BNSF Locomotives in River, USCAN & WIRT Meetings, #No2ndBridge Petition, Frontline Support


January 1 to 13, Moyie Springs: BNSF Locomotives in Kootenai River

Since late on Wednesday, New Year’s Day, north Idahoans and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) have been enduring a major environmental disaster: Two rockslide-derailed, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway locomotives in the Kootenai River, one nose-down on the bank and one submerged and leaking at least 2,100 gallons of diesel fuel toward a Kootenai Tribe fish restoration hatchery, 2.5 miles downstream, and into the critical habitat of three endangered species (sturgeon, burbot, and bull trout) and private and municipal water sources.  Industry-friendly, mainstream media have been repeating and embellishing hero stories about multiple emergency response agencies rescuing the trapped, almost drowned, two-person, BNSF crew with a county sheriff boat, two hours after a BNSF co-worker climbed down the now fully sunk, front engine and sledge-hammered and kicked its window open.  But is potential and proven emergency preparedness truly heroic when its enables the further ecosystem and economic devastation imposed on rural communities by private profiteers’ inherently perilous, fossil-fueled railroads?

Early on January 2, hazardous materials and other crews placed oil containment booms and shut down water intake pipes, as precautionary measures at the Kootenai Tribe’s Twin Rivers Hatchery on the Moyie-Kootenai rivers confluence.  On Friday, January 3, Boundary County declared a state of emergency and closed the Kootenai River for a week, and then extended the emergency order until February 8 on Monday, January 6, banning all motorized, public boat traffic from the Montana border eight miles upstream of the derailment, to Bonners Ferry eight miles down-current.  Belatedly on January 4, Boundary County issued a water quality advisory cautioning residents against direct, river water use during derailment “clean-up” operations.  Officials say that the diesel-polluted water is not flammable and does not endanger public health, safety, and drinking water supplies.

Regulating and documenting derailment impacts, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded its incident oversight, calling the spill “minor,” although divers recovered only water from the BNSF locomotive fuel tank and crank case in the river last week, which together held between 2,100 and 5,200 gallons.  Spokane television news reporters earlier noticed and videoed oily sheens on the river in Bonners Ferry, among 6,200-plus feet of containment boom placed in the waterway.  But the EPA, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and Boundary County are testing water every 24 hours in six places, and allowing BNSF employees and contractors to conduct river water sampling for pollution, an activity obviously conflicted by railroad avoidance of fines and legal challenges, not to mention its operation and profit motives that risk further catastrophes.

Do you remember regional citizens’ concerns, during the initial, 2010-11 years of resistance to tar sands mining and refining megaloads on U.S. Highway 12, about a megaload tumbling into the wild and scenic Lochsa and Clearwater rivers and Nez Perce Reservation waters?  Predictably, it has happened (again!) in north Idaho, except the megaload is one of hundreds of diesel-spewing, half-million-pound locomotives that daily rampage the shores of three Columbia River basin watersheds — the Kootenai, Pend Oreille, and Spokane — hauling loads as benign as lumber and grain and as deadly as Bakken crude, Canadian tar sands, and other hazardous substances.  The same fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails perpetrator that WIRT and #No2ndBridge activists and recently issue-mute, bigger green allies have opposed for its bridge and track expansion over Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, BNSF still has not and perhaps cannot carefully remove its submerged locomotive from the Kootenai River.  Without contingency plans for similar, future predicaments, the corporate interloper may abandon its megaload until spring and drag it across the river to sand bars, to dismantle and float it downstream for scrap.  Potentially culpable for worker endangerment, river contamination, and indigenous, rare fisheries ruin, BNSF could have prevented or alerted the derailed train operators of the rockslide that caused the wreck, if it had replaced a rock barrier and warning fence in the derailment area, which it removed during rail corridor maintenance several years earlier.

