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The Wild Idaho Rising Tide collective confronts the root causes of climate change by asserting direct actions and promoting locally organized solutions, in solidarity with frontline communities of resistance and an international, volunteer, grassroots network of activists.
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Support the Land Defenders Arrested on Monday at the Utah Tar Sands!

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 02:00

On Monday, July 21, about 80 climate justice land defenders peacefully expressed their First Amendment right to free speech, by staging a massive direct action at the site of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip mine at PR Springs in the Book Cliffs, Utah.  The protest that blocked mining facilities construction culminated a week-long direct action training camp held within two miles of the mine.  Participants of Climate Justice Summer Camp traveled from numerous organizations, states, and sovereign tribal nations to learn direct action skills and build networks.  These inspiring heroes left the comfort of their homes, the company of their families, and the security of their jobs to fight for the future of this beautiful, historical area.

Early in the morning, activists and supporters of Canyon Country Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, and Utah Tar Sands Resistance locked themselves to equipment, and a fenced storage cage around it, used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands mining company’s processing plant.  Other protesters formed a physical blockade with their bodies, to halt construction work and to protect their locked-down comrades.  They hung and displayed banners off the cage that read: “You Are Trespassing on Ute Land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.”

Various law enforcement agencies arrived with dogs and arrested 13 people for locking to the equipment and cage, and six additional folks for sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those arrested and transported in two police vans to the Uintah County Jail in Vernal, Utah.  Two of the arrested protesters incurred injuries not disclosed by county sheriffs, who took one to a nearby hospital, while the other received medical treatment at the jail.  Among a total of 21 persons held in custody overnight and most of Tuesday, police arrested legal observers, independent media workers, and jail support volunteers, as well as several indigenous and trans individuals, whose safety in jail raised deep concerns.

Another two people sacrificed arrest when they arrived at the Uintah Country Jail to provide support for the land defenders.  An estimated ten armed deputies with police dogs stood outside the jail wearing bullet-proof vests and told people coming to the jail that they were there to deter them.  All 21 arrested have been bailed out and released from the Uinta County Jail, including an Unedited Media representative and Cindy Spoon of Tar Sands Blockade.  But several are facing felonies and urgently need financial support for legal processes.

Please donate to the legal support fund for all of our brave network friends and allies, who put their hearts and bodies on the line to defend the eastern Utah plateau from the first tar sands mine in the United States.  Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Rising Tide North America are accepting donations through The Action Network first link below.  Follow updates on Twitter at #NOTARSANDS and @tarsandsRESIST and @Peace_UP_, and widely share this fundraising request.

Support Utah Land Defenders! (July 21, 2014 Utah Tar Sands Resistance)

Blockade, Lockdown Halts Utah Tar Sands Mine (July 21, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from a Utah Tar Sands Resistance media release)

Urgent Help Needed: Tar Sands Shutdown Ends in Police Brutality, Injuries (July 21, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from Utah Tar Sands Resistance posts)

Tar Sands Shutdown: Support Still Needed for Arrestees as Reports of Police Brutality Surface (July 22, 2014 Earth First! Newswire from Utah Tar Sands Resistance posts, with Democracy Now! coverage at 3:41)

Uintah Deputies Arrest Anti-Tar Sands Activists (July 21, 2014 Salt Lake Tribune front page)

“Twenty-one activists were arrested Monday during a ‘blockade’ of a tar sands company’s construction equipment in eastern Utah, according to anti-tar sands groups who accused Uintah County sheriff’s deputies of ‘brutality.’”

21 Arrested at Tar Sands Site (July 22, 2014 Moab Sun News)

“The protests will continue and, if anything, we feel galvanized in our mission to stop tar sands mining in Utah.”

Thank you!


Filed under: Alerts, Wild Idaho Rising Tide
Categories: Climate Change

Oil and Gas Rulemaking Public Meeting on Tuesday, July 22

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 17:25

In April 2014, the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted to enter into negotiated rulemaking, to improve and clarify the existing Rules Pertaining to Conservation of Crude Oil and Natural Gas, IDAPA 20.07.02.  The commission published a notice of intent about this process in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin on June 4, 2014.  The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is holding four negotiated rulemaking public meetings in the Idaho Capitol at 8:30 am MDT on June 6 and 18 and on July 2 and 22 [1].  Purportedly state-initiated, but primarily industry-instigated, changes to the rules governing oil and gas development in Idaho are open to oral and written public comments and eventual hearings on the final draft of the proposed rules.  IDL oil and gas program manager Bobby Johnson has managed these rulemaking sessions that have drawn the attendance of agency staff, industry representatives, and stakeholders from Alta Mesa, the Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Conservation League, IDL, Idaho Department of Water Resources, and Idaho Petroleum Council, and concerned county commissioners, Gem and Payette county residents and landowners, and Boise citizens.

Much that Idahoans cherish is at stake through this rulemaking and associated legislative approval of revised Idaho oil and gas rules and other related laws.  As Gem County activist Joe Morton asserts, the new IDAPA rules and prerogatives advanced by Governor Otter’s appointed Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are eroding, if not eliminating, Idaho private property rights [2].  The state legislature mandated legal clauses proclaiming that the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission shall have “authority over all persons and property, public and private” concerning oil and gas extraction.  Idaho lawmakers also removed local government control of oil and gas exploitation with passage of House Bill 464 in 2012, which states that “No ordinance, resolution, requirement, or standard of a city, county, or political subdivision, except a state agency with authority, shall actually or operationally prohibit the extraction of oil and gas.”  Besides many other troublesome rule changes favoring industry, state agency and commission members are currently displaying corporatism at its best: Writing new IDAPA rules that could force pool 45 percent of non-participating private property owners into relinquishing their rights to minerals taken from under their lands.  Like landowners who do not own their subsurface minerals and accompanying rights in “split estates,” the state of Idaho would allow extraction of oil and gas regardless of property owners wishes.

Citizen comments and threats of protest have already impacted the processes of this second series of Idaho oil and gas rulemaking led by the Idaho Department of Lands.  As individuals or on behalf of grassroots groups, several people sent email messages to IDL’s Bobby Johnson respectfully requesting a minimum two-week extension of the public comment period on the revised rules, prolonged past its conclusion on the same day as the last rulemaking meeting.  The original deadline, during the July and August time when Idahoans typically enjoy distant summer vacations, discouraged opportunities for citizens to thoughtfully consider and immediately respond with detailed comments to oil and gas rule changes implemented during the last rulemaking session.  Moreover, the Idaho legislature will not take any action on the proposed revised rules until next January, a situation that further emphasizes the arbitrary and capricious nature of the comment period deadline for these new oil and gas rules.

As indicated on the Idaho Department of Lands website housing the revised oil and gas rules, a public hearing is also within the possible scope of negotiated rulemaking.  Like WIRT, please call or email IDL oil and gas program manager Bobby Johnson (208-334-0200, brjohnson@idl.idaho.gov) leaving or sending a message asking him when the Idaho Department of Lands will post the final draft of the proposed negotiated rules for public comment, and if and when IDL plans to schedule a public hearing about these revised rules before the next legislative session.  Also inquire about how the public can obtain explanations of anticipated public benefits derived from the rule changes presently being considered.

The July 22, 2014 session agenda concludes with the remarks “Next Steps: Please submit all comments on the draft negotiated rule to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) by August 1, 2014…Dates for the comment period and public hearing will be identified in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  IDL’s rulemaking website will also identify this information” [3]  If the responsible agencies do not grant a public hearing and more than a ten-day comment period extension, WIRT and allies are planning “people’s hearings” and protests of oil and gas rule modifications that diminish safe setback distances between public/private structures and oil and gas wells and infrastructure, that undermine citizen and private property rights, and that limit public involvement and oversight of dangerous industry practices, including use of fracking chemicals.  Although very few media and fractivist reports about these meetings have emerged, independent journalists who have been writing about oil and gas issues in Idaho for years will cover the July 22 negotiated rulemaking.

Please plan to attend and participate in the last of four negotiated oil and gas rulemaking sessions at 8:30 am MDT on July 22 in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho [4].  At these industry-dominated public meetings, Idaho citizens are essentially “at the table” with state regulators and industry representatives, to update rules that govern oil and gas extraction in Idaho.  Strong citizen input is essential to balance public interests and the common good with the mercenary objectives of oil and gas companies and state government.  See the following links to oil and gas rulemaking session agendas, draft revised rules, and citizen comments available on the Idaho Department of Lands website.  Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction and Wild Idaho Rising Tide, with the assistance of Boise attorney Natalie Havlina, will prepare, share, and submit written comments on Idaho oil and gas rules to IDL, while providing more information over the next week to inform and elicit written citizen comments.

[1] Oil and Gas: Rulemaking for IDAPA 20.07.02 Rules Pertaining to Conservation of Crude Oil and Natural Gas (Idaho Department of Lands)

[2] Photos from Jason Casella’s Post in Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction – IRAGE

[3] Idaho Department of Lands – Negotiated Rulemaking IDAPA 20.07.02 Agenda July 22, 2014, 8:30 am MDT (Idaho Department of Lands)

[4] Fracking in Idaho! Negotiated Rule-Making with the Oil and Gas Companies (Ashley Harker facebook event)


Filed under: Alerts, Idaho Fracking
Categories: Climate Change

Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 23:23

Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma 7-19-14 (July 19, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

According to at least four Saturday, July 19, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) eyewitnesses, two of the three Calumet tar sands refinery hydrocracker sections stranded at the Port of Wilma, Washington, since mid-December 2013 have vanished [1].  During the week of July 20, Bigge Crane and Rigging of San Leandro, California, is likely hauling these megaloads via river, rail, or road, from the port on the Snake River near Clarkston to the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls.  Last observed and described (but not documented with photos?) on short, heavy-duty, 12-axle trailers at the port on Tuesday, July 15, the loads were missing when a Saturday morning scout noticed crews still in the port lot previously leased for storage and staging of Omega Morgan “water filtration units.”  Questions about whether the hydrocracker parts departed by barge or rail downriver still linger, but after only a few days of travel, these megaloads may not have gone far.

In the fenced port compound, Bigge left white trailer pieces resembling the steel suspension systems seen around other huge fossil fuel extraction contraptions in the region since February 2011.  The company also abandoned the half-million-pound, lightest weight piece of the hydrocracker, the bottom part of the column formed by stacking the three components upright.  Its largest diameter, not weight, may have proved the critical factor restricting its passage by train through tunnels, close bi-directional tracks, or other rail line impediments [2].  Megaload owners and haulers cannot further downsize the three rusty, cylindrical sections and, as announced by late-May newspaper accounts, are probably shipping them to a trans-loading facility for transport on Schnabel train cars [3].  They could be moving the megaloads to the Port of Umatilla on the Oregon side of the Columbia River and attempting the previously permitted eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana heavy-haul route pummeled by three almost-as-massive Omega Morgan loads last winter, especially while forest fires close eastern Oregon rural routes.

But a stronger possibility, outlined in the June 21, 2014 WIRT newsletter, entails carrying the two heavier loads, 573,000 and 661,000 pounds respectively, west on barges down the Snake River or by train on the Watco Companies Great Northwest Railroad to the Tri-Cities, Washington [4].  As oncoming traffic to the potentially explosive and fragile DOT-111 and DOT-111A oil tank cars of unit “bomb trains” headed from the fracked Bakken shale region to the West Coast, the megaloads could travel north on either the Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail lines to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, then eastward on the BNSF railroad to a spur line heading south from Shelby to Great Falls, Montana [1, 5].  The remaining 504,000-pound behemoth could soon labor up the Lewiston Grade and U.S. Highway 95 through Moscow and over the two-mile Long Bridge to Sandpoint, Idaho, and Idaho Highway 200 to Montana.

Even stranger occurrences lead WIRT to suspect that tar sands refinery expansion facilitators are transporting these two megaloads by rail.  At 2 am one morning during the dark, new moon phase two weeks ago, a loud train horn awakened residents living along railroad tracks near the Palouse River north of Moscow, where trains have never moved after about 4:30 pm for over ten years.  That night, a train similar to the one that travels empty to Bennett Lumber in Princeton, Idaho, and leaves full of plywood approximately three times per week passed by.  Observers saw a train engine proceeding very slowly and pulling two flat cars carrying between them unseen, enormous cargo, much taller than the engine.  As the train neared a sharp bend in the tracks, it stopped, backed up, and tried to move forward three times, before finally retreating to the west and south of its origin.  A couple of nights before the train incident, nearby residents heard a small drone fly over the same area.

Participants in the Nez Perce Environmental Summit on June 19 discovered these two megaloads disappeared from the Port of Wilma.  Unfortunately, in a room full of Nimiipuu warriors and allies, no one publicly spoke of the threats to people, places, and the planet of these particular monsters crawling through ancestral homelands on routes other than Highway 12 and ultimately tripling Great Falls refinery production of Alberta tar sands, Bow River crude, and Bakken shale oil.  If people across the Northwest are truly intent to halt the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and subsequent ecocide, genocide, and climate chaos, we must vigilantly keep our eyes and ears open to these megaloads on regional rivers, rails, and roads over the next several days and nights, especially in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and around the railroad funnels in and between Spokane and Sandpoint.  If the gargantuan transports are moving by rail, community and tribal emergency response personnel – but not the public – will receive advance notification of their itinerary.  By road, they travel mostly at night on rural routes and stay parked and guarded during the day.  We need everyone to watch, report to WIRT, and stop these loads, and Great Falls activists to monitor their approach to and arrival at the refinery.

[1] Calumet Megaloads Depart the Port of Wilma 7-19-14 (July 19, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

[2] Mammoet/Perkins MegaLoads (May 21, 2014 Herb Goodwin photos)

[3] Train MegaLoads (July 19, 2014 Herb Goodwin photos)

[4] WIRT Newsletter: Retreating Highway 95 Megaloads, Montana Manufacturers, Idaho Resistance Prevails? (June 21, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[5] North American Crude by Rail (June 2014 Oil Change International)


Filed under: Alerts, Mammoet 2014 Megaloads
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Alma Hasse & Tina Fisher 7-21-14

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 20:30

The Monday, July 21, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide gratefully welcomes Alma Hasse and Tina Fisher of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, from ground-zero of Idaho oil and gas exploitation, Payette County.  Alma and Tina will provide updates on Idaho oil and gas negotiated rulemaking sessions, rule revisions, and disputes, especially forced pooling and minimum setbacks, as well as Bureau of Land Management mineral leasing decisions and public meetings and premature state permits.  Among other topics, they will also talk about Gem County opposition to private property rights compromised by oil and gas rules, and current industry infrastructure developments and practices in Payette County, including tapping irrigation water for operations.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show also covers continent-wide climate activism news and dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her/his KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Movements, Nez Perce Summit, Transporta​tion Board U.S. 95 Tour

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:30

Port of Wilma Megaloads on the Move!

Borg Hendrickson of the People of Highway 12 Fighting Goliath wrote this week that observers noticed on Tuesday, July 15, that California heavy-hauler Bigge Crane and Rigging has placed two of the three megaloads parked at the Port of Wilma on relatively short, 12-axle trailers.  The third behemoth continues to rust on jacks.  Originally proposed for transport by Mammoet, from the port to the Calumet tar sands refinery in Great Falls, Montana, via U.S. Highway 95 and either Interstate 90 or Idaho Highway 200, the tremendously heavy but not particularly large or long parts of a hydrocracker have remained stalled at the port across the river from Clarkston, Washington, by logistical problems and regional resistance since December 2013.  Mammoet had planned to carry them each on interconnected trailers propelled by one pull truck and two push trucks, together stretching over 450 feet and weighing 1.6 million pounds, the longest and heaviest megaloads to ever crush Highway 95.

As chronicled by late-May, Idaho newspaper articles and June WIRT scouting trips, photos, and newsletters, two of these loads could possibly travel by rail and the other by road through the Moscow, Idaho, sacrifice zone for all failed Highway 12 attempts [1].  Because the short Bigge trailers under two colossal loads likely do not meet state requirements for distributing load weights over numerous axles during cross-state highway journeys, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies anticipate that Bigge is preparing them for their departure either by rail, on Watco Companies’ Great Northwest Railroad, or by barge, shipped back down the Snake River probably to the Tri-Cities, Washington, for transport by rail or highway through eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

On Thursday, July 17, WIRT unsuccessfully tried to reach by phone Jason Minzghor, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 1 operations manager in Coeur d’Alene, because he was curiously in Sandpoint, Idaho.  So, in response to Port of Wilma megaloads on the move, WIRT sent another public records request to ITD director Brian Ness, public involvement coordinator Adam Rush, and Mr. Minzghor, asking for “information about proposals to transport three loads currently parked at the Port of Wilma, Washington, on any highway, street, or rail route in Idaho to Great Falls, Montana, or alternative destinations,” dating back to April 2014 material that ITD refused to acknowledge and release to WIRT.  Please stay alert to movement of these megaloads on regional rivers, roads, or rails, remain prepared for last-minute calls to stage a riverside bon voyage celebration and rally, and share any updates or photos that may quickly arise from this situation.

Washington Highway 12 Megaloads

An Earth First! activist reported seeing three megaloads – simple cylinders with the name Seimans on them, but probably not tar sands transports – parked along U.S. Highway 12 just east of Walla Walla, Washington, on Monday, July 14.  He viewed another unmarked module about 30 to 40 miles west of Clarkston.

Second Nez Perce Grassroots Environmental Summit

As a third reminder, the Nez Perce grassroots group, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, is planning a second environmental summit held at the Pi-Nee-Waus Community Center, 99 Agency Road in Lapwai, Idaho [2].  Group activists invite all tribal members and supporters.  Along with dinner and lunch on each day, they will offer a strategic planning training on Friday evening, July 18, and roundtable discussions addressing a wide variety of issues, including water, salmon, land, air, and treaty rights, from 9 am until 5 pm on Saturday, July 19.  Contact Julian Matthews at 208-790-4296 or jmatthews@alumni.uidaho.edu, for further information.

Report on Transportation Board Highway 95 Tour Outcomes

With the Idaho Transportation Department’s latest fiasco wedged into a week of bomb train actions requiring plenty of presence in and travel to Sandpoint, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) and WIRT only minimally took advantage of opportunities to meet with Idaho officials and agencies about the latest developments of ITD’s scheme to realign and expand Highway 95 onto Paradise Ridge south of Moscow.  We would have appreciated more advance tactical and conceptual preparation, not to mention more participation beyond two PRDC/WIRT members, for the Idaho Transportation Board’s tour of the proposed Highway 95 central and eastern re-routing alternatives and their visit of the Moscow Intermodal Transit Center on Thursday, July 10.  Despite other overwhelming obligations, only David Hall and Helen Yost responded to PRDC and WIRT action alerts (Go, Ren Fair royalty!) [3].

Dave and Helen shared PRDC concerns about Highway 95 E-2 realignment and expansion and ITD draft environmental impact statement (DEIS)  misrepresentations, as we gave Idaho Transportation Board District 2 member Jan Vassar and board secretary Sue Higgins some PRDC brochures from last year, to distribute to the board.  We would have also shared other printed outreach material that PRDC generated about DEIS discrepancies, but are belatedly circulating it to the transportation board and to media personnel who have requested it.  Two citizen E-2 proponents and a reporter were on-site at the board’s local tour stops, and the media have been calling and asking how PRDC will proceed.  PRDC and WIRT representatives have provided as much information as we can, while stating that we cannot speak for, but only conjecture about, PRDC strategies and responses, while board members arrange meetings within the group and with lawyers to together devise plans and directional guidance.  Both the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News covered the Highway 95 reconstruction issue with front-page, above-the-fold articles last week [4, 5].  WIRT offers our gratitude to Daily News staff writer Terri Harber, but especially KRFP station manager and Evening Report creator, Leigh Robartes, for exemplary, detailed coverage of the most salient, previous points and interviews on the issue, with sound bites from Lahde Forbes, Tim Hatten, Al Poplawsky, and Helen [6-8].

However cynically, none of the activists who have been battling ITD over its insistence on the E-2 alternative have been surprised by ITD’s recent choice.  But as the remainder of the federally mandated decision process on a new U.S. 95 alignment stretches into summer and fall 2014, PRDC will be talking with an attorney, scrutinizing ITD’s new and revised technical documents and safety assessments, and determining and developing significant analyses, specific counter-information, and clear explanations for the public and media.  Please watch for and alert PRDC to letters to the editor or other issue developments requiring responses.  As KRFP has effectively noted, ITD has not yet released the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) to the public, while state and federal agencies scrutinize it in Idaho until August and September and the Federal Highway Administration legal section in Washington D.C. examines it this autumn.  Please see the attached screen shot of the ITD project website that states, “We (ITD) expect to post the document (FEIS) on the Federal Register for a 30-day review by local resource agencies AND THE PUBLIC by mid-October” (emphasis added).  The Palouse community should hold ITD to this declaration of further public input, and start rallying to comment and/or litigate after the academic year starts.

[1] WIRT Newsletter: Retreating Highway 95 Megaloads, Montana Manufacturers, Idaho Resistance Prevails? (June 21, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment (Facebook community page)

[3] Join the Transportation Board Thursday Tour & Moscow Visit: Final Highway 95 EIS Chose Paradise Ridge Reroute (July 9, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[4] U.S. 95 Reroute May Be Crawling Closer (July 9, 2014 Lewiston Tribune)

[5] State Highway Officials Tour Realignment Picked for 95 South of Moscow (July 11, 2014 Moscow-Pullman Daily News)

[6] Idaho Transportation Department Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement on Widening U.S. 95 South of Moscow; Still Prefers Eastern Route over Paradise Ridge (July 9, 2014 KRFP Evening Report, between 19:32 and 6:36 LoFi)

[7] Idaho Transportation Board Visits U.S. 95 Realignment Vantage Point South of Moscow (July 10, 2014 KRFP Evening Report, between 20:30 and 10:29 LoFi)

[8] U.S. 95 Route Decision (July 11, 2014 KRFP Evening Report, between 14:39 and 1:32 LoFi)


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

Report & Further Work on the Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 15:30

No Idaho Bomb Trains! March & Protest 7-12-14 (July 12, 2014 Spokane and Wild Idaho Rising Tides photos)

Among over fifty coordinated, local, and continent-wide demonstrations against explosive oil trains, dozens of Spokane Rising Tide (SPORT) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) climate activists from eastern Washington and northern Idaho participated in five events during the Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains [1, 2].  In the spirit of Big Oil resistance and solidarity with the thousands of frontline communities who live along railroad sacrifice zones across the continent, citizens gathered to honor and commemorate the 47 residents of the still-recovering, devastated town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, who lost their lives when a unit train transporting fracked Bakken shale oil in outdated DOT-111 railcars derailed and exploded on July 6, 2013.  On the  solemn, one-year anniversary of this terrible tragedy, despite dozens of additional oil train disasters, oil-by-rail shipments continue to increase in the U.S. and Canada, and similarly risky tanker cars carry crude Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil around and over northern Idaho lakes, through flammable, forested, mountain valleys, and across the urban core of Spokane, Washington.

