and pollution of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.  The company hauls 95 percent of the volatile, fracked, Bakken crude oil, all of the heavy metal-laden, Powder River Basin coal, and many other toxic substances through the region, via its Northwest pipeline-on-wheels.  It spews coal dust and diesel emissions, risks and degrades the health and safety of resident and visiting people and wildlife with pollution, noise, hazardous materials transport, derailments, and accidents, including three wrecked, coal and corn trains within 33 miles of Sandpoint, between March and August 2017, and dozens of injuries and deaths of pedestrians, family pets, and vehicle drivers and passengers over the last 20 years.  Meanwhile, BNSF coerces local, state, and national citizens, elected officials, and emergency and regulatory agencies to accept and promote these escalating abuses of discounted, rural and urban, rail-line communities, advocating the consumer complicity and corporate conquests that drive gratuitous, unjust, global capitalism, basic human rights violations, and climate change.

While BNSF questionably boasts about its local jobs and monetary incentives, interstate commerce rules ensure that Idaho receives no state taxes from transiting trains.  Compared to the origins and destinations of rail freight, remote north Idaho gains much less railroad revenue and employment, and supports fewer state track inspectors and emergency response personnel and equipment.  But like all greedy industrialists, BNSF now wants even more plunder for profit, in spite of the price already paid by people and the planet for its perpetually reinforcing, increasingly destructive expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and invasion of our natural habitat.  BNSF is planning to double two miles of tracks through Sandpoint, in close proximity to small, downtown businesses and the historic railroad station still used by Amtrak, and build two temporary, construction spans and three permanent, parallel bridges across the Bridge Street access to popular City Beach Park, over the Sand Creek outlet for stream flow, boat launches, and marinas to Lake Pend Oreille, and almost a mile and 1000 piles across Idaho’s largest lake, the fifth deepest in the United States.

Apparently attempting to avoid, minimize, and expedite required, state and federal permitting and public notice and participation processes for this $100 million-plus, three- to five-year construction project, BNSF nominally postponed its Sandpoint Junction Connector project for three years, then visibly staged equipment and drilled and tested two piles for their bridge load bearing capacity and “done deal” public perception, at Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint during summer 2017.  Beyond its 250-page, joint permit application, full of engineering diagrams and lingo and inadequate, biological assessments, BNSF has yet to provide any unbiased, independent studies or reports describing and thoroughly analyzing not only the purported, public benefits of increased railroad infrastructure and traffic but also their potential, significant, adverse impacts on environmental quality, endangered species, regional safety, emergency response, vehicle traffic flow, noise and pollution levels, recreational experiences, tourism businesses, economic opportunities, and critical, lake and aquifer water resources.

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and #No2ndBridge allies in halting BNSF’s track and bridge expansion proposal: We need everyone on this frontline!  Bring your best ideas, energies, comrades, and protest signs to a community resistance rally, with speakers and drummers at 5 pm on Wednesday, May 23, at the intersection of South Division Avenue and U.S. Highway 2 in Sandpoint.  Attend and testify at one or both Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) hearings on the same day, at 8 am PDT in Suite E of the Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way in Ponderay, and at 6 pm PDT in the Sandpoint Middle School gymnasium, 310 South Division Avenue in Sandpoint.  Reasonably demand that IDL and the U.S. Coast Guard (USGC), who will also take public comments at these state meetings, respectively deny permits for lakebed encroachments, like temporary and permanent bridge piles, and for bridges across Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille. Continue reading

May 2 PRDC & WIRT Moscow Meetings, #No2ndBridge Updates

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PRDC Annual Membership Meeting

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) invites its supporters and members of PRDC affiliated, environmental groups (Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide) to attend the PRDC Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, May 2, at the Yellow House next to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street (near the 1912 Center and Van Buren Street) in Moscow, Idaho.  Please come to this casual event anytime between 5 and 7 pm, to talk with PRDC board members Cass Davis, Steve Flint, David Hall, Al Poplawsky, Pat Rathmann, Mary and Steve Ullrich, and Helen Yost, ask questions, vote for board candidates, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and pay $5 annual dues.  If you cannot participate, please send donations and dues to this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, via mail to P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID  83843, to assist its lawsuit efforts to protect native Palouse prairie remnants from U.S. Highway 95 expansion onto Paradise Ridge, and to “ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs” (PRDC mission statement).

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website, Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition

Moscow WIRT Meeting & #No2ndBridge Presentation

Invite your friends and families, and join the regional, climate activist community, #No2ndBridge group members, and WIRT organizers for the May, first-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT gathering at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 2.  Discussions and action plans include Farmers Market outreach in Moscow and Sandpoint, an oil and gas waste injection well protest and petition presentation in Boise, and ongoing, dirty energy transportation monitoring and reporting.  We especially need your participation in work on a #No2ndBridge petition, brochures, banners, a peaceful, public, Sandpoint protest, regional attendance and expert testimony at May 23 hearings and rallies with speakers in Ponderay and Sandpoint, and a summer, direct action training camp, all opposing Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway track and bridge expansion of the coal, oil, hazmat, and possibly tar sands pipeline-on-wheels across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho.

At this WIRT convergence, we are starting to present #No2ndBridge information sessions with slide shows in Moscow, Sandpoint, Missoula, Spokane, and other, inland Northwest locations.  All are welcome to bring their creative ideas and energies and potluck food and beverages, to share current, issue updates and background, and to explore strategies and tactics in support and solidarity with grassroots, Northwest resistance to the power and pollution of the fossil fuel and railroad industries.  Contact WIRT via email or phone, with your questions and suggestions about potential meeting topics and activities, and to coordinate overlapping campaigns and upcoming events among allies.

#No2ndBridge Updates

On February 26, 2018, the public received notices of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s joint application for “individual” (not more lenient, “general”) permits to double 2.2 miles of tracks west of its existing, main line through Sandpoint, Idaho, and to construct three permanent, parallel, rail bridges and two temporary, work spans across Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and almost a mile over Lake Pend Oreille.  This $100 million, five-year, “Sandpoint Junction Connector” project would begin in fall 2018 and degrade human and natural environments from the BNSF-Montana Rail Link track convergence, near the historic, Sandpoint, train station still utilized by Amtrak, to the North Algoma siding track across the lake, south of Sandpoint. Continue reading

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

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