Fifth Kalispel Remember the Water Canoe Journey


Kalispel Annual Canoe JourneysFor the fifth annual, Remember the Water, canoe journey on August 4 through 7, 2021, Kalispel tribal members and friends are again portaging and paddling over 50 miles in dugout, wooden canoes, through their home lands and waters in the Pend Oreille lake and river watershed.  They will tentatively begin from the Hope Peninsula on Wednesday, August 4, and/or re-start or initially launch from Sandpoint City Beach Park on Thursday morning, August 5, ultimately reaching their destination of the Kalispel Village in Cusick, Washington, on Saturday, August 7.  Like during previous years, as depicted in linked photos and articles about prior paddles, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and area groups plan to welcome the travelers at Sandpoint, during possible journey arrival on Wednesday and departure on Thursday [1-9].

The canoe journey always happens just before the annual Kalispel Powwow and around the time of the Festival at Sandpoint music concerts.  The Festival poster this year portrays vibrant, past and rekindled, Kalispel and regional, indigenous culture with sturgeon nose canoes and teepees in the painted foreground of the Festival stage tents [10].  With late-week thunderstorms looming, and wildfires only seven miles from the journey start producing heavy, valley smoke and reduced air quality, we are concerned about the health and safety of paddle participants.  But even while fossil fuels pipeline and pipeline-on-rails infrastructure expansions impose and risk further harms to indigenous people and places across Turtle Island (North America), Native neighbors are upholding and continuing their sustainable, traditional practices, through admirable endeavors like this canoe journey and culminating powwow.

Please see the updated, enclosed, Remember the Water schedule, join WIRT in observing, supporting, and sharing this joyful, cultural resurgence at various journey route locations, and contact Nathan or Betty Jo Piengkham via facebook and/or respond to WIRT, for further information, logistics, and ways to help. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains & Pipelines 2021


Stop Oil Trains & Pipelines 2021 FlyerNorth Idaho activists invite everyone to participate in eighth annual, Stop Oil Trains and Pipelines training workshops and direct actions on Thursday, July 15, through Saturday, July 17.  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, the northwestern hamlet of Custer, Washington, on December 22, 2020, and all rail and pipeline corridor communities threatened and degraded by crude oil.  This year, we also welcome your participation in protesting Line 3 tar sands pipeline construction through hundreds of water bodies, wild rice lakes, and treaty territories of Anishinaabe and Ojibwe indigenous nations in northern Minnesota.

During the eight years since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar wrecks have harmed public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades.  Nonetheless, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway moves 12 to 22 volatile, Bakken crude oil trains every week, while Union Pacific hauls one to two trains of equally explosive and irretrievably sinkable, Canadian tar sands per week, beside and over rivers, lakes, and tributaries throughout north Idaho and the Northwest, such as the Kootenai, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Columbia, and other rivers.  Along with a similar, weekly number of Powder River Basin coal trains, over 95 percent of these shipments must cross BNSF rail bridges above downtown Sandpoint and Spokane and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille.  BNSF is expanding this pipeline-on-rails by drilling, removing, and re-drilling 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, accumulated, coal and diesel dust and other railroad pollution in lake and stream beds, to anchor noisily floating, fish-killing, temporary, construction barges precariously holding half-million-pound cranes, and to build two miles of doubled tracks and three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) rail bridges west of the current rail line.  This Sandpoint Junction Connector project will accommodate more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, and double-long train traffic polluting critical habitat for threatened bull trout and other native, aquatic inhabitants and regional air sheds and lake and aquifer, drinking water.

In solidarity with people all over Turtle Island (North America), rejecting new and expanding, fossil fuels infrastructure, to protect the water, air, and climate essential to all lives, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and inland Northwest communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries continue to actively oppose BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, through public vigilance, education, protests, and lawsuits, as we monitor project activities, document environmental and socioeconomic violations, and gather evidence challenging permit reviews and decisions by local, state, and federal agencies.  With #No2ndBridge construction intensifying and extending into Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint, we are coordinating and requesting your involvement in these yearly, regional, Stop Oil Trains and Pipelines actions.  Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, Seattle, and Spokane activists of 350, Direct Action, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, WIRT, and allied, conservation and climate groups have hosted and participated with thousands of people around the continent, in numerous Stop Oil Trains demonstrations, climate strikes, #No2ndBridge and derailment protests, and a first anniversary convergence supporting Mosier [1-6].

Please join concerned citizens at these outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of Canadian tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and rail and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil jeopardize our 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 pipeline and railroad pollution and snafus.  Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable information, connections, and support for these summer events and ongoing, regional, fossil fuels resistance.  We welcome your ideas, questions, suggestions, and assistance at these upcoming actions.  Reply through WIRT contact channels or on-site, and expect further issue descriptions and updates, via WIRT facebook posts, website pages, and radio programs. Continue reading

Pipeline Resistance Solidarity Actions


In solidarity with all water protectors, land defenders, and climate activists across Turtle Island (North America), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied, Northwest groups and individuals are planning and hosting solidarity actions in Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, to uphold and support indigenous-led resistance to construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through treaty territories in northern Minnesota.  We are also celebrating the June 9 termination of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, by Calgary-based TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), and the January 2021 presidential cancellation of the project, grateful for sustained KXL opposition, from First Nations impacted by Alberta tar sands exploitation to Gulf Coast tree sitters obstructing its route.  Each of these proposed pipelines, if constructed, would transport almost a million barrels of toxic tar sands oil per day from Canada, under hundreds of waterways and wetlands, including Mississippi River headwaters and wild rice lakes crucial for drinking water and indigenous food sovereignty.  Tar sands “black snakes” jeopardize pristine and sensitive landscapes, watersheds, aquifers, and ecosystems from the Great Lakes across the Great Plains to the Salish Sea (Puget Sound).  And these pipelines would enable further tar sands mining and refining operations, built by megaloads of equipment that WIRT and co-workers have opposed since our group inception a decade ago.  Tar sands extraction continues to devastate the air, water, lands, wild plants and animals, and subsistence practices honored by First Nations, and exacerbates the droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods of fossil fueled climate chaos around the Earth.

Regionally, during the seven to twelve years of the Line 3 and Keystone XL battles, WIRT and Northwest, frontline activists have uplifted these campaigns with outreach through our radio, facebook, and newsletter programs, while constantly resisting, monitoring, documenting, and alerting our communities to fossil fuels extraction and transportation onslaughts on Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon frontlines.  We have confronted tar sands megaloads on rivers and roads, coal and oil trains and terminals on pipelines-on-rails and at ports, oil and gas extraction and forced leasing in southwest Idaho, and infrastructure expansions also accommodating nuclear waste and new power plants and other hazardous materials across the Northwest.  All of these invasions would and do daily pollute the Columbia Basin and threaten the lives and livelihoods of residents, businesses, and entire communities and economies.

Since November 2020, when the Line 3 pipeline reached the last of its regulatory challenges, and despite ongoing court cases and calls for federal, administrative relief, construction encroaching on indigenous lands in northern Minnesota has been clearing a path for Canadian oil pumped for export to and beyond the United States.  The movement to #StopLine3 has courageously escalated through legal advocacy, on-the-ground actions, prayer ceremonies, and over 500 arrests at blockades of Enbridge offices, pipeline equipment staging areas, pump stations, river drilling sites, and worker and resistance camps.  Thousands of people powerfully converged and put their bodies in the way of Line 3 construction for 30 hours, during the Treaty People Gathering on June 5 to 8 in Minnesota, where both direct resistance and the need for more people on the frontlines is increasing [1, 2].  Supporting Line 3 opposition throughout and before 2021, Rising Tide North America, Rising Tide Chicago, Portland Rising Tide, and the network of volunteer Rising Tide groups have provided online webinars, meetings, and virtual, non-violent direct action trainings that introduce concerned citizens to the principles, strategies, tactics, and skills of protest.  In solidarity with northern Minnesota communities blocking local tar sands expansion, grassroots resistance to Line 3 has staged hundreds of actions across the country and around the world, confronting banks, financiers, and insurance companies that facilitate the water-risking venture.

WIRT organizers understand that almost-post-pandemic re-emergence has been difficult for everyone, especially for activists who do not engage in electronic teleconferences for security reasons.  At Solstice time, regional activists who recently organized travel to and participated in blockades disrupting Line 3 construction are asking for your involvement in outreach and solidarity demonstrations objecting to Line 3 and celebrating Keystone XL termination.  On Friday, June 25, in Sandpoint, and on Saturday, June 26, during Farmers Market in Moscow, we invite you to bravely partake in the #StopLine3 movement.  On behalf of future generations and voiceless, fellow, Earth inhabitants, join the continent-wide call for the end of all tar sands and fossil fuels pipelines, such as the illegally flowing Dakota Access (DAPL) and Enbridge Line 5 and the currently under-construction but fiercely rebuked Trans Mountain and Mountain Valley pipelines.  Come and stand with and for frontline communities confronting the oil and gas industry, corporate interests, and green-washed, false, climate solutions.

Friday, June 25, near Farmin Park in Sandpoint

Saturday, June 26, in Friendship Square in Moscow Continue reading

WIRT Comments on Uinta Basin Railway Draft EIS


…In conclusion, WIRT activists offer our perspectives and experiences of the constant pollution, noise, and terror that fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains violently and unilaterally impose on small, trackside communities: trauma that residents and businesses along all of the proposed Uinta Basin Railway routes will likely suffer if STB approves this project.  In downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, the WIRT office overlooks the BNSF tracks only 700 feet away, well within the deadly, 2,640-foot blast zone of fiery, exploding, derailed, oil trains.  This lakeside city endures about 60 trains per day on the rail line that BNSF is expanding to increase its traffic capacity up to 100 trains per day, including coal, oil, and other freight from converging Montana Rail Link (MRL) tracks, and in addition to cargo on the dangerously at-grade, bisecting, Union Pacific (UP) Railroad line.

