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

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


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

Online #No2ndBridge Petition

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

Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March!

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

July 30 & 31: Indigenous Climate Summit in Spokane

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

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

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

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

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

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


Idaho Navigable Lakes Negotiated Rulemaking

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

Oil & Gas Issues Presentation in Moscow

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

Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

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

June Meetings, Trainings, & Marches!


Unknown Date: BNSF Bridges EIS or EA March! (excerpted elsewhere)

Sunday, June 2: Extinction Rebellion Meeting, Moscow

An emerging chapter of Extinction Rebellion is organizing in the Moscow-Pullman area, as part of the international, apolitical network engaging non-violent, direct action to persuade governments to act on current climate and ecological emergencies [1].  Gather for the first meeting between 5 and 6 pm on Sunday, June 2, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow.

Sunday, June 2: Know Your Rights Training, Moscow

The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) of Eugene, Oregon, is hosting a know-your-rights training called Empowering People to Organize for the Climate and Community [2].  While traveling to Montana for a workshops tour, Lauren Regan, the founder, executive director, and senior staff attorney of CLDC, is offering a special training for north Idaho climate defenders.  With 22 years of experience as an activist defense lawyer, representing ShellNo and Break Free Northwest blockaders, many Standing Rock water protectors, and all of the tar sands pipeline valve turners, Lauren also serves as the legal coordinator for the Protect the Protest coalition against SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation, usually filed by corporations to stymie activist opposition).  Please spread this event news, share the CLDC Know Your Rights Training Flyer, and join Lauren, Extinction Rebellion, and WIRT from 6 to 8:30 pm on Sunday, June 2, in the 1912 Center Fiske Room at 412 East Third Street in Moscow.

Wednesdays, June 5 & 19: WIRT Monthly Meetings, Moscow & Sandpoint Continue reading

Forced Pooling & Acid Fracking in Idaho


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is completing newsletters about eighth WIRT celebrations, dismissal of our state court case against doubled, north Idaho, railroad bridges, a re-opened, Coast Guard, comment period on that BNSF proposal, and other related topics, delayed by a recent week of long-overdue rest.  But we are sending this 2019, southwest Idaho, oil and gas information first, drawn from WIRT facebook posts and lodged on the WIRT website on April 17, in solidarity and support of a Tuesday evening, April 16, talk in Moscow.

CAIA Presentation in Moscow

The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) will host a Skyped, slide presentation and talk by Shelley Brock of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) at 7:15 pm on Tuesday, April 16, at the Water Operations Building, 201 North Main Street in Moscow, Idaho [1].  Shelley will discuss oil and gas well issues in Idaho, including landowner and CAIA, legal challenges of state forced pooling/integration processes, by which the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Department of Lands force property owners to lease their mineral resources and rights to oil and gas companies.  Please attend this insightful event and/or contact SEC at sec@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7133, for further information.

Forced Pooling Court Decisions & Public Input

“U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill had ruled in August that the Idaho Department of Lands’ procedure for forcing mineral rights from unconsenting owners into pools for extraction violated due process.  After Winmill reaffirmed the ruling on February 1, the state faced a deadline early in March to formally appeal…CAIA, an Eagle-based group which had joined in the suit challenging the forced pooling methods, noted…that the state had opted not to contest Winmill’s ruling…Idaho Department of Lands hasn’t announced next steps to address the due process shortcoming [2].

…Unlike the CAIA-led suit against Idaho gas and oil regulators, the class action complaint filed March 1 in Payette County was brought by [nine local] lessors who signed [six] agreements to lease their mineral rights.  The complaint seeks to end [gas producer] Alta Mesa’s alleged practice of deducting a portion of the producer’s midstream expenses from the lessors’ royalty checks [that the oil and gas leases do not expressly authorize].  It also points to a requirement under the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Act that interest of 12 percent be added to royalty payments not paid within 60 days of their due date…The action is brought on behalf of the class of all ‘persons who are or were royalty owners in Idaho wells where defendants [various Alta Mesa entities and others] are or were the operator…from January 1, 2014 to the date class notice is given…The class claims relate to royalty payments for gas and its constituents (such as residue gas, natural gas liquids, or drip condensate)’” [2].

Despite a Tuesday, April 9, deadline for comments, please write an email to Kourtney Romine (kromine@idl.idaho.gov) at the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and blind-copy your input to CAIA (sb-caia@hotmail.com), objecting to the state practice of forced lease pooling that allows oil and gas drilling operations against property and mineral owners’ wishes, and providing suggestions for better processes to protect vulnerable communities from similar, future activities, as prompted by the linked, CAIA, talking points and ideally regulated by proposed rulemaking [3].  If possible, also attend and/or watch the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC) hearing at 1 pm on Tuesday, April 23, to pack room EW 42 of the state capitol and/or testify for three minutes about “just and reasonable” terms for future, forced pooling applications that impose inadequate compensation and profound risks on Idaho citizens.  Thanks to Shelley Brock of CAIA for her action alert!

