BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest

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BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest

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

East Farmin Park, Third and Main Streets, Sandpoint

Sandpoint Monthly WIRT Meeting

7 pm Wednesday, September 18

Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street, Sandpoint

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

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

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

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

Recent #No2ndBridge Issue Updates Continue reading

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


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

Online #No2ndBridge Petition

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

Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

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

July 30 & 31: Indigenous Climate Summit in Spokane

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Portland Tar Sands Terminal Forum & Comments

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

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

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

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


Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking

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

Oil & Gas Issues Presentation in Moscow

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

Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

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

Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking


WIRT Comments on Docket 20-0304-1901 Negotiated Rulemaking

On July 12, 2019, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) provided these extensive, written, still publicly un-posted comments to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), for negotiated rulemaking on IDAPA 20.03.04, the administrative rules “governing the regulation of beds, waters, and airspace over navigable lakes in the state of Idaho,” and as information extracted from court records and litigation insights, available for other, public comments [*].  We encourage participation in this IDL rulemaking comment period through and beyond July 12, attendance of statewide, public meetings, and requests for additional public hearings contingent on the unaddressed issues and citizen-unfavorable outcomes arising from the present proceedings.  Public meetings have or will occur as stated on the IDL website [*]:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 5 pm MDT

Idaho State University, Student Union Building, Salmon River Suite (third floor)

1065 Cesar Chavez, Pocatello, Idaho

Monday, June 17, 2019, 5 pm PDT

Bonner County Administrative Building, First Floor Conference Room

1500 Highway 2, Sandpoint, Idaho

Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 5 pm PDT

IDL Coeur d’Alene Office, Sundance Conference Room

3284 West Industrial Loop, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Wednesday, June 19, 2019, 5 pm MDT

Idaho First Bank, Basement Conference Room

475 Deinhard Lane, McCall, Idaho

Thursday, June 20, 2019, 5 pm MDT

Idaho Capitol Building, Majority Caucus Room (W-433, fourth floor)

700 West Jefferson Street, Boise, Idaho

[*] Public Trust: Rulemaking for IDAPA 20.03.04, Docket 20-0304-1901, Idaho Department of Lands

BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!


Thanks to each of you for your diligent, ongoing, resistance work on the north Idaho, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway bridge expansion issue!  Since Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s (WIRT) #No2ndBridge Protest #3 and the extended, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), draft environmental assessment (EA) comment deadline on May 1, WIRT board members, activists, and allied groups have been scheming a Sandpoint area march on an unknown but rapid-response date [*].  The march will either celebrate the still undetermined, Coast Guard decision to recommend a full environmental impact statement (EIS) studying the implications of BNSF’s proposed railroad bridges across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint, or protest USCG issuance of a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and less scientifically rigorous, final EA.

Because the involved Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula organizations are so proficient at together rallying successful, similar, regional marches and public hearings, we are asking for your and their assistance in co-planning, publicizing, and staging this event.  Please share your ideas about this opportunity (best locations, activities, speakers, days and times of the week, etc.), notify your contacts about this upcoming march via phone, email, texts, and facebook messages, and especially RSVP your intentions to participate in this critical demonstration, by responding to this email note or the facebook event [*].  We need your preparation help with inviting and bringing at least 75 to 100 people to this Sandpoint area, family-friendly march and regionally coordinated solidarity actions.  Please circulate the BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March Flyer, check the WIRT facebook and website pages for updates, and expect a flash-action alert with further event information, within days of a Coast Guard decision during the next few weeks or months.

Please consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to WIRT campaigns confronting the fossil fuel sources of climate change, at our mailing addresses or online at Donate to WIRT.  Thanks!

[*] BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

#No2ndBridge Protest #3 & Extended Comments


#No2ndBridge Protest #3

At the third of many likely demonstrations, please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and indigenous and climate activists for regional resistance to Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway expansion of its fossil fuels and hazardous materials pipelines-on-rails tracks and two temporary and three permanent bridges across the recreation, tourism, and vacation destination town of Sandpoint, Idaho,  through the downtown marinas, hotels, restaurants, and shops along Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest, forested mountain lake, Pend Oreille, home waters of the Kalispel and inland Northwest tribes and the critical habitat of threatened bull trout.  Bring protest signs, banners, voices, and snacks to share, along with the inspiration of speakers, drums, and prayers among fellow, water protectors and concerned, community members, at this frontline, Dog Beach Park rally southeast of Sandpoint, at 1 pm on Sunday, April 28.

