MRL-BNSF Empty Coal Train Derailment in Ponderay, Idaho

Rain and snow melt washed-out, BNSF train tracks above the Black Rock, lead-contaminated, former smelter site on Lake Pend Oreille in Ponderay, Idaho (Joshua Voss photo)

At 6:05 am on a dark, rainy Saint Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17, 50 to 60 empty cars and a rear locomotive of an eastbound, Montana Rail Link (MRL), unit coal train derailed, remained upright, caused no injuries, and released no obvious hazardous materials in Ponderay and Kootenai, Idaho [1-5].  The wreck occurred on MRL’s mainline, owned and operated in Idaho by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, a route typically carrying mixed freight and Powder River Basin coal – rarely Bakken shale oil and Alberta tar sands crude – from the east, through Missoula, around Lake Pend Oreille, and over the 4800-foot rail bridge southeast of Sandpoint.  Railroad first responders assessed the situation, located approximately 450 feet uphill and separated from the lake shoreline by a stretch of trees, only 250 feet from modest homes and two blocks from the post office and police station in Ponderay.  They would not estimate the timing of the re-opening of their tracks, but determined that recently intense rains and rapid snow melt had washed out a section of collapsed tracks “east of the intersection of Third Street and Cedar Avenue.” [6]

One set of train tracks and a Jersey barrier were suspended over a 30-foot-tall void in the railroad’s embankment on Friday.  At the bottom of the void was a current of storm water.  Other culverts under the tracks on Ponder Point appeared to be running at or near capacity on Friday afternoon…The cause of the wash-out remained under investigation…”High water levels and ground saturation are contributing factors.” [6]

The BNSF and MRL railroad companies, respectively based in Fort Worth, Texas, and Missoula, Montana, brought dozens of crew members, semi-trucks and trailers, and large pieces of ground and track-mounted, heavy equipment to staging areas east and west of the derailment, at Kootenai Bay Road and Seven Sisters Drive on both sides of Idaho Highway 200 in Kootenai, and at Fourth Street and Elm Avenue, adjacent to the railroad right-of-way in Ponderay, all photographed by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT).  Despite overwhelming railroad presence and close proximity to Ponderay houses, businesses, and government facilities, media stories rarely mentioned Ponderay as the location of this historic mishap, instead stating a derailment “west of Kootenai Bay Road in Kootenai, Idaho,” in the vicinity of a wealthy, lakeside, residential neighborhood.

While media reporters and government officials easily accessed the MRL-BNSF derailment mitigation staging site in Ponderay, to obtain crucial information, photographs of the damaged track area, and footage of interviews, nearby, impacted, community members and fossil fuel train monitoring and opposing activists could only reach the accident scene by vehicle and on foot for miles on snowy, lakeside trails, on muddy residential streets, and through wet forests, evading railroad cops to find, observe, and ascertain the accident scene [7-9].  At about 3 pm, two black helicopters left the Sandpoint Airport, circled over Lake Pend Oreille, and flew over the incident site.  Not until the following day, March 18, the local newspaper provided comprehensive event coverage confirming additional details of the emerging story.  By 4:48 pm on that rainy Saturday afternoon, a Kansas City Southern engine trailed one of the first, westbound, mixed freight trains crossing tracks repaired over the 30-foot chasm likely filled by the multiple dump trucks seen in the area since Friday. Continue reading

Olympia Stand Blockade Talk


Sandpoint/Olympia Activist Talks about Fracking Sand Train Blockade

Saturday, November 26, 12 noon

East Bonner County Library Room 104

1407 Cedar Street, Sandpoint, Idaho

Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies at 12 noon on Saturday, November 26, in Room 104 of the East Bonner County Library, 1407 Cedar Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, for a public presentation offered by Brian Wolcott, an Evergreen College student, Olympia Stand activist, and Sandpoint resident.  With photos, videos, and descriptions, Brian will talk about the week-long Olympia Stand blockade of a train transporting Chinese fracking proppants from the Port of Olympia to the Bakken shale oil and gas fields in North Dakota, the source of leaky pipeline oil and explosive oil trains.  Between November 11 and 18, community demonstrations and an encampment on the tracks expressed solidarity with Native-led Dakota Access Pipeline resistance at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota and with indigenous sovereignty movements defending the water, fishing, and hunting rights of local tribes, before riot police injured, arrested, and dispersed blockaders and protesters in downtown Olympia, Washington.  For further event information, Olympia Stand media releases, regional and national news coverage of the blockade, and a donation site for arrestees’ legal funds, see the Olympia Stand public facebook group and the event announcement on the WIRT website [1, 2].