As the largest, freight railroad network in North America, BNSF carries intermodal and manifest containers and bulk cargo, such as grain, coal, and crude oil, and burns the second largest volume of diesel fuel in the country, behind the U.S. Navy, spewing carcinogenic diesel emissions and toxic coal dust into the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille air and water sheds that contribute over 40 percent of the water to the Columbia Basin drainage.  As WIRT and other Northwesterners have directly experienced, railroad accidents will predictably and profusely happen on Utah’s heedless, needless, oil train bridge to nowhere.  Within much less than the length of the proposed Uinta Basin Railway, BNSF, MRL, and UP wrecked nine trains in four years, within a 50-mile radius of Sandpoint in north Idaho and western Montana.  Major derailments and collisions included: 1) a fatal, UP crash into a vehicle with two teenagers in a Post Falls, Idaho, on February 7, 2017, 2) a mountainside slide toward a river dam of a UP, grain train above Moyie Springs, Idaho, on March 15, 2017, 3) a derailment over a washout into Lake Pend Oreille of an empty, BNSF-MRL, coal train in Ponderay, Idaho, on March 17, 2017, 4) another, injurious, UP encounter with teenagers in a vehicle in Rathdrum, Idaho, on April 13, 2017, 5) a BNSF, grain train wreck near a historic, Cocolalla, Idaho, barn on May 1, 2017, 6) a derailment and dump of 7,000 pounds of coal into a Heron, Montana, river reservoir with endangered fish on August 13, 2017, 7) the submersion, 2,000-gallon diesel spill, and cross-river removal of two BNSF, mixed freight train locomotives in the Kootenai River, upstream of an indigenous fish hatchery and Bonners Ferry, Idaho, on January  1, 2020, 8) a fire under a combustible, coal car in Sandpoint, on June 4, 2020, and 9) an empty, grain train collision with a loaded log truck near Samuels, Idaho, on Election Day, November 3, 2020 [23].

The January 1, $3.55 million, BNSF locomotive disaster, arguably the worst of all these accidents, may have caused downstream, drinking water contamination that has emerged during the last month.  It also underscores the potential for all fossil-fueled trains, no matter their cargo, to inflict seemingly endless, reckless risks, endangerment, and damages on trackside communities, especially in river and lake valleys of the mountainous West prone to rock falls, mudslides, floods, and wildfires.  But the February 13, 2020, CSX, ethanol/sand train crash into an eastern Kentucky landslide and river serves as a horrific omen of similarly possible, but more destructive, regional incidents involving oil trains moving through eastern Utah and crossing north Idaho [24].  Every day, BNSF hauls about three fully loaded, mile-long, volatile, Bakken crude oil trains along the remote, Highway 2 corridor, beside mountainous Glacier National Park and the Flathead River, and through rugged, Kootenai River canyons in Montana and north Idaho.  If the January 2020, rockslide-caused, BNSF locomotives derailment, diesel fuel spill, and cross-river removal in endangered fish habitat had ignited and engulfed oil or ethanol tank cars, it could have trapped crew members in a flammable locomotive submerged in a fiery river, like the CSX crash.  A similar scenario could arise instantaneously on the Uinta Basin Railway, among its more numerous oil trains.

Despite all of these railroad snafus, BNSF is risking additional, community harms with its construction since September 2019 of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project in and near downtown Sandpoint, doubling tracks and building three parallel rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Sand Creek and Bridge Street to popular City Beach Park, and almost one mile across Lake Pend Oreille.  Driving 1000-plus piles into lake and creek beds for temporary work barges and second railroad bridges, BNSF is accommodating passage of more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, and double-long trains through threatened bull trout critical habitat, regional drinking water, and accumulated railroad pollution.  As with the Uinta Basin Railway proposal, grassroots, WIRT, #No2ndBridge, and allied activists continue to denounce, observe, photograph, and document this infrastructure expansion and increasing numbers of westbound, BNSF, unit coal and oil trains and derailments that jeopardize environmental and public health and safety, as these climate disrupters rampage otherwise idyllic, Northwest enclaves, toward West Coast export terminals and refineries. (excerpt)

WIRT Comments on Uinta Basin Railway Draft EIS 2-12-21

WIRT Comments on BNSF Plans for Montana Grizzly Deaths & Habitat Conservation


…WIRT Demands Better Prevention of BNSF Grizzly Kills

On January 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) opened a 30-day, public comment period on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s application for an “incidental take permit” (ITP) allowing the company to lawfully kill up to 18 federally protected grizzly bears during the next seven years [1, 2].  BNSF operates 206 miles of tracks through significant grizzly habitat in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, composed of multiple national forests and Glacier National Park in northern Montana.  Trains paralleling Highway 2 have killed or contributed to the deaths of approximately 52 grizzlies since 1980.  The Endangered Species Act requires an ITP, which BNSF has never before sought, for killing even one individual of a threatened species like grizzlies.

At an average speed of 35 miles per hour between Whitefish and East Glacier Park, BNSF runs about 1.2 to 1.5 trains per hour, slightly increasing this frequency during the twilight hours when grizzlies feed.  Cubs and adult bears have died from direct collisions and/or railroad activities like grain spills and train-killed animals attracting grizzlies to the tracks.  But BNSF’s standard, business-as-usual application, including a habitat conservation plan, fails to propose any common-sense, substantially changed, business practices, like reduced train speeds or different train schedules that could potentially prevent unnecessary grizzly deaths.  Instead, BNSF’s application addresses minor mitigation measures and programs to offset predicable, train-caused, grizzly deaths, such as grain spillage cleanup, livestock fencing around tracks, off-site waste management funding, and public and hunter education and fairs.