While reviewing, writing, and sharing daily media and WIRT activist articles, insights, and site visit photos during the last few weeks, WIRT has been overwhelmed by grief, outrage, and the voluminous but fact-vacuous, media information about this Kootenai River derailment.  BNSF assumes that the mostly complicit Panhandle inhabitants who bear the ongoing pollution and disaster risks of this multi-billion-dollar business will not ask questions or challenge its false narratives or remember its snafus that increasingly offer evidence unfavorable to its Northwest infrastructure and operations expansions.  But WIRT is determined to continue our investigation of this instance of inevitable derailments, and to insist that local, state, and federal agencies protect the public trust and watersheds by collecting and analyzing independent data on water quality degraded by the railroad industry.  Please contact us if you can assist with ground-truthing the environmental impacts of this corporate crime scene in a canyon constrained by steep cliffs, forested private lands, and the BNSF-requested, extended river closure.  We also intend to gather and condense our continuing facebook posts about this situation into an emailed and website-shared newsletter.  For now, we have linked those posts and their embedded news articles through this ever-expanding photo compilation:

BNSF Kootenai River Wreck and Spill 1-1-20, Wild Idaho Rising Tide facebook album Continue reading

Winter Solstice Thanks & Requests, Sandpoint Meeting, #No2ndBridge Attorney & Petition, Climate Strike Report, & More


Winter Solstice Thanks & Requests

As Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, board members, friends, contributors, and allies celebrate later sunsets since December 11, Winter Solstice at 8:19 pm PST on Saturday, December 21, and daylight growing another eight hours by Summer Solstice, we offer our gratitude for your participation and support during 2019, and share our hopes, dreams, and plans for the emerging, solar, new year [1, 2]. During the last nine years, volunteer, WIRT activists have urgently and actively worked to counter the current climate crisis, always asking everyone to engage their courage and dedication, and refusing to lose faith in the proven potential of local communities and governments to advance Northwest climate solutions.  Continuing vigilant resistance on the north Idaho, fossil fuels, pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontlines for a tenth year, we request your assistance with planning actions at WIRT meetings (1), participating in protests and demonstrations (2, 3), monitoring and documenting coal, oil, and tar sands trains and railroad infrastructure construction  (4), signing and delivering the #No2ndBridge petition (5), writing letters to regional editors and industries (6), recruiting an attorney (7), and contributing toward group expenses (8).

1) Sandpoint Action Planning Meeting

Grassroots, WIRT organizers invite your involvement in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, outreach, and #No2ndBridge litigation. We urge you to participate in WIRT, potluck gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, discuss tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate chaos, through direct actions and frontline solutions [3].  The WIRT climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with you and the regional, environmental and indigenous community about critical issues.  Join activity planning conversations on the first and third Thursdays (now instead of Wednesdays) of every month, starting at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Thursday, December 19, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint.  Due to winter conditions, WIRT will probably not hold monthly, Moscow meetings during January and February 2020, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street.  Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for informative posts and articles, and listen to WIRT’s soon resumed, weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, for updates about ongoing and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuels invasions and protests.

2) Climate Strike & #No2ndBridge Protest Report

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Climate Strike and Army Corps Permit Protest on Friday, December 6, at Serenity Lee Trail and Dog Beach Park in Sandpoint, Idaho [4, 5]! WIRT volunteers also offer our appreciation to the Sandpoint Reader and Sandpoint Online, for their editing and posting of public announcements of the demonstration, listed in print and website events calendars [6].  The community event protested Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s proposed Sandpoint Junction Connector project that has begun constructing doubled tracks and three additional railroad bridges transporting coal, oil, and hazardous materials across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint.  This industrial invasion has received all of its required approvals, except perhaps one each from Bonner County and the City of Sandpoint, including federal permits for bridge building, from the U.S. Coast Guard on September 5, and for dredging and filling wetlands and shorelines, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on November 20.  Please see the WIRT facebook page for a full description and photos of WIRT activists registering the rally without response on the U.S. Climate Strike website and map, resisting BNSF’s ongoing, regional pollution, derailment, and climate risks and impacts to Idaho panhandle towns, awaiting participant input among noisy heavy equipment in the dusty construction zone, and encountering and documenting a westbound, unit, “bomb” train of black, oil tanker cars with one rear, BNSF locomotive 6668, near the outlet of the large, formerly forested wetland below the present, Sand Creek rail bridge [7, 8].

