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 osborne.evan@epa.gov, 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 osborne.evan@epa.gov, 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

Halt the Thacker Pass, Nevada, Lithium Mine!


On September 27, indigenous and allied activists and organizations, defending the sacred lands and water and critical wildlife habitat of Thacker Pass (Peehee Mu’huh in the Paiute language) in northern Nevada, from a proposed, massive, open-pit, lithium mine, launched a coordinated, public pressure campaign targeting public officials of the Biden administration, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior, and state of Nevada.  Within days, they learned that the BLM had quietly issued an archeological dig permit this week, which allows “professional archeologists” and excavators to desecrate known massacre sites of Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone ancestors, and conduct government-sanctioned looting, while also providing momentum for the mining companies Lithium Nevada, Lithium Americas, and Far Western to start construction of the mine.  At this decisive time in regional resistance, which includes an environmental lawsuit with indigenous interveners and an opposition camp established in January 2021, the Native coalition Atsa Koodakuh why Nuwu (People of Red Mountain) and frontline activists of Protect Thacker Pass (PTP) are calling on all of us to help stop sacred site disturbances that could happen within days.  Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) soon in these actions:

1) CARPOOL & CAMP with WIRT and allies journeying to Thacker Pass, where a small gathering of serious people and Native elders have been fervently praying, honorably working, and creatively resisting the proposed mine, with good hearts, minds, spirits, and clarity of purpose, during almost ten months on the Peehee Mu’huh frontline.  They are urgently encouraging your immediate, physical presence and support at Thacker Pass: “Now is the time to stand up!”  In 2019, a PTP organizer traveled to north Idaho, to offer direct action training for WIRT’s Panhandle Paddle and ongoing #No2ndBridge campaign against BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion.  We are grateful to reciprocally assist this mine opposition, beyond covering Thacker Pass updates via our weekly, Climate Justice Forum, radio program, despite recent facebook aversion and a posting backlog.  See the Protect Thacker Pass and Protect Peehee Mu’huh website and facebook pages, for campaign information, massacre history, fact sheets, and camp rules.  Contact WIRT to participate in inland Northwest trips to Nevada [1-3].

2) DEMAND THAT THE BLM recognize Thacker Pass massacres, cancel the planned archeological dig, and promise to engage in proper consultation with affected tribes, per the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.  People of Red Mountain, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the Burns Paiute Tribe, the National Congress of American Indians, the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, and the Nevada Statewide Native American Caucus have all spoken out against the Thacker Pass mine.  Ultimately, these stakeholders are asking Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to rescind the record of decision (the main BLM approval of the mine) and revoke all project permits.

With your edited version of this information and the enclosed talking points, share this message with your networks and social media platforms, call and write to everyone listed here with these demands, and know that your efforts make a significant difference.  If you represent an organization, tribal government, or are otherwise influential, leverage your power by pressuring these agencies, sending official letters, requesting meetings, and coordinating with Protect Thacker Pass (contact@protectthackerpass.org). Continue reading

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