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
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Manuel García, Jr.
Heartrending Antiwar Songs
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
David Yearsley
Performance Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail