FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters

Starting on October 8, 2018, Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC along) with co-counsel, will be defending the Minnesota Valve Turners, Annette, Emily, and Ben by presenting the climate necessity defense to a Clearwater County jury.  We have been developing this cutting edge legal strategy with help from many other lawyers around the country for over 15 years, and have found the perfect moment to use it. We, and the rest of the climate justice movement have been waiting for this!

Let’s recap and review, and go back to THE ACTION:

Approximately 2 years ago, on October 11th2016, five dedicated activists, now known as the Valve Turners, symbolically turned off the valves to every pipeline bringing in Tar Sands Oil from Canada. Together they shut off 15% of the country’s most polluting energy supply for part of a day.

They accomplished this feat after extensive research and deliberation by sending one or two activists along with a videographer and support to the border of Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, to turn the safety block valves of 4 tarsands pipelines. In 4 different states they simultaneously approached the fenced enclosures with a pair of bolt cutters, cut the chains that locked the fence and then turned the valves.

It is important to note that the Valve Turners were very concerned with safety and mitigated any real chance of an accident. For this reason, they had pre-arranged a supporter who called the pipeline corporations and told them of their intentions (Kinder Morgan, Spectra Energy, TransCananda and Enbridge). After receiving the calls, each corporation turned off its own pipeline as it does during routine maintenance.

After the pipelines were closed, effectively stopping the flow of Alberta Tar Sands oil into the US, all 5 activists sat down and waited to be arrested. They always intended to take responsibility for their actions, recorded everything on film, and did not try to get away.

The necessity defense will allow us to demonstrate that

(1) the harm to the climate and/or planet that will result from obeying the law will significantly exceed the harm actually caused by this act of nonviolent direct action (breaking the law);

(2) there are no reasonable legal alternatives to breaking the law at this point;

(3) the defendants (and all of us) were in danger of imminent physical harm from climate change; and

(4) there was a direct causal connection between breaking the law and preventing the harm (i.e. but for state intervention, stopping the tar sands flow into the US would reduce carbon emissions particularly because much of the tar sands are exported outside the U.S).

The Court will then instruct the jury that if they find that each of these elements has been proven by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), the defendants must be found not guilty of the felonies they currently face.

So far, two of the Valve Turners, Ken Ward and Leonard Higgins, were charged with multiple felonies but were not sentenced to any jail time. Michael Foster, in North Dakota, was sentenced to one year in prison, but was released in less than six months.

Now the CLDC has the exciting opportunity to defend Annette Klapstein, Emily Johnston, the Minnesota Valve Turners, as well as the support person– Ben Joldersma, using the necessity defense, which will allow us to put on expert testimony about the harm and lack of alternatives available in order to stop the greater harm of catastrophic climate change from occurring! Stay tuned as CLDC reports from the courtroom every day of trial! We would also like to extend gratitude and thanks to our local counsel Tim Phillips, as well as Kelsey Skaggs of the Climate Defense Project.

We need your support to fund this historic trial! Defending the Valve Turners and fighting for the Necessity Defense across the country is expensive and we can’t do it without your support. Can you donate today to help us raise $15,000 before October 8th? 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
Kathleen Wallace
The Highly Contagious Idea
Kenneth Good
The Apartheid Wars: Non-Accountability and Freedom for Perpetrators.
Andrew Levine
Democracy in America: Sorry, But You Can’t Get There from Here.
Ramzy Baroud
Tunisia Leads the Way: New Report Exposes Israel’s False Democracy
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the State-of-Emergency Pandemic
Matthew Stevenson
Will Trump Cancel the Election? Will the Democrats Dump Joe?
Ron Jacobs
Seattle—Anti-Capitalist Hotbed
Michael T. Klare
Avenger Planet: Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
Jack Rasmus
COVID-19 and the Forgotten Working Class
Werner Lange
The Madness of More Nukes and Less Rights in Pandemic Times
J.P. Linstroth
Why a Race is Not a Virus and a Virus is Not a Race
John Feffer
We Need a Coronavirus Truce
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”: the Ultimate Floating Signifier
John Grant
Is the Pandemic Patriarchal?
Victor Grossman
Corona and What Then?
Katie Fite
Permanent Pandemic on Public Lands: Welfare Sheep Ranchers and Their Enablers Hold the West’s Bighorns Hostage
Patrick Bond
Covid-19 Attacks the Down-and-Out in Ultra-Unequal South Africa
Eve Ottenberg
Capitalism vs. Humanity
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 2: Panic On the Streets of Tehran
Jonas Ecke
Would Dying for the Economy Help Anybody?
Jeff Mackler
Capitalism is the Virus!
Andrew Moss
Incarceration, Detention, and Covid-19
Farzana Versey
Prayers, Piffle and Privation in the Time of Pandemic
Will Solomon
In the New Dystopia
Dean Baker
The Relative Generosity of the Economic Rescue Package: Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting
Dr. Leo Lopez, III
We Need a Lot More Transparency From the CDC
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Reflections on a Glass of Homemade Cider
Rashid Nuri
Homegrown Crisis Response: Who Grows Your Food?
Mark Luskus
Worst Case Scenario: Healthcare Workers Need Masks, ASAP
Volker Franke
The Virus That May Bring us Together
Mitchell Zimmerman
A Q & A on the GOP’s Call for Elder Sacrifice
Olfat al-Kurd
COVID-19 Could Be Catastrophic for Us: Notes From Gaza
Eileen Appelbaum - Roesmary Batt
Hospital Bailouts Begin…for Those Owned by Private Equity Firms
Nabri Ginwa
Carcinogens
Jill Richardson
Efficiency vs. Resilience
Lee Ballinger
Eddie Van Halen and the Future of Humanity
David Yearsley
Beset by Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail