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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.
Updated: 14 hours 27 min ago

Fourth Annual Celebration of Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 02:15

The fourth year of relentless Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activism has manifested plenty to celebrate!  We invite and welcome everyone to the Fourth Annual Celebration of Wild Idaho Rising Tide, commemorating our anniversary as a direct action collective and reinvigorating our members, friends, and supporters for another year of dedicated commitment and involvement in the passionate climate justice movement.  This yearly fundraising party supports WIRT activists, who confront the root causes and perpetrators 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.  We eagerly anticipate hosting another lively, evening gathering, enjoying shared camaraderie, live music and dancing, and exuberant fun.

Between 7 pm and 12 midnight on Saturday, March 28, revel in a benefit concert provided by three bands, along with a home-cooked, potluck dinner and desert, beer and wine for purchase, and dozens of raffle prizes donated by community members and businesses.  To savor our successes, hundreds of selected photos of our demonstrations and initiatives will cycle through a background slide show.  Please join dirty energy resisters at the 1912 Center Great Room, 412 East Third Street in Moscow, Idaho, for a well-deserved wild time full of spirited conversation and inspiring music played by remarkable, visiting songwriters and performers.

Do not miss this upcoming opportunity to support the robust activism of Idaho’s courageous challengers of the government, corporate, and industrial sources of climate chaos, for voluntary admission contributions of only $5 or greater.  WIRT offers our hearty thanks to Tom Bennett of Sweet Salt Records in Salt Lake City, Utah, for co-coordinating the multiple entertainment aspects of this event and arranging live performances by musicians traveling to Moscow from Chicago and Salt Lake City.  For further information and/or to assist with preparing and staging WIRT’s big night, please visit the WIRT website and facebook pages, contact WIRT at wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com or 208-301-8039, and print and post the color Fourth Annual Celebration of WIRT Flyer.

Blackkiss

Pete Sands, the Navajo dark country singer and musical artist of Blackkiss, was born and raised on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  While a young child, his family experienced a major catastrophic tragedy that sent him to live with his grandmother, who taught him the ancient, traditional ways of his people, deep in the heart of the reservation.  Many years attending Navajo ceremonies, hearing the mythologies, and listening to elders sing the old songs and tell related stories painted amazing, grand pictures in his imagination.  At an early age, Pete already had an ear for the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, whose voice and style reminded him of the elders’ storytelling singing.

Bringing the sounds of the desert to Salt Lake City, Blackkiss came into fruition in late 2006, when a good friend bought Pete an Epiphone guitar, and he wrote his first song called Burning, about a dream waking up in the middle of Armageddon.  The group initially started as a heavy metal band, after Pete recorded and distributed his first demo, which drew a Japanese friend to join.  They met other musicians as they played, but eventually went their separate ways.  Blackkiss continued as a band and a solo act, during years on the road all over the country, chasing jobs, spending time in jail, and finally returning to Salt Lake City in 2010.  In 2012, Chris Aguilar helped Pete record in his little studio, and Blackkiss’s music about the down-and-out, beaten-down, overlooked, bullied, and other outcasts has gone viral through videos of new songs full of creative ideals and free range.  Check out the Blackkiss/Pete Sands video channel and facebook page.

Eugeine Grey

A mind-altering, acoustic singer-songwriter from Lombard near Chicago, Illinois, Eugeine Grey brings his unique sound to a new age of performers.  Blending alternative rock, punk, and blues, he uses his voice to overlay his guitar melodies, giving listeners an overwhelming experience of his own genre of music.  Every tone he plays on his guitar, every belt and howl from his vocals, and every intricate story he tells with emotion on and off stage show his distinctive writing style and time put into his songs.  Currently working on completing his debut album, Eugeine Grey offers a sample of his sound through audio and video recordings on his website and YouTube channel: Don’t Wanna Die Young, All in My Head, and Life is Good.  Also see his facebook page.

Tom Bennett

A “foot-stomping, soul-swaying” folk/blues one-man band from the Atlanta, Georgia, area, Tom Bennett plays a Fender resonator guitar, harmonica, a suitcase drum, and sings.  Touring relentlessly and performing multiple times in 36 states since May 2014, he is known for his adventurous travels that find him riding freight trains, taking buses around America, staying with East Los Angeles gang members, and assisting with wrangling of an 11-foot alligator off the Georgia coast.  Previously a Boys and Girls Club director with a strong activist background in humanitarian efforts and community causes, Tom now lives in the southern Utah desert, outside the polygamist enclave of Colorado City.

Founder of Sweet Salt Records in Salt Lake City, Tom began playing guitar in April 2013, and soon discovered unknown music in his blood, when his grandmother told him that his great-grandfather, folk singer Roy Ferguson, appeared once and died soon after his performance at the Grand Ole Opry, at age 53.  Quickly acquiring professional proficiency and recent, feature articles in City Weekly Magazine and Utah Stories Magazine, Tom abounds with talent clearly apparent in his “combination of evocative lyrics, haunting voice, and the intensity of his true performances.”  His most notable gigs include singing his original song, Governor, We Cannot Breathe, for a record 5,000 people at the Clean Air, No Excuses 2014 Rally at the Utah Capitol.  He has opened concerts for Lukas Nelson (son of Willie Nelson) and Larry and His Flask, played multiple shows for Park City Television and Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, and performed at the Hempstalk Festival in Portland, the Moab Music Festival, and at the March Against Monsanto and radio and television stations in Salt Lake City.

Visit Tom’s facebook page and enjoy his version of Sharecropper’s Blues and his compositions Governor, We Cannot Breathe and Roy’s Song, about his great-grandfather.


Filed under: Events
Categories: Climate Change

March through June WIRT & Allied Events

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 20:00

Friends and supporters,

Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) activists and allies are planning powerful convergences, training workshops, direct actions, and educational forums that expand the movement against extreme energy and for a livable future!  The Events Calendar page of the WIRT website lists and links to activities in the Northwest region that WIRT organizes and/or participates in, including emerging frontline and solidarity actions with our comrades across the continent.  Visit this constantly updated events page often and get involved in grassroots resistance to the root causes of climate change!

WIRT holds twice-monthly potluck/pizza meetings at 7 pm every first Thursday at Second Avenue Pizza, 215 South Second Avenue in Sandpoint, Idaho, and at 7 pm every third Thursday at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho.  Please call 208-301-8039 or email wild.idaho.rising.tide@gmail.com for information about meeting agendas, event carpools, and volunteer opportunities.

