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Die Amerikaner hätten sich bisher politisch und militärisch deshalb so massiv im Nahen und Mittleren Osten engagiert, weil sie von den dortigen Energielieferungen abhängig gewesen seien. Denn das Land werde mit seinem ungebremsten, wachsenden Rohstoffbedarf künftig die Hälfte des arabischen Öls abnehmen.
Damit aber nehme die Abhängigkeit von der Golfregion in einer Zeit zu, in der China noch nicht über genügend militärische Mittel verfüge, die für sie wichtigen Transportwege auch zu schützen. Bisher, so schreiben die Autoren, sicherten vor allem die Milliarden-Investitionen Amerikas in ihre weltweit agierende Flotte die Sicherheit und Freiheit der Handelswege. Davon profitiere vor allem auch China. Dazu werden etwa die Opec-Länder und vor allem Russland gezählt. Russland wiederum muss als einer der Hauptlieferanten für Europa mit neuer Konkurrenz rechnen, weil etwa Deutschland seinen Bedarf an fossilen Rohstoffen zunehmend aus Ländern decken könnte, die bisher die Vereinigten Staaten beliefern, wie Nigeria.
Hinzu kommt, dass Russland besonders anfällig für Verschiebungen auf den Energiemärkten ist, weil dort die Produktionskosten für Öl und Gas in schwer zugänglichen nördlichen Gebieten sehr viel höher sind als in vielen anderen Teilen der Welt.
Das durch den sinkenden amerikanischen Import steigende Überangebot von Gas und Öl auf den Weltmärkten führt bereits jetzt zu einem erheblichen Preisverfall. Der BND erwartet aber auch, dass sich als Folge der Eigenproduktion von Öl und Gas die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der zuletzt angeschlagenen amerikanischen Wirtschaft wieder verbessern wird. Bis zum Jahr wird in den Vereinigten Staaten mit rund drei Millionen neuen Arbeitsplätzen allein deshalb gerechnet, weil die Stromkosten für die Industrie schon heute nur noch knapp 60 Prozent des deutschen Niveaus betragen und deshalb besonders energieintensive Unternehmen in Amerika einen attraktiven Standort sehen.
Der Gaspreis ist nach Angaben von Experten noch stärker gesunken. Erstmals haben die Vereinigten Staaten wegen der drastisch sinkenden Importe und der steigenden Exporte von fossilen Rohstoffen sogar eine Chance, ihr riesiges Handels- und Leistungsbilanzdefizit wieder in den Griff zu bekommen. Bis dürfte sich das Defizit halbieren, was die Rolle des Dollar als weltweite Leitwährung festigen werde, schreiben die Autoren der Studie. Hier können Sie die Rechte an diesem Artikel erwerben.
Passing your climate debt onto my generation of youth across the planet is the epitome of unfairness. We grew up with adults telling us to pick up after ourselves, and here we are, picking up after you. See his short video segment with a redwood tree.
In this excerpt she tells the story of her social and climate activism , bridging from her career as an attorney with a tribal government in Washington state and culminating in her role as one of the five "valve turners" who shut down all 5 tar sands pipelines in four northern states on October 11, Klapstein has been instrumental in street activism with the Seattle Raging Grannies , including their focus on climate civil disobedience.
Klapstein was among those arrested in during protests against Shell's docking of a rig intended for drilling in the Arctic. Lengthy background on history and legal structure of the climate necessity defense and its predecessors , from an advocacy stance, including details on the partial granting of the defense in the "Delta 5" trial and blockage of the defense in the trial of valve turner Ken Ward the prior month. Last January, climate activists known as the "Delta 5" brought a climate necessity defense after blocking an oil train in Bellingham, Washington.
They argued that their protest was necessary to prevent the safety risks associated with oil-by-rail and to inspire grassroots action against climate change, which government regulators had failed to adequately address.
At trial, the activists called expert witnesses on rail safety and climate science and made a compelling argument that legal alternatives to civil disobedience had failed because of government intransigence and corruption. Even though evidence of necessity had already been presented, the Delta 5 jury would only be allowed to acquit by reason of necessity if the judge decided to include the necessity defense in his jury instructions which typically describe the charged crimes and guide the jury on how to follow the law in their deliberations.
