Sandpoint Meetings, Lake Railroad Pollution, Bridges Resistance, & Construction


October 17: Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

Thanks to everyone who visited and contributed donations during rare, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), Moscow, outreach tabling at Farmers Market on Friendship Square on Saturday, October 5, and to a Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) member who met with WIRT on Sunday, October 6 [1, 2].  Despite a grueling, September and October 2019, continuing WIRT’s opposition and vigil on the north Idaho, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontline, our climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with all about critical issues, and to share images, dispatches, and actions with the regional, environmental, and indigenous community [3].

While under siege by reckless development and resister repression, volunteer, grassroots, WIRT organizers would greatly appreciate your efforts in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, and #No2ndBridge litigation.  So we encourage you to participate in October and November 2019, potluck gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, talk about tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate change, through direct resistance and frontline solutions.  Join activity-planning conversations on the first and third Thursdays (now instead of Wednesdays) of every month, starting at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Thursday, October 17, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, and on Thursday, November 3, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.

Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for posts and pictures, and listen to WIRT’s weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program for updates about recent, ongoing, and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuel infrastructure invasions and protests, and share this information among your associates and contacts [4].  We are talking with allies, attorneys, and government officials about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s bridge and track expansion document deficiencies, while we witness massive tree clearing and bulldozing without all permits for BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project, endure noise- and dust-spewing, downtown Sandpoint, street reconstruction outside the WIRT office, dismiss criminalization attempts by released, federal investigation files and mainstream media articles, and observe and report water-polluting, disaster-risking, westbound, BNSF, unit trains of coal and black tanker (presumably oil) trains, for the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch [5].

September 27 to 29: Storm-Borne Lake Coal Dust Continue reading

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Governor in Rathdrum, Sandpoint Council Meeting & Rail Bridge Permit, Climate Strike Report


Among numerous, ongoing, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), facebook and website posts, please review these opportunities for information and participation in regional, #No2ndBridge, and anti-fossil fuels campaigns, especially events described in the first two items, happening on Thursday, September 26, in Rathdrum and Sandpoint.

Idaho Governor Brad Little and his administration are hosting “Capital for a Day” in Rathdrum, from 10 am to 3 pm on Thursday, September 26, offering chances to talk about the governor’s conflicts between his climate change and fossil fuels interests, evident in his Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, Sandpoint Junction Connector project support and Treasure Valley oil and gas leases [1].

At a special meeting at 5:45 pm on Thursday, September 26, the Sandpoint City Council will consider its response to the September 5, U.S. Coast Guard denial of the council’s May 2018 resolution strongly requesting a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for BNSF Railway’s proposed, Lake Pend Oreille area, bridge and track expansion [2].

This week, WIRT initiated an inquiry into City of Sandpoint and Bonner County permitting of BNSF’s planned, second, Bridge Street, Sand Creek (granted), and Lake Pend Oreille railroad bridges [3].

Besides a dual event announcement, WIRT’s last email alert now includes a website-posted synopsis of #No2ndBridge updates since the Coast Guard’s disastrous decision to approve BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails bridge expansion [4].

Thanks to the one hundred-plus people who participated in the Lake Communities Climate Strike and BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest on Saturday, September 21, which WIRT board members depict with a description and photos from the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline [5].

At 1 am on Friday, September 20, only 25 miles south and 36 hours before the Sandpoint climate strike and #No2ndBridge march, north Idaho lost another life in an Amtrak train and Athol pickup truck collision, explained in local and national newspaper articles [6]. Continue reading

September 21 Lake Communities Climate Strike & #No2ndBridge March


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

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

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

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

Issue Background

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

BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest


BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest

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

East Farmin Park, Third and Main Streets, Sandpoint

Sandpoint Monthly WIRT Meeting

7 pm Wednesday, September 18

Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street, Sandpoint

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

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

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

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

Recent #No2ndBridge Issue Updates Continue reading

Fifth Panhandle Paddle


#No2ndBridge Talk, Direct Action Training, Rally & Paddle

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

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

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

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

Spokane Conferences, Kalispel Canoe Journey, #No2ndBridge Actions, Fifth Panhandle Paddle


Grassroots, volunteer activists of the regional collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) invite you to participate in the following, crucial opportunities for outreach and activism during the next few weeks, as we together confront the root, fossil fuel sources of climate change through direct, frontline resistance and locally organized solutions.  Please consider contributing physically as an activist and/or fiscally as a supporter of WIRT campaigns, by contacting us at our website-posted addresses or donating online at the Donate to WIRT button.  Thanks!

Online #No2ndBridge Petition

As promised to some of the hundreds of visiting and resident, Northwest citizens who have signed the paper version of the #No2ndBridge petition at the Moscow and Sandpoint Farmers Markets outreach tables of WIRT and allies, we are sharing its online version and text, to outline the numerous harms that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed, bridge and track expansion almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille and across Sand Creek and Sandpoint, Idaho, would impose on regional communities and watersheds [1].  We ask that you, too, comment and sign this Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project: THANKS!

Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

Since the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) closed its extended, May 1 deadline for public hearings and comments on the draft environmental assessment (EA) of BNSF’s north Idaho, railroad bridge expansion proposal, WIRT activists, board members, and allied groups have been preparing for the still undetermined, USCG decision and scheming upcoming, rapid-response, Sandpoint and regional marches [2, 3].  Announced within days of an outcome, during the next few weeks or months, these #No2ndBridge solidarity marches will either celebrate a Sandpoint City Council-requested, community-preferred, Coast Guard recommendation for a full environmental impact statement (EIS) studying all the environmental and socioeconomic implications of the project, or they will protest USCG issuance of a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and less scientifically rigorous, final EA.  As we vigilantly coordinate march locations, activities, and speakers, not to mention EIS-advocating attorneys, please circulate the attached, event flyer, notify your contacts, and RSVP your intentions to participate in these critical demonstrations.  Expect ongoing, issue updates and a flash-action alert with march information, via WIRT email notes, weekly radio programs, and facebook and website posts.

July 30 & 31: Indigenous Climate Summit in Spokane

With an abstract sent on June 30, WIRT requested the possibilities of giving a three-minute, “lightning” talk and presenting a poster at the 2019 Tribes and First Nations Climate Change Summit, held at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights (Spokane), Washington, on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 30 to 31 [4, 5].  Organizers for the event hosts, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), accepted our abstract entitled Regional Resistance to Fossil Fuels Pipelines on Rails and Bridges, but could not fit WIRT’s few-minute, #No2ndBridge talk into the agenda [6].  During the poster session from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, we hope to share information with Northwest tribes, whom federal agencies have not properly consulted, about proposed, BNSF expansion of its north Idaho, pipeline-on-rails bridges, for hauling Alberta tar sands, Bakken crude oil, and Powder River Basin coal.  Although the summit focuses primarily on climate change adaptation policies, we plan to interject suggestions for banning the infrastructure expansion and confronting the corporate and government sources of the fossil fuels perpetuation of the climate crisis.  Purposely frugal, radical, WIRT rejecters of the capitalism that supports fossil fuels destruction and corruption greatly appreciate ongoing, community support and three WIRT contributors who generously donated through the WIRT website button, toward the $215 registration and table fees required to host a WIRT outreach table at the conference [7, 8].

July 31 to August 3: Third Remember the Water Canoe Paddle

Canoe families and river warriors are continuing the annual tradition of the Kalispel and allied tribal, Remember the Water canoe journey, and welcome everyone to participate in different parts of the trip [9, 10].  This year, two legs of this paddle begin on Wednesday, July 31, at Priest Lake and on Thursday, August 1, at Sandpoint City Beach, then combine in Oldtown and finish at the Kalispel reservation, during the start of the Powwow on Saturday, July 3.  The dugout canoes will paddle from the Beaver Creek Campground to upper Priest Lake on Thursday, August 1, to search for rock art, pick berries, and fish.  They will next portage to the Oldtown ramp and voyage on the Pend Oreille River, to a boat-in camp on Downs Island on Friday, August 2.

Another canoe will depart Sandpoint City Beach at 9 am, after 8 am breakfast in the park, on Thursday, August 1.  Paddlers on this difficult 21 miles of Pend Oreille lake and river request that participants bring plenty of food and other provisions and be properly prepared for a solid day of work on the water.  The organizer guarantees that up to 15 first-day paddlers will receive large, free, personally-picked, huckleberry pies, available on Saturday, August 3, after landing at the Kalispel Powwow, where tribal representatives hope to recognize the paddlers before the 11 am grand entry and barbeque.

Visitors and paddlers can also join the canoe journey on Friday at Oldtown, Pioneer Park, or Sandy Shores near Newport, or on Saturday at Char Springs, Greggs Addition, Bear Paw Campground, Pondoray Shores or Davis roads, or the Usk General Store.  Contact Betty Jo Piengkham through posted phone or email avenues, for further information about the Priest Lake and later launches [9].  Send a facebook message to Nathan Piengkham, to offer food and paddling assistance for the Sandpoint leg of the canoe journey [10].  Safe paddling, everyone! Continue reading

Portland Tar Sands Terminal Comments, Moscow Oil & Gas Talk, Monthly WIRT Meetings, Idaho Lakes Rulemaking


As prompted and supported by this Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) newsletter, please consider maximizing your opportunities to participate in resistance to a Portland, tar sands export, train terminal, a southern Idaho, oil and gas issues presentation in Moscow, rescheduled, monthly, WIRT meetings in Sandpoint and Moscow, and further, public comments and hearings on Idaho navigable lakes, negotiated rulemaking.

Portland Tar Sands Terminal Forum & Comments

Anticipating a big crowd on Monday evening, July 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the University of Portland Buckley Center (5000 North Willamette Boulevard), Portland City Commissioners are hosting a public forum and hearing on the Zenith Energy tar sands crude oil terminal on the Willamette River in northwest Portland [1-2].  In 2016, the Commissioners banned new, bulk, fossil fuel terminals, but this company has pre-existing permits.  Although the City is not currently deliberating any Zenith decisions, this listening session provides an important opportunity to again wear red, share concerns, and demand action.  More than seven organizations encouraging participation in the meeting suggest requesting that the City deny all Zenith permits to expand its terminal capacity and dangerous oil-by-rail, for the following, described reasons [1].  Between April 21 and 28, 2019, Extinction Rebellion Portland twice stopped tar sands trains for four days, with 11 arrested and other blockaders amidst a “victory over fossil fuels” garden planted on the terminal tracks [3].

As a former asphalt plant, Zenith has gradually converted its terminal to exporting tar sands crude, and has transformed regional rail lines to less voluminous, Keystone XL pipelines.  Climate-wrecking, Canadian, tar sands extraction and Northwest transportation and production threaten the health and safety of First Nations and their air, water, lands, and traditional subsistence practices.  Two mid-winter, tar sands train derailments and fires in northern Ontario in 2015 proved that “dilbit” (diluted bitumen) is as volatile and flammable as Bakken crude.  Oil companies mix diluents with bitumen (the tar drawn from tar sands) to form more fluid and transportable oil.  But this crude contains odorless and deadly hydrogen sulfide gas that is heavier than air and accumulates in low places if leaked.  Worse than any other grade of oil, dilbit also sinks to the beds of water bodies when spilled, while its diluents evaporate and seriously sicken or kill nearby communities.

According to the Washington Department of Ecology, one to two Alberta and Saskatchewan, tar sands trains pass through Sandpoint and Spokane every week.  Because “Ecology” does not require oil train reports from out-of-state destinations, additional such trains could also be moving across the Northwest toward Portland.  They usually travel south from Canada, through western Washington or north Idaho and Spokane, along the Columbia River, and through Camas and Vancouver, southwest Washington, before crossing the rail bridge to north Portland.  Idaho observers of the Union Pacific Railroad line, which needs more citizen monitors, note that oil train numbers have increased during the last year.  #No2ndBridge activists watching the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway tracks through Sandpoint fear that potentially derailed, sinkable tar sands trains may traverse the Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge [4].  Portland, Seattle, and Sandpoint trainspotters are working together to determine tar sands train routes and numbers, but request more north Idaho assistance: Contact WIRT if you can help! Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains 2019 Actions


Regional events mark the Lac-Mégantic and Mosier disaster anniversaries

North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in the sixth annual, networked, Stop Oil Trains actions and workshops on Friday, June 28, through Monday, July 1, a week earlier than usual, due to Fourth of July, Canada Day, and local concert festivities on the following weekends.  The five events honor and commemorate the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, explosions, and fires in the lakeside village of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and all rail corridor communities threatened and degraded by crude oil pipelines-on-rails.

During the six years since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades.  Nonetheless, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway carries 22 volatile, Bakken crude oil trains every week, while Union Pacific hauls one to two trains of equally explosive and irretrievably sinkable tar sands per week, along and over rivers, lakes, and tributaries throughout north Idaho and the Northwest, such as the Kootenai, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Columbia, and other water bodies.  Over 90 percent of these shipments must cross rail bridges above downtown Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille, where BNSF plans to drive 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, lake and stream bed, coal deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional lake and aquifer drinking water, to construct three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) rail bridges, two temporary, work spans, and two miles of doubled tracks west of the current rail line, for riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, oil and other train traffic.

The north Idaho community continues to actively oppose, through public processes, protests, and lawsuits, BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion, as we await and prepare for worst-case-scenario, project decisions by the lead agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, in charge of bridge permits and environmental and socioeconomic review, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, overseeing dredge, fill, and wetland activities.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) has been scheming further legal maneuvers, since railroad and state lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, district court case against the Idaho Department of Lands encroachment permit in late March 2019, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a Clean Water Act water quality certification for the project in September 2018.  With the #No2ndBridge situation soon quickly intensifying, we are arranging regional marches in response to those federal agency announcements, and coordinating a north Idaho, direct action camp with visiting trainers, on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8 [1].  As part of WIRT’s yearly Panhandle Paddle, which always offers an issue forum, training workshops, and a flotilla around the railroad bridges, action camp skills-sharing bolsters inland Northwest communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries [2].

Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula activists of 350, Direct Action, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, WIRT, and regional, allied groups have participated with thousands of people around the Northwest and North America, in multiple, public, Stop Oil Trains actions and the one-year anniversary convergence supporting Mosier, hosted by conservation and climate groups [3-5].  Please join concerned citizens in these upcoming outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of all Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil risk our air, waters, lands, families, friends, homes, and businesses.  Together, in appreciation and solidarity with grassroots and indigenous, environmental and social justice activists across Canada and the U.S., we are organizing various tactics and resources to stage powerful, effective actions defending and protecting frontline communities and the global climate impacted by oil-by-rail pollution and accidents.  Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable, relevant information, connections, and on-the-ground support for these events.  We welcome your ideas, questions, suggestions, and assistance at these upcoming actions: Reply through the enclosed, contact channels or on-site.  Expect ongoing, issue descriptions and updates, via WIRT facebook posts and website pages. Continue reading

Idaho Lake Rules, Moscow Oil & Gas Talk, Sandpoint WIRT Meeting


Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is initiating negotiated rulemaking until July 12, and holding statewide, public meetings during early June, for IDAPA 20.03.04, the administrative rules “governing the regulation of beds, waters, and airspace over navigable lakes in the state of Idaho” [1].  These modifications may directly result from Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) litigation of different sections of these rules, in our eight-month petition for judicial review of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s IDL-granted, June 2018, encroachment permit for proposed rail bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille.  We will provide more information for your comments, extracted from court records and insights, through a WIRT website post during the next few weeks [2].  IDL is holding 5 pm MDT or PDT, public hearings in Sandpoint on Monday, June 17, in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday, June 18, in McCall on Wednesday, June 19, and in Boise on Thursday, June 20.

Oil & Gas Issues Presentation in Moscow

The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) is hosting a Skyped talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, June 18, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow.  Shelley will discuss oil and gas fracking and acidizing issues in Idaho, including citizen court challenges of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) integration process that forces landowners to lease their privately owned mineral rights to oil and gas companies.  WIRT encourages you to attend, videotape, and/or record this Moscow City Council Commission meeting that will consider Shelley’s report and take further, appropriate actions.  Please see the linked, meeting agenda, and/or contact SEC at sec@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7133 [3].

Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

WIRT activists would greatly appreciate your help in arranging summer presentations, training workshops, direct actions, and probable litigation, while reaching out to trustworthy and competent activists and attorneys across our regional network.  From among the good company of too few radicals always striving to slow and stop too many corporate conquests, WIRT invites you to attend a June potluck gathering, talk about tactics, offer your unique advice and assistance, and pursue your climate activism passion with us.  As during previous seasons, we are meeting at 7 pm on the third Wednesday of every month: June 19 at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint. Continue reading