Seventh Panhandle Paddle


Seventh Panhandle Paddle Flyer

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists, friends, and supporters heartily welcome your participation in the upcoming, Seventh 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 almost complete 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, and COVID-19 health and economic disasters during the last two-plus years, 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 Thursday through Sunday, September 22 to 25.  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 Seventh Panhandle Paddle Flyer.

#No2ndBridge Talk

6 to 8 pm Thursday, September 22

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 6 pm on Thursday, September 22, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  During and after the Thursday 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 24

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 24, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.

Panhandle Paddle

10 am to 12 pm Sunday, September 25

City and Dog Beach Parks, Sandpoint

For a seventh 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 9 am, activists are meeting an hour later, at 10 am on Sunday, September 25.  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 11 am 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. Continue reading

Stop North Idaho’s Keystone XL Pipeline!


0 GTN Idaho Map 1

GTN Xpress Gas Pipeline Expansion

Residents of the Northwest and Turtle Island continent continue to experience the extreme, worsening heat, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods caused by fossil-fueled climate change.  But Canadian energy company TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), owner of the notoriously leaky Keystone tar sands pipeline, partially completed but unpermitted Keystone XL pipeline, and new Coastal GasLink line invading unceded indigenous lands in British Columbia (B.C.), expects the public not to notice its plans to stealthily expand its 1,353-mile-long Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) pipeline across north Idaho, eastern Washington, and central Oregon [1-5].

The GTN Xpress project would dangerously increase “natural” gas volumes by 150 million to 250 million cubic feet per day, in its 61-year-old pipeline system.  GTN transports gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” from the prolific West Canadian Sedimentary Basin and Rocky Mountain fields of northeast British Columbia and Alberta.  It connects with the Foothills and Nova Gas Transmission pipelines in Canada near Kingsgate, B.C., crosses the U.S. border at Eastport, Idaho, and terminates in Malin, Oregon, where it flows into the Tuscarora pipeline in northern California.  In north Idaho, the climate-wrecking, potentially explosive GTN pipeline traverses the Moyie Valley, Bonners Ferry, and the Highway 95 corridor, close and parallel to railroad lines.  GTN passes under a Schweitzer Mountain ski resort parking lot and West Pine Street in Sandpoint, and below the Pend Oreille River near Dover, downstream from Idaho’s largest, deepest lake.  From Malin in southern Oregon, the controversial Pacific Connector pipeline would have carried feedstock gas out to the coastal Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Coos Bay.  But a decade-plus of broad public opposition and regulatory hurdles overcame both boondoggles.

Through a compression-only expansion of the GTN system, GTN Xpress would software-upgrade the capacity and pressure of the gas-fired turbine compressor at the Athol, Idaho, pump station 5, from 14,300 to 23,470 horsepower.  Although the Athol station is located at 2244 East Seasons Road in Kootenai County, a dispatch center in Portland, Oregon, remotely controls it and 11 other compressor stations, numbered 3 through 14, which move gas along the U.S. part of the pipeline.  The facility stands just two miles west-northwest of the popular Silverwood Theme Park, full of hundreds of visitors on precarious rides during spring, summer, and fall days.  Installing new equipment and improving an access road at two Washington and Oregon compressor stations and along the pipeline, the GTN Xpress project would push an additional 250,000 dekatherms of gas per day out to smaller, linked pipelines and markets in Washington, Oregon, and California.  As one dekatherm provides enough gas for five average-sized (over-large) homes, new GTN Xpress infrastructure and gas volumes would force 1.2 million households to use fossil fuels for at least another 30 years.

Excess Gas & Northwest Energy Transitions

In its October 2021 application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the GTN Xpress project, TC Energy claims that “increased market demand driven by residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the Pacific Northwest” justifies aged GTN pipeline expansion, and that “the benefits of GTN’s proposed project far outweigh its potential adverse impacts” [6].  These plans prompted FERC to prepare a draft, federal, environmental impact statement (EIS) currently undergoing public scrutiny and input [7-9].  Although TC Energy has urged FERC to approve the project with a final EIS by October 14, 2022, and to authorize it by the 90-day federal deadline of January 12, 2023, company and agency staff must first prove to the commission that Americans, not just Idahoans and Northwesterners, need this pipeline expansion, and that GTN Xpress would benefit public interests.  As FERC called for draft EIS scoping comments on the project in February 2022, it also updated its policies guiding decisions on natural gas projects, allowing the agency to more thoroughly consider a proposal’s contributions to climate change and potential impacts on landowners and environmental justice [10]. Continue reading

Support WIRT Crowdfunding for PRDC!


Protect Palouse Prairie WetlandsProtect Palouse Prairie Wetlands from Highway Expansion

For the fourth time in 20 years, the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) is challenging the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and now also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in an ongoing citizen attempt to force selection of the least environmentally disruptive, central C-3 route for proposed U.S. Highway 95 realignment south of Moscow, Idaho.  PRDC filed a legal complaint in the U.S. District Court of Idaho on March 22, 2022, against the Thorn Creek Road to Moscow highway project.  This ITD scheme plans to reroute and expand to four lanes a six-mile segment of Highway 95, along the easternmost E-2 alternative route highest on Paradise Ridge.  The E-2 alignment would significantly impact some of the few remaining tracts of native Palouse Prairie and several critical wetlands.

PRDC disputes ITD’s assessment that the E-2 route would not destroy essential wetlands larger than the half-acre threshold of the Clean Water Act.  Smaller wetland sizes along E-2 would allow the project to proceed under a “nationwide” permit, with fewer restrictions and no further public input, while wetlands larger than a half-acre require the Corps to issue a more rigorous “individual” permit.  If PRDC can prove that some wetlands along the E-2 route each surpass a half-acre in size, ITD may be forced to stop commenced construction, re-apply to the Corps for an individual permit, and defend its preferred E-2 alternative as the “least environmentally damaging, practicable alternative” (LEDPA), which it is not.

After negotiations among opposing attorneys, the federal court let PRDC bring two wetlands scientists and a licensed surveyor into the E-2 right-of-way.  These experts found more than a half-acre of wetlands near the southern end of the project.  Subsequently, the ITD wetlands consultant sent back to the contested site confirmed the prior ITD determination.  Now, the Corps intends to study the area and decide whether the assessments of ITD, PRDC, or neither are correct.

On July 27, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), a member organization of the PRDC coalition, launched a crowdfunding site for PRDC, to help cover the work of attorneys and experts that could cost up to $20,000, during this expensive phase of current litigation.  To win this federal case and protect native Palouse Prairie on Paradise Ridge from Highway 95 expansion, PRDC and WIRT are relying on contributions from concerned citizens and the regional community.

Please support these earnest efforts by generously donating soon toward the $4,000 target of this publicly transparent crowdfunding campaign on the GiveButter platform, or by mailing a check to PRDC.  You can further assist WIRT and PRDC reaching this goal by posting this crowdfunding page and PRDC website and facebook page updates to social media, sharing issue information and articles with your friends and family, and encouraging participation in giving to PRDC.  Thanks in advance for your gracious contributions!

Protect Palouse Prairie Wetlands from Highway Expansion

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition website

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition facebook page

P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID 83843

Sixth Kalispel Remember the Water Canoe Journey

Kalispel Canoe Journey 8-5-21On Tuesday, August 2, through Saturday, August 7, Kalispel and regional tribal members and the River Warrior Society are holding the annual Remember the Water canoe journey [1].  The paddle usually voyages between Qpqpe (Sandpoint, Idaho) and the Qlispe (Kalispel) Tribal Powwow Grounds, during the days before and beginning the yearly Kalispel Powwow and around the time of the Festival at Sandpoint music concerts.  Families and friends are again paddling over 35 miles in traditional, dugout, wooden and sturgeon nose canoes, through their home lands and waters in the tributaries, lake, and river of the Pend Oreille watershed.  While oil and gas pipeline expansions and fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails infrastructure and transportation impose and risk further harms to indigenous people and places across Turtle Island (North America), Native neighbors continue to revive, uphold, and practice their ancient cultures and sustainable ways, through admirable endeavors like this canoe journey and culminating powwow.

Paddle organizers encourage observers and participants to share this joyful cultural resurgence at various route locations.  Like during previous years, and as depicted in linked photos and articles about prior journeys, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and area groups plan to welcome the paddlers at Sandpoint, during their arrival on Wednesday evening and departure on Thursday morning, August 3 and 4 [2-11].  The canoe journey tentatively begins with a Tuesday evening, August 2, meeting at the Kalispel Powwow Grounds, initially launches on the Pack River on Wednesday, August 4, and re-starts from Sandpoint City Beach Park on Thursday morning, August 5, ultimately reaching its destination of the Kalispel Village on Saturday, August 7.  Please see the enclosed itinerary, join WIRT in supporting this adventure, and contact Nathan Piengkham via facebook and/or respond to WIRT, for further information, logistics, and ways to help. Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains 2022

Stop Oil Trains 2022 FlyerJuly 8-10 annual actions remember the Lac-Mégantic, Mosier, & Custer disasters

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists invite everyone to participate in ninth annual, Stop Oil Trains direct actions and a training workshop in north Idaho, on Friday, July 8, through Sunday, July 10.  Five events 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 the northwestern hamlet of Custer, Washington, on December 22, 2020.  These demonstrations also support pipeline-on-rails resistance across the Northwest and in trackside and pipeline corridor communities and environments threatened and polluted by dangerous oil and its disasters.

Spotlight Message Projection

Friday & Saturday, July 8 & 9, 10 pm, Downtown Sandpoint

As the sun sets, WIRT and allied organizers will provide brief, light projection displays of social and climate justice messages on tall buildings in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho.  Meet after 10 pm on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9, wherever you see this light show, for discussions among activists and curious passersby, about Northwest oil train and terminal and gas pipeline expansion issues.

Resistance Outreach

Saturday, July 9, 9 am to 1 pm, near Farmin Park, Sandpoint

Gather with volunteer activists between 9 am and 1 pm on Saturday, July 9, at the WIRT outreach table at the corner of Fourth and Oak Streets near Farmin Park, during the Farmers Market at Sandpoint, Idaho.  We plan to talk with residents and visitors of the one-mile-wide, north Idaho “bomb train blast zone,” offer updates on Northwest oil and coal trains and infrastructure and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s second railroad bridges, and provide #No2ndBridge and other petitions, letters, flyers, and brochures [1-3].

Oil Trains Protest

Saturday, July 9, 1 pm, Farmin to City Beach Parks, Sandpoint

At 1 pm on Saturday, July 9, bring your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, protest signs, and creative spirit, to show community opposition to dangerous crude oil conduits to refineries and export facilities: Oil trains and railroad infrastructure, like the present and proposed, BNSF rail bridges.  Starting from the Farmin Park area, we will walk with banners and signs objecting to the Northwest pipeline-on-wheels and railroad expansion, through downtown Sandpoint to City Beach Park.  At these public march origin and destination places, we will share reflections and stories about the isolated vulnerability of rural, rail corridor communities to oil train and derailment catastrophes and industry invasions of local environments and economies.

Train Watch Workshop

Sunday, July 10, 4 pm, Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

For the annual training sessions on regional coal, oil, and tar sands trainspotting, David Perk of 350 Seattle will present methods for trackside observing, documenting, and reporting Northwest fossil fuels train traffic, via photos, videos, and social media.  He will discuss rail routes from the plains to the coast, train descriptors, refinery and receiving facilities, rail system operations, stopovers, and transit times, and train watch motivations and resources.  Please RSVP to WIRT for required registration to join this teleconferenced conversation with David generously sharing images, skills, and insights, beginning at 4 pm on Sunday, July 10, via Zoom and at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho.  WIRT needs more train monitors along the tracks of the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline, to document all westbound, unit trains of cars hauling Powder River Basin coal, Bakken crude oil, and Canadian tar sands.

Issue Background Continue reading

PRDC Donations, Earth Day, Ren Fair, & WIRT Opportunities

North Idaho Earth Day Climate March FlyerDefend Paradise Ridge: Fund PRDC!

As you may have read in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Lewiston Tribune, or Spokesman-Review, the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) is challenging for the fourth time in federal court the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and now also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in an ongoing attempt to force selection of the central route for U.S. Highway 95 realignment south of Moscow, Idaho, rather than the eastern route higher on Paradise Ridge [1-3].  PRDC filed another legal complaint in the U.S. District Court of Idaho on Tuesday, March 22, against the Thorn Creek Road to Moscow highway project, planned by ITD to reroute and expand to four lanes a new, six-mile segment of Highway 95 [4].

Several years ago, ITD applied for a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, to discharge fill material into Paradise Ridge wetlands for highway construction, and many Palouse and Northwest region residents sent comments against this project proposal.  ITD realized that it could not satisfy the stringent environmental requirements of a CWA “individual” project permit, which involves public input and a comparison of the different alignments.  So ITD requested and USACE granted a less rigorous, CWA “nationwide” permit for wetland impacts, intended for smaller, non-controversial projects and allowing ITD to begin ground work on its chosen, easternmost route, the E-2 alternative.

PRDC asserts that USACE incorrectly issued this CWA permit to ITD, because nationwide permits require that affected wetlands cover a half-acre or less.  In its earlier environmental impact statement (EIS), ITD not only described some of these wetlands as larger than a half-acre, but also documented the E-2 route as the most environmentally damaging of the three EIS-considered routes, which all meet the highway project’s safety and transportation goals.  But E-2 would inflict more significant harms on plants and wildlife of the Palouse Prairie, an ecosystem reduced by agriculture and development to less than one percent of its original extent, with remnants on Paradise Ridge.  Intact wetlands are crucial to this vanishing ecosystem, especially during the worsening droughts of the current climate crisis.  PRDC claims that the state agency improperly and arbitrarily reduced the documented size of several wetlands to less than a half-acre, to obtain this nationwide permit.

In three previous cases, PRDC has successfully argued that this project requires an EIS, instead of the less detailed environmental assessment prepared by ITD, and has alleged National Environmental Policy Act violations by the final EIS.  To win this current lawsuit, PRDC has hired wetland experts to analyze and help dispute ITD’s changes in its wetland determinations.  Along with attorney fees, this expensive phase of legal efforts, seeking an injunction against destroying essential wetlands, could cost at least $20,000.  Without enough advance time to secure funding from prior grant sources, PRDC is reliant on generous contributions from concerned, regional citizens.  Please send your check to the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition at P.O. Box 8804 in Moscow, Idaho 83843, or contact PRDC via its website or facebook pages, for information on donating stocks through its brokerage account [5].  PRDC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public interest organization that works to ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs.  The coalition includes the member groups Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and individual members.

Participate in Earth Day Events!

On Earth Day weekend, April 22 to 24, join Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane climate marches and a Moscow concert hosted by 350 Spokane, Friends of the Clearwater, KRFP Radio Free Moscow, Palouse Extinction Rebellion, Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, Spokane Falls Community College Environmental Club, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT).  From 1:30 to 4 pm on Friday, April 22, meet at the Pavilion in Riverfront Park, 574 North Howard Street in Spokane, Washington, and bring your friends, family, signs, chalk, and optional costume, mask, prop, or float depicting an animal, plant, insect, or organism, for a Gathering of Species leading a climate march that starts at 3 pm [6-8].  After music by performers, a rally by speakers, and information sharing by a variety of organizations, participants will voice their concerns and march on numerous blocks of downtown Spokane streets, demanding urgent action in preparing for climate crises and a cleaner, greener, safer world.

Continue reading

Reject Fossil Fuels Waste Disposal Wells in Idaho!

Injection Well MapOn February 18, Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and concerned, regional residents testified at a WIRT-recorded, remote, public hearing, held via teleconference by the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington.  Most citizens who participated in oral remarks denounced a Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) permit application to convert the DJS 2-14 oil and gas extraction well into the first, Idaho, Class II oil and gas waste,  underground injection control (UIC) well, in the Willow Sands field northeast of New Plymouth in Payette County [1, 2].  The Friday morning meeting also addressed SROG’s request for an exemption of the surrounding aquifer from its current designation as an underground drinking water source.  The EPA has issued a draft record of decision claiming that the aquifer is so contaminated, either by the incompatible presence of hydrocarbons or by operation of dozens of nearby oil and gas wells, that it cannot practically provide recovery of water for human consumption in the future.  Idaho activists continue to assert in testimony and comments that the EPA should reject both proposals, due to the myriad, well-documented dangers of oil and gas waste injection wells.

According to EPA and SROG officials, fluids injected into the DJS 2-14 well to depths between 4,900 and 5,500 feet below the surface would be separated from shallow, drinking water aquifers by claystone confining intervals.  However, SROG would implement “high-pressure injection of radioactive, chemical-laden, carcinogenic, industrial waste deep underground, directly through critical drinking water aquifers,” a common industry method that has poisoned private and public waters and caused earthquakes in oil and gas producing states during the last few decades [2].  SROG contends that it is only reinjecting naturally produced “water” into its original formations, neglecting to mention the “trade secret” toxic substances and hazardous materials used to drill wells and produce hydrocarbons at associated, local facilities.  This waste injection well would serve as the dumping hole, with predictably cracked, leaking casings, for millions of gallons of contaminated and possibly distantly transported, industry byproducts.

Through a possibly ghost-written, opinion piece in the conservative, online publication, Idaho Dispatch, Richard Brown of SROG attempted to disparage and discredit the valid concerns of CAIA and jeopardized Idahoans defending themselves from SROG’s toxic practices and damaging Class II wells [3].  Fortunately, his inaccurate depictions of potentially harmed home and business owners provided opportunities for an excellent rebuttal by CAIA president Shelley Brock, full of information from the attorneys, FracTracker Alliance, and academic and oil and gas industry expert Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, who have assisted CAIA over the last 18 months.  These credible sources encourage people to fight the corporate and government corruption, water contamination, and methane emissions of this first Idaho and all injection well permits and aquifer exemptions [4, 5].

After receiving multiple requests from members of the public, during the February 18 hearing, the EPA extended the deadline for public comments on this injection well application and aquifer exemption, from February 28 to 5 pm Mountain time on Wednesday, March 30.  Please send written, emailed (not mailed) messages and attachments to Evan Osborne (U.S. EPA Region 10 Ground Water and Drinking Water Section, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 155, MS 19-H16, Seattle, Washington 98101) at, specifically requesting another 30-day, comment period extension and inclusion of your remarks in the public record for draft permit ID-2D001-A, as described in posted WIRT action alerts and their links [6].  Include “UIC Class II Injection Well Draft Permit & Draft Aquifer Exemption Public Comment” in the subject line and your name, address, and telephone number in your statement, or call 206-553-1747 between 1 and 4 pm on Mondays through Fridays, to offer oral comments by phone.

For relevant facts and public input suggestions, see the enclosed and previous, WIRT, talking points, listen to the 36-minute, EPA hearing, and review the well application, aquifer exemption, and associated fact sheet at the EPA website [1, 6, 7].  Although its airs only a few hours before the current comment period ends, we also invite you to listen to a conversation with Shelley Brock of CAIA, recorded for WIRT’s Climate Justice Forum radio program that weekly describes grassroots, frontline resistance to the fossil fuel causes of climate change, broadcast every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, from progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow [8].  By March 29, we further encourage you to sign an informal, ongoing, public petition that has gathered hundreds of regional, hard-copy signatures since September 2014, demanding bans of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well treatments and oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho [9].

Please load the public record with as much credible evidence as possible, including entire news articles and government documents, to influence the EPA to deny SROG’s Class II disposal well permit and aquifer exemption requests.  Unfortunately, like many federal agency personnel more pressured by industry than citizens, the EPA has mostly heard from the SROG/state of Idaho alliance about these proposals.  Educating the EPA on prior wrongs inflicted by SROG may cause agency professionals to doubt the geological evidence presented by industry, and to seek other assessments.  Contact CAIA or WIRT with questions and for additional information and comment guidance. Continue reading

WIRT Comments on Setbacks along Sand Creek

WIRT Comments on Sand Creek Setbacks 3-16-22I offer this testimony and these comments on behalf of 3,200-plus members, friends, and supporters of the regional climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide or WIRT, based for six years in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, for the public record of the Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Sandpoint City Council regular meeting and public hearing concerning the city decision whether to amend current city code that mandates a water-protective, 25-foot, vegetative buffer along the banks of Sand Creek from downtown to the Highways 95 and 200 bridge.  City staff members have proposed this change to accommodate construction of various types of non-building structures extending into and over Sand Creek below its summer high-pool water mark, specifically a public plaza over a grassy area between the waterway and Gunning’s Alley, also called Farmin’s Landing, on the west side.

Ironically, the city originally purchased this creekside property to create ground depression swales of plants that filter and catch storm water sediment and contamination, an overdue component of urban infrastructure that WIRT encourages the city to build.  But now, the city seems intent on constructing more artificial, impervious surfaces in the center of a small town already walled off from Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille, by the flood-raised, BNSF Railway line, an elevated freeway, private condominiums, and a hotel complex, even while the erratic weather, floods, and wildfires of climate chaos threaten environmental disasters and financial losses.

Within the last 15 years, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its economic devastation of small enterprises, downtown businesses have endured destruction of the natural amenities that attract residents and visitors to Sandpoint, imposed by construction of the railroad-parallel, U.S. Highway 95 byway averting the city core, massive fires and demolition of historic district buildings, large tree removals and street and sidewalk reconstruction during numerous shoulder seasons, and WIRT court-challenged expansion of railroad tracks and bridges through recreation waters and the critical habitat of an endangered fish species.  (Continue reading these comments in the linked PDF letter.)

WIRT Comments on Sand Creek Setbacks 3-16-22

EPA Hearing on First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well 2-18-22

On February 18, 2022, the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington, held a remote, public hearing via teleconference, on a permit application for an underground injection control (UIC) well, the first Class II oil and gas waste injection well in Idaho, in the Willow Sands gas field in Payette County.  The public meeting also addressed a draft record of decision for exemption of the surrounding aquifer from its current designation as an underground source of drinking water (USDW), as requested by the project applicant, Snake River Oil and Gas of Magnolia, Arkansas.  Most citizens who participated in oral testimony at this Friday morning hearing insisted that the EPA reject both proposals, due to the myriad, well-documented dangers of oil and gas waste injection wells.

For excellent sources of relevant facts, concerns, and public input suggestions, listen to this 36-minute hearing, review the well application, aquifer exemption, and associated fact sheet at the EPA website, and see posted, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) articles [1, 2].  Please comment on the injection well application and aquifer exemption before 5 pm MST on Wednesday, March 30, by sending email messages and attachments to Evan Osborne of the EPA at, and specifically requesting a 30-day comment period extension and inclusion of your remarks in the public record for draft permit ID-2D001-A, as described in WIRT alerts and their links.  By March 29, we also encourage you to sign an informal, public petition that has gathered hundreds of regional, hard-copy signatures since September 2014, demanding bans of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well treatments and oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho [3].  Contact Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability or WIRT with questions and for additional information.

Hearing Recording:

[1] Oppose First Idaho Oil and Gas Waste Injection Well! February 17, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Reject Fossil Fuels Waste Disposal Wells in Idaho! March 29, 2022 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[3] Petition to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing and Waste Injection Wells in Idaho, September 29, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Oppose First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well!