3) Spotlighting Demonstrations

WIRT launched its first, public spotlighting on Saturday evening, November 30, while crowds gathered outside the Panida Theater in downtown Sandpoint, for the annual Giving Thanks concert headlined by native north Idahoans the Shook Twins [9, 10]. From Spokane activists of the Occupy movement, with years of projecting experience and fondly remembered forays in Spokane, Boise, Moscow, Sandpoint, and throughout the inland Northwest, we acquired one of two sets of spotlighting equipment on August 30: a theater light, sawhorse, wagon, generator, and especially 13 gobos (graphic object before optics), mostly pertaining to coal and oil train and other fossil fuels resistance and related topics and group logos [11].  WIRT plans to continue to honor their amazing legacy with spotlighting across north Idaho and the region.  Although the equipment is heavy and cumbersome, and requires two people to transport and set up the tubular light on its stand, we welcome invitations from the activist community to shine messages and images about environmental, social justice, human rights, and diverse issues, to assist your outreach in a highly visible, targeted, fun way.  Passersby, who see the displays on tall buildings and other places (even on megaloads!) during weekend and special event nights, generally respond curiously and positively.  WIRT spotlight organizers would also gratefully accept donations supporting our purchases of the $300 spotlight equipment and the $40 ordered or handmade gobos on any topics you choose.

4) Train & #No2ndBridge Watches

Please consider joining the active, north Idaho, Portland-Vancouver, Seattle, and Northwest network of trainspotting partners, who benefit from WIRT’s monitoring, photographing, and public facebook-posting of westbound, BNSF, unit coal and oil trains, for the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch and down-track co-workers. Mid-December 2019 marks four years of continuous, WIRT presence and reports from the downtown Sandpoint and north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline.  We especially encourage detailed documentation of BNSF, #No2ndBridge construction sites near the Bridge Street, Sand Creek, and Lake Pend Oreille rail bridges.  Winds and precipitation around the railroad easement and the almost mile-long bridge over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake push bulldozed sand, gravel, and train-spewed coal dust into creek and lake bed, pollution deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional drinking water, into which BNSF plans to drive 1000-plus piles for two temporary, construction spans and three permanent, parallel, second (and likely later third) rail bridges, accommodating riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional train traffic. Continue reading

Climate Strike & USACE Permit Protest


In September 2019, Rising Tide North America (RTNA) joined Shut Down DC and disrupted the morning commute in the nation’s capital.  RTNA and allies then blockaded major banks funding oil, gas, and coal, created a two-block, street mural that showed a livable world, and shut down San Francisco’s financial district.  Both of those demonstrations included hundreds of people stepping up to take action on a massive scale.  Since then, inspiring, Oregon groups fighting pipelines have blocked the Port of Vancouver and occupied the governor’s office [1].

On Friday, December 6, people around the continent are organizing alongside the next youth climate strike, as an inflection point for other large, coordinated actions.  In solidarity with student strikers and communities everywhere struggling against fossil fuels extraction, transportation, and production, we ask you to help us protest business-as-usual on the Idaho Panhandle frontline, where Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway received its last, needed, federal permit, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on November 20, for filling wetlands and constructing three additional railroad bridges and doubled tracks conveying coal, oil, and hazardous materials across Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and downtown Sandpoint, Idaho [2]. Continue reading

PRDC, WIRT, & Sandpoint Council Meetings, #No2ndBridge Updates, Regional Railroad Snafus


PRDC ANNUAL MEETING

Join Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) members and the current board at the annual, membership meeting on Wednesday, November 6, at the Yellow House next to the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street, near Van Buren Street in Moscow, Idaho. Please visit anytime between 5 and 7:30 pm, to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks, talk with and vote on the board of directors for the coming year, continue support with $5 annual dues and greater donations, and learn and ask questions about the PRDC campaign against the Idaho Transportation Department’s plan for relocation and four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 95 over the shoulder of Paradise Ridge (alternative E-2, which is not a “done deal”).  As an organizational member of PRDC, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) encourages you to see the PRDC website and attached event flyer for further information, contact PRDC if you are interested in serving on the board (secretary@paradise-ridge-defense.org or 208-301-0202), attend this worthwhile gathering, and send tax-deductible contributions to this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization at P.O. Box 8804, Moscow, ID 83843 [1].  We hope to see you at PRDC’s annual, membership meeting!

