As you’ve probably heard, BNSF Railway has proposed constructing not just one but three additional rail bridges in Sandpoint. This is a massive, multi-million dollar proposal estimated to require at least three years for construction alone. And yet, we still don’t have all the facts.

Neither of the federal agencies tasked with reviewing BNSF’s proposal is currently requiring BNSF to produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – an analysis that would evaluate all the potential impacts of the proposal and any alternatives. Without an EIS, the Idaho agencies reviewing BNSF’s proposal are being left in the dark, too. The federal agencies have committed to the lowest level of environmental review, and  Idaho deserves better than the bare minimum. Fortunately, some of these federal and state agencies are holding a hearing to gather public input and concerns to help determine how to move forward.

Come to the Public Hearing That Is Best for You

On Wednesday, May 23, the Idaho Department of Lands will host two hearings for the public to weigh in on BNSF’s proposal:

  • First Session –  Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way, Suite E, at 8 am
  • Second Session –  Sandpoint Middle School Gymnasium, 310 S. Division, at 6 pm

Representatives from other agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers will be there to accept comment as well. These agencies will condider your specific concerns or opposition to BNSF’s proposal. So, be prepared to provide examples and support for your position. How would three years of construction and more railroad infrastructure impact you, your family, your business, your community, the places you love, and the water you drink? The agencies at the hearing may not provide answers to questions you might have, so also be prepared to request that these agencies evaluate and respond to any questions you do not currently have answers to. Preferably, these agencies will respond to public questions and concerns in an Environmental Impact Study.

As with any public hearing in which ICL is a participant, we are asking all our supporters to be civil and respectful at the hearing. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t also be passionate about our community and environment we all care so much about.

Info Session on the Day Before the Hearing

To learn more about how to best comment at the hearing, please join our partner, the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, for a beer at Eichardt’s in Sandpoint on Tuesday, May 22, at 5:30 pm. Call Shannon Williamson at 208.597.7188 or email her for more information.