On Monday evening, July 7, a dozen people learned and discussed tactics and strategies for staging non-violent civil disobedience on railroad property during the Railroad Direct Action Skill-Share and presentation at the East Bonner County Library in Sandpoint, Idaho.  As part of a series of skill-shares in communities along Northwest coal- and oil-transporting rail lines, Blue Skies Campaign volunteers from Missoula, Montana, talked about their recent experiences and insights drawn from two direct actions on or near train tracks in Helena and Missoula.  Conversations in the library’s Rude Girls Room and later over pizza covered railroad security and law enforcement responses, coal train movements, protest logistical considerations, and opportunities for future, inter-group, regionally coordinated actions.  If you would like to engage in these mostly coal train protests and upcoming conference calls arranging them, please contact WIRT or Blue Skies Campaign.

WIRT participated in the Spokane Rising Tide action, Demand Safer Railcars, at the downtown Spokane office of Washington Republican Congressional Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (CMR), beginning at 12 noon on Tuesday, July 8 [3-5].  About a dozen protesters gathered on the North Post Street sidewalk below the fourth floor suite, with props representing an angry mob – cardboard and wooden pitchforks and torches provided by SPORT.  They delivered a great letter written by SPORT’s Terry Hill that sadly could serve as a template for letters to hundreds of other so-called elected officials installed by corrupt industries to ensure their ruthless regimes of continued destruction of the planet and countless lives.  The letter asked how the Congresswoman would protect the safety of her constituents and communities endangered by bomb trains, while she compromises her public interests by taking big campaign contributions from the oil and dirty energy industry and railroad companies.  It requested that she and Congress ensure the security of rail line residents by removing outdated DOT-111 train cars from service.

From within the potential Spokane blast zone of such trains, CMR’s staff members acted congenially, respectfully, and professionally towards the concerned citizens.  They stated that they would forward the letter to CMR, and, when asked by the protesters, promised everyone who left contact information a response specific to their addressed concerns, not the anticipated, vapid, form letter filled with conciliatory comments.  The visitors questioned CMR’s staff about the regularity and accessibility of the Congresswoman’s appearances in Spokane.  The staff members suggested that the group of voters request a “coffee with Cathy” meeting as early as August.  Returning to the street, the comrades energetically repeated five chants that Moscow and Spokane activists devised, hopefully audible in CMR’s office: “Rolling downhill, oil trains kill, 47 slain, no bomb trains!” “Pipelines spill, but bomb trains kill!” “While Cathy takes bribes, bomb trains take lives!” “Big oil bribes, railroad ties, Cathy’s corruption risks our lives!” and “Spokane oil trains, more every day, Cathy’s voters say no way!”  The climate activists then huddled, noticed police entering the building, talked for a while, and dispersed.

In memory of the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster and in resolve for a moratorium on all regional crude oil shipments by rail, Spokane Rising Tide and Wild Idaho Rising Tide grassroots activists converged at 12 noon on Saturday, July 12, during the local Farmers Market, for the No Idaho Bomb Trains! March and Protest starting from Farmin Park in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho (See above, linked photos).  Near the corner of North Third Avenue and Main Street, SPORT, WIRT, and regional citizens and friends gathered on Saturday with oil train protest signs, props, and, flyers, WIRT brochures, and voices.  Instead of the planned activities of walking with highly visible signs through the congested core Sandpoint streets to train tracks along Lake Pend Oreille, and shouting memorable chants like those created for the Tuesday Spokane action, protest participants stood in the shade for several hours on that hot afternoon and shared crude oil train information with Sandpoint residents and visitors passing through the Farmers Market.  As climate activists increasingly build a base of direct action practitioners in the Sandpoint area, the event yielded effective outreach and outcomes.

On Monday and Tuesday, July 7 and 8, and Saturday, July 12, Rising Tide activists also participated in two other ongoing activities for the Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains: watching oil train passage through the region and requesting public information about oil train numbers, routes, and timing from state emergency management agencies [6, 7].  As suggested by Vancouver Action Network allies in Vancouver, Washington, Northwest residents concerned about the unaccountability and threats imposed by Bakken oil bomb trains should start a train watch in their community and report any unit oil trains that they spot.  Tweet the time, location, and direction of train travel, along with a hashtag, the two-letter state abbreviation, and oiltrainwatch (for example, in Washington state: #waoiltrainwatch).  Contact WIRT if you can lead or assist this public scrutiny of oil trains on northern Idaho rails.

A May 7, 2014 U.S. Department of Transportation emergency order requires railroad companies to only provide information about the total number of trains hauling at least one million gallons of this highly volatile crude oil, not the amount of shipped oil tanker cars intermixed with other freight on trains crossing each state.  Idaho, Montana, and Washington have refused to sign confidentiality agreements with the railroads; thus, these states will release oil train records to the public.  According to recently disclosed information from the primary railroad transporting this hazardous material across northern Idaho, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) moves 13 to 15 trains with more than one million gallons of oil per week through “the funnel” between Sandpoint and Spokane.  As most unit trains can transport 2.52 million gallons of oil, 13 such trains carry the equivalent of three Exxon Valdez spills through the region every week.  A recent oil train watch and railcar count conducted by Spokane Rising Tide found about 70 percent more oil shipped than reported.

[1] Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains (July 2, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] Oil by Rail Week of Action (2014 Action Network)

[3] Demand Safer Railcars (July 1, 2014 Spokane Rising Tide)

[4] Letter Delivered to CMR’s Spokane Office on 7-8-2014 and Read to Her Staff (July 8, 2014 Spokane Rising Tide)

[5] Spokane Rising Tide (Facebook)

[6] Twitter Oil Train Watch – Ongoing Action (June 20, 2014 Vancouver Action Network)

[7] Request Oil Train Info from Your State EMA (June 20, 2014 Vancouver Action Network)


Filed under: Coal/Oil Trains/Ports, Photos
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Herb Goodwin 7-14-14

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 11:30

The Monday, July 14, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes Herb Goodwin, a core WIRT and Occupy Bellingham activist resisting coal export and tar sands megaloads throughout the Northwest.  Herb will talk about the oil industry end run around the U.S. crude oil export ban by eight proposed refineries with 80,000-barrel-per-day production capacities in Montana, North Dakota, and elsewhere.  He will also discuss rapidly emerging megaload assembly plants and transports on the Montana Rocky Mountain Front, which build Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction infrastructure.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism news and dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

State Highway Officials Tour Realignment Picked for 95 South of Moscow

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 08:01

Opponents and supporters interact with state highway officials during Moscow visit.

Members of the Idaho Transportation Board toured the state’s preferred route for realignment and expansion of U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow on Thursday.

Janice Vassar, the board representative for ITD’s District 2, which includes Moscow and Lewiston, described the view from the chosen route as “spectacular.”

But opponents of the preferred plan were also on hand afterward at an event hosted by the City of Moscow and University of Idaho for the seven-member board.

The final environmental impact statement supporting the choice known as E-2 from Thorn Creek Road to Moscow was sent to the Federal Highway Administration from the Idaho Transportation Department’s environmental office this week.  It was the culmination of an 11-year, court-ordered process.

Vassar noted that she is among those who recommended the E-2 route as the most viable alternative among those earlier proposed.  E-2 would cross Paradise Ridge and use a significant amount of the existing route.

Representatives from the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, a long-time opponent, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT), more associated with opposition to megaloads, were at the event handling out literature and bumper stickers to people in attendance.  Both groups are against the E-2 route choice, which would run through the west flank of Paradise Ridge.

Among reasons the opponents say they don’t like the state’s preferred route: heavy losses of wetlands, prime farmland, and conservation reserve; removal of acres of pine stands and related habitat.  It also would displace several residences, cause more noise, have a wider visual impact, and not be the safest for travel, they asserted.

Opponents also believe the route would be unsafe, because it is higher than other routes and would abandon portions of U.S. 95, which would become county road.

Supporters say the upgrade to four lanes from two will provide adequate additional safety, and say that site analysis proves this point.

“Despite 15 years of resistance, ITD has chosen the E-2 route, the farthest east and highest on the shoulder of Paradise Ridge,” said Helen Yost of WIRT.

There were E-2 supporters on hand as well.  Two residents living along the current U.S. 95 watched the board’s tour along Zietler and Cameron roads.

Del Hungerford expects she’ll lose her home as a result of the proposed route, but said she believes it’s the most sound proposal for the highway to be improved.

“It just needs to get done,” she said.

“They’ve been doing this since 1995,” said Cathy Merickel, who lives near the existing highway, about the project moving forward.  “It’s time for a safe highway between Moscow and Lewiston.”

(By Terri Harber, Moscow-Pullman Daily News staff writer)


Filed under: Highway 95 Re-Route
Categories: Climate Change

Join the Transporta​tion Board Thursday Tour & Moscow Visit: Final Highway 95 EIS Chose Paradise Ridge Reroute

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 15:31

Palouse Prairie (Alison Meyer photo)

Final Highway 95 EIS Chose Paradise Ridge Reroute

After releasing its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for U.S. Highway 95 expansion and rerouting between Thorn Creek Road and Moscow on Tuesday, July 8, “the [Idaho] Transportation Department (ITD) has maintained its preferred route as the eastern path along Paradise Ridge” [1].  The 1200-page FEIS reflects that recommendation, which does not ensure that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will select the E-2 Paradise Ridge alternative for the reroute.  ITD plans to send copies of the FEIS to the FHWA district office and the environmental section of the ITD headquarters office, both in Boise.  Those agencies would review the statement and provide comments and feedback over about three weeks.  The FHWA would then submit the FEIS to its legal section in Washington D.C. for review.  The number of technical reports accompanying the statement – addressing citizen and agency concerns over wildlife, groundwater, weather, wind, weeds, and safety – could prolong FHWA legal section analysis to a couple of months, but ITD does not anticipate many questions.  The worst-case scenario for ITD – resubmitting the FEIS in response to this review – would take an estimated week.  When and if the national FHWA office finally approves the FEIS, it would place it in the Federal Register for 30 days, for other agencies to review and make comments.  Most pertinent federal and state environmental and wildlife agencies have previously advised against the E-2 route.  After this feedback, ITD would issue the record of decision (ROD), a separate document in response to federal agency comments, which would state FHWA’s route alignment selection, summarize the entire process, and undergo a FHWA review before it signs off on the ROD.  At that point, the final design phase and right-of-way plans for the new highway section would begin.  ITD has about $20 million in federal funding shifted to each of the fiscal years of 2016 and 2017 for construction.  ITD’s “very aggressive, but doable” plan foresees construction start-up by summer 2016.