WIRT Meeting with Visiting Olympia Stand Activist

Although WIRT did not hold our usual, third Wednesday, monthly gathering in Sandpoint this November, we invite WIRT activists, allies, friends, and contacts to connect and start collaboration with an Olympia comrade during the Thanksgiving break.  Converge at 10:30 am for a private, closed-door, WIRT planning meeting, before Brian’s greatly appreciated noon presentation, in Room 104 of the East Bonner County Library.  Brian grew up in Sandpoint, and intends to return to the Coeur d’Alene area to organize resistance efforts, when he concludes his Evergreen education.  During his weekend visit with his family and hometown, he hopes to share and discuss with old friends and the Sandpoint activist community ideas and decisions about coal, oil, and fracking sand train protesting and monitoring, the role that police play in demonstrations, and any other helpful information.

Eastbound Fracking Proppant Train Monitoring

During most days and evenings, from our office window (a block away from the Amtrak station) and along Sand Creek, WIRT watches and documents westbound, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), unit coal and oil trains crossing downtown Sandpoint.  So we are happy to alert regional residents to the additional opportunity to monitor fracking proppant/sand train movements.  Olympia Stand and WIRT organizers ask that all of us notice and report to them any groups of a dozen, whitish, covered, eastbound rail cars carrying fracking sand from the Port of Olympia to the Bakken Basin in North Dakota.  Traversing the region first as unit trains on a short rail line to a Seattle train yard, then as parts of mixed freight trains on mainline BNSF tracks through Spokane, north Idaho, and the Montana Hi-Line, the hopper cars have a key, confirmed feature of two  (not the usual three) square, funnel-like ports on their bottoms.  To accomplish this trainspotting and report proppant cars, please view the color and shape, number of cars, and overall train composition in the clear photos and videos of the rail cars provided in these links, especially the Olympian video of the heavily guarded train rolling through Olympia after the blockade [3-5].  Together, Northwest climate and indigenous activists are observing and noting the amount of time typically required for fracking supplies to move from Olympia to Sandpoint to North Dakota. Continue reading

Totem Poles & Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels: Second Panhandle Paddle

Totem Poles & Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels Flyer

Join in some summer fun on the water and beach to show Big Oil and King Coal and their railroad industry haulers and government facilitators that north Idahoans will not stand for their reckless endangerment of our lives, communities, water, air, and climate with their explosive Alberta tar sands and Bakken crude oil trains and their heavy, dusty Powder River Basin coal trains. Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, members, and friends in Sandpoint, Moscow, Spokane, and across the interior Northwest are organizing and hosting the second annual Panhandle Paddle at 11 am on Sunday, August 28.  We invite everyone to bring their boats of any kind and converge after the Lummi Totem Pole Journey visit at City Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho, for music, speakers, and on- and off-shore protests of Northwest fossil fuel transports and terminals and Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge deterioration, use, and expansion [1].  Please also participate in these second Panhandle Paddle activities:

Sign Preparation Party

RSVP and meet at 1 pm on Saturday, August 27, at the WIRT outreach table under the Farmin Park clock at the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint, or anytime on Saturday afternoon at the WIRT Sandpoint office at 301 North First Avenue, Suite 209B, above Finan McDonald Clothing Company in Sandpoint, Idaho. We welcome assistance with creating and constructing huge, attractive banners and signs that kayaktivists, boaters, and rally participants can hoist from watercraft or the beach and that observers can see at great distances.

Palouse Area Carpool

Gather on Sunday, August 28, by 6 am for the totem pole blessing or 8 am for the kayaktivist action, in the parking lot beneath the Rosauers sign at 411 North Main Street in Moscow, Idaho. Panhandle Paddle activists could return to the Palouse region by 3 or 4 pm or later that evening, depending on carpooler arrangements.  Please contact WIRT for further information about this shared travel.

Watercraft Rental

Several downtown Sandpoint local businesses can provide rentals of single and tandem/double kayaks, paddle boards, and boats. Please respond to WIRT with your watercraft rental intentions for the event, so we can cover some of this equipment availability and cost for participants.

* Outdoor Experience, 314 North First Avenue, 208-263-6028,

First-come, first served rentals of two single kayaks for two hours ($30) or 24 hours ($45), or of two tandem/double kayaks for two hours ($40) or 24 hours ($55), or of paddle boards for $20 per hour

* Action Water Sports, 100 North First Avenue, 208-255-7100,

Reservable rentals of two single kayaks, two tandem/double kayaks, or paddle boards for $20 per hour or for four hours ($50) or for eight hours ($90), provided with brief instructions before departure

Grassroots Climate Activism Support

Can you donate toward watercraft rental fees or offer boats, gear, or supplies for this event [2]? Could you contribute your inspiring words and/or melodies or delicious snacks and beverages?  Would you drive enthusiastic Panhandle Paddle participants to Sandpoint?  Can your group or organization endorse and/or co-sponsor this demonstration of people power?  Please contact WIRT through any of the enclosed channels, to bolster this community event or assist with our collective expenses.

Peruse the following background information about these opportunities and profusely print and post the attached, color, letter-sized Totem Poles & Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels Flyer.  We eagerly anticipate sharing these experiences with you and your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, thankful that regional community members are actively opposing dirty energy extraction and transportation.

Panhandle Paddle Background Continue reading

Totem Poles & Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels: Lummi Visit Sandpoint

Totem Poles & Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels Flyer

On Sunday morning, August 28, at 9 am, the Lummi Nation House of Tears carvers are bringing their fourth totem pole to City Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho, and at 11 am on the same morning (instead of August 27), north Idaho kayaktivists are launching the second Panhandle Paddle around the Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge. These successive events share the goals of the Lummi Totem Pole Journeys: To “defeat proposed fossil fuel projects, while laying the foundation for a broad-based alliance on future issues of common concern related to fossil fuels and climate change.”

Please join the co-hosts and coordinators of the Totem Pole Journey stop in Sandpoint – Idaho Conservation League, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, and the City of Sandpoint – and other regional groups actively opposing fossil fuel projects, such as 350Sandpoint, Idaho Mythweaver, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and allies, at the paved area behind the snack shack at City Beach Park, 102 Bridge Street in Sandpoint, Idaho [1].

Welcoming and blessing ceremonies commence at 9 am, with guest speakers from tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities raising awareness of the impacts of fossil fuels and the necessity of broad citizen opposition. Before group members of this final Lummi tour pack up and haul the totem pole to Missoula, Montana, and ultimately Winnipeg, Manitoba, it will remain on display until 11 am.

The Second Panhandle Paddle will launch an on- and off-shore rally and kayak and boat flotilla from City Beach Park after the Lummi totem pole event, to voyage around the Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge with a recently discovered crack [2, 3]. Physically demonstrating local resistance to coal, shale oil, and tar sands trains traversing north Idaho and the lake, the action organized by WIRT and allies further mobilizes frontline, inland Northwest communities unjustly impacted by the risks and pollution of fossil fuel transports.

Peruse the following background information about these opportunities and profusely print and post the attached, color, letter-sized Totem Poles and Kayaks Against Fossil Fuels Flyer. We eagerly anticipate sharing these experiences with you and your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, grateful that tribes across the continent are leading the current movement to protect lands and waters for future generations.

Lummi Totem Pole Journey Background Continue reading

#StopOilTrains in Idaho Week of Action Report

Candlelight vigil and march to honor Lac-Mégantic oil train victims, led by Wild Idaho Rising Tide from Farmin Park, Sandpoint, on Tuesday evening, July 12, 2016

Candlelight vigil and march to honor Lac-Mégantic oil train victims, led by Wild Idaho Rising Tide from Farmin Park, Sandpoint, on Tuesday evening, July 12, 2016

On July 9 to 12, three north Idaho climate activist groups staged four events for the #StopOilTrains in Idaho Week of Action, joining thousands of people in continent-wide commemorations of the three-year anniversary of 47 lives lost to a Bakken crude oil train derailment, explosive fire, and lake spill in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013 [1 photos, 2-6]. Their successful actions encouraged and enhanced frontline vigilance and resistance to volatile, climate-wrecking oil trains traversing the Idaho Panhandle on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific rail lines, from the Alberta tar sands and fracked Bakken shale fields to West Coast refineries, power plants, and ports.

Under rainy skies on Saturday morning, July 9, seven community members attended a social gathering hosted by 350Sandpoint in City Beach Park in Sandpoint. Participants stood around a table under a pavilion tent, networked, and distributed relevant information about climate change issues addressed by various, allied, local groups.  Focused on education, organizers welcomed everyone to suggest public events that they could coordinate.

At Moscow Farmers Market on the same Saturday, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) members talked with dozens of visitors of their outreach table at Friendship Square in Moscow, where they circulated fliers about the Lac-Mégantic disaster and displayed a poster with the written memories of local 2103 Tar Sands Healing Walk participants hearing about the tragedy while attending the First Nations ceremonies in Alberta. Moscow activists also gathered signatures for a petition to Governor Otter asking for his support of “all efforts to prevent oil and coal trains from passing through the state of Idaho” for health and safety reasons.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) offered a Skyped oil train watch workshop, presented by Matt Landon of Vancouver Action Network in Washington, on Saturday afternoon, July 9, at the East Bonner County Library in Sandpoint. Seven regional citizens learned methods for widespread, track-side monitoring, documenting, and reporting of Northwest oil train passage during Matt’s third interactive training session in the inland Northwest.  Two Occupy activists traveled 75 miles to participate in the workshop, and may provide a fourth session for their Spokane comrades.

To honor the 47 Lac-Mégantic oil train victims, WIRT and 350Sandpoint held a candlelight vigil and march with protest signs through downtown Sandpoint, from Farmin Park to the BNSF rail line near the Amtrak station, on Tuesday evening, July 12. Despite the solemn spirit of the hour-long demonstration, city and railroad police dogged the seven concerned residents of the vulnerable, rural Idaho, oil train corridor throughout the event.  After walking the quiet streets and sharing personal stories and reflections, half of the participants did not finish at the tracks.

350Sandpoint, PESC, and WIRT are deeply grateful for the friends, neighbors, and partner organizations who together contributed their efforts toward the #StopOilTrains in Idaho Week of Action. In appreciation of them, the victims of catastrophic oil train derailments, fires, and spills in Lac-Mégantic Quebec, Mosier Oregon, and dozens of other impacted communities, and the 15,500-plus residents of the mile-wide, Bonner County, Idaho oil train route “blast zones,” we are calling on Idaho government officials to end all coal and oil train transportation through the state [7-10]. Continue reading

8 pm Tuesday, July 12: #StopOilTrains Candlelight Vigil & March in Sandpoint

PLEASE JOIN US on Tuesday, July 12, at 8 pm, starting from the Farmin Park clock in Sandpoint, for a candlelight vigil and march commemorating the 47 lives lost to a fiery oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013 [1-3].  Regional climate activist groups Wild Idaho Rising Tide, 350Sandpoint, and allies encourage you and hundreds of concerned area citizens to participate and bring candles (we can provide some), protest signs, ideas for creative street theater, and reports and reflections on life in a vulnerable, rural, Northwest oil train corridor.

“The Week of Action includes events in dozens of cities and towns. In Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, residents gathered on Saturday, July 9, to honor the 47 people who perished in the fire.  ‘These are solemn events,’ says Marilaine Savard, a resident of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.  ‘Once an oil train derails and catches fire, you and your town will never fully recover.’” [4, 5]

In Bonner County, Idaho, over 15,500 people live in oil train “blast zones,” under the increasing threat of potential derailments, spills, explosions, and fires of mile-long crude oil trains hauled by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) and Union Pacific Railway from the Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil fields to Pacific Rim refineries and ports [6-8]. Currently, 8,419 people reside within one half-mile of the tracks, and another 7,087 people live between one half-mile and one mile of the rail lines in the county.  #StopOilTrains in Idaho Week of Action events emphasize and seek to resolve this environmental injustice.

We will report soon on #StopOilTrains Week of Action demonstrations in Lac-Mégantic, the Northwest, and Idaho, as the movement against fossil fuel exacerbation of climate change grows. The Quinault Indian Nation hosted the likely largest anti-oil train gathering during the last week, on Friday, July 8, when more than 600 tribal members, neighbors, and regional allies attended [9].  Together, they boated, marched, and rallied to call on the City of Hoquiam to reject proposed crude oil terminals in Grays Harbor, Washington.

Hoping to see you on Tuesday evening: Thanks! Continue reading

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho Week of Action

Stop Oil Trains in Idaho Week of Action Flyer

Groups stage week of action to #StopOilTrains in Idaho

Continent-wide demonstrations mark three-year anniversary of Lac-Mégantic explosion

North Idaho activists invite the public to join them at four events on July 9 and 12 commemorating the 47 lives lost to a Bakken crude oil train derailment and explosion in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6, 2013. During the three years since this tragedy, dozens of similar, fiery accidents have risked and wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades – including the Union Pacific oil train derailment, spill, and fire in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon, on June 3, 2016.

In response, Sandpoint and Moscow groups 350Sandpoint, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide are participating with thousands of people across North America in the July 6 to 12 ‪#‎StopOilTrains Week of Action.* Partner organizations providing event support around the continent include, Credo, Sierra Club, Sightline Institute, Oil Change International, and Waterkeeper. Continue reading

Comments Due June 13 on Last, Largest Coal Terminal

With the May 9 victory of the Lummi Nation over the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal at Cherry Point, Washington, the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal port in Longview, Washington, 460 miles from Sandpoint, Idaho, could become the largest such facility in North America. Please speak out against the many direct impacts that its eight additional, fully-loaded, daily coal trains would impose on Idaho public and environmental health, by sending your written comments to Washington officials before the 11:59 pm PDT June 13 deadline.  Reference the attached Power Past Coal Millennium Bulk Terminals DEIS Talking Points and the previous Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) action alert [1].

Thanks to ongoing, inspiring work by a diverse spectrum of grassroots climate activists to mainstream environmental groups, thousands of regional residents participated and testified at three public hearings on the draft environmental impact statement for this last of six proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest [2, 3]. Three cheers for the dozens of die-hard, anti-coal organizers from across Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, who coordinated participation and arranged carpools for these hopefully historically last public hearings and rallies against Northwest coal trains and ports.

Community members including WIRT representatives attended a 4 pm rally and expressed valid concerns about fossil fuel impacts through their testimony between 1 and 9 pm at the Thursday, May 26 hearing at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, Washington [4]. Bravo to Jacob Johns and other event participants from Spokane and northern Idaho, who blasted the basics of the folly of approving, permitting, building, and operating the Millennium carbon bomb [5]!  We enjoyed sharing the adventure of fossil fuel resistance with co-workers and friends in Spokane, during and after the public proceedings, especially while learning that Arch Coal withdrew its interest in this coal port project [6]:

“The second largest coal company in America and last big name in the coal export game…handed over its 38 percent share in the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview, Washington, to the project’s last remaining supporter, Lighthouse Resources – a company that used to be called Ambre Energy North America…Arch itself declared bankruptcy in January…Given the dismal outlook for coal exports, the bankrupt company simply couldn’t bear the ongoing cost of keeping the project alive…Arch’s exit leaves precisely one player in the coal export game in Washington and Oregon: Lighthouse Resources, which now stands as the only backer of Millennium and which also hopes to resuscitate its nearly-defunct Morrow Pacific project in Oregon. Lighthouse owns a pair of struggling coal mines, one in Wyoming and the other in Montana, and its entire business model hinges on exporting coal into seaborne markets that are now badly oversupplied with cheap coal.” Continue reading

Last, Largest Coal Port DEIS Hearings

On Thursday, April 29, 2016, as required by the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County, Washington released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the huge Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export terminal proposed for Longview, Washington [1, 2]. Along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is preparing a separate federal draft EIS, the agencies are studying the potential environmental and social impacts and evaluating the risks of this project [3].  They will review and consider all concerned citizen input after the 45-day comment period ends on June 13, while performing further analyses for the final EIS.  Once this document emerges, terminal owners would begin application processes for local, state, and federal permits.

Millennium proponent Lighthouse Resources (formerly Ambre Energy) owns 62 percent of the project; 38 percent owner Arch Coal has filed for bankruptcy. Their potentially largest such facility in North America, built and operated on the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter, could annually transfer and stockpile 44 million metric tons of Powder River Basin coal, strip-mined in Montana and Wyoming, between unit coal trains and ships bound for Asia.  Besides eight empty, returning trains daily, the terminal would impose on trackside communities eight fully loaded, additional coal trains per day.

This last remaining Northwest coal export project of an original six proposals should concern Idahoans, who live among relatively clean air and water, abundant wildlife, and scenic beauty, just as much as Washington citizens [4]. Coal transport through Sandpoint and surrounding north Idaho communities, 400-plus miles away, directly pollutes, threatens, and impacts regional public and environmental health and safety and economic vitality, all for private profit.  Each coal train engine spews carcinogenic diesel fumes, and its 110 open rail cars together shed 55,000 pounds of coal dust from mine to port, laden with arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, tin, and other heavy metals.  Health experts link exposure to diesel exhaust and coal dust with decreased lung capacity and exacerbated asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, lung cancer, and heart disease.  Increased, slow-moving coal traffic can also obstruct and delay vehicles at rail crossings, extend the travel times of emergency responders, and block access to hospitals, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods.  Heavy coal trains damage rails with their pressure and clog the pores of gravel under tracks, reducing wet ballast permeability and stability and thus risking derailment of other hazardous and explosive freight.

Why support the significantly faltering coal industry and world markets [5, 6]? In recent months, owners of a dozen of the most productive coal mines in the Powder River Basin and country, Peabody, Arch, and Alpha Natural Resources, have filed for bankruptcy [7].  With the downturn in Wyoming coal, oil, and gas production, 2,400 dirty energy sector employees have lost jobs since January 1, most from the two largest coal companies [8].  Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has furloughed 4,600 workers nationwide over the last several months, and Union Pacific Railroad has laid off 4,100 employees.  After 30-plus years of endlessly fighting coal projects, tribal and Montana activists have stopped the Otter Creek coal mine in the Powder River Basin, and the federal Surface Transportation Board has dismissed the permit for the Tongue River Railroad [9].  Agencies temporarily suspended EIS preparation for the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham, before the Lummi Nation and supportive Northwest tribes convinced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject permits for the once biggest proposed coal port in North America, in defense of their Constitutionally-protected treaty rights to fishing grounds and practices [10].  And these developments represent only the most salient of recent, historic Northwest victories over extreme energy projects.

But the Washington Department of Ecology has announced three informational open houses and public hearings on the proposed Longview coal terminal draft EIS in three cities across the state. Various organizers with the Power Past Coal and Stand Up To Oil coalitions are hosting 4 pm rallies at each location, before oral testimony restarts after 5 pm agency presentations (also at 1 pm).  Please read the draft EIS on the Department of Ecology’s website, wear red, and come prepared to speak for only two minutes and/or provide comments to a court reporter and/or in written form during the meeting.

* Tuesday, May 24, 1 to 9 pm at the Cowlitz Regional Conference Center, 1900 Seventh Avenue in Longview, Washington [11]

* Thursday, May 26, 1 to 9 pm at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 West Spokane Falls Boulevard in Spokane, Washington [12]

* Thursday, June 2, 1 to 9 pm at the TRAC Center, 6600 Burden Boulevard in Pasco, Washington [13] Continue reading

Inland NW Break Free Planning & Training Workshops

Inland NW Break Free Workshops Flyer

Through the ongoing participation of Northwest fossil fuels resisters in public events, hearings, marches, and media stories, we have clearly registered our opposition to the expansion of coal, oil, and gas infrastructure projects across the region. Accelerating impacts of climate change call for ever stronger messages and unified, non-violent, civilly disobedient, direct actions.  For months, Pacific Northwest organizers have been planning a Break Free from Fossil Fuels action, a mass and allied protest of two crude oil refineries at March Point near Anacortes, Washington, on May 13 to 15, 2016 (  Please join us in risking arrest or supporting others as part of ongoing Northwest resistance to fossil fuels.

In late March 2016, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies promised hundreds of participants in well-attended screenings and panel discussions of the global climate activism documentary This Changes Everything in Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, and at WIRT’s Fifth Annual Celebration in Moscow, that we intend to stage regional direct action and kayaktivist trainings before the Anacortes uprising.  Over the last month, we have incessantly requested that our western Oregon and Washington colleagues send trainers to the inland Northwest, to further recruit, mobilize, and prepare activists for the mid-May Break Free Pacific Northwest action.  After pouring years of energy into supporting opposition to Washington state fossil fuel infrastructure projects, we are understandably eager for some West Coast input toward receptive inland Northwest frontlines.

A small team of Oregon comrades generously proposed to travel to northern Idaho and eastern Washington and present several trainings on consecutive days, among a dozen similar workshops scheduled across the region. But considering the time and expense involved in providing guidance to predictably low Idaho turnouts, they decided to cancel their plans.

Unwilling to sacrifice our networks to the strong tendency to discount interior Northwest activism, due to low participation numbers, unnecessary competition and targeted suppression from larger groups, and the limited capacity of a few climate activism organizers dismissed by their communities as too radical or criminal, WIRT is now hosting three Break Free logistics planning and direct action training convergences. Although we would prefer to concentrate our efforts on local empowerment and resulting strong, relatively urgent actions like those against tar sands megaloads and Shell Arctic drilling armadas, not to mention volatile bomb trains and explosive gas facilities, please expand our work supporting this historic protest by attending these workshops:

* Tuesday, May 3, 7 pm at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho

* Wednesday, May 4, 7 pm at the WIRT office, 301 North First Avenue in Sandpoint, Idaho

* Saturday, May 7, 4 pm at the Liberty Park United Methodist Church, 1526 East Eleventh Avenue in Spokane, Washington Continue reading