Oppose First Idaho Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well FlyerProposed Injection Well & Aquifer Exemption

On Friday, January 14, 2022, the Region 10 water division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Seattle, Washington, issued public notice of a draft permit (ID-2D001-A) for an underground injection control (UIC) well application, authorizing the first Class II oil and gas waste well in Idaho, in the Willow Sands gas field in Payette County.  As also requested by the project applicant, Snake River Oil and Gas (SROG) of Magnolia, Arkansas, the EPA released a proposed record of decision for exemption of the aquifer surrounding the well from its current designation as an underground source of drinking water (USDW) [1-8].

The EPA notified local communities and tribal and state governments that it had opened a 45-day public comment period on this debacle, which concludes on March 30 and offers a public hearing via teleconference on Friday, February 18 [2].  It delivered the public announcement via electronic mail, for publication in the Independent Enterprise and Idaho Statesman, and to officials of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho departments of environmental quality, geological survey, historic preservation, lands, and water resources, the governor’s office, the nearby cities of Fruitland, New Plymouth, and Payette, Shelly Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), and Richard Brown of SROG.

These two EPA actions require public resistance and input via two sets of email comments, a remote public hearing, and any creative actions that arise.  The EPA plans to allow SROG to convert the existing, abandoned, DJS 2-14, hydrocarbon extraction well, located approximately five miles north-northeast of New Plymouth, into a Class II injection well, for dangerous disposal of fluids between depths of 4,900 and 5,500 feet.  In this well, SROG could commingle waste “waters” brought to the surface at its two dozen mostly conventional, oil and gas production wells in the Treasure Valley, with fluids not classified as hazardous waste from its gas plant operations.  Purportedly, “claystone confining intervals” would separate injected fluids from surrounding, shallow, drinking water aquifers.

The EPA also proposes to approve a drinking water aquifer exemption for approximately 269 acres within the injection zone of this Class II well, in the hills east of Little Willow Creek and Road and north of the Payette River and its floodplain, a few miles upstream from their confluence with the Snake River.  The federal agency has determined that this aquifer contained by several faults does not currently, and cannot in the future, serve as a source of drinking water.  However, within the 24 square miles (15,360 acres) surrounding the proposed waste injection well, multiple water wells presently provide potable and irrigation water.  (See the posted, southeast-facing photograph showing the highest-elevation, DJS 2-14 waste well, the closest, illegally acid-fracked, ML Investments 1-11 gas well [9], the lower, ML Investments 2-10 gas well, and the valley-bottom, Little Willow gas gathering facility, and an aerial map depicting the aquifer exemption boundary with yellow lines and existing water wells with light-blue dots [3].)

Regulating Class II injection wells after assuming authority over that program from the state of Idaho several years ago, the EPA cannot issue UIC permits under Part C of the Safe Drinking Water Act, if subsurface waste injection endangers underground sources of drinking water.  Accordingly, the EPA and SROG require impacted aquifer exemption to advance these otherwise prohibited, Class II injection well decisions and activities.  The fifth most seismically prone state of Idaho banned inherently risky, oil and gas waste injection wells in 1985.  But against strong public opposition, the EPA approved a 2018 rule change that transferred authority for permitting these wells, as requested by the Idaho Department of Water Resources, from the state to the federal agency, ostensibly overriding the ban and facilitating this controversial practice [6, 8, 10].

Probable Harms from Oil & Gas Waste Wells

In oil and gas producing regions throughout the continent, hazardous oil and gas waste injection wells have caused well-documented, devastating, surface and ground water contamination and induced and increased seismic incidents, including extensive earthquake clusters many miles from these wells that have inflicted property damages, insurance claims, and lawsuits.  As Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) warns, “This method for disposing of oil and gas waste, while notoriously hazardous, presents an even greater risk when promoted through the use of ‘legacy’ wells.  Steel and cement casings have a long history of failing over time, allowing toxic fluids to migrate into drinking water aquifers and to the surface, where they can poison streams, rivers, irrigation systems, and critical wildlife habitat” [8].  Federal laws two decades ago exempted many oil field operations and wastes, such as drilling fluids, produced water, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluids, from the environmental and hazardous waste regulations that govern other businesses.  Moreover, the historically understaffed and often politically repressed EPA lacks capacities to adequately inspect, document, and enforce oil and gas operation violations [11]. Continue reading