It didn't seem a high bar to clear: As in other jurisdictions, this threshold test is simply designed to ensure that courts don't waste their time by asking juries to consider any and every justification that a defendant might come up with. A defense is barred only if no reasonable juror could possibly accept the evidence offered to support it. Recognizing that the defense had amply described the realities of climate change, the judge nonetheless ruled that "[t]he evidence presented from the defendants fails to establish that there was no reasonable legal alternative to their acts.
Maybe no reasonable juror could have believed that the protesters' actions were necessary, and it was okay for a judge to make that decision for the jury. And they confirmed what the judge had refused to believe. According to Earth Island Journal: They also thanked the defendants for giving them an education on climate change, agreed to support the Climate Disobedience Center [a climate activist group] in future cases, and signed up with defendant Abby Brockway to lobby the state on oil trains.
Put simply, the judge's ruling was incorrect: There was no reason to withhold the necessity instruction This sad story repeated itself this month in another Washington climate activist case. Ken Ward stood trial on felony charges of sabotage and burglary for entering a Kinder Morgan pipeline facility in Anacortes, Washington last October and turning a valve to cut off the flow of tar sands oil. He acted in coordination with other so-called "Shut It Down" protesters, who together succeeded in temporarily blocking all tar sands oil flowing into the United States from Canada, and whose trial will unfold over the course of the summer and fall.
In January, Ward's judge ruled that evidence of climate necessity would be prohibited at trial , making the same call that no reasonable juror would buy Ward's argument. At the same hearing, the judge also called into question the reality of climate change.
Despite the severe limitation that this put on Ward's ability to defend himself, the jury in Ward's first trial was unable to reach a verdict on either charge, resulting in a mistrial. This should have been a clear signal that reasonable people might find Ward's argument compelling. Nonetheless, the judge refused to allow necessity evidence in a second trial , which ended last month with a conviction for burglary and another hung jury on the sabotage charge.
My organization assisted in Ward's defense. Just as in the Delta 5 case, post-trial polling of the jurors in this case immediately revealed the error of the judge's rulings. Each took the stand to testify to the necessity of their actions and to share their unique and moving journeys leading them to climate direct action.
The video was posted on Facebook with a caption that includes: Not a dry eye in the house after 4 defendants testified to the moral necessity of emergency action to protect our home Valve turners detailed the various methods tried before coming to the conclusion that Climate Direct Action is the most powerful path available now that all incremental steps have failed to mitigate climate change.
They spoke of the careful consideration, research, and safety measures taken prior to the action. Joldersma [photo left] testified that he acted because he wanted to be able to look his children square in the eye and say, "I did everything I could. BAGLEY -- Four people accused of trespassing and tampering with Enbridge pipeline valves believed they had no choice but to disrupt the pipeline company's transportation of tar sands , according to testimony given Tuesday in state district court.
A necessity defense is used to shield people who must break the law in order to prevent greater harm. The four were arrested Oct. Liptay, a documentarian and photojournalist, was documenting the act and Joldersma went along to help with safety precautions, according to their own testimony.
In a page memorandum filed in February, the attorney for all four activists wrote that "their actions were motivated by the need to mitigate catastrophic climate change and its effects on public health and the natural environment.
In a different memorandum, former prosecutor Richard Mollin wrote that the group had not tampered with the valve in order to avoid immediate harm. This led them to believe similar actions in Minnesota would make a difference, they said. All four defendants also testified to their fears of climate change. Joldersma, who has three young children, teared up while answering questions from his attorney.
Liptay has degrees in environmental studies and environmental policy and had worked with a biologist before he began a career as a documentarian. The other three did not consider themselves scientists. None of them saw an oil spill, or anyone in danger. The two attorneys must file briefs with any additional arguments by Sept. Short biography of Leonard Higgins 2 mins , posted 22 August on Facebook Leonard Higgins speaks of how concern for the future of his children and grandchildren helped motivate him to shut down a tar sand pipeline in Montana, October 11, Video clips include his interview and some action shots of the pipeline shut-down and actions by other Valve Turners.
Hagen, 23 August , HPR1. For months, Foster feared that their little group of middle-aged men and women had somehow alerted authorities, and that their mission was doomed. Somebody, somewhere, we tripped some algorithm and they'll be waiting for us to show up. Kind of the opposite of terrorism. Nothing did go wrong, however, except that nearly 2. All five pipes, two in Minnesota, one in Montana, one in North Dakota, and one in Washington, were shut down simultaneously.
If that was your pipeline carrying , barrels of bitumen at degrees F across the continent and you thought there was a terroristic attack on your pipeline, you should shut it down. Some call him an eco terrorist, but the title doesn't faze him or Higgins. Whatever inconvenience I might face is nothing compared to the suffering or the vibrancy of the living world to come. There's a world calling being made, there are voices, and creatures, and animals and plants, and people, I know they're coming, just as sure as we have ancestors we have never met, just as we will have descendants we will never meet.
I cannot be an observer. The life of activism is full of dizzyingly short victories and long dry spells of defeats. When defeat hits home, Foster sleeps. I just carry it with me, it fills my head. It keeps me awake. I try and write something; sometimes I manage something, sometimes I don't. Call somebody, just in conversation find some friends and allies, and see if I can help them see things my way, that's all I can do.
Tension revolving around climate change issues is only worsening now with President Donald Trump in office. A lot of people in the environmental movement put in a lot of time and hours into something that will be just a dead end. It's a dead end. But I'm pretty far out there as far as policies and solutions, because I really am focused on getting the planet back to a stable climate.
This system is wrong, it's a crime, it has to stop, and I'm here to stop it. It's a crime with a distinct fingerprint. Why should I be contributing to the demise of those I love in ? We need to resist this system. We need everybody doing everything all the time. It's criminal not to take action today. He folds his hands and leans closer.
In the last five years, Foster has spoken to more than 13, people from behind pulpits to rallies about global warming issues. He is also a kayaktivist with the Mosquito Fleet Rapid Response Team, trying to delay oil rigs, ships, and pipelines, what he refers to as "monster death stars" for as long as possible.
As they awaited trial on these charges, the Valve Turners spoke openly about their reasons for acting. Last winter, I interviewed them in a broadcast webinar and then met them and interviewed them again when they spoke in my hometown of Corvallis, Oregon.
What did I find when I listened closely to the Valve Turners? Woven together, their words created a new story about the characteristics we will need as we face the global emergencies: Valve Turner Emily Johnston faces trial in Minnesota for shutting down Enbridge's Line 4 and 67 pipelines - 3 mins , posted 25 September on Vimeo Steve Liptay lead videographer of the "Shut It Down Today" original video and who will be tried this fall in Minnesota for onsite video work with the Minnesota valve turners has produced a 3-minute composite of Emily Johnston: She relates, "Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything was huge for me and helped me understand why I do what I do in terms of movement building.
Valve Turner Annette Klapstein faces trial in Minnesota for shutting down Enbridge's Line 4 and 67 pipelines - 3 mins Posted on Vimeo by Steve Liptay , who was lead videographer of the "Shut It Down Today" original video and who will be tried December in Minnesota for onsite video work with the pair of Minnesota valve turners.
There's a legal term known as the "necessity defense," a defense that permits a person to act in a criminal manner in an emergency situation not of the person's own creation to avoid greater harm from occurring.
I feel like extraordinary times require extraordinary actions, and I am thankful to the water protectors who are standing up in Wisconsin "Protesters lock down Superior site," Sept. Across the country, principled people are being charged for opposing pipelines.
Take the case of year-old Frances Crowe in Massachusetts. She explained in court, "I care a lot about my grandchildren and all grandchildren in the world. And I had exhausted my administrative remedies when I went to the pipeline to put my body there to say 'no.
Facing felony charges, their attorney Timothy Phillips wrote, "Their actions were motivated by the need to mitigate catastrophic climate change and its effects on public health and the natural environment The economic power of oil, gas, and coal companies, exacerbated by corruption and the evisceration of public participation in policymaking, have blocked government action on climate change, leaving no reasonable legal alternative for individuals seeking to avert its ongoing harms.
As wildfires burn to the West and South and as floods and hurricanes lay to waste entire countries, states, and islands, I am sure which side of history I am going to be on. Climate Strategy Has Failed Miserably: What we've been doing for over 20 years has failed, and failed badly, and people understandably want an alternative, but there is no comprehensive alternative to our mainstream U. This is because U. For more than 20 years, our major organizations have offered a transactional climate strategy that demanded nothing of individuals beyond paying annual dues and special appeals.
It promised to solve climate change and a host of other eco-tragedies , with a minimum of fuss, Kennedy School gamed policies, and no bother. We deliberately downplayed the ghastly future of climate impacts, stepping aside while climate scientists tried to take the lead role in communicating climate risk.
We chose to accentuate the positive and assumed that elite forces acting behind the scenes would act decisively, and privately, in the global interest. We ceded our strategy to private funders , led by the Pew Trusts and Energy Foundation, and offered up comforting pablum to individual contributors who were quite happy to read an endless stream of upbeat e-news alerts about how solar rates have tripled in California, or the like.
Almost everyone I know who is fully engaged in trying to craft a pragmatic climate strategy that is grounded in both geophysical and political realities, is prepared for, and driven by the climate change impacts we see unfolding around us, and aims for the truly transformational, does so on the cheap, sleeping on other people's couches, dependent on the kindness of friends for meals and to cover mobile phone charges.
We have no offices, no IT department, no staff, no salaries and no paid vacations. Given the state of an impoverished movement , it rankles to be asked for a fully formed alternative climate strategy, easy to plug into, ready to go.
I think we have a pretty good idea of what an alternative climate strategy looks like, and if we had a modicum of resources we almost certainly could flesh out the bare bones and put it into action. With our own effort and personal funds, we've been doing some of the work piecemeal, in actions like Shut It Down , and there are a number of scrappy organizations advancing important components Since this interview took place during a fundraising drive, Ken Ward's comments incl.
Michael Foster's trial starts Monday in Pembina County. He is among the first in that group of activists to go to trial, following a man in Washington state who was convicted of a burglary charge and served just two days in jail. Here's a look at Foster's case, an update on others and an examination of the defense Foster and other activists hope to use: There's no question about what Foster did.
The mental health counselor from Seattle surrendered peacefully to authorities on the day of his protest and doesn't deny using a bolt cutter to get through a chain link fence so he could turn the pipeline's shutoff valve.
He said he did it to make a more forceful statement. Still, Foster has pleaded not guilty, as has Jessup, of Burlington, Vermont. Jessup would face a maximum sentence of about half that. The necessity defense is popular among environmental activists. The Climate Defense Project even offers an educational guide on what it calls an area of the law that is "developing rapidly. A decision is pending on whether the necessity defense will be allowed in the Minnesota cases.
In the Montana case, Judge Daniel Boucher denied the necessity defense, saying Higgins wanted to attract publicity and was trying to "place U. Jessup of Burlington, Vt. The two men were charged Oct. The trial is scheduled to run through Friday. If you are one of the millions of Americans who has been impacted by a major hurricane, drought or forest fire this year, or even if you aren't, you are coping with the prospect that another one might hit you anytime.
On some level you know more climate disruptions are coming, with increasing force and frequency. Yet it's critical we do so. Pre-TSD is exacerbated by feeling powerless, says Dr.
Van Susteren, leaving stress hormones chronically bottled up with no outlet for the ramped-up vigilance, which causes illness. More importantly, it can leave us frozen like deer in the oncoming headlights of climate change. Constructive action is the antidote, and I took some. A year ago, I and a handful of likeminded colleagues acted simultaneously in four states to shut off the flow of carbon-intensive tar sands from Canada into the US North Dakota, where I'm now being tried, is the epicenter of the crackdown against pipeline protesters.
But America's courts are an essential place to discuss the imperative for citizens to act against climate change. As a matter of justice, it's fundamental to have that discussion, and cite evidence to support it, in front of a jury. It moved to block me from presenting evidence of climate danger, the main reason I acted. Prosecutors argue jurors might be biased by hearing about climate change, or being shown evidence of how dirty fossil fuels like tar sands affect it, and what those impacts mean for North Dakotans and all of us Why the attempted gag order?
After all, the prosecution argues, TransCanada is not on trial; the tar sands pipeline crossing our border is completely legal. So what are they afraid of? What sense does it make to ask my jury to vote their conscience about my act of conscience without hearing my motives or the evidence supporting them? The prosecution's position is more than tactical. It reflects a larger societal trauma response, which tends to paralyze and silence us before climate threats. Not naming the climate elephant in the courtroom mirrors our larger discourse on extreme weather and other climate-related disruptions.
What a strange way to address the beginning of the end of the world we love. It's the trauma talking. But we have a responsibility to shake it off and get to work.
It's not just the pipeline companies and prosecutors, it's an internal struggle for all of us to break through and face up to human-caused climate harms.
Life depends on it. Across the US, criminal trials are pending for hundreds of citizens who acted against pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure. Their jurors' own houses are also on fire, and those jurors face the same moral imperative to do something about climate change as the people they are judging. We can't allow anxiety to cow us into silence and inaction as the window on climate recovery closes.
We must begin talking about and grappling with the personal climate imperatives of our time. Our courts are the place to air the facts and jump-start the discussion. The judiciary is not as sensitive to money [as the other two branches of government], so hopefully we can use it to get at justice for young people.
So it makes no sense, from a strategic point of view, to be doing that. And so that's why we have governments to look at such issues. But what do our governments do? They're in the hip pocket of the fossil fuel industry. If they really understood this, then we could win the case.
Video of a minute welcoming dialogue with James Hansen , facilitated by Michael Foster, is also available via Facebook. This post is also available in pdf. How does it feel to be on the way to the trial of a really brave conscientious objector?
Civil disobedience arrests are not new. I have been arrested five times myself. Once, with Larry Gibson, protesting mountaintop removal, I refused to pay the fine and was threatened with one year in prison. Somehow, after years, West Virginia quietly dropped the case, so I escaped punishment. Foster is a model citizen who put in years doing everything he could think of to influence the government in ways allowed in our democracy, undertaking the pipeline action only when it was clear that the government would never act responsibly.
He does not deserve prolonged jail time. The trial is still underway, so I will get into details in a future communication.
I have to wonder whether my words about the danger of unlocking unconventional fossil fuels tar sands, fracking didn't help spur his pipeline action. So I'm on my way to North Dakota, though it seems increasingly unlikely that the judge will allow my testimony on Foster's behalf.
One cannot attend a trial such as that of Michael without asking discomfitting questions: Who are the real criminals?
This story is complicated, with calamity around the corner. How does it feel? Like a rollin' stone. James Hansen posted a second blog entry on this North Dakota trial on October Access "North Dakota Conviction". A district court judge in North Dakota has barred climate change scientist Dr. James Hansen and other experts from testifying in the landmark trial of Michael Foster , one of the 11 climate activists with the group Climate Direct Action who temporarily halted the flow of tar sands bitumen from Canada into the U.
The judge, according to Foster's representatives, claimed "presentation of climate change testimony and evidence would confuse the jury and mislead them. The science has been made clear to the government, but the government isn't doing its job, so people like you are trying to draw attention to the idiocy that we have in Washington. The 'Valve Turners,' were arrested last fall for shutting off oil pipelines connected to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
They will answer questions about their ongoing trial tonight at UND. We spoke to people who say they traveled across the country to North Dakota just to testify, but they say they weren't allowed.
If they are given only some facts, what are they supposed to do? They have their integrity, and they have to live up to what the court gives them, and the court was not forthcoming in this case," said expert witness Tom Hastings. Hastings was among just one of the witnesses denied the ability to testify on defense of one of the Valve-turners' actions.
Mostly Guilty , by C. Hagen, High Plains Reader , 6 October After a week of trial and a five-hour deliberation, a jury found Foster guilty on all counts, except reckless endangerment, leaving felony criminal mischief, felony conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, and criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
Foster's co-defendant, Sam Jessup, who filmed the action, was convicted of felony conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and misdemeanor conspiracy trespass, both sentences which could carry a maximum of 11 years imprisonment. There were some tearful faces in there, whether they were unsure, or whether they were simply feeling the weight of sending someone to prison, I think they were taking it as seriously as they could.
I would not want to be on that jury. Foster was disappointed with the court's ruling to disallow his necessity defense and the testimonies of expert witnesses. A sticking point with the prosecution was that he was untrained and put lives and property in danger, but the state failed to prove that, Foster said. Prior to him shutting down the pipeline in , the pipeline had already been shut down five times. Until late Thursday, Foster planned to take the stand. In the end, he was not allowed to.
Without even getting on the stand, it's pretty obvious we knew what we were doing out there. North Dakota really wants to win something; they prosecuted very vigorously. The judge was very patient and kind. Everybody put a lot of time into doing this right. His intent was to stop the flow of the oil as a change in the narrative of climate change, and this was a symbolic event , if anything.
You do not have any evidence that any persons or property were in any danger, or that he was in a culpable mental state. Just being there doesn't make him a conspirator to criminal trespass. There is no evidence that he said or planned anything beforehand. The prosecution rested their case on Thursday, and defense gave short arguments on Friday morning, showing in full a video the prosecution had shown only 18 seconds of, and then turned the case over to the jury.
Showing the video to the jury was considered a victory for Foster, who was unable to speak out on climate issues during the trial. Friday's proceedings were short but tense. Defendants Foster and Jessup, friends, family, and supporters, waited in the courtyard's lawn for hours while the jury deliberated. The jury gave its verdict around 7: The expert witnesses barred from testifying included: James Hansen , Dr.
Foster, a former mental health counselor, has been living in North Dakota for the past month. He traveled partly by rail and by bicycle from Washington to the state to prepare for the trial. This is where it is at, this is where people are real and understand the truth, and I think we can learn a lot from getting out of our blue states and our bubbles, and just having decent conversations with people who care about the land and care about their kids.
The video referenced in the above article is reposted below. The prosecution introduced this video as evidence, showing only the first 18 seconds.
When the defendant recognized where that short clip came from, the defense moved to use that video in its entirety.
Foster's appearance in the video was thus the only words that jurists heard from him during the trial. Cavalier, North Dakota - The landmark trial of Michael Foster, a mental health counselor in his 50s from Seattle, just ended in conviction on several felony charges for his action of shutting off the emergency valve on the Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline in North Dakota to fight climate change Foster and Jessup are out on bail awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for January The presiding judge, Laurie A.
Fontaine , has ordered a pre-sentencing investigation on both defendants. I've been here in North Dakota a month trying to listen and learn, and I know we have to start these conversations. But the courtroom is for combat, and couldn't allow us to make a defense that undermines the written codes, even in order to defend life.
Unfortunately, we're out of time. Our kids can't wait any longer for us to shut this stuff down. There were some tearful faces in there, I think they were taking it as seriously as they could.
It's important to find ways for the American people to have the right to deliberate on the greatest crisis we've ever faced. Foster wrote in a Newsweek column this week: Prosecutors argue jurors might be biased by hearing about climate change, or being shown evidence of how dirty fossil fuels like tar sands affect it, and what those impacts mean for North Dakotans and all of us..
James Hansen, perhaps the leading authority on climate change in the US, travelled to North Dakota to testify, because, as he said, "I'm the one who said tar sands are 'game over' for climate, and here [is Michael Foster] facing trial for trying to do something about it. Hansen also prepared written expert testimony, which is available on request. It finds that North Dakotans and all Americans are in serious danger from climate change, unless "meaningful action to confront the crisis" is taken now, especially on tar sands.
Ken Ward, valve turner in Skagit County, Washington, was convicted of burglary at a June trial, after two trials in which the judge refused to allow a necessity defense. His trial is scheduled for late November. The verdict came about 7: Jessup of Winooski, Vt. The trial began Monday, with jury selection carrying over into Tuesday. About 20 jurors were excused for cause before the arguments got underway Tuesday afternoon. The defense intended to use a necessity defense , which argues a person can commit a crime if there is no other way for that person to avoid risk or being harmed.
In Foster's and Jessup's cases, they originally wanted to argue their actions were justified due to "the dangers of climate change," according to court documents.
Judge Laurie Fontaine ruled against that move, saying in court documents the defense failed to meet the burden of proof to use that tactic. Fontaine also ruled against the defense's move to present four expert witnesses and at least 55 exhibits during trial. Three days before the trial, the defense sent an email to prosecutors indicating they intended to use the experts and exhibits, according to court documents.
The defendants argued the Sixth Amendment allowed them to present a complete defense, adding the experts would "bolster the credibility of their client's belief," according to court documents. Prosecutors argued the experts' testimonies would discuss climate change and was inadmissible based on the previous necessity defense ruling, according to court documents. The state also argued it had no time to prepare or raise objections in response to the late development.
Fontaine wrote in court documents that there was a chance the testimony and evidence would confuse or mislead the jury "into believing the legitimate concerns regarding climate change are an excuse or defense to the crimes charged," which would go against the ruling prohibiting the necessity defense. Two other charges have been dismissed. Foster also was found guilty on conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, as well as a Class B felony of criminal mischief and a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass.
He was acquitted on a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge, and four other counts were dismissed. Jessup faces up to 11 years in prison, while Foster could be sentenced to 21 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for Jan. The convicted man, Michael Foster, awaits sentencing for what he says was effort to bring awareness to global warming.
Michael Foster committed two felonies last fall. So a couple of million barrels of oil stopped going to market," said Foster, environmentalist. Foster, along with four others are the so-called Valve Turners Foster said, "There's no politician, no corporation doing the thing we need to do to protect our young, our home, our land, our water, so we took action.