Acid Fracking of Payette County Wells

Since July 2018, Alta Mesa has been matrix acidizing the tight sandstone formation reservoirs reached by Payette County oil and gas wells, with extremely hazardous hydrofluoric acid and xylene, chemically dissolving deposits and stimulating hydrocarbon flow under lower pressures than hydraulic fracturing (fracking), without providing essential information, undergoing application review, and sending final reports on well treatments and waste fluid disposal to state regulators, who did not file an unpublicized, administrative complaint and charges until February 5, 2019.  Meanwhile, IDL and Alta Mesa officials have countered numerous citizen concerns about hydraulic fracturing with public statements like one by Lieutenant Governor Brad Little during a televised, late-October 2018, gubernatorial debate: “There is no fracking in Idaho” [4].  Hundreds of informal, WIRT petition signatures against fracking and associated waste injection wells were stolen from a vehicle within days of that broadcast. Continue reading

Silicon Smelter Hearings, Sandpoint WIRT Meeting, ACLU Activist Academy


September 18-20: Newport Silicon Smelter Hearings

The Washington Department of Ecology is conducting a September 11 to October 26 environmental review of the PacWest Silicon smelter proposed for 180 acres near Newport, on the Washington-Idaho border [1-3].  The facility would produce up to 73,000 tons of silicon metal each year, from B.C. quartz rock heated to extremely high temperatures with wood chips, coal, and charcoal.  The Ecology Department is seeking public input on the scope of its environmental impact study and statement (EIS), analyzing potential project effects and options for protection of the natural environment and nearby communities, including air and water quality, plant and animal habitat, cultural resources, and regional transportation.

The state agency will provide its subsequent, draft EIS for public review and comment next summer, followed by a final, impartial, comprehensive EIS in late 2019, for decision-makers and the public to evaluate PacWest Silicon’s permit applications.  Various organizations have compiled information to assist public and expert testimony asking that the department address the widest possible range of concerns in its EIS [4-6].  The public can examine proposal information, request comment period extension to 90 days, and offer scoping comments in-person at four public meetings and/or online:

* Tuesday, September 18, 6 to 9 pm, Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Boulevard, Spokane, Washington

* Wednesday, September 19, 6 to 9 pm, Newport High School, 1400 Fifth Street, Newport, Washington

* Thursday, September 20, 6 to 9 pm, Priest River Event Center, 5399 U.S. Highway 2, Priest River, Idaho

* Thursday, September 27, 3 pm, online webinar

September 19: Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting

Invite your friends and families, and join the regional, climate activist community, #No2ndBridge group members, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) organizers for the September, third-Wednesday, monthly, WIRT gathering at the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 19.  Action planning will discuss #No2ndBridge information and public records research, petition, coal collection, benefit concert, and crowdfunding, in support of the WIRT lawsuit opposing the state permit for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) bridge expansion, facilitating fossil fuels and hazmat pipelines-on-wheels across Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek. Continue reading

Wednesday, January 17, Monthly Sandpoint WIRT Meeting


Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies invite everyone to the first, 2018, Sandpoint, WIRT meeting, one of two gatherings held every month at 7 pm on the first Wednesday at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 E. Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, and on the third Wednesday in Sandpoint, Idaho.  This Wednesday, January 17, we are converging at 7 pm in Eichardt’s Pub upstairs game room, 212 Cedar Street in Sandpoint [1].  Join regional, climate activists for an evening of food, beer and wine, and conversations creating campaign strategies and tactics for actions and events supporting the movement against extreme fossil fuels and for clean energy, livable communities, and especially climate justice.  Topics of discussion may include updates, suggestions, and plans for:

* Resistance to new and expanded, Northwest coal, oil, gas, and tar sands leases, wells, processing plants, pipelines, megaloads, trains, rail bridges, terminals, and refineries, such as on-the-ground opposition to likely soon unbanned, Class II, oil and gas waste injection wells in Idaho, and to megaloads upgrading the Andeavor (Tesoro) Anacortes refinery

* Mobilization of Idaho residents for coordinated, peaceful protests, agency hearings, and public expression advancing anti-fossil fuels campaigns, such as a late-January, Sandpoint rally, like events in Spokane and Seattle on January 18, encouraging Washington Governor Inslee to reject the Vancouver Energy oil train terminal [2, 3]

* Enhancement of observing, monitoring, documenting, and reporting north Idaho, frontline, fossil fuel train traffic and the proposed, second, Lake Pend Oreille rail bridge site, via photos, videos, social media, and further, skill sharing sessions