SANDPOINT LETTER TO COAST GUARD

The City of Sandpoint is drafting a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), requesting an environmental impact statement (EIS) and reconsideration of USCG’s September 5, 2019, final environmental assessment (EA) and appendices and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector Project — proposed construction of two permanent, parallel, rail bridges and two temporary, work spans across Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek, during three to five years. This lead, federal agency regulating the project that would also build a second rail structure over Bridge Street has provided neither an administrative appeal process nor an optional, 30-day, public comment period for its final decision.  As offered by WIRT and requested by the Sandpoint city clerk in early October, we compiled information and supplied documents and recommendations, to support the formal, but only symbolic, city letter for the Coast Guard record [2, 3].

In response to our October 31 inquiry ascertaining progress on the proposed letter and the Sandpoint City Council resolution adopting it, the city clerk graciously sent to us both files and the city’s March 2019 comments to the Coast Guard and May 2018 resolution requesting an EIS, which would accompany the city’s correspondence with USCG [4]. Please show your appreciation of city officials and staff upholding their constituents’ interests, by attending and encouraging your associates to participate in upcoming, regular, council sessions considering the BNSF EIS/EA issue, between 5:30 and 7:30 pm on Wednesdays, November 6 and 20, in Sandpoint City Hall council chambers at 1123 Lake Street.  Also see the meeting agendas and watch the recorded, video livestream of council and public deliberations [5].

NOVEMBER WIRT MEETINGS

While under siege by reckless development and resister repression, volunteer, grassroots, WIRT organizers would greatly appreciate your efforts in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, outreach, and #No2ndBridge litigation. We urge you to participate in November 2019, potluck gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, talk about tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate change, through direct resistance and frontline solutions.  The WIRT, climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with you about critical issues, and to share images, dispatches, and actions with the regional, environmental, and indigenous community, while we continue our grueling opposition and vigil on the north Idaho, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontline.

Join activity-planning conversations on the first and third Thursdays (now instead of Wednesdays) of every month, starting at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Thursday, November 7, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, and on Thursday, November 21, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint [3]. Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for posts and pictures, and listen to WIRT’s weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program, for updates about recent, ongoing, and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuel infrastructure invasions and protests, and share this information among your associates and contacts.

#NO2NDBRIDGE UPDATES

Attorney Search

WIRT has been talking with allies, attorneys, and government officials about BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector Project document and process discrepancies, and determining whether the Coast Guard’s final EA and FONSI sufficiently comply with relevant laws. Meanwhile, we have been witnessing massive, ongoing construction without all permits for BNSF’s bridge and track expansion, enduring noise- and dust-spewing, downtown Sandpoint, street reconstruction outside the WIRT office, dismissing criminalization attempts by released, federal investigation files and international media articles, and observing and reporting water-polluting, disaster-risking, westbound, BNSF, unit trains of coal and black tanker (presumably oil) trains, for the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch, all while continuing regional outreach via various modes, to WIRT’s 3,200-plus contacts and beyond [3]. Continue reading

Sandpoint Meetings, Lake Railroad Pollution, Bridges Resistance, & Construction


October 17: Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

Thanks to everyone who visited and contributed donations during rare, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), Moscow, outreach tabling at Farmers Market on Friendship Square on Saturday, October 5, and to a Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) member who met with WIRT on Sunday, October 6 [1, 2].  Despite a grueling, September and October 2019, continuing WIRT’s opposition and vigil on the north Idaho, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails, and #No2ndBridge frontline, our climate activist collective welcomes opportunities to talk with all about critical issues, and to share images, dispatches, and actions with the regional, environmental, and indigenous community [3].

While under siege by reckless development and resister repression, volunteer, grassroots, WIRT organizers would greatly appreciate your efforts in arranging upcoming presentations, training workshops, demonstrations, and #No2ndBridge litigation.  So we encourage you to participate in October and November 2019, potluck gatherings, enjoy climate action documentaries, talk about tactics and strategies, and offer your unique advice and assistance, as we together relentlessly confront the fossil fuel causes of climate change, through direct resistance and frontline solutions.  Join activity-planning conversations on the first and third Thursdays (now instead of Wednesdays) of every month, starting at 6 pm (not the usual 7 pm) on Thursday, October 17, at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, and on Thursday, November 7, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.

Meanwhile, please check WIRT website and especially facebook pages for posts and pictures, and listen to WIRT’s weekly, Climate Justice Forum radio program for updates about recent, ongoing, and emerging, Northwest and continent-wide, fossil fuel infrastructure invasions and protests, and share this information among your associates and contacts [4].  We are talking with allies, attorneys, and government officials about Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s bridge and track expansion document deficiencies, while we witness massive tree clearing and bulldozing without all permits for BNSF’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project, endure noise- and dust-spewing, downtown Sandpoint, street reconstruction outside the WIRT office, dismiss criminalization attempts by released, federal investigation files and mainstream media articles, and observe and report water-polluting, disaster-risking, westbound, BNSF, unit trains of coal and black tanker (presumably oil) trains, for the #IDoiltrainwatch and #WAoiltrainwatch [5].

September 27 to 29: Storm-Borne Lake Coal Dust Continue reading

Governor in Rathdrum, Sandpoint Council Meeting & Rail Bridge Permit, Climate Strike Report


Among numerous, ongoing, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), facebook and website posts, please review these opportunities for information and participation in regional, #No2ndBridge, and anti-fossil fuels campaigns, especially events described in the first two items, happening on Thursday, September 26, in Rathdrum and Sandpoint.

Idaho Governor Brad Little and his administration are hosting “Capital for a Day” in Rathdrum, from 10 am to 3 pm on Thursday, September 26, offering chances to talk about the governor’s conflicts between his climate change and fossil fuels interests, evident in his Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, Sandpoint Junction Connector project support and Treasure Valley oil and gas leases [1].

At a special meeting at 5:45 pm on Thursday, September 26, the Sandpoint City Council will consider its response to the September 5, U.S. Coast Guard denial of the council’s May 2018 resolution strongly requesting a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for BNSF Railway’s proposed, Lake Pend Oreille area, bridge and track expansion [2].

This week, WIRT initiated an inquiry into City of Sandpoint and Bonner County permitting of BNSF’s planned, second, Bridge Street, Sand Creek (granted), and Lake Pend Oreille railroad bridges [3].

Besides a dual event announcement, WIRT’s last email alert now includes a website-posted synopsis of #No2ndBridge updates since the Coast Guard’s disastrous decision to approve BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails bridge expansion [4].

Thanks to the one hundred-plus people who participated in the Lake Communities Climate Strike and BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest on Saturday, September 21, which WIRT board members depict with a description and photos from the north Idaho, fossil fuels frontline [5].

At 1 am on Friday, September 20, only 25 miles south and 36 hours before the Sandpoint climate strike and #No2ndBridge march, north Idaho lost another life in an Amtrak train and Athol pickup truck collision, explained in local and national newspaper articles [6]. Continue reading

September 21 Lake Communities Climate Strike & #No2ndBridge March


Global Event in Sandpoint Offers a Public Rally & Coast Guard Decision Protest

350 Sandpoint, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), and communities around Lake Pend Oreille are hosting two north Idaho activities in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike and in resistance to the ongoing pollution, climate impacts, and regional risks of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s present and proposed, fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails across Lake Pend Oreille and north Idaho.  Event organizers request that participants bring signs and voices addressing the climate crisis, and gather together with friends and families on Saturday, September 21, at East Farmin Park, Third and Main Streets in Sandpoint.  At 1 pm, the Lake Pend Oreille Climate Strike held by 350Sandpoint features speakers and music.  The BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest led by WIRT marches from the park at 2 pm, in opposition to climate-wrecking, fossil fuels trains and infrastructure expansion [1, 2].

People in 150 countries are organizing Global Climate Strikes on September 20 to 27, with urgent actions to protest fossil fuel pipeline proposals, expansions, and bank funding, to oppose coal, oil, and tar sands extraction and train transportation, to protect local and global air, water, forests, and species, and to push for just and equitable, clean energy solutions.  Amid increasingly chaotic weather, floods, droughts, wildfires, “natural” disasters, and widespread harm to people everywhere, worldwide demonstrations are calling for an end to corporate and government business-as-usual.

Your support and presence on the north Idaho fossil fuels frontline becomes more necessary every day!  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 your ideas and enthusiasm to these climate action opportunities [3].  Consider contributing physically and/or fiscally to #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].