Moreover, USFWS aims to grant BNSF continued, decades-long impunity to favor profits over wildlife, by considering this grizzly slaughter permit application through a categorical exclusion to the National Environmental Policy Act, which absolves USFWS legal obligations to consider the proposal’s environmental impacts, offers minimal environmental analysis, and limits public input and participation in this decision. (excerpt)

WIRT Comments on BNSF Plans for Montana Grizzly Deaths & Habitat Conservation 2-11-21

 

November 3 & Sooner or Later: Vote & Resist a Coup


Resist a Trump/Republican Coup

Even during a global pandemic, economic emergency, and increasingly dysfunctional, neoliberal governance, the reformist approach of U.S. progressive politics attempts to rehabilitate capitalism’s purported dynamism with approximations of social democracy for working people, without admitting the intrinsic control and impediments to reform that economic and political elites wield over fundamental structures of policymaking.  This tendency is partially a response to the Trump administration, “whose pursuit of tax cuts, corporate bailouts, and deregulation exemplifies not so much artful subterfuge but a brazen contempt for proper oversight of industry” [1].  Challenges for current, social movements to fight injustice are formidable, especially with “the Trump administration’s exercise of a new and despotic, federal police power, in reaction to nationwide, Black Lives Matter protests against police violence” [1].  But electoral politics face greater limits to advancing a more egalitarian social contract and strategies.  “The path to enduring change requires mobilization that inflicts real costs on capitalists and disrupts the nexus of elite interests…While progressive, political allies are instrumental…to implementing reform, they are never its true locus” [1].

More deeply troubling than encountering armed, right wingnuts in the downtown streets of Sandpoint, Idaho, is experiencing “liberals” who notify police in advance of their protests, say that they trust local cops, and ask for police protection from such vigilantes [2].  Did they overlook the attack dogs, water cannons, and other harmful weapons used by local cops on water protectors at Standing Rock?  The munitions applied by local cops to clear Washington D.C. dissenters, for Trump’s bible-holding, church photo-op?  The physical and chemical assaults and abductions aimed and abetted by local cops and their civil war-mongering, paramilitary friends at protesters in Portland, Minneapolis, New York, Spokane, and other cities?  Who could ever sign a letter saying that they trust local cops?  Do they not understand the Black Lives Matter and civil rights movements?  Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and land defense?  Immigrants terrorized, caged, neglected, and deported?  Local cops in support of eliminating COVID-19 precautions and liberal protests of a likely Trump/Republican coup?  Are people who trust local cops actually cops?

On October 22, for the weekly, Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) webinar, two guests joined Lauren Regan and fellow staff attorneys: Jim Wheaton, a CLDC friend, former co-counsel, and First Amendment Project ally, and Scott Parkin, a seasoned organizer with Rising Tide North America and Rainforest Action Network (RAN), for a training called Rights, Dissent, and the State: Preparing for a Turbulent Election [3].  The lively and informative, roundtable discussion considered scenarios and preparations against possible, far-right, extremist efforts to disrupt and destroy democratic processes, which could unfold around the upcoming, November 2020, U.S. elections.  With the goals of helping activists more clearly understand potential threats, expected charges from engaging in protests during this time, and collective, legal recourse against a coup and other outcomes, speakers addressed actions that governments may take to restrict citizen freedoms, rights, and responsibilities, in response to escalations of unrest.  If you missed and would like to access this online webinar, please email communications @cldc.org and request the secure, registration login information for the recording.  The RAN website also offers links to numerous civil disobedience resources [4].  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is planning upcoming, training sessions and protests adapted to emerging, political events, despite north Idaho community reticence to participate in the meaningful and effective, direct actions that continue to provide our only recourse to justice.

“…Things are moving further in an alarming direction.  They’re planning to steal the election…for an unaccountable man at the top and his armies of spies and soldiers and cops, openly plotting some kind of coup, not in some backroom like they usually would do…Whatever might happen to this corporate crook, no one will be heeding the rules in the book…Perhaps the stock market crashes, then we’ll see if the madmen in power start World War 3…” [5].  But “if the right is prepared to steal the election, then we must be prepared to disrupt the status quo and resist.  [The Stopping the Coup] guide offers resources for organizing in your communities across the country.  It does not encourage or endorse bringing harm to any living thing” [6].

Despite our lack of faith in American electoral, political, or legal systems, WIRT activists encourage you to vote, as “we will vote.  We will refuse to accept election results, until all the votes are counted.  We will nonviolently take to the streets, if a coup is attempted.  If we need to, we will shut down this country, to protect the integrity of the democratic process” [7].  Please prepare for the November 3 to January 21 sh!tstorm, by availing yourself and your contacts of the Signal application, for end-to-end encrypted calls and texts relayed via device data, not phone signal [8].  You will find that many of your contacts already or will soon protect their communities from government/corporate snoopiness with the downloadable application, effective only when both sides securely communicate through the program (symbolized by locks and checkmarks), which also reaches non-Signal users (shown with open lock symbols).  Stop talking and texting on a third “party line”!

According to Fox television program scientist (an oxymoron?) Neil deGrasse Tyson and creative scientist, musician, and tar sands megaload-blockading, WIRT activist Jeanne Louise, an asteroid named 2018VP1 will coincidentally, closely approach Earth the day before the November 3 election, but it poses much less threat to humanity than one of the candidates [9].  As an appropriate antidote to increasingly “impactful” times, please consider voting early!  Thanks to Jeanne for revising the lyrics and re-recording her decade-old song Asteroid that “serves as an apt metaphor for our angst about the pandemic, the planet, and presidential politics,…[and that] argues for the pursuit of peace, love, and happiness, no matter how things turn out,” with the time we together have left [9].  Compared with the deteriorating state of American encounters all over the country, her new video version, posted and shared on facebook and played on the October 28, WIRT, Climate Justice Forum radio program, is a blessing!

Vote Against President Donald Trump Continue reading

Comment on Oil Movement Reports, Coal Mine Expansion, & Dakota Access Pipeline


October 15: Oregon Coal Plant Closure

On October 15, Portland General Electric (PGE) shut down the 40-year-old Boardman Generating Station in eastern Oregon, the only, coal-fired, power plant in the state and one of three in the four-state Northwest [1].  In 2009, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Sierra Club, and other green groups filed a lawsuit that forced PGE to permanently close the Boardman facility by the end of 2020.  Boardman stood as one of four destinations for the average three daily, Powder River Basin, unit coal trains that traverse and pollute north Idaho, besides the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia, Washington, the Customs District of Seattle, Washington (the largest, U.S. West Coast, and fifth-biggest, American, coal export center), and Westshore Terminals coal export facilities in Delta, west of Vancouver, British Columbia [2-4].  As Washington’s third-largest electricity generator, Centralia’s two coal burners will each retire in 2020 and 2025, with energy offset by natural gas or renewable resources [3].  Two of four units of the coal power plant in Colstrip, eastern Montana, owned by several utility companies, remain the last, uncertain source of coal-fired electricity in the Northwest [5].

November 1: Washington Oil Train & Pipeline Reports

The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) is proactively inviting tribes, citizens, organizations, and agencies to participate in public hearings and a comment period on its rulemaking and proposed, draft revisions of Chapter 173-185 WAC, Oil Movement by Rail and Pipeline Notification, the Washington law that requires weekly, facility and quarterly, state reports on crude oil transportation [6].  The third and last of three webinars on this rulemaking occurred on October 20.  DOE offered opportunities to view a brief, basic presentation, ask questions afterwards, and give testimony, through an hour-long, online meeting that participants could join from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, or toll-free by phone.

WIRT activists attended and appreciate and support expansion of this Washington rule, to include receiving facility reporting of type and vapor pressure of crude oil-by-rail and type and gravity of pipeline oil.  But we recommend: 1) disclosure of ALL unit hydrocarbon trains traversing the state to receiving destinations outside Washington, including possible liquefied natural gas and petroleum liquids, 2) quarterly instead of current, biannual (twice yearly) reporting of pipeline oil volumes and descriptions, 3) required, not optional, updating of advance reports by facilities on actually received, oil-by-rail shipments, and 4) increased data to local, emergency planning groups and better notices to emergency personnel, in advance of oil and other hazardous materials trains crossing Washington, which, although not covered by this law, north Idaho first responders say they are not receiving.

Please express your interests and concerns in these important decisions that impact the health, safety, and lives of north Idaho trackside communities!  See the linked DOE announcement for further information about webinar agendas, proposed rule changes, and instructions for providing written comments by 11:59 pm on November 1 [6].  Contact Kim Morley of DOE (kim.morley@ecy.wa.gov, kmor461@ecy.wa.gov, 360-701-2398) with your questions about this rulemaking. Continue reading

Methanol Refinery & BC Pipeline Alerts, Fossil Fuels Train Increases & Threats, Climate Wildfires, Strikes, & More


WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

Thanks to a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist and board member for noticing an investigative piece in the esteemed online journal The Intercept, and alerting comrades of its mention of WIRT as, along with environmental reporter Justin Mikulka, “one of a range of fossil fuel industry critics framed by the rail industry as a potential threat.  Another Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Report (RADAR) raised alarms about the creation of the philanthropic Climate Emergency Fund, noting that its board includes environmental journalists Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells.  Other documents detailed the activities of fossil fuel opponents like Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and the anti-Bayou Bridge pipeline L’eau Est La Vie camp in Louisiana” [1].

Grateful to leverage railroad and fossil fuels industries’ perceptions of growing citizen coalition threats to their ongoing pollution and looming derailments, WIRT will not relent in requesting, broadening, and normalizing community resistance to oil, gas, tar sands, and coal extraction, transportation, and infrastructure systems.  Undiscouraged by surveillance, criminalization, and isolation of peaceful, protective, civic duties predictably abandoned by industry-friendly government agencies and conservation groups, we will continue to engage opportunities to gather evidence, research, and disseminate information and encourage public opposition to fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails and production operations and expansions in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project (#No2ndBridge!) and Snake River Oil and Gas’ Payette riverside gas wells and processing plants.  Please support and work with a doubted, small group of thoughtful, committed activists, by participating physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a contributor, to together accomplish persistent and planned activities that are changing the world or, at least, the practices of climate change perpetrators [2].