​With characteristically disgraceful hubris rivaling that of Idaho’s highest elected officials, ITD has neither publicly responded as promised to the questions of 400 commenters on its draft environmental impact statement nor directly notified them of its FEIS release, as it files another likely inadequate, incomplete, and fraudulent impact statement.  It also has sidestepped citizen attempts to ascertain the project analysis schedule as well as requests for public hearings addressing legitimate citizen charges of blatant dishonesty.  ITD project manager Ken Helm asserts that “he and various consultants have spent the past year addressing each of those concerns and questions, revising technical reports, and creating new ones, in an effort to produce the final environmental impact statement” [1].  But with ITD’s obstinate insistence on the E2 route, the fix is apparently in.  According to a current schedule posted on ITD’s project website, “the FEIS will address public comments, make any corrections, and provide new information…The document will be sent to the FHWA office in Washington D.C. for a legal sufficiency review in August [and September 2014]” [2].  By mid-October 2014, the responsible (?) agencies intend to publish notice in the Federal Register of a 30-day period of FEIS “review by local resource agencies and the public.”  After the review process, ITD will prepare and issue a record of decision in late December 2014, which will require FHWA approval.

Transportation Board Will Visit Port, Highway 95, & Moscow on Thursday

In its typical last-minute manner, ITD distributed an announcement on Tuesday, July 8, that the Idaho Transportation Board will tour the Port of Lewiston, the Highway 95 section proposed for re-routing and expansion south of Moscow, the Intermodal Transit Center in Moscow, and other locations on Thursday, July 10, before holding its regular monthly meeting on Friday, July 11, at the ITD District 1 office at 600 West Prairie Avenue in Coeur d’Alene [3].  The Board will begin its tour of ITD Districts 1 and 2 highways on Thursday at the ITD District 2 office at 2600 Frontage Road in Lewiston.  Departing at 7:50 am, the Board will meet with officials at the Port of Lewiston until 8:30 am, when it will travel north on U.S. Highway 95 to a “vantage point” on Zietler and Cameron Roads, where observers can envision and discuss at 9 am the eastern and central re-routing paths of Highway 95 between Thorn Creek Road and Moscow.  After 15 minutes, the Board tour will travel north to arrive at the Intermodal Transit Center, at the corner of West Sweet Avenue and Railroad Street on the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, at 9:25 am and stay until 10:25 am.  Stops north of Moscow include Potlatch, Plummer, and Post Falls, along with overnight accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express in Coeur d’Alene and the Friday Board meeting of unknown schedule at the District 1 office.

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition webmaster and organizer David Hall reports that, at the Monday, July 7, Moscow City Council meeting, council member Walter Steed told the City to remind the Idaho Transportation Board that the City wants a certain six miles of Highway 95 upgraded.  A City staff member, perhaps City Supervisor Gary Riedner, said that City staff usually mentions that goal whenever they see the Board.

Join the Transportation Board Tour in Lewiston & Moscow

While the final decision about the Thorn Creek to Moscow Highway 95 expansion project may lie beyond the Idaho Transportation Board, the Board oversees ITD, and concerned citizens should continue to interact with all pertinent agencies on this issue and enlist the support of potential environmental lawyers, especially during the ITD and FHWA review in Idaho of the proposed Highway 95 reroute during July 2014.

Like a similar, recent Idaho Transportation Board tour of U.S. Highway 12, we doubt that the public employees of Idahoans would welcome citizen participation on the Thursday tour.  But activists of both the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) encourage you to attend the Board tour and especially its Moscow visit and to interject the concerns of the Moscow community.  Defend the last one percent of native Palouse Prairie from a Highway 95 industrial corridor extending from the Port of Lewiston to the Alberta and Bakken extreme energy fields and accommodating timber companies like Clearwater Paper hauling off regional forests in longer, heavier trucks.  Paradoxically, taxpayers are funding these expanded fossil fuel and resource extraction and transportation projects and the $1.5 million Moscow Intermodal Transit Center, while dedicated climate activists and public transportation users, air quality, and climate stability suffer the recent elimination of bus routes to Sandpoint, Idaho, and between Pullman, Washington, and Moscow, Idaho.

Please spread this urgent message to interested individuals and groups and share any information that you may have about this situation.  To confirm that you can attend any part of this public Board tour or Moscow visit, please RSVP to WIRT at wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com and/or 208-301-8039.  Palouse carpools to Lewiston will gather at the WIRT Activists House at 6:30 am and depart promptly at 6:45 am.  For the rest of the July Board tour and meeting agenda, see the following ITD link or contact Sue Higgins, Secretary to the Board, at 208-334-8808 with your questions and comments.

[1] U.S. 95 Reroute May Be Crawling Closer (July 9, 2014 Lewiston Tribune)

[2] U.S. 95, Thorncreek Road to Moscow Project (Idaho Transportation Department)

[3] Agenda: Regular Meeting and Districts 1 and 2 Tour of the Idaho Transportation Board, July 10-11, 2014 (July 8, 2014 Idaho Transportation Department)


Filed under: Alerts, Highway 95 Re-Route
Categories: Climate Change

U.S. 95 Reroute May Be Crawling Closer

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 00:06

Final environmental impact statement submitted

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is one step closer to beginning construction on a proposed reroute of U.S. Highway 95 to Moscow, after submitting its final environmental impact statement to the Federal Highway Administration on Tuesday.

“As we speak, the printer is running upstairs,” Kenneth Helm, project manager, said Tuesday.  “It’s almost a 1,200-page document.  That’s just the (final environmental impact statement), that’s not the tech reports.”

The final environmental impact statement is the transportation department’s most recent milestone in the more than decade-long effort to expand Highway 95 between Lewiston and Moscow to four divided lanes, said Helm, who works at the department’s District 2 office in Lewiston.  The department was required to conduct the environmental impact analysis after a federal judge sided with the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, a group of Moscow residents, in a 2003 injunction that halted construction north of Thorncreek Road to Moscow.

“This is what I consider a huge milestone in the project,” Helm said.  “We’re not there yet, but this is the next big jump.”

Helm said he planned to send copies on Tuesday of the final environmental impact statement to the Federal Highway Administration district office in Boise, as well as to the environmental section of the Idaho Transportation Department headquarters office.  He anticipated that they would take about three weeks to review the statement and provide comments and feedback.

A draft of the environmental impact statement was released in January 2013, for public comments and questions.  Helm, who has been working on the project since its inception in 1998-99, said he and various consultants have spent the past year addressing each of those concerns and questions, revising technical reports, and creating new ones in an effort to produce the final environmental impact statement.

“We got probably close to 400 comments that we received from the public,” he said.

Both the draft and final environmental impact statement proposed three alternative routes and a “do nothing” approach, Helm said.  The three alternative routes are a western (W4) route parallel to the Washington boarder, a central (C3) route following the current roadway, and an eastern (E2) route that runs along the base of Paradise Ridge.

Helm said the transportation department has maintained its preferred route as the eastern path along Paradise Ridge and the final environmental impact statement reflects that recommendation.  Helm, however, emphasized the recommendation does not ensure the Paradise Ridge alternative will be selected for the reroute.

The next step in the project is for the Federal Highway Administration to submit the statement to its legal section for review.  Helm said he does not anticipate the administration will have many questions.  The worst-case scenario would be the transportation department having to resubmit the statement, which he thinks would take about a week to do.

“It’s been 15 years we’ve been working on this, and I think we’re there,” Helm said.  “I can’t think of anything that we’ve missed.”

Helm said he thinks it will take the legal section awhile to review the statement because of the number of technical reports included to address areas of concern like wildlife, groundwater, wind, weather, weeds, and safety.

“This is a big document,” Helm said.  “There’s a lot of tech reports, and I’m going to say it’s probably going to take them a couple months to get through that tech review.”

Once the Federal Highway Administration gives the statement its approval, the document will be placed in the Federal Register for 30 days, to allow other agencies to review and make comments.  Helm said that, after the 30 days, the transportation department will create a separate document called a record of decision.  That document is a response to the comments from other federal agencies, as well as a summary of the entire process, which will state the route alignment selected by the Federal Highway Administration.

“That document goes through a review process and is signed off by the Federal Highway Administration,” Helm said.

way plans for the new stretch of the highway can begin.  The department has funding for the design phase in hand.  Helm said about $40 million of federal funding was also shifted to the fiscal years 2016 and 2017 for construction – about $20 million for each year.

“My goal is to get through the whole process by summer 2016, so we can start construction some time in 2016,” Helm said.  “That will be very aggressive, but doable.”

(By Elizabeth Rudd, The Lewiston Tribune)


Filed under: Highway 95 Re-Route
Categories: Climate Change

Idaho Week of Actions Against Bomb Trains

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 22:30

On July 6, 2013, 47 residents of tiny Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, lost their lives when a unit train transporting fracked Bakken oil in outdated DOT-111 railcars derailed and exploded in their downtown.  One year later, despite dozens of additional oil train disasters, similar tanker cars carry crude Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil around and over northern Idaho lakes and through the urban core of Spokane, Washington.  As the urgent need for climate justice activism escalates and the expanding movement blocks pipelines and megaloads across North America, the oil industry has stealthily but drastically increased oil-by-rail shipments in the U.S. and Canada.  Meanwhile, dirty energy producers, railroad haulers, and federal governments quibble over the ‘best methods’ to transport fossil fuels and other hazardous materials on railways.  Congress could improve the situation by enacting legislation banning DOT-111 railcars from moving any type of oil, even while industry pushes to remove prohibitions on exporting crude oil.  But such debates distract public attention and action away from the root causes and solutions of this debacle.  Alberta and North Dakota oil producers and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and other railroad companies will extract, transport, and export all the oil they can find.  They will downplay the risks and costs of “bomb trains” to public, environmental, and climate health, well-being, and safety, and recklessly endanger communities for every opportunity to turn a profit.

While continuing to oppose Big Oil resuming these volatile shipments through their still-recovering town, the devastated community of Lac-Mégantic will gather on the solemn July 6, one-year anniversary of this terrible tragedy, to honor the memory of their families and friends.  In a letter to the Quinault Nation translated from French and dated June 27, 2014, Lac-Mégantic representatives commended the support and solidarity expressed by Northwest tribes, communities, and organizations, who are rising up to create and stage actions and send a unified message to industry and government decision makers during the week of July 6 through 13: “Keep oil off the rails and in the ground!” [1]  Although frontline, grassroots, Rising Tide activists usually decline Big Green bandwagon actions, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) requests your participation in local and continent-wide demonstrations promoted by 350.org, ForestEthics, Oil Change International, and the Sierra Club [2].  For the sake of Lac-Mégantic and other people and places in the path of bomb trains and for the protection of north Idaho’s greatest natural assets, please RSVP and join Blue Skies Campaign, Spokane Rising Tide, and WIRT resistance in commemorating the Lac-Mégantic lives grimly lost to Big Oil and in ensuring that such senseless suffering and destruction never happens again, as we call for public awareness and action on a moratorium on all crude oil shipments by rail.

Monday, July 7: Railroad Direct Action Skill-Share (with Blue Skies Campaign)

This summer, Blue Skies Campaign of Missoula, Montana, and allies like WIRT are holding a series of skill-shares in communities along Northwest coal- and oil-transporting rail lines, to discuss tactics and strategies that they have learned from direct actions on railroad property [3].  Through the process of staging two acts of non-violent civil disobedience on Montana Rail Link (MRL) property in the last nine months, Blue Skies comrades have acquired plenty of practical lessons that other groups may find useful for similar actions.  They are eager to share insights about MRL security, coal train movements, and the unique logistics of direct actions on or near train tracks.