#No2ndBridge Extended Comments

Perhaps due to the procedural mistakes of the lead, federal agency overseeing BNSF bridge permits and project analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), over 2,300 written and spoken comments opposing the project and demanding better environmental review, and WIRT and allied requests to extend the comment period to 90 days, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) re-opened for another 30 days (77 total days), until 9 pm on Wednesday, May 1, your potentially last chance to comment on BNSF’s insufficient, draft environmental assessment (EA) of benefits and harms resulting from BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project [1].  Although NEPA guidelines suggest preparation of concise EAs with no more than 10 to 15 pages, the length alone of the current, BNSF/Jacobs Engineering/U.S. Coast Guard, draft EA, with 116 pages and 12 appendices, indicates that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is needed for such a complex, flawed proposal with significant, but difficult to determine, environmental effects [2, 3].

For further information and comment suggestion resources to assist your letter, see the enclosed links and continually updated posts on the WIRT facebook and website pages [4-6].  Please search for USCG-2018-1085 at the federal, e-rulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov), and review your project issue(s) of concern among the draft EA documents.  With your individually unique comments addressing draft EA deficiencies and offering counter-facts, provide personal reasons and affiliations for your project-affected interests and your specific, substantive objections to BNSF project-inflicted harms.  Through the “Comment Now” button, respectfully ask the Coast Guard for:

1) A draft EA comment period extension to 120 days, to better engage seasonal and summer residents and diverse stakeholders,

2) Public, draft EA, and EIS scoping hearings, involving all pertinent agencies, organizations, and citizens, held in the most impacted city, Sandpoint,

3) Core samples and analysis of pollution in the lake bed, railroad right-of-way/easement,

4) Broader considerations of alternative, bridge and location designs and options, especially a rail route off the lake,

5) A more scientifically rigorous, unbiased, independent (not BNSF-contracted), full environmental impact study and statement that comprehensively evaluate the significant, direct, indirect, and cumulative project impacts, and

6) Inclusion of your remarks and accompanying material, supporting an EIS, not a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final EA, in the public record and final decisions for docket USCG-2018-1085.

Besides writing and posting your comments to USCG at Regulations.gov, also send them to the following agency officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (regulating dredge and fill discharges and wetland impacts through a pending permit), the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (overseeing project water quality impacts with a Clean Water Act section 401 certification issued on September 21, 2018), and the Idaho Department of Lands (rubberstamping lake bed and water impacts with an encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, and challenged by WIRT, but dismissed on statutory standing grounds by Idaho district courts).

If you and your friends and family cannot find time to write to the Coast Guard and other agencies, we encourage you to sign with your comments WIRT’s Petition to Deny and Revoke Permits for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector Project, which lists significant impacts of railroad bridge construction and operation on multiple, pertinent factors [7].  We will send petition signatures and remarks posted by midnight on April 30 to the Coast Guard et al.

#No2ndBridge Background & Context Continue reading

#No2ndBridge Comment Deadline, Hearings, Petitions, & 8th WIRT Celebrations


Coast Guard Draft EA Hearings

Thanks to the dozens of citizens who participated in the public hearings hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) at the Ponderay Events Center, on Wednesday, March 13!  The heartwarming demonstrations of strong, thoughtful, regional resistance to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway proposal to build second train bridges over Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint and Bonner County witnessed 23 of 29 testifiers speaking against the project: All seven at the 8 am meeting, and 16 of 22 at the 6 pm proceedings.  Collectively and abundantly, our community possesses plenty of knowledge and passion to heavily supplement the project’s public record with counter-information, and to exhaust all administrative remedies, as we expect better outcomes than from rigged, state hearings and comments.

Offering most of three hours of testimony on the inadequate, draft environmental assessment (EA) for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector project, opponents raised concerns about rail infrastructure expansion impacts on air and water quality, lakebed, mining and coal pollution disturbance, bull trout and other fish, nesting birds, construction noise, traffic, and economic effects, related industrial ventures, lake earthquake scenarios, global climate change from coal- and oil-by-rail exports, catastrophic, oil and hazardous chemical derailments, and more railroad neglect of spills into the watershed [1, 2].  Critics also faulted the draft EA with failure to engage and consult Native tribes and to consider recent seismic activity in bridge plans, overly optimistic impact projections, and insufficient spill-response plans and equipment, all calling for an independent, full environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Six railroad supporters, trackside residents, and apparent, labor union, bridge construction accomplices voiced favor for the purported economic benefits, relieved road and rail traffic congestion, and reduced semi-trucks of displaced railroad freight anticipated by the project.  They talked about elimination of train and vehicle bottlenecks across the lake and at crossings, track maintenance and safety, and the supposed success of the U.S. Highway 95 Sand Creek Byway.

Drawing on insights from our ongoing, state encroachment permit lawsuit, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists provided several, legally defensible points extemporaneously and prepared from our research, email alerts, and comment suggestions offered by other groups [3, 4].  In our oral comments, we noted regional and nationwide, BNSF derailment numbers, conditions, and history, possible connections between the proposed, Newport, Washington, silicon smelter and BNSF bridge and track expansion in north Idaho, and lack of USCG notification of navigation-impact commenters about a subsequently prolonged comment period and changed, lake and creek bridge designs, which drew audience gasps.  WIRT also mentioned incomplete or non-existent consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on threatened bull trout and its critical habitat in the project area, and with regional, sovereign nations, except the Kootenai and especially missing the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe of a WIRT board member.

However, WIRT activists were surprised by allied organization’s unnecessary, public statements at the hearings, about their neutral positions neither supporting nor opposing the BNSF bridge project, which foist the burden of commitment to court challenges and physical resistance of agency decision and permit outcomes on overworked, volunteer, regional community groups.  We have received no replies to our request for their explanations of motivations behind these most disheartening remarks.

Hearing & Bridge Issue Reports

WIRT photographed and recorded most, but not all, of the March 13, morning and evening hearing testimony for facebook-posting and broadcasting on our weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by climate activists for over seven years, for progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow [5, 6].  Besides news and reflections describing continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, and related topics, we aired the morning hearing during the last half-hour of the March 13 show, and the first half of the evening hearing on the March 20 edition, both temporarily available for listening on Radio Free America, by searching for KRFP, and viewing its full archive of Wednesday shows [7].  Tune in to 90.3 FM and online next (and every!) Wednesday, between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, to hear the last hour of the evening, March 13 hearing [8].

Considering that “public” television and Idaho welcome ads and funds from fossil fuel companies, we are not surprised that an Idaho public television program about Lake Pend Oreille lingered long on depicting Kalispel home lands/waters and lake fisheries issues culminating with bull trout, but never identified it as an endangered species, before the show launched into the railroad history and context of the #No2ndBridge battle (between 34:45 and 38:30), but never mentioned proposed, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails construction in bull trout’s federally-designated critical habitat in the lake [9].  At least, the one-hour presentation revealed the natural beauty and jeopardized health of our Panhandle region.

#No2ndBridge Comments by Monday, March 25

As the lead, federal agency overseeing BNSF bridge permits and project analysis under NEPA, the Coast Guard needs to hear from north Idahoans and our regional neighbors, via the potentially last opportunity to request that the USCG require additional impact evaluations through an EIS, instead of issuing a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and final EA.  Individually unique comments, which substantively address the deficiencies of the draft EA documents and processes and the BNSF project, provide the counterbalance of local wisdom so crucial to community protection of our watershed.  With only days remaining to act, see the WIRT website and facebook pages for further information to assist your letter, and share your earnest, public input efforts with your friends and family.

Please search for and review your project issue(s) of concern among the draft EA documents at the federal e-rulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov), and identify docket number USCG-2018-1085 in your respectful comments accepted until 9 pm on Monday, March 25.  Ask the Coast Guard to include your remarks and accompanying facts in the public record for this project, for an extension to 90 days for this winter-inappropriate, comment period, to better involve seasonal residents, for hearings in the most impacted community, Sandpoint, for considerations of alternative rail and bridge routes, for core samples of pollution in the lake bed, railroad right-of-way/easement, and for a more scientifically rigorous, unbiased, environmental impact study and statement examining this BNSF scheme.  WIRT activists eagerly anticipate and appreciate everyone’s initiative, expertise, and advocacy during this decisive, project review phase.

WIRT Petition, Litigation, Crowdfunding, & Annual Celebration Continue reading

BNSF Bridges Draft EA Comment & Testimony Resources


Thanks to the dozens of Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane activists who participated in the slide shows and lively discussions about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed, Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and Sandpoint area, bridge and track expansion, associated, public input and agency decision processes, the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) petition for judicial review of a state encroachment permit for the project, and effective, comment and testimony tactics for opposing the current, U.S. Coast Guard, draft environmental assessment (EA), issued instead of a more scientifically rigorous, draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on February 6.  WIRT activists are grateful to meet, see again, and talk and stay with the dedicated, regional community members so essential to the continent-wide, grassroots movement of water and climate protectors resisting fossil fuel infrastructure!  Thanks for your hospitality and ongoing work!

Since early February, WIRT activists have engaged regional activists, friends, and supporters via 2000-plus email alerts, over 500 facebook posts, 750 miles of visits, and hundreds of event announcement media releases, flyers, and handouts, to instigate public participation in four #No2ndBridge talks and draft EA comment and testimony opportunities.  We also rescheduled our Spokane presentation to attend the March 7, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper (LPOW)-Idaho Conservation League (ICL) meeting about the draft EA, to ascertain and assert #No2ndBridge intentions for court challenges of a final EA and an unimaginable finding of no significant impact (FONSI).

Please join climate and conservation organizations across the Northwest in providing written and oral remarks via these (potentially last!) opportunities:

Public hearings: 8 am and 6 pm, Wednesday, March 13, Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way, Ponderay, Idaho

Comment portal: https://www.regulations.gov, search for USCG-2018-1085, by March 25

Mail: Steven Fischer, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, 915 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98174-1067, for receipt by March 25 Continue reading

#No2ndBridge Regional Talks


During the upcoming week, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allied activists invite concerned, community members to participate in #No2ndBridge, regional talks and slide show presentations with refreshments in Missoula, Moscow, Sandpoint, and Spokane.  Event hosts of these free, open meetings ask everyone attending to bring and share snacks, stories, images, and donations, and learn about the natural and human environment of Lake Pend Oreille and the ongoing and potentially increasing traffic, noise, pollution, and derailment dangers of Northwest and north Idaho, railroad ‘funnel,’ fossil fuels and hazardous materials trains.

Discussions will cover the significant, adverse impacts of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector construction and operation of two temporary and three permanent, parallel, railroad bridges and doubled tracks across Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest lake.  As described in the WIRT petition to deny and revoke permits for this BNSF project, which we encourage you to sign with comments, this flawed, railroad expansion risking bi-directional train passage would degrade lake and aquifer water (is life!) sources, air and scenic qualities, native fish, wildlife, threatened bull trout, and their habitats, indigenous cultures, treaties, and rights, public and environmental health and safety, historic sites and private properties, boat navigation and emergency and vehicle travel, and recreation, tourism, residence, business, and economic interests and values [1].

Missoula: Tuesday, March 5, at 7 pm in the Union Hall, upstairs ballroom, 208 East Main Street in Missoula, Montana, co-hosted with 350 Montana

Moscow: Wednesday, March 6, at 7 pm in the 1912 Center, Fiske room, 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho, co-hosted with the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC)

Sandpoint: Saturday, March 9, at 10 am in the Gardenia Center, main floor chapel, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, with guest speakers

Spokane: Sunday, March 10, at 1 pm in the Liberty Park United Methodist Church, community room, 1526 East Eleventh Avenue in Spokane, Washington, co-hosted with The Oak Tree

Seeking to amplify regional resistance and rejection of this culpable, railroad scheme to build fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails infrastructure, by installing and removing over one thousand piles in train-spewed, stream and lake bed, coal deposits and bull trout critical habitat, WIRT activists will provide suggestions for oral testimony on March 13 at two Ponderay, Idaho, hearings and for comments due by March 25, on a draft environmental assessment (EA) released on February 6 by the project’s lead regulator, the U.S. Coast Guard [2].  Unless public processes or the courts secure a more scientifically-rigorous, community-preferred environmental impact statement (EIS), March 2019 offers the last opportunity for review and input on this BNSF proposal.  Presenters will also give updates and request support for the nine-month, WIRT petition for judicial review challenging the BNSF, lake encroachment permit granted on June 21, 2018, by the Idaho Department of Lands and State Board of Land Commissioners [3, 4].  Litigants currently await a district court decision on a February 8, 2019, hearing and state and intervenor BNSF motions to dismiss the case, after petitioner WIRT filed strong, meritorious arguments in a December 13, 2018, opening brief.

For further event and issue information, visit the WIRT facebook and website pages and outreach tables at regional, public events and farmers markets, contact us with your concerns, and print and post the accompanying flyer [5].  Ask the federal agencies reviewing BNSF applications and deliberating permit decisions to extend the comment period to 90 days, hold hearings in Sandpoint, include your comments in the project’s public record, and fully analyze this railroad expansion with an environmental impact study and statement.  Thanks!  #No2ndBridge! Continue reading