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

Fossil fuels transportation fiascos, including the Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Coastal GasLink pipelines in the western U.S. and Canada, have continued 2020 build-out, despite and bolstered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide economic depression, and wildfires and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.  Likewise, BNSF’s pipeline-on-rails has been hauling the same or greater amounts of westbound, Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, and Canadian tar sands, unit trains through downtown Sandpoint and the Idaho Panhandle [3].  Even under ideal, summer and fall weather conditions, these daily trains seem to travel more dangerously in clusters at night, further polluting and risking the lives and livelihoods of local, tourism and recreation economies.  During September 2020, watchful, frontline, WIRT activists observed, documented, and/or publicly reported 81 fossil fuels trains, second in number only to the 92 coal and oil trains of August 2018.  Although July, August, and September 2019 witnessed the third, fourth, and fifth highest numbers of such trains (respectively 74, 73, and 73), summer 2020 months experienced similar or greater amounts (68, 71, 81), compared to healthier, more prosperous times.

These numbers indicate some of the strongest motivations for BNSF’s also pandemic-undeterred construction of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project, consisting of doubled tracks, temporary work spans, and second rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Bridge Street and Sand Creek, and almost one mile across Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille (#No2ndBridge!).  This industrial invasion expects to accommodate not only one third more trains (an increase to 80, from 60 trains per day) but also more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic over waterways and the extended, two-mile-long trains seen by WIRT and allies since April 2020.  BNSF’s expansion scheme additionally facilitates more trains spewing toxic coal dust, carcinogenic diesel emissions, and hazardous materials like crude oil, locomotive fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chlorine, and other chemicals into water and air sheds.  And by driving 1000-plus piles into railroad pollution accumulated in creek and lake beds, the project further jeopardizes regional drinking water and the critical, endangered species habitat of threatened bull trout. Continue reading

WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

Thanks to a Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activist and board member for noticing an investigative piece in the esteemed online journal The Intercept, and alerting comrades of its mention of WIRT as, along with environmental reporter Justin Mikulka, “one of a range of fossil fuel industry critics framed by the rail industry as a potential threat.  Another Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Report (RADAR) raised alarms about the creation of the philanthropic Climate Emergency Fund, noting that its board includes environmental journalists Bill McKibben and David Wallace-Wells.  Other documents detailed the activities of fossil fuel opponents like Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and the anti-Bayou Bridge pipeline L’eau Est La Vie camp in Louisiana” [1].

Grateful to leverage railroad and fossil fuels industries’ perceptions of growing citizen coalition threats to their ongoing pollution and looming derailments, WIRT will not relent in requesting, broadening, and normalizing community resistance to oil, gas, tar sands, and coal extraction, transportation, and infrastructure systems.  Undiscouraged by surveillance, criminalization, and isolation of peaceful, protective, civic duties predictably abandoned by industry-friendly government agencies and conservation groups, we will continue to engage opportunities to gather evidence, research, and disseminate information and encourage public opposition to fossil fuels pipelines-on-rails and production operations and expansions in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project (#No2ndBridge!) and Snake River Oil and Gas’ Payette riverside gas wells and processing plants.  Please support and work with a doubted, small group of thoughtful, committed activists, by participating physically as a volunteer and/or fiscally as a contributor, to together accomplish persistent and planned activities that are changing the world or, at least, the practices of climate change perpetrators [2].

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

Fossil fuels transportation fiascos, including the Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Coastal GasLink pipelines in the western U.S. and Canada, have continued 2020 build-out, despite and bolstered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide economic depression, and wildfires and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.  Likewise, BNSF’s pipeline-on-rails has been hauling the same or greater amounts of westbound, Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, and Canadian tar sands, unit trains through downtown Sandpoint and the Idaho Panhandle [3].  Even under ideal, summer and fall weather conditions, these daily trains seem to travel more dangerously in clusters at night, further polluting and risking the lives and livelihoods of local, tourism and recreation economies.  During September 2020, watchful, frontline, WIRT activists observed, documented, and/or publicly reported 81 fossil fuels trains, second in number only to the 92 coal and oil trains of August 2018.  Although July, August, and September 2019 witnessed the third, fourth, and fifth highest numbers of such trains (respectively 74, 73, and 73), summer 2020 months experienced similar or greater amounts (68, 71, 81), compared to healthier, more prosperous times.

These numbers indicate some of the strongest motivations for BNSF’s also pandemic-undeterred construction of the 2.2-mile Sandpoint Junction Connector project, consisting of doubled tracks, temporary work spans, and second rail bridges beside a historic, active, passenger train station, over Bridge Street and Sand Creek, and almost one mile across Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille (#No2ndBridge!).  This industrial invasion expects to accommodate not only one third more trains (an increase to 80, from 60 trains per day) but also more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic over waterways and the extended, two-mile-long trains seen by WIRT and allies since April 2020.  BNSF’s expansion scheme additionally facilitates more trains spewing toxic coal dust, carcinogenic diesel emissions, and hazardous materials like crude oil, locomotive fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chlorine, and other chemicals into water and air sheds.  And by driving 1000-plus piles into railroad pollution accumulated in creek and lake beds, the project further jeopardizes regional drinking water and the critical, endangered species habitat of threatened bull trout. Continue reading