At this skill-share, a few Blue Skies volunteers will give a brief presentation on what happened during their direct actions, what they learned from the experience, and how security and law enforcement could likely respond to future actions on railroad property.  Inter-group conversations about participants’ experiences and opportunities to work together will follow the presentation.  Please join Blue Skies Campaign and WIRT on Monday, July 7, from 5 to 6:45 pm in Rooms 103 and 104 of the East Bonner County – Sandpoint Library, 1407 Cedar Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, for this significant discussion.

Tuesday, July 8: Demand Safer Railcars (with Spokane Rising Tide)

Please meet Spokane, Washington, residents and climate activists for a peaceful, regionally coordinated, non-violent action starting at 12 noon outside the office of Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 10 North Post Street, to ask the eastern Washington Congresswoman what she has done to protect community safety endangered by bomb trains [4].  According to Open Secrets sources, huge campaign contributions that she has received from the oil industry, such as Tesoro and ExxonMobil, and from railroads like BNSF and Union Pacific may compromise her public interests.  Demand that Congress ensure the security of rail line residents by removing outdated DOT-111 train cars from service.

Saturday, July 12: No Idaho Bomb Trains! March & Protest (with Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

Converge with WIRT and allied activists from across northern Idaho for a march and protest in downtown Sandpoint, beginning at Farmin Park, between North Third and Fourth Avenues and Main and Oak Streets, at 12 noon on Saturday, July 12.  Please bring your family and friends, oil train protest signs, banners, and props, musical instruments, voices, and chants, but especially your spirit of Big Oil resistance and solidarity with the thousands of frontline communities who live along railroad sacrifice zones.  Carpools from the Palouse region depart the WIRT Activists House in Moscow (call 208-301-8039 for the address) at 9:30 am and return by 5 pm.

Ongoing Action: Oil Train Watch (with Vancouver Action Network)

Allies among Vancouver Action Network (VAN) in Vancouver, Washington, suggest that when you see a 100-percent oil train, tweet the time (am/pm), city, and direction of train travel along with a hashtag, the two-letter state abbreviation, and oiltrainwatch (for example, in Washington state: #waoiltrainwatch) [5].  Search for webcams pointed at railroad tracks in your city, and start a train watch in your community.

Ongoing Action: Request Oil Train Information (with Vancouver Action Network)

VAN is calling all comrades to file for public information about oil train numbers, locations, and timing from your state Emergency Management Agency, since the U.S. Department of Transportation emergency order of May 7, 2014, now requires railroads to provide information about crude oil shipments through each state [6, 7].  Northwest citizens have the potential to cost the railroads, primarily BNSF and Union Pacific, extensive funds and at least $300 to seek a court injunction against every person who files a request for this public information.  In Washington, BNSF recently declared that it will not impose injunctions against the 100-plus people who pushed for records requests.  Idaho, Montana, and Washington have refused to sign confidentiality agreements with the railroads; thus, these states will release oil train records to the public.

[1] People of Lac-Mégantic, Canada, Support Quinault Nation Efforts over Oil Trains (June 27, 2014 Montesano Today)

[2] Oil by Rail Week of Action (2014 Action Network)

[3] Blue Skies Campaign (2014 Blue Skies Campaign)

[4] Demand Safer Railcars (Spokane Rising Tide)

[5] Twitter Oil Train Watch – Ongoing Action (Vancouver Action Network)

[6] Request Oil Train Info from Your State EMA (Vancouver Action Network)

[7] States, Railroads at Odds over Oil-Train Information (June 6, 2014 Columbian)


Filed under: Alerts, Coal Trains/Ports
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: 6-30-14

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 17:51

The Monday, June 30, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) features updates on the Tar Sands Healing Walk and solidarity actions in three states, resistance to increased, potentially explosive, fracked Bakken shale oil trains and terminals across the Northwest, and lawsuits, rulemaking, and opposition surrounding nascent oil and gas drilling and looming fracking in southern Idaho.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers climate activism and dirty energy developments across the continent, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Newsletter: WIRT & Allied Summer Events: June 26 to August 24

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 07:30

WIRT & ALLIED SUMMER EVENTS

Thursday, June 26:

Public Hearing Set on Allowing Heavy Trucks on Idaho Highways

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is holding a public hearing on applications allowing trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on state highways, from 4 to 7 pm on Thursday, June 26, at the ITD office at 2600 Frontage Road in Lewiston.

Saturday, June 28:

Indian Peoples Action Non-Violent Direct Action in Great Falls, Montana

In solidarity and support of First Nations people and allies participating in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada, on Saturday, June 28, please join Indian Peoples Action for a 1 pm MDT non-violent direct action at the corner of Tenth and Smelter Avenue NE, near the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls, Montana.  Indigenous comrades in Montana are organizing this picket to confront the entire dirty tar sands industry represented by the Canadian-owned Calumet refinery, the destination of three megaload parts of a hydrocracker stranded at the Port of Wilma, Washington.  These transports would assist the proposed facilities expansion in tripling its production along the Missouri River banks, where current operations pollute the Great Falls air shed with emissions from processing toxic tar sands received via truck and rail.

Motivated by various ways of expressing concern and compassion for all life rather than attacking Calumet, this protest event mainly focuses on the devastating effects of Alberta tar sands mining on forests, water sources, and the health of the mostly indigenous, regional people closest to this massive, multi-corporation oil extraction project.  Besides these direct victims, tar sands exploitation also impacts the Earth’s atmosphere, climate, and ultimately all of its life, as well as the Montana refinery workers who destroy interconnected life “for a living.”

Consider variations of these ideas for single- and double-sided picket signs for this peaceful demonstration, but please design your own slogans:

Oil Jobs: Short Term Gain, Long Term Extinction

There Is No Cure for Extinction

Alternative Energy = Jobs, Health, and Life

We’re Over the Limit for Carbon in the Atmosphere

Life is Better than Oil & $

What Are We Leaving for Our Grandkids?

Shut Down the Tar Sands

Switch to Alternative Energy NOW

We Can Do Better than Fossil Fuels – We Must

Event organizers suggest bringing plenty of drinking water and sun cover, if the protest day is hot, and informational leaflets for curious bystanders and media personnel who may attend.  For more information, please see the linked facebook event and/or contact Debbie McShane at lakotawoman2011@hotmail.com.

Tuesday to Monday, July 1 to 7:

Earth First! Round River Rendezvous

Wild Idaho Rising Tide is forming carpools to and from the southern Cascadia/Klamath Knot region (northwestern California near the southern Oregon border) from Boise and Moscow, Idaho:  Contact WIRT at wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 6 & ongoing:

Twitter Oil Train Watch – Ongoing Action

Allies of Vancouver Action Network in Vancouver, Washington, suggest that when you see a 100-percent oil train, tweet the time (am/pm), city, direction of train travel, along with a hashtag, the two-letter state abbreviation, and oiltrainwatch (for example, in Washington state: #waoiltrainwatch).  Search for webcams pointed at railroad tracks in your city, and start a train watch in your community.

Monday, July 7: Direct Action Skill-Share with Blue Skies Campaign

This summer, Blue Skies Campaign of Missoula, Montana, and allies like WIRT are holding a series of skill-shares in communities along Northwest coal and oil transporting rail lines, to discuss tactics and strategies that they have learned about direct actions on railroad property.  Through the process of staging two acts of non-violent civil disobedience on Montana Rail Link (MRL) property in the last nine months, Blue Skies comrades have acquired plenty of practical lessons that other groups may find useful for similar actions.  They are eager to share insights about MRL security, coal train movements, and the unique logistics of direct actions on or near train tracks.

At this skill-share, a few Blue Skies volunteers will give a brief presentation on what happened during their direct actions, what they learned from the experience, and how security and law enforcement could likely respond to future actions on railroad property.  Inter-group conversations about participants’ experiences and opportunities to work together will follow the presentation.  Please join Blue Skies Campaign and WIRT on Monday, July 7, from 5 to 6:45 pm in the Jameson Room of the East Bonner County – Sandpoint Library, 1407 Cedar Street in Sandpoint, Idaho, for this significant discussion.

Monday, July 7 & ongoing:

Request Oil Train Information from Your State Emergency Management Agency

Vancouver Action Network is calling all allies to file for public information from your state Emergency Management Agency about the U.S. Department of Transportation emergency order of May 7, 2014, requiring railroads to provide information about crude oil shipments through each state.  Northwest citizens have the potential to cost the railroads, primarily Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific, extensive funds and at least $300 to seek a court injunction against every person who files a request for this public information.  In Washington, BNSF recently declared that it will not impose injunctions against the 100-plus people who pushed for records requests; thus, the states will release these records to the public.

Also see States, Railroads at Odds over Oil-Train Information in the June 6, 2014 Columbian

Friday, July 11:

Oil Train Actions by Spokane Rising Tide and Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Mid-day times and places to be arranged in Spokane, Washington, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Friday & Saturday, July 18 & 19:

Second Nez Perce Grassroots Environmental Summit

The Nez Perce group, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, is planning a second environmental summit held at the Pi Nee Waus Community Center, 99 Agency Road in Lapwai, Idaho, where group members invite all tribal members and supporters.  Along with lunch and dinner on both days, they will offer a strategic planning training on Friday evening, July 18, and roundtable discussions addressing a wide variety of issues, including water, salmon, land, air, and treaty rights, from 9 am until 5 pm on Saturday, July 19.  Contact Julian Matthews at 208-790-4296 or jmatthews@alumni.uidaho.edu, for further information.

Monday & Tuesday, August 11 & 12:

Fight or Flight Tour

Coming to Missoula, Montana, and Moscow, Idaho, this August, Earth First! Journal, The Bunny Alliance, and Resistance Ecology are staging a nationwide tour, to intensify campaigns and demonstrations ending lab animal transport, to share supportive experience, skills, and workshops (including trainings on strategic and effective campaigning, protest tactics, security culture, movement relationships, and legal rights, research, and observation), to build alliances, and to empower the grassroots animal liberation and ecological activist community.

Friday & Saturday, August 22 & 23:

2014 Washington State Oil Train Summit

Delegates of various regional groups can register for this first-of-its-kind weekend of workshops, networking, hands-on learning, and action around the Northwest oil train issue, held at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, from 5 pm on Friday, August 22, through 8 am to 8 pm on Saturday and an optional Sunday session from 9 am to noon.  The summit hopes to draw representatives from all over the continent for large strategy sessions and to foster the formation of a statewide network and international movement of oil train activists protecting their communities from dangerous oil-by-rail projects.

Friday to Sunday, August 22 to 24:

Rising Tide North America Continental Gathering

Do not miss the second annual Rising Tide gathering on August 22 to 24 near Whitesburg, Kentucky.  This year in Appalachia, on the tenth anniversary of Mountain Justice, participants will learn from and support the struggle to stop mountaintop removal.  WIRT is eager to converge with Rising Tide network comrades and allies from around North America, whom we met in Utah last summer, to connect with even more fellow climate justice activists, and to strategize ways to grow and expand the movement.  Look for additional event details and updates available soon on the Rising Tide North America website.  Please share this announcement and RSVP!