Issue Background

During 2018 and 2019, thousands of Northwest citizens diligently participated in state and federal hearings and extended comment periods, requesting a scientifically rigorous, environmental impact statement (EIS) analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic harms inflicted by BNSF Railway’s proposed construction and operation of parallel, second (and consequently later third) bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s largest, deepest lake [5].  BNSF’s 2.2-mile, Sandpoint Junction Connector project would also double rail line through downtown Sandpoint and across Bridge Street, the only access to a regional, water intake plant, residences, and popular beaches, marinas, and resorts.  The three- to five-year BNSF scheme plans to drive 1000-plus piles for two temporary work spans and three permanent railroad bridges, into over 100 years of train- and coal-polluted, lakebed sediment, critical habitat for threatened bull trout and angler-prized fish, surface and aquifer drinking water, and the heart of Bonner County’s recreation and tourism economy, to enable riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, fossil fuels, hazardous materials, and other train traffic. Continue reading

BNSF Bridges Coast Guard EA Protest


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

Stop Oil Trains 2019 Actions


Regional events mark the Lac-Mégantic and Mosier disaster anniversaries

North Idaho and eastern Washington activists invite everyone to participate in the sixth annual, networked, Stop Oil Trains actions and workshops on Friday, June 28, through Monday, July 1, a week earlier than usual, due to Fourth of July, Canada Day, and local concert festivities on the following weekends.  The 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, and all rail corridor communities threatened and degraded by crude oil pipelines-on-rails.

During the six years since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, dozens of similar accidents have wrecked public and environmental health and safety and the global climate – more than in the previous four decades.  Nonetheless, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway carries 22 volatile, Bakken crude oil trains every week, while Union Pacific hauls one to two trains of equally explosive and irretrievably sinkable tar sands per week, along and over rivers, lakes, and tributaries throughout north Idaho and the Northwest, such as the Kootenai, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Columbia, and other water bodies.  Over 90 percent of these shipments must cross rail bridges above downtown Sandpoint, Sand Creek, and almost one mile over Idaho’s largest, deepest lake, Pend Oreille, where BNSF plans to drive 1000-plus piles into train-spewed, lake and stream bed, coal deposits, threatened bull trout critical habitat, and regional lake and aquifer drinking water, to construct three permanent, parallel, second (and later third) rail bridges, two temporary, work spans, and two miles of doubled tracks west of the current rail line, for riskier, more derailment-vulnerable, bi-directional, oil and other train traffic.

The north Idaho community continues to actively oppose, through public processes, protests, and lawsuits, BNSF’s fossil fuels pipeline-on-rails expansion, as we await and prepare for worst-case-scenario, project decisions by the lead agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, in charge of bridge permits and environmental and socioeconomic review, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, overseeing dredge, fill, and wetland activities.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) has been scheming further legal maneuvers, since railroad and state lawyers convinced a Moscow judge to dismiss our expensive, district court case against the Idaho Department of Lands encroachment permit in late March 2019, after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a Clean Water Act water quality certification for the project in September 2018.  With the #No2ndBridge situation soon quickly intensifying, we are arranging regional marches in response to those federal agency announcements, and coordinating a north Idaho, direct action camp with visiting trainers, on Friday through Sunday, September 6 to 8 [1].  As part of WIRT’s yearly Panhandle Paddle, which always offers an issue forum, training workshops, and a flotilla around the railroad bridges, action camp skills-sharing bolsters inland Northwest communities in the crosshairs of the coal, oil, and railroad industries [2].

Sandpoint, Spokane, Moscow, and Missoula activists of 350, Direct Action, Occupy, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, WIRT, and regional, allied groups have participated with thousands of people around the Northwest and North America, in multiple, public, Stop Oil Trains actions and the one-year anniversary convergence supporting Mosier, hosted by conservation and climate groups [3-5].  Please join concerned citizens in these upcoming outreach, training, and demonstration events, to demand an immediate ban of all Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction and train and pipeline transportation, refusing to let Big Oil risk our air, waters, lands, 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-by-rail pollution and accidents.  Thanks to everyone who has provided invaluable, relevant information, connections, and on-the-ground support for these events.  We welcome your ideas, questions, suggestions, and assistance at these upcoming actions: Reply through the enclosed, contact channels or on-site.  Expect ongoing, issue descriptions and updates, via WIRT facebook posts and website pages. Continue reading