Sixth Panhandle Paddle


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists, friends, and supporters heartily welcome your participation in the upcoming, Sixth Panhandle Paddle weekend of opportunities to discuss, train for, and stage resistance to the fossil fuels and railroad industry degraders of human rights, environmental health, and the global climate.  Interior Northwest residents are coordinating and co-hosting annual activities in Sandpoint, Idaho, to unite in opposition to regional coal, oil, and tar sands trains, terminals, and derailments and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s commenced, #No2ndBridge, track and bridge construction across downtown Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille.  Amid the intensifying situations of north Idaho railroad expansion, federal and media criminalization of dissenters, private militia invasions of Black Lives Matter protests, and COVID-19 health and economic disasters during the last year, we are reaching out to you, our regional network comrades, to share direct action skills and invite you to join with rail line communities, to protest fossil-fueled climate change via these free events on Friday through Sunday, September 18 to 20.  We would appreciate your involvement in the talk, workshop, and paddle, your RSVP of your intentions for spots in kayaks, canoes, and carpools, and your assistance with distributing this event description and printing and posting the color, PDF version of the WIRT website-linked Sixth Panhandle Paddle Flyer 2.

#No2ndBridge Talk

4 to 6 pm Friday, September 18

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

At this informal discussion, participants can exchange issue information, expand knowledge, and brainstorm strategies and tactics for creatively engaging and catalyzing further community resistance and regulatory and legal recourse to BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project and railroad infrastructure, pollution, and risks in the Lake Pend Oreille area and beyond, which activists have denounced and challenged during each of the Panhandle Paddles [1-5].  Please bring ideas about campaign organizing and railroad monitoring and protesting, and gather at 4 pm on Friday, September 18, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  After the Friday and Saturday meetings, we plan to broaden coalitions and camaraderie among activists, while continuing conversations and enjoying music outside nearby pubs.

Direct Action Training

2 to 5 pm Saturday, September 19

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

Regional climate and environmental activists and water protectors will provide several, interactive, training workshops, through talks and videos sharing frontline skills, stories, and insights.  Advocating grassroots, direct actions at the sites of environmental destruction, more than participation in expensive, ineffective, legal systems and other government processes, trainers will offer their expertise through three one-hour presentation and practice sessions on topics such as knowing your rights, strategizing and tactical thinking, affinity group dynamics, target selection and scouting, action design, roles, and documentation, media communications, police interactions, de-escalation, security, safety, and self-defense,  and jail solidarity.  The number, topics, and lengths of training sessions have varied over the years, chosen by and adapted to rural participants and supporting various ecological and social justice movements within current, U.S., political contexts.  Prior speakers have given advice on road and railroad actions, digital security, pipeline blockades, grand jury resistance, know-your-rights, and the previously mentioned subjects.  Organizers holding these trainings anticipate reciprocally learning and strengthening the volunteer activism gaining momentum in the Idaho Panhandle.  We encourage everyone who plans to attend to RSVP in advance and request particular topics and further logistical information.  Join WIRT and guests anytime between 2 and 5 pm on Saturday, September 19, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.

Panhandle Paddle

11 am to 1 pm Sunday, September 20

City and Dog Beach Parks, Sandpoint

For a sixth year, WIRT and allied activists are bringing their boats, bodies, and bravery to two locations, for on- and off-shore protests of Northwest coal, oil, and tar sands trains, terminals, and derailments and north Idaho, railroad bridge and track expansion.  To accommodate participants who are renting single or double kayaks, paddleboards, or other manual watercraft from Sandpoint businesses that open at 10 am, activists are meeting an hour later, at 11 am on Sunday, September 20.  Near the south boat ramp at City Beach Park in Sandpoint, we will launch a flotilla on Lake Pend Oreille, departing after participants arrive by land and water, to voyage around present and proposed railroad bridge sites.  By about 12 noon on Sunday, another rally will converge after paddlers reach Dog Beach Park south of Sandpoint.  Bring large, attractive banners and signs, visible to observers at great distances, and respond to WIRT with your boat rental intentions and mobility needs, so we can reserve and cover the costs of watercraft, and arrange transportation for folks who cannot walk to Dog Beach Park.

Event & #No2ndBridge Support

Can you contribute toward kayak rental fees or offer boats or supplies for this event?  Could you drive enthusiastic, Panhandle Paddle participants to Sandpoint, or help with event publicity and travel expenses?  Can your group or organization endorse and/or co-sponsor this demonstration of people power?  To bolster this collective event, please offer assistance and materials in-person, online, by mail, or through the Donate to WIRT button [6].  Visit the WIRT facebook and website pages, and contact WIRT via phone, text, email, facebook, or website, with your questions and suggestions and for further background and event information.  We eagerly anticipate sharing these actions with you and your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, on Friday through Sunday, September 18 to 20, grateful that regional community members are actively opposing massive, corporate, dirty energy infrastructure and transportation projects.

Issue Background Continue reading

Gas Well Spacing & Lakeside Logging Comments, Tribal Paddle & Oil Train Protest Reports, & More


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) offers these updates, condensed and compiled in chronological order from posts shared during summer 2020, on the WIRT facebook page and weekly Climate Justice Forum radio program.  Please learn about and comment against fossil fuels and forest exploitation proposals, advanced by Idaho state and federal government agencies at the behest of profiteering companies marauding private and public resources, and support and partake in grassroots and indigenous demonstrations of resistance to these invasions that risk and degrade human and environmental health and safety.

July 2: Stop Oil Trains Report

WIRT organizers appreciate everyone who publicized and/or participated in the seventh annual, regional, Stop Oil Trains 2020 events on June 25 through July 2, honoring the 47 lives lost and downtowns devastated by oil train derailments, spills, fires, and explosions in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013, in Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016, and potentially in all rail corridor, frontline communities threatened by the risks and pollution of crude oil pipelines-on-rails [1, 2].  We are especially grateful for David Perk of 350 Seattle and allied, Northwest activists for an interactive, teleconferenced, train watch training workshop, and for Occupy and WIRT volunteers who hosted an outreach table during Sandpoint Farmers Market, gathered signatures for the Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, and displayed spotlighted, environmental and social justice messages within the “bomb train blast zones” of downtown Spokane and Sandpoint.  As WIRT continues to confront up to 30 weekly, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway and Union Pacific Railroad trains, hauling volatile Bakken shale oil and sinkable Alberta tar sands, and to resist Northwest fossil fuels-by-rail export terminals, refineries, and railroad bridge and track expansions, we will update this report and post more photos of the Stop Oil Trains 2020 week of actions [3].

July 30: CAIA Quarterly Newsletter

Thanks to Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), for their quarterly, July to September 2020 newsletter featuring updates on CAIA president Shelley Brock’s bid for an Idaho state representative position, CAIA and Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meetings, cancellation of the July 2020 auction of state oil and gas leases, and other fossil fuels and public water and lands issues [4].  Please help stop Treasure Valley hydrocarbon extraction and resource exploitation, by answering three CAIA calls to action prompting citizen resistance to proposed, oil and gas well spacing and drilling and resulting, force-pooled leasing in Fruitland, Idaho.

August 1: Fourth Remember the Water Paddle Report

During the mid-summer heat and cool, full moonlit nights of late July and early August 2020, members of the Kalispel, Colville, and Spokane tribes, the River Warrior Society, and canoe families continued the historic and now annual tradition of the Fourth Remember the Water Paddle.  As supporters and equipment drivers watched and talked at 9 am on Thursday morning, July 30, groups of four to seven paddlers prepared and began their journey in three traditional, big, wooden canoes carved from cedar tree trunks and launched on Lake Pend Oreille, from south City Beach Park in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho.  They navigated under the BNSF Railway and U.S. Highway 95 bridges, onto Pend Oreille River currents over the course of 50-plus miles and three days, and arrived without an annual, cancelled powwow deadline this year, at the Kalispel reservation near Usk, Washington, at 7 pm on Saturday, August 1.  Read the WIRT report and view a video and photos of the event, through the enclosed links [5, 6].  Thanks and congratulations to all who shared this creative, successful Fourth Remember the Water Paddle!

August 4: Phyllis Kardos Primary Election Victory

Cheers for District 1 Pend Oreille County commissioner candidate Phyllis Kardos, who has won the Washington primary election [7]!  With faith in Phyllis’s sensible approaches to community responsibility, positive political changes, and environmental protection within a conservative stronghold, especially amid county decisions concerning the proposed Newport silicon smelter, WIRT activists will continue to support Phyllis’s campaign for election on November 3, through endorsement and outreach.  We encourage the western neighbors of the Idaho Panhandle to vote for Phyllis Kardos!

August 5: Idaho Gas Well Drilling Comments

In early August 2020, in response to a Snake River Oil and Gas application to drill the Barlow 2-14 “hydrocarbon well a mere 20 feet from the Barlow 1-14 [well]” and a public comment period on the proposal, Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability president Shelley Brock, attorney James Piotrowski, and Fruitland residents sent letters of objection to the Idaho Department of Lands, stating legal reasons for denial of the drilling permit [8-10].  They described potential harms to resources and violations of Idaho statutes that state approval of the oil and gas well on the floodplain banks of the Payette River would inflict, such as leaking well components and wasting of the hydrocarbon pool by allowing two wells within the same spacing unit and geologic structure [11].

Comment by August 27: Idaho Gas Well Spacing Units

On Thursday, August 13, the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) oil and gas director Mick Thomas held two hearings on the first of two or more 2020, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) applications for Payette County spacing units (docket number CC-2020-OGR-01-001) in and near Fruitland, Idaho.  This application establishes the first step that, if approved by the state within 30 days (by September 13) and followed by an integration order, would “force pool” unwilling citizens into leasing their privately owned oil and gas resources.  The spacing unit encompasses mineral rights holders around the Fallon 1-10 well directionally drilled in 2018, but not yet producing oil and gas, on the floodplain banks across the Payette River and under the city of Fruitland water intake plant, near U.S. Highway 95.  Prompted by Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) partners, WIRT wrote and sent comments on behalf of our 3,200-plus activists, members, and friends, in objection to this water-endangering scheme in mid-June 2020 [12]. Continue reading