* Organization of monthly, speaker and film presentations, community forums, educational workshops, and direct action trainings, all sharing activist knowledge, like the successful Olympia Stand and valve turner talks, Radical Movie Night screenings, and Third Panhandle Paddle kayaktivist weekend Continue reading

Late March & Early April Events


Climate Change in Idaho

Representative Ilana Rubel is hosting an open, public forum on current and future climate change conditions in Idaho, and what residents can do about them, on Wednesday, March 15, between 3:30 and 5:30 pm MDT, in the Lincoln Auditorium of the Idaho Capitol, 700 West Jefferson Street in Boise. Academic, government agency, and business leaders, who have directly experienced how a changing climate is affecting agriculture, forests, water cycles, recreation, and the economy of our state, will talk about work to solve these problems and ways you can make a difference.

Speakers include John Abatzoglou from the University of Idaho, Dr. Scott Lowe, Dr. Jen Pierce, and Dr. Kerrie Weppner from Boise State University, Bill Kaage of the National Park Service, Kevin King of the Idaho Clean Energy Alliance, high school student climate activists Jai Bansal and Ilah Hickman, and various members of faith communities. They will discuss the human causes and expected impacts of climate change, renewable energy, efficiency incentives, and other proposed solutions.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) encourages you to share this event announcement and to attend this free, kid friendly hearing that Idahoans across the state can view via livestream and later archive, at the following, second link.

Climate Change in Idaho, March 3, 2017 Idaho Representative Ilana Rubel

Idaho in Session: Legislature Live (Lincoln Auditorium), 2017 Idaho Public Television

Treaty Rights in a Changing Environment

Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Save Our Wild Salmon, and Earthjustice are hosting a two-day, tribal conference on treaty rights, featuring Earthjustice attorneys and other presenters, at the Red Lion Hotel, 621 21st Street in Lewiston, on Friday, March 17, from 9 am to 4 pm, and on Saturday, March 18, from 9 am to 3 pm. The conference aims to instill deeper understandings of treaty rights and the responsibilities of tribal and non-tribal people to respect, uphold, and act according to those rights.  It also intends to build relationships between tribal and environmental groups, to work better together on campaigns and movements exemplified by allied resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline degrading tribal lands and contaminating water, and by Nez Perce efforts to remove four lower Snake River dams and thus recover and restore native, wild salmon populations, treaty fishing rights, and associated traditional and cultural practices.

Conference organizers will provide breakfast and lunch for all attendees, and ask that non-tribal participants consider offering a $50 donation to help cover event costs. Please register in advance at the second, following link, and contribute toward event expenses if you can.

Treaty Rights in a Changing Environment, February 10, 2017 Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment

Treaty Rights in a Changing Environment Registration, February 10, 2017 Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment

TWO! Sixth Annual Celebrations of WIRT Continue reading

Winter Solstice Celebration & WIRT Monthly Meeting


winter-solstice-celebration-half-flyer

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies invite everyone to a winter solstice celebration and the December Sandpoint WIRT meeting, one of two gatherings held every month on the first Wednesday in Moscow and on the third Wednesday in Sandpoint.  On the December 21 solstice, we are converging at 7 pm in Eichardt’s Pub upstairs game room, 212 Cedar Street in Sandpoint.  Join regional climate activists on the first evening of the solar new year for food, beer and wine, and conversations creating campaign strategies and tactics for actions and events supporting the movement against extreme fossil fuels and for clean energy, livable communities, and especially climate justice.

Topics of discussion may include updates, plans, and suggestions for:

* Regional resistance to coal, oil, gas, and tar sands leases, wells, processing plants, pipelines, trains, terminals, and refineries* Ongoing WIRT and allied mobilization of Idaho residents for coordinated, peaceful protests and agency hearings advancing anti-fossil fuels campaigns

* Statewide, January protests of Wells Fargo and US Bank funding of the Dakota Access pipeline, co-hosted with 350Sandpoint and Idaho and Spokane partner groups, in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux, indigenous, and allied pipeline opposition

* Ongoing, monthly, guest presentations and forums, like the successful Olympia Stand and valve turner talks, including a January or February Bringing NoDAPL Home Forum with Idaho and Spokane water protectors

* Local training workshops (ideally a spring, weekend, Idaho Panhandle, direct action and kayaktivism camp) and educational events sharing activist knowledge Continue reading

Upcoming WIRT November Events


energy-crossroads-community-forum

Upcoming WIRT November Events

Thanks to Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, allies, and friends for your patience during a November that opened opportunities for a long-overdue, month-long, event-free break, especially from the rigors of side-job wage slavery. With more time and energy for activism emerging from this healing phase, we plan to soon re-establish a regular WIRT email newsletter and to post WIRT radio program recordings, both drawn from our active facebook page.  Please support ongoing WIRT and allied mobilization of regional residents for coordinated, region-wide actions and agency hearings and comment periods, confronting Northwest coal, oil, gas, and tar sands facility and transportation projects.  Look for upcoming announcements throughout autumn and winter 2016-17 about participatory events including educational presentations, direct action training workshops, peaceful protests, and benefit concerts that advance our shared anti-fossil fuel/climate change campaigns.

Tuesday, November 29: Comment against the Millennium Bulk (Coal) Terminals

During this last opportunity for public input on Millennium Bulk Terminals, please comment on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and a dredging permit application for the Longview, Washington coal export facility proposed by Lighthouse Resources [1-3]. Before the public comment period ends on Tuesday, November 29, urge the Corps to oppose construction and operation of the largest coal export terminal in North America, and to protect public health and natural resources, by supporting the “no action” alternative of the draft EIS and rejecting the permit application.  Millennium’s eight additional, fully loaded, unit coal trains per day and the coal transfer and storage site, annually handling up to 44 million metric tons of coal, would harm the health and safety, air and water quality, and natural resources of communities throughout the Northwest.

As the draft EIS describes, Millennium would receive coal via trains from western U.S. mines and transfer it to Asia-bound, ocean-going vessels, at the 190-acre, leased site of the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter. Its facilities would include an operating rail track and unloading station, a coal stockpile area and eight-track rail loop for storage, a conveyor and two independent ship loaders, and two new docks to berth Panamax-class vessels.  Because Lighthouse Resources seeks to dredge up to 48 acres out to the Columbia River navigation channel, the company has applied for a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Between April 29 and June 13, 2016, most of the 250,000 commenters on a separate Millennium draft EIS, issued by the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County, opposed this coal export facility [4]. But the Corps granted the proposal a favorable review in its federal draft EIS released on September 30.  In its 3,000-plus-page document, the agency described potential project damages to air, water, fish, wildlife, and communities, including more train traffic congestion, elevated railroad noise levels, and increased wait times at rail crossings, especially in low-income and minority communities.  The Corps held only two public hearings on its draft EIS, on October 24 in Longview, Washington, and on October 25 in Ridgefield, Washington, “to provide the public an opportunity to share its views and opinions” on this last of six proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington [5, 6].  It did not offer hearings beyond the Longview/Vancouver/Portland area for citizens of Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington, and no one coordinated testifier buses from these areas to the southwest Washington hearings.

An increase in coal trains across the Idaho panhandle would not only pollute our waters, lands, and bodies with coal dust and diesel fumes, it could also take human and non-human lives. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Idahoans experienced 21 accidents between vehicles and trains at public and private rail crossings of all railroads in the state between August 2015 and July 2016.  In the northernmost Idaho counties, four incidents without injuries or deaths occurred at one private and three public crossings in Boundary and Kootenai counties.  Two people died at private and public crossings in Bonner County during the last year-plus.

Please join us in working together to stop Millennium Bulk Terminals, by convincing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to NOT approve project dredging, construction, and operation. Send your comments on the Corps draft EIS to http://www.millenniumbulkeiswa.gov/submit-comments.html, and your remarks on the dredging permit application, referencing NWS-2010-1225, by e-mail to NWS.MBTL@usace.army.mil.  The Corps will review and consider all comments offered during the public input period.

Wednesday, November 30: Energy Crossroads: A Community Forum

Please attend a forum emceed by Laura Ackerman of The Lands Council, to together learn about, envision, and share the current revolution that is winning a just and equitable shift to a clean energy economy [7]. Speakers include KC Golden of Climate Solutions, Evita Krislock of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, and Gavin Tenold of Pura Vida High Performance Builders.  The Lands Council, Climate Solutions, and Gonzaga Environmental Law and Land Use Clinic are co-sponsoring this event, and WIRT and a dozen other Washington and Idaho groups are co-hosting it.  Join us at 7 pm on Wednesday, November 30, in the Gonzaga Moot Law Court at the Gonzaga University School of Law, 721 North Cincinnati Street in Spokane, Washington.

Mass mobilization against unnecessarily expanded development, transportation, and dependence on coal, oil, and other fossil fuels in Northwest communities has increased opposition to their unacceptably devastating local and global impacts. Cleaner, local, and more efficient energy options, like solar and wind power and electric vehicles, have simultaneously improved in their availability, use, and price.  This crossroads is increasing investments in healthier, stronger, and better communities, resources, democracies, and jobs, all building a brighter, more viable future for all.  Thanks! Continue reading