Saturday, October 11:

Global Frackdown

Times and places to be arranged in Idaho and worldwide

Other Possible WIRT Events:

Gasland I and II Roadshow

Northwest Regional Rising Tides Coordinated Actions

Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance Direct Action Trainings

Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allies will arrange the dates and locations of these statewide or regional events in British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.  See the Events Calendar on the WIRT website for other climate activism events occurring beyond the region this summer.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org

Facebook.com/WildIdaho.RisingTide

Twitter.com/WildIdahoRT

208-301-8039


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Dana Lyons 6-23-14

Sun, 06/22/2014 - 19:00

The Monday, June 23, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes again folk musician and activist Dana Lyons of Bellingham, Washington.  From June 6 to 30, including tonight in Moscow, Dana is conducting a series of performances and presentations on the Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour, raising awareness and resistance across the four-state Northwest to increased, potentially explosive, fracked Bakken shale oil trains, tanker ships, and proposed and operating oil storage, refining, and shipping terminals in Oregon and Washington.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PDT, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers climate activism and dirty energy developments across the continent, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as their KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Newsletter: Retreating Highway 95 Megaloads, Montana Manufactur​ers, Idaho Resistance Prevails?

Sat, 06/21/2014 - 00:02

Dear fellow WIRT activists, friends, and supporters,

Please accept our apologies for the lateness of this Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) newsletter.  Expect an action alert soon, describing ways that you can affect the outcomes of the situations described here, through petitions, meetings, travels, and protests.

SHUT DOWN TAR SANDS!

At the Idle No More World Day of Action Idaho Solidarity on Sunday, January 27, 2013, Wild Idaho Rising Tide and Moscow Volunteer Peace Band activists chanted “Shut Down Tar Sands!” and “[Port of] Wilma, Turn That Damn Thing Around!” [1]  Like on-the-ground, region-wide resistance to tar sands megaloads that WIRT has been working to instigate since January 2011, both vocalized WIRT goals are manifesting years later!  As reported by an online stock investors journal, narrowing profit margins could spell “game over” for more than two tar sands mining ventures, as the costs of exploiting tar sands deposits continue to inflate, while the price of oil and the net financial gains from tar sands extraction remain stable or worse [2].  French energy giant Total and lead tar sands producer Suncor recently abandoned a proposed tar sands project, Joslyn, symbolizing the world-wide challenges to industry and investors of the cost overruns of  tar sands operations, likely escalated by the resistance of indigenous and grassroots activists not mentioned in the article.

But, of course, the profiteers of slow, industrial genocide – powerful Big Oil companies, Canada’s economic elite, and their apologists – would never reveal such vulnerabilities of tar sands ventures, necessary pipeline easements, and extreme energy export, nor would they concede moral victory to First Nations’ legal agency, the target of extensive 2012 legislation that disenfranchised environmental and tribal protections and aggravated the rise of the Idle No More movement.  Such indigenous power makes tar sands development projects vulnerable to litigation and long-term liability.  Nor would Big Oil interests admit the poisoned forests, lands, and waters, deformed fish, and the higher rates of cancer and associated subsistence and social crises predominantly among First Nations and largely due to the atrocities attributable to tar sands exploitation.

One of the Total/Suncor project’s steam-injected wells initially exploded, and both companies quit upgrader construction in the same Fort Hills, Alberta, area.  But the most daunting logistics had not yet commenced.  Once underway at a tar sands mining site, oil corporations house, feed, and entertain workers in huge camps, and pay them two to three times regular wages and fringe benefits for similar jobs, more than $200,000 per year after taxes.  But time away from families, boredom, and drug and alcohol use (not to mention health risks) create turnover, and tar sands producers still encounter problems attracting employees to frigid northern Alberta.  With the cheaply and easily obtained tar sands gone, the higher expenses of new projects, and the almost prohibitive costs of labor, “any sustained drop in oil prices could majorly curtail oil sands production.  The days of oil sands operations being low-cost are largely over.  Look for more of these projects to be suspended in the future.” [2]

HIGHWAY 95 MEGALOAD RETREAT

After obtaining game-changing, late-May 2014 news about megaload shipments proposed for transport through northern Idaho, Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists have scouted the Port of Wilma, across the Snake River from Clarkston, Washington, as well as adjacent river and rail transportation systems [3-6].  Since mid-December 2013, Mammoet USA South of Rosharon, Texas, has sought Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) permits to haul three hydrocracker sections stored at the port to Great Falls, Montana, where Calumet Specialty Products Partners would triple the tar sands production capacity of its Montana Refining Company.  After cancelling its permit requests on April 23, Mammoet and now Bigge Crane and Rigging of San Leandro, California, are vying to carry one of these megaloads, presumably the heaviest, 661,000-pound, 40-foot-long behemoth, up U.S. Highway 95 through Moscow and Sandpoint, Idaho, and over Idaho Highway 200 instead of Interstate 90 [7, 8].  The other two components, 504,000 pounds and 573,000 pounds respectively, could travel by rail to Montana, maybe back down the Snake River on barges to the Tri-Cities, Washington, or via Watco Companies Great Northwest Railroad west from Lewiston to eastern Washington [9, 10].  As oncoming rail traffic to all of the potentially explosive but fragile DOT-111 and DOT-111A tank cars of unit “bomb trains” headed from the fracked Bakken shale region to the West Coast, the megaloads could creep north on either the Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail lines to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, then eastward on the BNSF railroad to a spur line heading south from Shelby to Great Falls, Montana [11].

While Wild Idaho Rising Tide awaits the results of yet another request for public records about these behemoths, we suspect that, on the basis of weight, the two lighter, end pieces of the 1,737,243-pound Calumet hydrocracker may move on the rail route via Schnable trailers and cars, which distribute the cargo weight over up to 36 axles, to avert track demolition.  Such a scheme would deeply diminish the transport fee paid to whichever outfit emerges with the task of carrying the heaviest, 330-ton, middle hydrocracker section to Great Falls by road.  Nonetheless, apparently two or three heavy haul corporations are competing for the Calumet contract to move the refinery expansion equipment from the Port of Wilma to Great Falls, as the Idaho Transportation Department accepts offers and plans from first Mammoet, then Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting of Northfield, Minnesota, and now both Mammoet and Bigge.

But shipping megaloads on trains through northern Idaho is not any safer than dragging them with trucks and trailers over neglected roads and bridges.  The targeted Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway near Crossport, east of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, recently suffered two train derailments in one week on the same stretch of track [12, 13].  The second, May 22 accident at 2 am thankfully spilled no hazardous materials into the nearby Kootenai River, which was flowing higher for sturgeon spawning, only crushed bentonite clay, beer, grain, and general merchandise.  Nineteen cars in the mid-point of the 116-car train that ironically originated in Great Falls, with a destination of Pasco, Washington, accordioned, twisted, and piled up, destroying both parallel sections of BNSF track.  Remediation crews, a hazardous response team, and heavy equipment converged from as far as Havre, Montana, and Pasco, and worked night and day for 30 hours, to clean up the wreck and re-open the bottlenecked rail line to multiple passenger and freight trains.  While BNSF scrapped and hauled the damaged cars away from the crash site near Katka Mountain during four weeks, the cause of the derailment remained under investigation.  Meanwhile, other railway infrastructure has been crumbling for decades, such as the bridge buttressing south bound tracks over Sportsman Access Road connecting Highway 95 to Westmond, Idaho, next to Cocolalla Lake, where double-decker container shipments, coal and oil tankers, and looming tar sands equipment could overwhelm already weight-stressed rail lines [14, 15].  Can regional rail system structures withstand the exorbitant weights and widths of megaloads or their addition to the currently strained rail traffic capacity imposed by dangerous oil and coal cars?

Both train and road transporters seem willing to risk public and environmental health threats.  In August 2011, while ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil pushed 350 tar sands processing plant modules weighing up to 415,000 pounds and measuring 250 feet long through the Northwest, Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting hauled four immense, decommissioned steam generators from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in southern California to a disposal site in Clive, northwest Utah [16-18].  The company created colossal, 400-foot trailers with 192 wheels and 48 axles and used two puller and four pusher 600-plus horsepower Mack Titan 16L tractor-trucks to maneuver the largest ever vehicle to travel over flat terrain and grades on California roads, defended by armed guards along a secretive route.  Will Perkins reuse the same mega-megaload trailers, trucks, and configurations on the Lewiston Grade and in Idaho that it employed to carry the enormous, 760,000-pound, 43-foot-long, possibly radioactive power plant generators that were once considered immovable?

Even while Indianapolis, Indiana-based Calumet exceeds $5 billion in total annual sales for the first time in 2013, earning the independent producer of hydrocarbon and fuel products a position as number 467 on the 2014 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies, it struggles to triple its tar sands production at its Montana refinery [19].  Although installation after uncertain and troublesome transport of the rusting steel hydrocracker hulks constitutes the linchpin in Calumet’s Great Falls refinery expansion and its vast plans to construct new bitumen production plants and ascend to the Fortune 100, contaminated soil removal under several displaced large tanks at the site is additionally causing project problems [20].  Federal Railroad Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations strictly mandate that railroads moving cross-country trains containing 20 or more cars of hazardous material must re-route through low risk areas at slower speeds.  Calumet may have required over 100 rail cars to haul away 15,000 cubic yards of dirt sullied mainly by lead and gasoline, making more than one unit train or several intermixed cargo trains its only options.  With only a few days of work left on the months-long excavation and removal process, the slow return of empty train cars from the soil’s destination at a hazardous waste facility in Indiana could delay expansion project construction one or more months past its August 1, 2014 start date.

MONTANA MEGALOAD MANUFACTURERS

The creator of the three heat exchanger units of evaporators that Omega Morgan lugged from the Port of Umatilla, Oregon, through eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana, to underground Alberta tar sands mining operations last winter plans to build similar fossil fuel infrastructure components near Missoula, Montana [21, 22].  Harris Manufacturing, the Montana subsidiary that emerged last November from Newberg, Oregon-based, megaload maker Harris Thermal Transfer Products, is converting part of the former Stimson Lumber Company mill site on the banks of the Blackfoot River in Bonner, six miles east of downtown Missoula, into a massive fabrication facility.  Commencing in fall 2014, it plans to construct heat exchangers, pressure vessels, and wastewater treatment equipment for various industries, including tar sands and Bakken shale oil extraction projects in Alberta and North Dakota and Northwest pulp and paper mills.

Harris Manufacturing plant establishment represents part of a broader economic development scheme to re-establish Missoula’s heavy industry sector and replace the estimated 500 skilled jobs lost with closure of the Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation and Stimson mills over the past decade.  Since early May, the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee of the Montana Legislature has met and discussed and explored impediments to private, cooperative funding of oversize vehicle routes.  As criticism mounts against separate Missoula city permits and fees for megaload passage, Republicans at the capitol in Helena are asserting pressure to officially identify a high and wide corridor for overlegal traffic through the state.  The currently utilized, informal route stretches from Bonner, east on Interstate 90 to North Dakota and northeast along Montana Highway 200 through the Blackfoot valley glorified by the movie A River Runs Through It, to the Rocky Mountain Front and Alberta.  Montana megaload opponents have argued for over four years that shipments on Highway 200 could impose myriad public safety and environmental concerns.  With U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho temporarily blocked in federal court to megaloads through the Nez Perce Reservation and the Middle Fork Clearwater and Lochsa wild and scenic river corridor, and continued resistance to U.S. Highway 95 tar sands mining and refining equipment diverting haulers to other rail and highway routes, Highway 200 could become the next megaload battleground.