MARCH 2015

March 19: WIRT Third Thursday Monthly Meeting and Potluck (Thursday 7 pm, The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho)

March 21: The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community, and the Environment (Saturday 8 am to 8 pm, Longhouse Education and Cultural Center, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia, Washington, co-sponsored by Backbone Campaign and Railroad Workers United)

March 28: Fourth Annual Celebration of Wild Idaho Rising Tide benefit concert with a potluck, beer and wine, and slide show (Saturday 7 pm to midnight, 1912 Center Great Room, 412 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho)  Please contact WIRT to volunteer.

March 31: Written protests of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Little Willow oil and gas lease auction due by mail or fax to Tracy Hadley of the BLM Idaho State Office (Tuesday 4 pm, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Boise, Idaho 83709, 208-373-3899)  For instructions, see page 5 of the Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale.

APRIL 2015

April 2: WIRT First Thursday Sandpoint Monthly Meeting and Pizza (Thursday 7 pm, Second Avenue Pizza, 215 South Second Avenue, Sandpoint, Idaho)  Please contact WIRT to carpool.

April 3: Screening of Wrenched film about Edward Abbey (Friday 7 pm, Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, 508 South Main Street, Moscow, Idaho, co-hosted with Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition)

April 10-11: Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment Tribal Environmental Summit (Friday and Saturday time and place TBA)

April 15: WIRT Third Thursday Monthly Meeting and Potluck (rescheduled to Wednesday 7 pm, The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho)

April 16: Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition Annual Meeting (Thursday 7 pm, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse lower floor, 420 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho)

April 18: Earth Day Spokane 2015 WIRT Information Table (Saturday times TBA, Gondola Meadow, Honey Locust Lane, and Fountain Meadow of Riverfront Park, Spokane, Washington) (facebook event)  Please contact WIRT to volunteer and carpool.

April 18: Moscow Hemp Fest WIRT Information Table (Saturday 10 am to 7 pm, East City Park, 900 East Third Street, Moscow, Idaho)  Please contact WIRT to volunteer.

April 22: Earth Day Fair WIRT Information Table (Wednesday 11 am to 2:30 pm, Terrell Mall, Washington State University (WSU), Pullman, Washington, co-hosted by ASWSU Environmental Sustainability Alliance and WSU Environmental Science Club)  Please contact WIRT to volunteer.

April 22-24: Alma Hasse jury trial (Wednesday to Friday times TBA, Payette County Courthouse, 1130 Third Avenue N, Payette, Idaho)  Please contact WIRT to carpool.

MAY 2015

May 2-3: WIRT wandering vendor at the Moscow Renaissance Fair (Saturday 10 am to dusk, Sunday 10 am to 6 pm, East City Park, 900 East Third Street, Moscow, Idaho)

May 7: WIRT First Thursday Sandpoint Monthly Meeting and Pizza (Thursday 7 pm, Second Avenue Pizza, 215 South Second Avenue, Sandpoint, Idaho)  Please contact WIRT to carpool.

May 21: WIRT Third Thursday Monthly Meeting and Potluck (Thursday 7 pm, The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho)

May 28: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Little Willow Oil and Gas Lease Auction Protest (Thursday 8 am, BLM Idaho State Office, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Boise, Idaho)

JUNE 2015

June 4: WIRT First Thursday Sandpoint Monthly Meeting and Pizza (Thursday 7 pm, Second Avenue Pizza, 215 South Second Avenue, Sandpoint, Idaho)  Please contact WIRT to carpool.

June 10: State Oil and Gas Lease Auction Protest (Wednesday time and place TBA, Boise, Idaho)

June 18: WIRT Third Thursday Monthly Meeting and Potluck (Thursday 7 pm, The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho)

June 27: The Community Progressive V WIRT Information Table (Saturday 10 am to 9 pm, Julia Davis Park, Boise, Idaho)


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Jess Moore 3-16-15

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 15:05

The Monday, March 16, 2015 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes Jess Moore, one of the organizers with Blue Skies Campaign, who staged a sit-in with 350 Missoula activists of U.S. Senator Daines’ office in Missoula, Montana, on Friday, March 13, to protest to his climate change denial and his support of fossil fuel projects.  Jess will talk about the action and its context in Montana of coal mining and export and the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community resistance to dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Idaho Senate Bill 50 on Gas Lease Unitization 3-9-15

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 15:00

The Monday, March 9, 2015 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will discuss recent issue updates on Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil trains, the Great Falls refinery expansion involving recent megaload transports, and oil and gas legislation and leasing in southwest Idaho.  We will air recordings of March 2 and 4 Idaho Senate Resources and Environment Committee hearings on Senate Bill 50 advancing unitization of mineral leases, which compromises private property rights, mortgages, and insurance.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community resistance to dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Oil Trains & Idaho Oil & Gas Bills 3-2-15

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 18:00

The Monday, March 2, 2015 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will discuss the explosive hazards and issue developments of Alberta tar sands and Bakken shale oil trains crossing the Northwest and six oil and gas regulation bills compromising basic citizen and property rights, considered for passage today by the Idaho Senate.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community resistance to dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Newsletter: February & March WIRT & Allies’ Events

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 04:00

Please consider participating in the following events hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and allies, as described and linked through the constantly updated Events Calendar page of the WIRT website.

Thursday, February 19, 7 pm: WIRT Third Thursday Moscow Monthly Meeting and Potluck at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho

Monday, February 23, 7 pm: Last Rush for the Wild West: Tar Sands, Oil Shale, and the American Frontier, a Utah/Alberta tar sands documentary screening with filmmaker Jennifer Ekstrom, co-hosted with the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho

Friday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1: Northwest regional gathering of Rising Tide groups: WIRT will provide further, available information about the event and carpools upon your request

Saturday, February 28, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm: Tribal Environmental Summit hosted by Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment at the University of Idaho College of Law, Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, March 4, 7 pm: WIRT First Wednesday Sandpoint Monthly Meeting and Pizza at Second Avenue Pizza, 215 South Second Avenue, Sandpoint, Idaho

Saturday, March 7, 10 am to 2 pm: Winter Market: WIRT information table with donation envelopes and the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition petition for Highway 95 safety measures, on the 1912 Center Plaza if weather permits, 412 East Third Street, Moscow, Idaho  (Please contact WIRT to volunteer.)

Saturday, March 7, 4 pm: Moscow Mardi Gras 2015 Parade: WIRT with the Moscow Volunteer Peace Band, “celebrating community, charity, and commitment to local children’s organizations [and kid’s climate]” line-up from 3 to 3:45 pm at the Eagles Lodge/First and Main Streets, parade on Main Street from A to Sixth Streets, Moscow, Idaho

Tuesday, March 10: Chris Hedges in Spokane: 4 to 6 pm Special Reception and Dinner at a location to be arranged, and 7 pm presentation Wages of Rebellion – The Moral Imperative of Revolt at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 West Sprague Avenue, Spokane, Washington.  (Please contact WIRT for Palouse region carpool information.)

Saturday, March 28, 7 pm to midnight: Fourth Annual Celebration of Wild Idaho Rising Tide benefit concert with a potluck, beer and wine, and slide show in the 1912 Center Great Room, 412 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho  (Please contact WIRT to volunteer.)


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Jennifer Ekstrom 2-16-15

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 05:00

The Monday, February 16, 2015 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes fellow Tar Sands Healing Walker and regional conservationist Jennifer Ekstrom​, who directed, filmed, and produced the award-winning documentary Last Rush for the Wild West: Tar Sands, Oil Shale, and the American Frontier, screening in Moscow on Monday, February 23.  Jennifer will discuss her experiences creating the compelling movie, named one of the Ten Best Eco-Docs of 2014 by EcoWatch, and its context of extreme fossil fuel extraction, watershed and climate pollution, and resolute indigenous and citizen opposition in Utah, Alberta, and beyond.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show covers continent-wide climate activism and community resistance to dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

Utah/Alberta Tar Sands Documentary Screens in Moscow

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 03:00

 

New Documentary Exposes Destructive Tar Sands Mining Plans in Utah

Last Rush for the Wild West Screens in Moscow on February 23

An award-winning, documentary film that exposes plans to strip mine vast landscapes in the upper reaches of the Colorado River watershed in Utah will screen at 7 pm on Monday, February 23, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho.  The Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition (PESC) and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will provide snacks and beverages and accept donations for this co-hosted event that is free and open to the public.

Last Rush for the Wild West: Tar Sands, Oil Shale, and the American Frontier earned the Audience Appeal Award at the 2014 Moab International Film Festival, and EcoWatch named the movie one of the Ten Best Eco-Docs of 2014.  The film highlights industry efforts already underway to strip mine almost one million acres of tar sands and oil shale deposits across eastern Utah and Colorado and Wyoming.  Potential strip mines would overuse and pollute the delicate Colorado River watershed, on which 36 million people living in downstream, drought-stricken areas depend for drinking water, agriculture, and recreation.

The film’s director, Jennifer Ekstrom, will attend this Moscow premier to introduce the film and host a post-screening, question-and-answer session.  Before turning to filmmaking in 2012, Jennifer was born and raised in eastern Washington and has worked as communications director for the statewide Wild Washington Campaign, which met initial success with the designation of the Wild Sky Wilderness near Index, Washington.  Besides assisting several citizen initiative, electoral political, and education campaigns promoting sound environmental and social policies on clean air, smart growth, health care, and the minimum wage, Jennifer recently served as the waterkeeper and executive director for Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Along with Pat Rathmann of PESC and Helen Yost of WIRT, she was among the first Idahoans to participate in the indigenous-led Tar Sands Healing Walk near Fort McMurray, Alberta, during August 2012.

“Making this film has opened my eyes to the magnitude of destruction on the horizon, if strip mining for tar sands and oil shale is allowed to gain momentum in America,” said Jennifer Ekstrom, producer and director of the film.  “The massive strip mines already approved by the state of Utah are setting the stage for what could be one of the most damaging and polluting industrial complexes in our nation.  Utah’s approval process did absolutely nothing to protect public health or the environment, but there is still time to stop these devastating projects before it’s too late.”

Last Rush for the Wild West presents a compelling look at an issue that is important to all Americans, but especially citizens on the frontlines of fossil fuel infrastructure expansion” said Helen Yost of WIRT  and Pat Rathmann of PESC.  “We are pleased to co-host this screening and help foster public awareness about this unprecedented threat to our cherished, publicly owned landscapes, water, air, and climate.”

This feature documentary highlights a resolute contingent of Utah citizens and local experts, as well as indigenous leaders from tar sands impacted communities in Alberta, Canada, as they encourage American taxpayers and voters to stand up with them to stop this impending disaster.  For further information, please view the film’s website and trailer at Last Rush for the Wild West.


Filed under: Alberta Tar Sands, Events
Categories: Climate Change

Stop the New Keystone XL: Northwest Tar Sands Trains!

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 12:30

Please help FBI-targeted Wild Idaho Rising Tide activists stage direct action training workshops and actions resisting the new Keystone XL: Alberta tar sands moving by train across the Northwest since late November 2014, from Idaho and Montana rail gateways!  Spread the word!

The Northwest tar sands-by-rail story: http://on.fb.me/16NrAaV

FBI contact of Northwest climate activists: http://on.fb.me/1KvJ6ja

Your chance to give: http://bit.ly/1C9KDVR


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

Climate Justice Forum: Gary Dorr 2-9-15

Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:00

The Monday, February 9, 2015 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes again Nez Perce activist Gary Dorr, who has been assisting tribal and grassroots resistance of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline in South Dakota and Nebraska.  Gary will share his involved, localized knowledge about the indigenous Spirit Camp in the KXL path, the U.S. House and Senate push for the pipeline, President Obama’s promise to veto Congressional KXL approval, the recent, damning EPA report on the pipeline, Nebraska court cases on laws facilitating the KXL, and his predictions of emerging issue developments over the next few months.  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 and community opposition to dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Sandpoint Oil Train Forum & Idaho Senate Oil & Gas Rules Hearing 2-2-15

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 18:00

The Monday, February 2, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will broadcast the second half hour of the Sandpoint, Idaho, community forum on coal and oil train issues, held in City Council Chambers on January 14, 2015.  The recording features presentations by two of eight citizen, city and county government, and railroad company panelists, including moderator Chris Bessler of Sandpoint Magazine, Jared Yost of the Sandpoint Mapping and GIS Department, and Bob Howard of Bonner County Emergency Services.  WIRT will also air the final Payette County, Idaho, resident testimony during the February 2, 2015 Idaho Senate Resources and Environment Committee hearing, before it passed revised state oil and gas rules.  Alma Hasse of Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction, Joli Eromenok, the closest home and business neighbor to a proposed liquefied natural gas processing and “bomb train” loading facility, and farm and business owner Jim Plucinski share their private property concerns.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show also covers continent-wide, grassroots, climate activism and community opposition to industrial, dirty energy invasions, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

Our View: When the FBI Wants to Be Your Friend

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 00:05

Lee Rozen, for the Editorial Board

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Don’t say a word until your attorney gets there, said one member of the editorial board.

Oh, I’d invite them in because I’d be so curious about what they were interested in asking me, said another.

Just because I’d tell them they could ask, doesn’t mean I’d answer, said another.

Don’t say a word without your lawyer, the first repeated.

To be clear, the FBI has no interest in asking your editorial board any questions.

But they sure would like to talk to members of Wild Idaho Rising Tide and other Northwest environmental activists.

Moscow’s Helen Yost, a WIRT organizer, got a text message several weeks ago that unsettled her.

“I need to speak with you. Please give me a call. I am an FBI agent,” she says the text read.

WIRT is against megaload shipments of equipment to the tar sand oil fields of Alberta, the shipment of oil and coal by rail from inland to ports in Oregon and Washington. They get together and loudly protest, usually from the side of the street, highway or railroad. But Yost, 57, has been arrested a couple of times for blocking traffic.

Basically WIRT argues that – for the health of the planet – there are better energy sources.

Here’s another quotation, reported by the Spokesman-Review in Spokane:

“We don’t honestly don’t know what they’re up to, or why, and that concerns us.”

It might have come from the FBI.

But it didn’t. It came from Larry Hildes, a Bellingham, Wash., civil rights lawyer, who was talking about the FBI. The agency has apparently contacted about a dozen such activists around the Pacific Northwest.

The FBI’s Ayn Dietrich-Williams in Seattle told the Spokesman, “We don’t investigate anyone for First Amendment activities.”

Some folks might be willing to debate that with her.

“I think they were there to put me on notice that I was being watched,” says Herb Goodwin, 65, of Bellingham after a city officer and FBI agent came to his house. “I’m not a saboteur.”

But that’s the issue, isn’t it?

Derailing or decoupling an oil train with 100 crude oil tank cars could be a disaster for cities and rivers along its route. Accidents elsewhere have been devastating.

So, the FBI has to ask.

But, know your lawyer’s number.


Filed under: Letters & Op-Eds
Categories: Climate Change

U.S. 95: Three Alternatives

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 08:25

Steve Flint, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/29/15

I’ve heard some people comment they had a difficult time following the different options discussed in Kas Dumroese’s letter (January 14) on the planned U.S. Highway 95 realignment south of Moscow.  There are three different routes being considered.  All three routes are four lanes, meet current design standards for safety and ease of travel, but differ considerably in other features.

The Idaho Transportation Department, for unknown reasons, has favored E-2, the eastern route that stays high on Paradise Ridge.  I think of the “E” actually standing for “extreme weather,” as this route is up in the “snow zone,” just like Steakhouse Hill north of Moscow, where there are frequent winter accidents.  (See the Reader Photo of the Day on January 28, for an excellent example of the “snow zone.”)

There is a central route (C-3) that is often close to the existing highway but on a completely new roadbed.  It will be the most useful route for local residents.  The data from the draft environmental impact statement repeatedly show this as the most logical choice (see the summary in Dumroese’s letter).  I suggest we think of the “C” as standing for the “common sense” route.

Then there’s W-4, the poor, orphaned, western route that no one talks much about.  It’s a longer route, so has generated less interest.  How about “W” being “wayward, way-out-west” route?

Three choices but a straightforward decision – just remember the phrases.


Filed under: Highway 95 Re-Route, Letters & Op-Eds
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Activists House Relocation Party

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 15:00

During the past two and a half years, the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) Activists House, open daily between 12 noon and 8 pm, has provided our collective a combined working space, monthly meeting place, information resource center, and visiting/resident climate activist home [1].  Established as a regional base of operations in mid-July 2012, after a seven-week transition and intensive search and thanks to the gracious hospitality and generosity of many, amazing, fellow activists and allies, the hundred-year-old, two-bedroom, one-story house, beneath a huge cottonwood tree near downtown Moscow and the University of Idaho, filled with essential furniture and household goods donated during and after the WIRT Activist House-Warming Party [2, 3].  Our group has been fortunate to host meetings, potlucks, movies, fundraisers, memorials, and other convergences in the living room, kitchen, enclosed porch, and fenced yard, and to accommodate traveling activists, musicians, presenters, and guests in the spacious, rear bedroom with large windows and a walk-in closet and in the living room and porch of this small, humble abode.

Over the years and especially during the last four months, we have sought one or two responsible, mature house mates, preferably from among our wonderful network, to occupy the back bedroom and share the house, basement, garden, and on-street parking of this quiet, clean, pet-less house.  Mutual support of the rent and additional utility and internet costs, totaling approximately $700 per month, arose in only one of 30 months, from a couple of tenants during June 2014.  We have publicly posted this housing opportunity with various, regional, online lists and have offered further information, photos, and viewings to dozens of prospective renters, to no avail.  Already behind on rent just to stay warm in the middle of winter, if we cannot find house mates soon, we can no longer afford to keep this beloved dwelling among and for our community.

With meager contributions and exhausted savings, credit, and public assistance from carrying forward this grassroots organization over four years, a core WIRT organizer must choose between a home workplace and continuing activism.  Although we are compiling a video and letter about WIRT accomplishments for a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo or Kickstarter, and gratefully anticipate our annual celebration fundraiser on March 28 and a city-wide canvass in the spring, we rightfully should channel donations into WIRT programs, usually requiring region-wide travel, not into an unassociated landlord’s pocket.  The correct decision is clear: We intend to lower group overhead expenses and abandon the WIRT Activists House around February 1, eager and grateful to return to frugal life ways averting the burdens of possessions and borrowed property.  As a Spokane comrade reminded us, “When you have very little, very little can be taken, and the work is from the heart.”  If you or your associates can offer ideas, suggestions, or assistance with this situation and/or provide a place within walking distance to libraries and campuses to park and occupy a vehicle, please contact us.

To recognize and celebrate our community, strategize and energize for a year of successful actions, and redistribute our material goods, Wild Idaho Rising Tide invites you and your friends and family to the WIRT Activists House Relocation Party on Friday, January 30, starting at 7 pm and continuing into the evening.  Call 208-301-8039 for our Moscow, Idaho, location.  We welcome beverages, snacks, or entrees to share with comrades, for a lively night of radical camaraderie, music, and conversation.  Fiddlin’ Big Al and friends will be stirring up eclectic, traditional, and original folk tunes; musicians inclined to jam can join the acoustic fray; dancers can enjoy the roomy kitchen; and party-goers can relax and talk throughout the house, side porch, and yard.  WIRT would be delighted and infinitely thankful for the honor of your revolutionary presence amongst this revelry!

Besides this occasion for some powerful fun, WIRT is hoping that you can take, benefit from, and perhaps exchange a donation for household items that collective members have contributed for our common good.  We offer a full-sized futon bed and frame, convertible coach/bed, wooden-framed coach, rocking chair and ottoman, single futon chair, desk with shelves and rolling chair, book case, side tables, wheeled kitchen chairs, microwave, drapes and curtains, canning jars, and house plants.  Come and participate in this significant, transitional event that will ultimately mobilize ever greater numbers of dirty energy/climate change protesters around the region!

[1] WIRT Activists House: July 2012 to January 2015 (January 25, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[2] WIRT Activist House-Warming Party! (July 16, 2012 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[3] WIRT Activist House-Warming Party! (July 18, 2012 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)


Filed under: Events
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Sandpoint Oil/Coal Train Forum 1-26-15

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 10:30

The Monday, January 26, Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will air the first hour of the Sandpoint, Idaho, community forum on coal and oil train issues, held in City Council Chambers on January 14, 2015.  The recording features presentations by six of eight citizen, city and county government, and railroad company panelists, including moderator Chris Bessler of Sandpoint Magazine, Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan, citizen advocate Gary Payton, Jared Yost of the Sandpoint Mapping and GIS Department, Bob Howard of Bonner County Emergency Services, and Gus Melonas and Ross Lane of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  Broadcast on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow every Monday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm PST, live at 90.3 FM and online, the show also covers continent-wide, grassroots, climate activism and community opposition to industrial, dirty energy invasions, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

Climate Justice Forum: Jesse Cardinal 1-19-15

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:30

The Monday, January 19, 2015 Climate Justice Forum radio program hosted by Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) gratefully welcomes again Jesse Cardinal, a coordinator for Keepers of the Athabasca and co-organizer of the former, annual Tar Sands Healing Walk near Fort McMurray, Alberta.  Jesse will describe the ongoing land protection efforts of the Northern Trappers Alliance, who have been “holding the line” with road blockades north of LaLoche, Saskatchewan, since November 19, 2014…, to prevent access by numerous oil and gas companies to exploration camps that have multiplied across the region during the last seven years.  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 and community opposition to dirty energy developments, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.


Filed under: Climate Justice Forum
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Report on Sandpoint Oil and Coal Train Traffic Public Forum

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 21:00

Various north Idaho city, county, and state government elected and agency officials and two environmental organization representatives banned the public from several closed meetings during recent months, while they discussed the environmental and public health and safety threats and opportunities for resolution of increased coal and oil train traffic across the Panhandle [1-3].  In the wake of critical news stories denouncing this fiasco from Sandpoint to Boise, Idaho, and from Spokane, Washington, to Washington D.C., excluded, rightfully appalled citizens expressed regrets that participating government entities and environmental groups denied them access to these essential conversations about such crisis topics, even while public awareness has grown in response to fiery oil train derailments across North America during the 18 months since the tragic Lac Megantic disaster that incinerated 47 lives in July 2013.

Perhaps in embarrassment, the City of Sandpoint, Idaho, sponsored and hosted a community forum on north Idaho coal and oil train issues at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, in Sandpoint City Council Chambers at Sandpoint City Hall, 1123 Lake Street [4].  Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan called for this public meeting in mid-December, to provide an opportunity for citizens to hear current information about expanding coal and oil rail traffic and to discuss the risks, challenges, and possible solutions of community safety and wellbeing currently compromised by air, water, and noise pollution, crossing delays, economic impacts, and potential train derailments.

The city invited the public and local, state, and federal representatives, along with spokespersons of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Montana Rail Link (MRL), and Union Pacific (UP) railroads.  Event moderator Chris Bessler, owner and publisher of Sandpoint Magazine, offered an issue overview and introduced the eight citizen, city and county government, and railroad company panelists.  In order of appearance, Mayor Carrie Logan, citizen advocate Gary Payton, Jared Yost of the Sandpoint Mapping and GIS Department, Bob Howard of Bonner County Emergency Services, Gus Melonas and Ross Lane of BNSF, and Jim Lewis and Casey Calkin of MRL each gave approximately ten-minute presentations.  Anticipating a lively evening with good citizen turnout, the panel accepted written questions, comments, and concerns collected from the audience and asked by the moderator.  During the last 15 minutes of the forum, city and county residents approached the panel with their verbal queries and assertions.

Regional citizen participants packed the Sandpoint City Council Chambers to its 125-person room capacity during the oil and coal train forum [5, 6].  Another dozen folks listened from the hallway, while the city fire marshal and police also attended.  Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filmed a video and photos and recorded the entire, almost three-hour meeting for the January 15, 2015 KRFP Evening Report news story Sandpoint Residents Learn About Oil Train Options [7-9].  Like the newscast, WIRT intends to air selected excerpts of the forum on WIRT’s upcoming Climate Justice Forum radio programs, broadcast on Monday evenings on KRFP.  The City of Sandpoint posted an audio file of the forum, along with a list of resources and contacts provided at the meeting, on its website [10, 11].

Based on direct observations, the January 14 Sandpoint oil and coal train forum seemed like a government and railroad attempt to regain authority over escalating public outrage about the inherent risks and ongoing pollution foisted by fossil fuel train shipments on rail line corridor residents.  In response to the citizen-accepted, standard government and corporate operating procedure of placating the audience by providing not entirely comprehensive or accurate information, WIRT yearns for greater community passion to actively oppose this oil, coal, and probable tar sands onslaught.  We experienced this desired resistance only in the number of citizen participants at the Wednesday evening meeting, suggesting the benefits of a second forum accommodating stronger, more direct public input, via verbal citizen comments and visual materials.

North Idaho activists who have been working to raise public interest in this issue for years are nonetheless grateful that Sandpoint area residents are awakening to the railroad dangers that confront them daily and nightly.  After all, the booming development and export of interior North American carbon resources crosses their paths at every turn.  Approximately six oil and coal unit trains, among 55 trains every 24 hours, each take six to ten minutes to pass through a half dozen at-grade, track/street crossings within Sandpoint city limits, together blocking other residential, business, and recreational interests six to nine hours every day.

But within the wider perspective of reckless fossil fuel development and resulting climate change, Sandpoint holds the dubious honor of a much more crucial distinction.  Recently involved in megaload protesting and monitoring activities in the Idaho Panhandle, a core WIRT activist attests that,

Sandpoint, Idaho, is the chokepoint for the dirty energy oligarchs’ plans.  Loaded oil and coal unit trains bound for the Cascadian coast, along with returning empties headed back to the Bakken and Powder River [extraction] sacrifice zones, all cross the Lake Pend Oreille [train] bridge on a single rail track.  We must all stand with the Sandpoint resistance!

[1] Wednesday Sandpoint Oil/Coal Train Forum & Other Events (January 12, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide action alert)

[2] WIRT Newsletter: Recent Idaho & Montana Oil & Coal Train Issues (January 14, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide newsletter)

[3] Oil and Coal Train Update from Wild Idaho Rising Tide (January 15, 2015 Earth First! Newswire)

[4] City of Sandpoint Media Release (December 16, 2014 City of Sandpoint)

[5] Oil, Coal Train Worries Pack Hearing (January 15, 2015 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[6] Officials Address Train Traffic Increase (January 15, 2015 Coeur d’Alene Press)

[7] Sandpoint Public Forum on Oil and Coal Train Traffic 1-14-15 (January 14, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide video)

[8] Sandpoint Public Forum on Oil and Coal Train Traffic 1-14-15 (January 14, 2015 Wild Idaho Rising Tide photos)

[9] Sandpoint Residents Learn About Oil Train Options (January 15, 2015 KRFP Evening Report, between 11:10 and 4:27 LoFi)

[10] Forum on Coal and Oil Train Traffic (January 14, 2015 City of Sandpoint)

[11] Audio File of the Forum on Coal and Oil Train Traffic (January 14, 2015 City of Sandpoint)


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

No Reisenauer Hill Fix

Thu, 01/15/2015 - 00:05

David Hall, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/15/15

Oh, a fairy tale from Viola (Letter to the Editor, Van Thompson, December 28): Perhaps we should look at reality here.

Very few Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition members live on Paradise Ridge.  (When someone who does live there speaks up on the issue, people cry “NIMBY.”  When people who do not live there speak out, they are told to stay out of it and let those who are directly affected talk.)

The [proposed] eastern alignment [of U.S. Highway 95] is perhaps shorter by a few hundred feet.  And it is not safer than are other alignments.

Mr. Thompson ignores the fact that the highway, had it been built – illegally – ten years ago, would have left Reisenauer Hill as it is, and accidents would have continued to occur on the hill in that decade.  Were the eastern alignment that ITD prefers to be built now, again Reisenauer Hill would be left, dangerous as it is, likely never to be made safer.  The “family at the bottom of the hill” will continue to have unwanted vehicles in their front yard.


Filed under: Highway 95 Re-Route, Letters & Op-Eds
Categories: Climate Change

WIRT Newsletter: Recent Idaho & Montana Oil & Coal Train Issues

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 03:30

Bakken shale oil trains in northern Idaho travel beside the Kootenai River, through downtown Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint, over and along Lake Pend Oreille, and adjacent to U.S. Highway 95, before heading west into Washington.  Within the nexus of Panhandle tracks carrying greater numbers of dangerous trains every month across crumbling bridges and the lake, residents truly wish to protect their lands, waters, and the future of their children and grandchildren.  They understand the toxic and transient nature of unsustainable fossil fuels among the life of this Earth, and some have been boycotting them at every opportunity for decades.  One derailment on a bridge or over the regional aquifer would ruin the drinking water of thousands of people.  Are the profits of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Montana Rail Link (MRL), and Union Pacific (UP) railroads so imperative that they would chance derailments and bridge collapses near rivers and lakes? [1]  As oil and gas companies scrape the bottom of the easily recoverable barrel to extract the largest possible revenues, they obviously are evading the burdensome infrastructure and operating costs associated with preliminary processing of tar sands and fracked crude.  Without these adequate precautions, Bakken crude oil contains extremely volatile constituents that ignite too readily to be safely transported in bulk.  But North Dakota regulators have only considered or required that crude be conditioned, instead of mandating the more thorough and expensive stabilization procedures and equipment that separate and remove volatile compounds prior to shipment, but that the oil industry has been resisting for years.

Through combinations of these factors, governments and oil and railroad corporations ensure that American citizens passively and endlessly bear (but not accept!) the physical and fiscal risks and costs of oil trains, while these industries and their pet politicians take all the profits.  Flammable oil and dusty coal are transported and stored on a regular basis within some of the largest population centers in U.S., mostly located around railroads.  A leak or spill of volatile Bakken oil constituents from a transfer pipe or railroad tank car could ignite and set the heavier compounds on fire and start an uncontrollable, days-long conflagration that no municipality has the experience or the gear to combat.  Are existing north Idaho politicians and environmental groups determined to safeguard local communities by insisting on prohibition of crude oil train shipments with highly volatile constituents?  The majority of conservation organizations advocate overdue removal from nationwide tracks of aging Department of Transportation (DOT)-111 tank cars – the “riskiest models on the rails for accidents and oil spills” – as demonstrated by a November 2014 trip to Washington, D.C. by Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper executive director Shannon Williamson and allied colleagues [2].  They also petitioned for other more rigorous oil train regulations during rulemaking sessions at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In early December 2014, the public interest environmental law organization Earthjustice, “on behalf of Sierra Club and ForestEthics, challenged the Department of Transportation’s denial in November of the groups’ petition for an immediate ban on the most hazardous DOT-111 rail tank cars carrying explosive Bakken crude oil” [3].  The legal action attests that this type of car, prone to punctures, spills, and fires during train accidents, represents two of every three tankers transporting oil throughout the U.S.  Asserting that it has sufficiently implemented measures to respond to the imminent hazards posed by these rail cars, by only issuing a safety advisory, the Department of Transportation faces growing legal opposition demanding further actions to protect communities susceptible to “bomb train” derailments, leaks, and explosions.

Lives will remain vulnerable until outspoken opponents of oil, coal, and tar sands together raise escalating, cooperating resistance to their transport, in any form or manner, past their homes and businesses.  The inherent dangers of Northwest fossil fuel passage persist, as apparent in the big rock slide that closed a main BNSF rail line in north Idaho, connecting Montana to Washington, and naturally shut down oil and coal trains for a couple days in late November 2014 [4].  Perhaps nature was sending a warning about not just these shipments but about an influx of Canada Pacific freight and tank cars (hauling tar sands oil?) recently seen by Sandpoint residents on local railroad stretches [5].  June 2014 protesters of four of five Montana megaload assembly plants also noticed some of these cars on the Montana High Line east of Glacier National Park, likely utilizing one of only a few international rail entrances into Idaho and Montana.

Upcoming Oil & Coal Train Challenges

The Sandpoint, Idaho area already suffers from both transient and stationary trains fully loaded with hazardous cargo like coal, oil, and tar sands.  Union Pacific has proposed closing the street at Eastgate Crossing, between Idaho Highway 200 and the Bonner Mall, “a highly utilized access point between the commercial and residential areas of Ponderay [6, 7].  While this maneuver may increase public safety, it would prolong response times of ambulance and fire emergency services by several critical minutes.  Concerned citizens and local businesses impacted by diminished highway access and storefront visibility distrust further division of the two sides of Ponderay and reduced public safety from Union Pacific’s subsequent “ability to stack trains…lingering in town while carrying possibly harmful or flammable cargo” [6].

With neighboring Washington almost a year into considering the problems of oil transports via rail and ship, rural “north Idaho governments will use a $36,000 federal grant to update their emergency preparedness plans, to address the growing number of oil trains rumbling through their communities” [8].  The Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai tribes, Bonner, Boundary, and Kootenai counties, and BNSF, MRL, and UP are all involved in efforts to safeguard critical community resources along the route of two to three 120-car oil trains daily passing city water intake facilities, public buildings, fish hatcheries, and other assets.  As the volume of predominantly BNSF oil-by-rail transports through critical watersheds and ecosystems, westbound for Washington coast refineries and ports, could triple over the next five years, grant partners are identifying the risks of hazardous materials derailments or spills and outlining effective action plans.  Railroad officials say they are training north Idaho emergency responders through spill response exercises, updating emergency response plans, and soon placing “trailers with containment booms, absorbent pads, and skimmers in both Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry” [8].  But locals question the federal grant’s requirements for public input and railroad company disclosure and cooperation.

Like Missoula and Whitefish, Montana city officials, Bonner County Commissioners and other elected city and county leaders are taking courageous stands, requesting the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to include local communities in its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) review of the Tongue River Railroad proposal [9].  The new, 83-mile rail line between the Otter Creek Mine and Ashland and Miles City in southeastern Montana could generate up to 14 trains per day through the Idaho Panhandle, hauling some of the mine’s estimated 1.3 billion tons of coal and 2.5 billion tons of resulting atmospheric carbon dioxide, when burned.  As part of the U.S. DOT that regulates aspects of rail expansion, the STB would consider coal train effects on the environment, health, safety, and well-being of area residents.  “The county commission is also calling for public hearings to be held in Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, East Hope, and other communities” [9].  The STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis expects to issue, and accept comments on, the draft Tongue River Railroad EIS this spring.  Regional Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) climate activists anticipate strong, informed community participation in both comments and hearings, supporting the bold initiative of north Idaho officials.

During summer 2014, workers killed and cleared hundreds of beautiful trees and everything around the railway along Idaho Highway 200 in Ponderay, to either widen the road or add another train track.  In late August, the public learned that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad plans to construct a second railroad bridge across scenic Lake Pend Oreille, near Sandpoint in beautiful, mountainous northern Idaho [10-12].  In addition to 2008 new steel pier and decking improvements of the current train trestle over the lake, the proposed, parallel, single-track, 4800-foot (3/4-mile) structure of concrete spans and steel pilings would alleviate the existing, “frequent choke point for BNSF and MRL” during heavy train traffic periods, compounded by the single-track bridge and 35-mile-per-hour speed limits in the area where BNSF and MRL main lines converge [10].  Speculatively completed by 2018, this expanding fossil fuel infrastructure would increase industry capacity to accommodate more oil tankers and coal cars through BNSF’s and MRL’s northern corridor that hosts “more than 50 trains already passing through Sandpoint every 24 hours” [11].

However, BNSF must obtain permits to build the bridge.  That process could prove difficult, considering the opposition some Sandpoint residents, and others in the region, have aimed against BNSF’s growing oil and coal business.  Disturbance of the lakebed and shoreline will likely attract oversight as well [10].

Like residents of La Crosse, Wisconsin, diligent Panhandle citizens should get involved in the public process for this project, and convince representatives of local, state, and all levels of government to demand a full environmental impact statement, as specified by federal laws and rules and initiated at the onset [13].  The federal Surface Transportation Board Office of Environmental Analysis could take the lead on necessary environmental studies, perhaps paid for by BNSF’s owner Warren Buffet.

Montana Train Pollution & Mishaps

Like in the humid, lakeside Sandpoint, Idaho area, where pungent, (railroad-released?) odors other than wood smoke often linger at night under cover of smoke and darkness, increasing numbers of coal and oil trains pollute the inversion-prone Missoula air shed.  Visitors to this Montana city are often astounded by the poor air quality, sometimes comparable to Los Angeles smog.  A climate activist filmed diesel clouds emanating on November 30, 2014, from idling train engines in the Missoula rail yard, across the street from a residential neighborhood [14].  If the U.S. holds a 200-year reserve of fossil fuels under climate-challenged skies, of which people each breathe 35 pounds per day, why are dirty energy corporations selling coal and oil to other countries?

Meanwhile, Montana Rail Link lines have endured two train collisions and derailments in as many months.  On November 13, two trains traveling in opposite directions clipped each other while clearing a Clark Fork River bridge near the mouth of the Blackfoot River, below the decommissioned, former Milltown Dam east of Missoula [15].  The crash derailed three engines and ten empty grain cars, hospitalized both engineers in one locomotive, and knocked out power for several frigid hours to about 1200 homes and businesses.  The grain car shells remained along the tracks among incident investigations and salvage work, when another collision derailed thirty empty, stationary tank cars, without spills or injuries in the Missoula rail yard, at about 4 am on December 16, 2014.  “A rail car loaded with company scrap metal made low-speed contact,…resulting in all 30 cars rolling on their sides, as designed” [16].  The loaded car did not derail, caused minimal equipment damage, and did not interrupt main line service.

Oregon & Washington Civil Disobedience

Since a few weeks before Spokane Rising Tide’s and WIRT’s mid-July 2014, Sandpoint “bomb train” protest and regional actions, until the hundreds-strong turnouts at Spokane and Olympia hearings on the Washington Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study in late October, always amazing Rising Tide and allied comrades of the Pacific Northwest staged at least five oil train track blockades in Anacortes, Everett, Portland (twice), and Seattle.  The Seattle Raging Grannies blocked the Lacey headquarter driveways of the state agency conducting the study, the Washington Department of Ecology.  In early December 2014, David Osborn of Portland Rising Tide and Rising Tide North America described the “transformative power of direct action” during these encounters to forever change the participants, observers, and

actions from protesting only within the limits of what is legal, to doing what is right; from doing what we are allowed to do, to what we have a responsibility to do; from appealing to others to make changes for us, to discovering our own agency to create those changes.  Such shifts constitute new ways of being… [17]

Citizen authority invigorated by direct action has also been increasingly hitting its mark, as Scott Parkin of Rising Tide North America concurred at about the same time.

All of this bold and effective organizing in the climate movements has created a crisis in the boardrooms of North America’s oil, gas, and coal companies…The capitalist economic model is hardwired to exist only at the cost of the climate, the people, and our wild places.  Industry’s bottom line is derived from draining the Earth of its natural resources and converting them into energy for profit.  Activists from British Columbia to Utah to Vermont and Maryland, fighting back and saying “Not One More Step” of fossil fuel expansion, embody a wrench in the gears of that economic model [18].

In solidarity with frontline communities of resistance and an international, volunteer, grassroots network of activists, Rising Tide collectives must not only confront the root causes of climate change (primarily fossil fuel perpetrators) by asserting direct actions, we must also, always promote locally organized solutions to the climate crisis.  Creating understanding is the first step of climate activism organizing.  So, in collaboration with Rising Tide and allied groups throughout the Canadian and American Northwest region, Rising Tide North America is printing 15,000 publications about fossil fuel terminals and opposition along the northern Pacific coast [19].

George Price, of Indian People’s Action in Montana, reminds all radicals that changing the world entails nurturing alternatives to the present culture of colonialist conquest:

We are not likely to end ecocide “working through the normal channels.”  We have to become people who cannot be bought or compromised – people who have [created] alternative economies [and societies] connected with Earth and all species…Then, when we raise our voices and bring our actions of opposition and resistance, we can also declare that the corporatocracy and its economy has nothing that we want and nothing that we need…Real revolution is hard work and includes some self-sacrifice.  But imagine the solidarity we could have with a movement made up of people who…all know that we actually have something better than what the ecocidal/suicidal consumer society has to offer! [20]

Yours for a better world…

[1] BNSF Hiring in Spokane, North Idaho (December 10, 2014 Spokesman-Review)

[2] Environmental, Train Issues Reach D.C. (November 15, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[3] Groups Bring New Legal Action for Federal Ban of Dangerous Oil Tank Rail Cars (December 2, 2014 ForestEthics)

[4] Idaho Rockslide Halts Passenger, Freight Trains (November 28, 2014 KHQ)

[5] Canada Pacific Railway Cars (November 16, 2014 Constance Albrecht facebook post)

[6] Crossing Plan Frustrates City, Business Owners (November 13, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[7] UP Seeks Eastgate Crossing’s Closure (October 8, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[8] North Idaho Oil Train Risks to be Assessed under Grant (December 18, 2014 Spokesman-Review)

[9] County Seeks Vote in Tongue River Proposal (January 1, 2015 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[10] BNSF Plans Second Bridge over Idaho Chokepoint (August 27, 2014 Railway Age)

[11] BNSF Mulls Second Railroad Bridge (August 28, 2014 Bonner County Daily Bee)

[12] BNSF Seeks Second Bridge at Sandpoint (September 17, 2014 Spokesman-Review)

[13] La Crosse Residents Demand Environmental Impact Statement for Train Track Expansion (January 8, 2015 National Public Radio)

[14] Diesel Cloud in the Missoula Rail Yard (December 3, 2014 Blue Skies Campaign video)

[15] Wreckage Cleared from Tracks East of Missoula; Trains Too Close as Neared Trestle (November 14, 2014 Missoulian)

[16] Montana Rail Link: Trains Collide, Tank Cars Derail in Missoula (December 16, 2014 Missoulian)

[17] Oil Train Blockades in the Pacific Northwest and the Transformative Power of Direct Action (December 1, 2014 Earth Island Journal)

[18] Why We Need a “No Compromise” Climate Movement (December 2, 2014 Counterpunch)

[19] Rising Tide Regional Climate Publication (Rising Tide North America KickStarter)

[20] We Are Not Likely to End Ecocide… (December 7, 2014 George Price facebook post)


Filed under: Newsletters
Categories: Climate Change

The Numbers on C-3

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 00:15

Kas Dumroese, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/14/15

Just because everyone wants an improved U.S. Highway 95 Thorncreek to Moscow doesn’t justify ignoring law, especially by the government.  We still drive on old U.S. 95 because the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) ignored law concerning selection of E-2, which required an extensive, expensive, and time-consuming Environmental Impact Statement.  Instead, we could be celebrating a decade of driving on an equally well-designed, safe C-3 that uses more of the existing U.S. 95 footprint than E-2 would on the flank of Paradise Ridge.

E-2 is touted by its proponents as having less impact on farming, and is cheaper, shorter, and safer than C-3.  What does ITD’s Draft EIS say?  Compared to C-3, E-2 converts 55 percent more total land, 100 percent more prime farm land, and 36 percent more farmland of state importance (Table 42, pages 147-148).  It also removes 34 percent more land from the Latah County tax base, through new right-of-way acquisitions.  E-2 would cost $4 million more to construct than C-3 (page 11).  For the nearly six miles of new alignment with either alternative, C-3 would be a whopping 475 feet longer than E-2 (Table 52, page 174).  Using ITD’s data (Safety Technical Report Appendix D and page 174) and doing some simple calculations, the chance of safely traversing the “least safe” C-3 route is 99.99951 percent per trip, and it skyrockets to 99.99966 percent if you travel on the “safest” route, E-2.  And your chance of an accident at any access/entry point along E-2 (0.0022 percent) is actually double that for C-3 (0.0011 percent).

If you think those differences in length and safety seem tiny, you might be surprised to hear that ITD agrees with you (page 204): “the travel times and safety between Action Alternatives [C-3 and E-2] do not differ substantially.”


Filed under: Highway 95 Re-Route, Letters & Op-Eds
Categories: Climate Change

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