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

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

WIRT Comments on Uinta Basin Railway Draft EIS


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

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

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

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

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

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


…WIRT Demands Better Prevention of BNSF Grizzly Kills

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

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

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

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

 

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


October 15: Oregon Coal Plant Closure

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

November 1: Washington Oil Train & Pipeline Reports

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

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

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

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


WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

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

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

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

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

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

WIRT as Perceived Rail Industry Threat

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

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

Increased North Idaho Fossil Fuels Trains

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

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

Sixth Panhandle Paddle


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

#No2ndBridge Talk

4 to 6 pm Friday, September 18

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

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

Direct Action Training

2 to 5 pm Saturday, September 19

Gardenia Center, Sandpoint

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

Panhandle Paddle

11 am to 1 pm Sunday, September 20

City and Dog Beach Parks, Sandpoint

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

Event & #No2ndBridge Support

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

Issue Background Continue reading