Meanwhile, besides a handful of Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil module assembly facilities under construction or in operation in Billings, Bynum, Choteau, and Great Falls, Montana, ADF International of Quebec began production at its $26 million steel fabrication plant north of Great Falls in January 2014 and held a grand opening in late May [23, 24].  Like other fossil fuel extraction facilitators in eastern Montana, the company is working with state and federal government and transportation officials to develop a “high and wide corridor” for hauling its infrastructure modules to the oil and gas field sacrifice zones in the region and Canada.  This summer, ADF is finalizing a plan to accommodate its large loads and raise 13 utility lines along 45 miles of U.S. Highway 87 between Great Falls and Fort Benton, where the rest of the route into Canada is already functional from Billings.  On the wide-open prairie, “some super module loads as big as 24 feet wide, 24 feet long, and 120 feet long can be moved more easily to Canada, without crossing the mountains of Idaho and western Montana.” [24]

But like the Canadian corporation TransCanada, which enables climate chaos from within the U.S. via its operating Keystone and proposed Keystone XL pipelines, the Terrebonne, Quebec-based structural steel company has staked much of its fiscal future on creating the industrial infrastructure necessary to extract hydrocarbons sequestered in tar sands and shale oil and gas sacrifice zones.  Amid continued lower market prices and the costs of its new facilities in Montana, the value of its stock shares has slumped over the past three months [25].  Despite revenues doubling to $24.4 million over the last year, while its Great Falls and Terrebonne plants scramble to build the order backlogs of hundreds of megaloads hauled to and installed in Alberta, its 2014-15 financial prospects appear transitional and grim.  “ADF is authorized to repurchase for cancellation up to 1.4 million subordinate voting shares…when deemed appropriate by the company, considering current economic conditions, its liquidities, and the progress of its development project in the state of Montana.” [25]

Many residents of the Blackfeet and Flathead (Confederated Salish and Kootenai) Reservations, Missoulians, and Reserve Street megaload blockaders cannot bear to have equipment fabrication and assembly plants that aid and abet the most destructive, life-killing, industrial operation on the planet so close to their homes and businesses.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide calls on our comrades among Montana tribal and climate activists on the other side of the Bitterroot Mountains to travel with us and/or attend the Tar Sands Healing Walk through tar sands ground-zero near Fort McMurray or organize solidarity actions or protest gatherings on the same day as the walk on Saturday, June 28, like in Montana and Utah.  We also welcome Montanans to join Idaho and Washington WIRT members in scouting for the third time the Montana megaload route and module manufacturing plants.  All of these efforts present great opportunities to visit and raise your voices high against the perpetrators of climate change.

IDAHO MEGALOAD RESISTENCE PREVAILS?

It has been a wild year of ongoing megaload resistance activities among indigenous allies, Rising Tide activists, and the movement against tar sands, megaloads, and climate change, increasingly growing across the Northwest, as citizens also challenge oil and gas drilling in southern Idaho and dusty coal and explosive oil trains moving from the northern Great Plains toward proposed Oregon and Washington export terminals.  Musically talented activists like Roy Zimmerman, Melanie Harby, and WIRT’s own Jeanne McHale continue to fan the impassioned flames of direct action, while the People’s Music Network chose their song co-written for WIRT and Tom Hansen, The Tide Is Rising, as one of five June 2014 climate crisis songs of the month [26].  Congratulations and gratitude to everyone who embodies this great rallying cry and acknowledgement of people power in the movement against fossil fuels.  Megaload movers and makers have spent plenty of money on changing their opposition-beleaguered game plans, as Idaho and Northwest megaload resistance on all fronts has forced companies to move east over the mountains and closer to the Canadian border, to avoid tar sands protesters.

Two of the three pieces of Great Falls, Montana, tar sands refinery expansion equipment stranded at the Port of Wilma may become the first ever megaloads to physically retreat via river and/or rail from Lewiston area ports, thirty miles south of Moscow.  And attempts to haul massive loads to the Alberta tar sands via Highway 12, part of the wild and scenic Middle Fork Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers corridor, are still stalled by mediation between the Forest Service and the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United, even after the Forest Service completed an inadequate corridor values study and consulted the tribe, as required by the temporary injunction imposed by Judge Winmill’s federal court in Boise last September 12.  Not to mention the fierce, hundreds-strong protests that the Nez Perce Tribe and allies mounted in August 2013, to blockade an Omega Morgan-hauled megaload over its four-night struggle across Idaho.

When the heavy hauler pursued another alternative route through eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and western Montana – besides the sacrifice zone of Highway 95 and Moscow, trampled by five dismantled megaload pieces in fall 2013 – wide-ranging efforts ensued to block Alberta tar sands equipment from ALL highways, including interstates, in Idaho and the four-state Northwest [27].  Five Rising Tide groups and numerous tribal activists, among the Confederated Umatilla Tribes and Warm Springs Tribes in Oregon and Indian People’s Action in Montana, confronted executives and workers at corporate headquarters, state agency offices, public meetings, in an Oregon court, and in the roads of three states, from mid-November through mid-March.  In Idaho, leaders and activists of the Coeur d’Alene and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and conservation and climate change organizations have submitted extensive public comments, offered public informational meetings, and/or staged numerous demonstrations to banish tar sands infrastructure from Interstates 84 and 90, U.S. Highways 20, 26, 93, and 95, and Idaho Highways 19, 28, 33, 78, and 200.

Since February 2011, these colossal transport operations have delayed, confused, and blocked public highway access and traffic, impeded public and private emergency services, collided with vehicles, tree branches, cliffs, and power lines, caused personal injury and property damage, and cost the Idaho Transportation Department hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative costs and road maintenance not covered by oversize vehicle permits.  But relentless activism has staged myriad protests in the Idaho courts and streets, from the forested northern panhandle to the southern desert plains over four-plus years, effectively repulsing corporate profits that usurp Idahoans’ best interests and convert remote, rural Idaho roads into economic and environmental sacrifice zones for distant industrial developments.

SUPPORT WIRT!

As Rising Tide North America activist Scott Parkin wrote earlier this year:

In 2011, Wild Idaho Rising Tide put out this call to action: “Keep up your creativity and resolve under pressure, dear comrades!  Allies elsewhere, we are under escalating siege and need you by our sides, either physically or fiscally.”  The words still ring true.  Whether Michigan, South Dakota, or Idaho, the fight against tar sands infrastructure is only escalating and it needs all of us [28].

If you appreciate direct activism that has seriously stopped, stalled, or sidetracked these infrastructure projects, please contribute to WIRT at WildIdahoRisingTide.org/Support-WIRT/ or the following address.

Thanks for everything you do to halt climate change!

Wild Idaho Rising Tide

P.O. Box 9817, Moscow, Idaho 83843

WildIdahoRisingTide.org

Facebook.com/WildIdaho.RisingTide

Twitter.com/WildIdahoRT

208-301-8039

[1] Shut Down Tar Sands, WIRT, Port of Wilma, January 27, 2013 (January 27, 2013 Tom Hansen video)

[2] The Oil Sands Crisis Nobody Is Talking About (May 30, 2014 Motley Fool)

[3] Port of Wilma Megaloads and Port of Lewiston 6-1-14 (June 1, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

[4] Megaloads are Mega Stuck (May 30, 2014 Coeur d’Alene Press)

[5] Press: Mega-Loads Are ‘Mega Stuck’ (May 30, 2014 Boise Weekly)

[6] From Road to Rail (May 31, 2014 Coeur d’Alene Press)

[7] WIRT Newsletter: Mammoet Withdraws Megaload Permits, But Perkins, the People, and the Ports Push On (May 22, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[8] Heavy Rigging and Transportation Capabilities (Bigge Crane and Rigging Company)

[9] Watco Companies Great Northwest Railroad (2014 Watco Companies)

[10] Watco Companies Railroad Map (2014 Watco Companies)

[11] North American Crude by Rail (2014 Oil Change International)

[12] Derailment Snarls Train, Destroys BNSF Track Sections (May 23, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[13] 19 BNSF Rail Cars Derail East of Bonners Ferry (May 23, 2014 News Bonners Ferry)

[14] Railroad Bridge over Sportsman Access Road, Westmond, Idaho (June 10, 2014 Rae Ann Fry‎ photo)

[15] Railroad Bridge over Sportsman Access Road, Westmond, Idaho (June 10, 2014 Rae Ann Fry‎ photo)

[16] Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting (Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting video)

[17] Here Comes the Mega-Megaload (August 6, 2011 Lewiston Tribune)

[18] Perkins Creates Colossal, 400-Foot, 192-Wheel Truck Using Autodesk Software (October 17, 2011 Dexigner)

[19] Calumet Specialty Breaks Into Fortune 500 (June 2, 2014 Inside Indiana Business)

[20] Contaminated Soil Removal Delayed (June 7, 2014 KRTV)

[21] Perfect Spot (May 27, 2014 Missoula Independent)

[22] Bonner Fabrication Facility to Employ 30 Specialized Welders (May 25, 2014 Missoulian)

[23] Canadian Company Plans to Expand New Steel Fabrication Plant near Great Falls (May 29, 2014 Associated Press)

[24] ADF Outlines Great Falls Expansion Plans at Open House (May 29, 2014 Great Falls Tribune)

[25] ADF Group Declines on Gloomy Outlook (June 11, 2014 ProactiveInvestors)

[26] Song of the Month (June 2014 People’s Music Network)

[27] Northwest Protests of Omega Morgan-Hauled Tar Sands Megaloads (January 25, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[28] Opponents Offer Fierce Resistance to Tar Sands, Enbridge, and Keystone XL (February 19, 2014 The Understory)


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

Activists Descend on Lewiston Port Hearing

Thu, 06/12/2014 - 08:47

Testy crowd pressures commissioners for answers on purpose, feasibility of expanded dock

Megaload opponents and tax activists forced Lewiston port officials Wednesday to disclose how they expect to find customers for their recently expanded container dock.

Information, however, was the only concession offered at a lengthy, sometimes testy hearing. It ended with port commissioners passing a $1.9 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year without changing anything, including a $450,000 annual property tax levy for Nez Perce County residents.

Among the more than 15 people who attended the morning meeting was Linwood Laughy, a Kooskia-area resident and leader of megaload opponents. He met Port Manager David Doeringsfeld for the first time.

Carla Timentwa, chairwoman of the Nez Perce Tribe’s General Council, identified herself as one of the people arrested last year during megaload protests.

She wondered whether the port should be supporting activity in the oil boomtowns of North Dakota because of the violence associated with the rapid growth, which has victimized innocent bystanders.

Nez Perce County property owner Rick Rupp, who lives in Bend, Ore., had a different concern.

“I’m very disappointed, shocked and amazed this port did a dock expansion,” Rupp said. “I can see absolutely no justification for it.”

Doeringsfeld didn’t name any new customers that have used the dock since its length was more than doubled to 270 feet last year. The $2.8 million project was paid for with port and federal money.

That, however, will change in one, two or three years as the Port of Lewiston markets barging on the Columbia and Snake rivers to suppliers of the North Dakota oil fields, he said.

Many of the materials and equipment used in the oil fields are manufactured in Asia. They are shipped through the Panama Canal, then through Houston.

If those goods were to travel to the Port of Vancouver, Wash., and be unloaded at the Port of Lewiston, it would reduce the route by thousands of miles.

Ideally, Doeringsfeld said the products transported to Lewiston would need extra work such as welding, which would give rise to companies in the region with good paying jobs.

“We’re strategically (located) to take advantage of those opportunities,” he said.

While the port has $25,000 set aside in legal fees to keep informed about whether U.S. Highway 12 can be a potential route for megaloads, he said much of the equipment could be hauled in ordinary trucks.

The port is hopeful a compromise can be reached in the megaload debate so the highway could be used for all forms of commerce, while maintaining tourism and preserving cultural assets, Port Commission President Mary Hasenoehrl said.

Laughy sat silent during the megaload discussion. But he asked the port to correct information on its website he believes is inaccurate. That request prompted Port Commissioner Mike Thomason to ask Laughy about his credentials as an economist.

Laughy responded that he earned advanced degrees in psychology. Thomason apologized minutes later.

But that wasn’t enough for Will Godfrey, a retired agricultural economist.

“I think you were pretty rude,” he said. “You implied a psychologist can’t cut the mustard.”

In a related budget matter, port commissioners boosted prices at their container dock. General labor rose from $75 to $100 per hour, while general labor after normal business hours increased from $125 to $150 per hour. A $30 fee was added for instances when companies request photos to show the condition of their containers when they arrive at the port.

The fees apply to types of cargo other than those in containers, like megaloads, boats or other equipment. A similar photo fee of $90 per container hasn’t changed.

In other business Wednesday:

  • Doeringsfeld said the port commission will decide if the LC Ice Arena can keep its port-owned spot at its next meeting at 7 a.m. July 9.

The port is considering not renewing the ice arena’s lease to make room for a manufacturing tenant.

“If you kick them out, you’re going to be as popular as a skunk at a lawn party,” said Bob Denevan of Lewiston.

  • The port tabled a decision about giving EKO Compost a lease extension beyond the end of this year. EKO anticipates it will have about 35,000 cubic yards – or a three-year supply – of finished compost once it processes the biosolids and yard waste it’s required to accept from the city of Lewiston through the end of this month. The job of handling yard debris is shifting to a new vendor starting July 1.

(By Elaine Williams, The Lewiston Tribune)


Filed under: Port of Lewiston
Categories: Climate Change

Moscow Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour Show

Thu, 06/12/2014 - 00:35

Dana Lyons has been intensively touring with two simultaneous shows over the last few months, releasing his latest, new album, The Great Salish Sea, and raising awareness and action about increased, explosive, Northwest oil trains with speaker Matt Krogh of ForestEthics on the Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour.  Conducting a series of performances from June 6 to 30, Dana is singing new and comedy songs and rallying activists, and Matt is giving presentations about oil trains and tankers, from the Oregon and Washington coastal cities near proposed and operating oil storage, refining, and shipping terminals to the interior Idaho and Montana towns along the rail lines of potentially explosive oil trains.

Originating in the fracked Bakken shale oil fields of North Dakota, the amount and frequency of these “bomb trains” has been escalating over the past two years throughout much of the U.S. and Canada.  They carry the same type of crude oil as trains that derailed, exploded, and sparked massive fires in Alabama, Alberta, North Dakota, and Virginia during the last year, and killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, eastern Quebec, on July 6, 2013, a catastrophe marked next month by numerous planned protests across the continent.  More dangerous to Northwest communities than controversial coal trains, similar oil trains rumble past nearby schools, hospitals, homes, and businesses, toward export facilities proposed for expansion in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington.  Not only could they blow up entire neighborhoods, their oil in ocean-going tankers imposes much greater risks and threats of spills in the Salish Sea, the inland Pacific and Puget Sound waters of British Columbia and Washington.

But the people of these four states can halt the increase of oil trains, much like we have deterred proposed coal export trains.  Widespread public opposition to Northwest coal train traffic, fossil fuels, and climate change, as well as investor withdrawal from coal port projects, have caused the cancellation of three of six planned coal terminals in Oregon and Washington in just two years.  While resistance grows against remaining coal export proposals, the public is realizing that the region should not bear the incredible risks associated with exploding, burning oil trains and oil spills, so that big oil companies can profit from shipping American oil to Asia.  The Northwest and the U.S. have been successfully working to reduce oil use and to carefully regulate oil transportation through the region.

Come to the Moscow Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour Show with Dana Lyons, and learn about the proposed and ongoing oil trains that the oil industry plans to send through Northwest towns for export through the Salish Sea.  Explore how our region is organizing to stop these oil trains and how you can help, while enjoying some great tunes and a lovely Solstice gathering!  Please join Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists, friends, family, and allies at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho, at 7 pm on Monday, June 23, for an inspiring concert and an informative talk by Dana Lyons, with potluck snacks, beer, and wine.  Show hosts suggest $10 to $20 donations for fundraising admission, but will not turn anyone away for lack of funds.  For further information about the oil train issue and this tour event, visit WIRT website and facebook pages at WildIdahoRisingTide.org and Facebook.com/WildIdaho.RisingTide or contact WIRT at wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com or 208-301-8039.  Please print and widely post the linked, color, letter-sized Moscow Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour Show Flyer.

The Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour is making stops in Port Angeles, Everett, Vancouver, and Olympia, Washington, on June 6, 7, 12, and 14, and in Portland, Oregon, on June 13.  Dana and Matt will offer an upcoming show sponsored by Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper (208-597-7188, LakePendOreilleWaterkeeper.org) at 7 pm on Tuesday, June 24, at Farmin Park on Oak Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Spokane Riverkeeper (bart@cforjustice.org) will also host a performance at 7 pm on Wednesday, June 25, on the Saranac Building roof at 35 West Main Avenue in Spokane, Washington.  Missoula and Helena, Montana, comrades have scheduled tentative shows respectively on Thursday and Monday, June 26 and 30.  To find out more about ForestEthics campaigns, eco-performer Dana Lyons and his music and merchandise, and Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour updates, browse the following website links.

ForestEthics: Crude by Rail Dangers

Dana Lyons: Website, YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter


Filed under: Events
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Newsletter: Wednesday through Saturday Port of Lewiston & Idaho Republican Convention Protests

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 22:30

Wednesday 7 am Port of Lewiston Hearing/Protest

The Port of Lewiston will hold a second hearing about its proposed budget at 7 am on Wednesday, June 11.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) is calling for another port showdown protest and oral public comments, followed by Port of Wilma scouting.  The boondoggle* on the banks of the Clearwater River that invites and facilitates Alberta tar sands and fracked Bakken shale oil exploitation equipment deserves our ongoing resistance.  Expensively costing Nez Perce County and Idaho taxpayers more than it has earned ever since it was built, the port now intends to waste some more hard-earned tax dollars on unnecessary initiatives that counter Idahoans’ best interests in a clean energy future, not to mention their fondest desires for the integrity of indigenous and public lands and rights, highways, water, air, and climate.

As the Port of Lewiston crafts its budget for the coming fiscal year, the port is seeking to increase the amount it sets aside for legal expenses, from $9,000 this year to $33,000 next year, to be prepared for litigation to keep the U.S. Highway 12 corridor open for megaloads.  It has also more than doubled the money available for administration travel to $21,500.  …In upcoming months, [port manager] Doeringsfeld…will also visit places such as Spokane and the oil fields in North Dakota, looking for new outgoing and incoming cargo.  …Port commissioners took the first of two votes on Wednesday, [May 14] needed to impose the tax on Nez Perce County residents.  The next one will be at the port’s budget hearing at 7 am on June 11 [1].

According to a Tuesday phone conversation with port manager David Doeringsfeld (who said “See you tomorrow…”), port meetings occur at the publicly inconvenient time of 7 am to accommodate several commissioners’ 8 am workday starting times.  WIRT wonders why port officials are so eager to attract business that has met so much regional resistance, why they feel compelled to get involved with external legal actions, and if the port’s charter condones such activities.  Please come prepared for a pre-hearing demonstration with your protest signs at 6:30 am, and to present your oral public comments against the port’s megaload-facilitating budget, defending both Highways 12 and 95 from fossil fuel infrastructure and other megaloads.  Carpools depart the WIRT Activists House in Moscow (call 208-301-8039 for the address) at 5:30 am sharp on Wednesday morning, or meet us outside the Port of Lewiston office at 1626 Sixth Avenue North, near the port in north Lewiston at 6:30 am.

*Boondoggle: (unknown 1930s origin) work or activity that is wasteful, pointless, or worthless but gives the appearance of having value; a public project of questionable merit that typically involves political patronage and graft; to waste money or time on such projects

WIRT Confronts the Idaho Republican Convention

As activists of Moscow, statewide ground-zero for climate activism, we still need to devise some direct actions commensurate with the source of many of Idaho’s political, environmental, and climate woes: the Idaho Republican Party.  WIRT announced an initial, emergency planning meeting held last Thursday evening, June 5, and changed our regular meeting schedule to twice monthly on the first and third Thursdays, to coordinate plans for the Idaho Republican State Convention in Moscow on June 12 to 14, for Highway 95/200 megaload blockades, and for other summer events [2].  (Please see the linked convention schedule: 2014 Idaho Republican Convention Agenda 2.)  As described through the poster sent with the last WIRT newsletter, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition and/or the Moscow area residents behind the recent screenings of Years of Living Dangerously are also hosting a Thursday evening rally and dance called Welcome Republicans! Let’s Join Together to Tackle Climate Change!  They hope to attract visiting Republicans to Friendship Square in Moscow, for some climate change information, music, and speakers.  But Republican convention participants will obviously not stray a mile from the Best Western University Inn and Kibby Dome convention venues for a preach-to-the-leftist-choir event in downtown Moscow.

Highly ambivalent about our since-dropped co-sponsorship of the Welcome, Republicans! event, WIRT has already scouted locations amenable to actually encountering convention guests.  After working for years to embody anything but faint-hearted Horton’s “whos,” the event media release depiction of Moscow area activists as such feels like ten steps backwards.  Why would any local activists feign powerlessness in juxtaposition to apparently wrong, climate change-denying Republican agendas?  Truth confers both might and right, as obvious in the power of WIRT’s numerous protests and extensive public comments that have severely handicapped various fossil fuel infrastructure and transportation schemes, using every desperate, available means.  Accordingly, we do not want to encourage standard Moscow resistance procedure: circling the wagons in Friendship Square, far from targeted threats.  In solidarity with the intentions, but not the methods, of the Welcome, Republicans! event, we are still designing additional, more direct approaches to actually meeting and/or disrupting convention attendees.

Although WIRT has agreed to give a speech for the insular Welcome, Republicans! rally, unless we are in the midst of an action at the time, we would like to send a stronger, unified message of resistance to the Idaho Republican stance of climate change denial this week.  Besides the usual climate activists, the wider progressive community needs to shake-up and scare entrenched Idaho Republicans, convincing them that climate damage is unequivocal and that they must establish state policy that protects the future of Idaho’s children, regardless of party affiliation.  Involving as much of the Moscow area constituency and media as possible, more WIRT and community activists must break out of their comfort/work/school zones SOON to create and contribute toward peaceful, active, direct protests at the previously mentioned locations or various Moscow hotels and University of Idaho dormitories.  Some of the convention events are open to the public with low entrance fees not entailing spendier registration.  As a matter of WIRT pride, we should at least compile and circulate an Idaho climate policy manifesto flyer to Idaho Republicans on Thursday through Saturday.

Attend another action planning meeting at the WIRT Activists House in Moscow (please call 208-301-8039 for the address) at 6 pm on Wednesday, June 11, to participate in organizing convention actions.  We encourage your response to this call to action, our fourth request for your involvement in directly engaging our fellow Idahoans in climate change conversations.

[1] Port of Lewiston Wants Megaloads Back (May 15, 2014 Lewiston Tribune)

[2] WIRT Newsletter: June 5 to July 22 Events (June 5, 2014 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

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