He waited for Pembina County Sheriff's Deputies to arrest him. On Friday, a jury of his peers convicted him. That's a heavy burden for a good Christian person to bear," said Foster. Foster says he's not upset at jurors for the decision. His lawyers originally wanted to argue their actions caused more good than harm, in the name of climate change , according to court documents. The judge ruled against the move and also refused to allow four expert witnesses and dozens of exhibits. He says this is all part of civil disobedience, inspired by an icon.
Foster said, "[Martin Luther] King said, when a person challenges an unjust law and is willing to face the punishment it arouses the conscience of the community and shows ultimate respect for that law. He's hoping jurors and the rest of Pembina County will take a second look at Climate Change. Another valve turner, Samuel Jessup, is facing up to 11 years in prison as a result of his actions including conspiracy to commit criminal mischief. One pre-trial, five during the trial itself, and one post trial and verdict.
People are making their way back East and West by plane, train, and automobile. Sam heads back to his home and work and people in Vermont. Michael, Annette, and Mosey Emily's dog are riding with Emily in her newly built-out, plywood-fantasy, camper mini-van. Leonard's van broke down in Montana, but Ken is snug at home. If you're in the Seattle area, come this Wednesday to a big ol' celebration with Michael, Annette, and Emily see below, we need you bad.
You've reached out with heavy thoughts and we want you to know that everyone is doing ok. This is the work that we entered into with open eyes. We went to North Dakota to withdraw our consent from a system that puts corporate profits over a stable climate, and also to normalize and move people to radical disobedience. If the mission is working, what are you willing to do? Foster was acquitted of reckless endangerment. Foster's actions were part of a broader four-state effort last October to draw attention to climate change.
Foster did not deny using a bolt cutter to get through a chain link fence so he could turn the pipeline's shut-off valve. He contended his law-breaking was in the public's interest. Samuel Jessup of Winooski, Vermont, who filmed Foster's protest, also stood trial and was convicted of conspiracy. Sentencing for both men is scheduled for Jan. Their attorneys did not respond to requests for comment Sunday. A lawyer for an environmental activist convicted of targeting an oil pipeline in North Dakota said he doesn't think a judge's decision disallowing the threat of global warming as a defense to justify the crime would be grounds for an appeal.
Defendant Michael Foster, of Seattle, said he has not decided whether to appeal his jury conviction to the North Dakota Supreme Court, and part of him wants "to honor the judge and the jury and their verdict.
Foster targeted the Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota. Other activists targeted pipelines in Minnesota, Montana and Washington state. A jury in North Dakota's Pembina County on Friday convicted Foster after a weeklong trial of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and conspiracy. He faces up to 21 years in prison when he's sentenced Jan. The man who filmed his protest action, Samuel Jessup of Winooski, Vermont, was convicted of conspiracy and faces up to 11 years.
Prosecutors objected, saying they didn't want a trial on global warming. Judge Laurie Fontaine sided with the state, saying in part that "a reasonable person could not conclude that climate change harms, however serious they might be, were imminent and certain to occur" had the pipeline not been temporarily shut off.
She also disallowed four people Foster wanted to call as expert witnesses on his behalf, including former NASA scientist James Hansen, an advocate of climate change awareness. Defense attorney Michael Hoffman said Tuesday that he doesn't think the judge's ruling on those two issues should be a part of any appeal, and that it's up to Foster whether to appeal at all.
Foster said he'll decide once he learns his sentence. Foster, who on Tuesday was headed to a coffee chain business in Seattle to urge use of a different cup to save trees, said his North Dakota protest a year ago was aimed at spreading his message of climate change awareness in a way that would get more notice than "standing on a corner handing out fliers.
If people don't respond quickly to climate change , it won't matter. One was convicted of burglary in Washington in June and was sentenced to two days in jail and community service. Prosecutors dropped charges against two filmmakers in that state.
Criminal cases are pending against two activists in Montana and four in Minnesota. Todd Hastings came to the North Dakota trial as one of 3 potential expert witnesses put forth by the defense. The judge denied expert testimony by all three. I spent the last few days traveling across the country to North Dakota to join others in supporting a gentleman who tried to help everyone. For that, he was convicted of several crimes and will be heading to a North Dakota prison.
Michael Foster was born and raised in Texas, in an oil family. His crime in North Dakota was turning off the Keystone pipeline in a symbolic but real call to all of us to do what we can to stop global climate chaos. We see the buck-naked consequences of paying no attention to our oil consumption; Harvey drowns Houston, fires rip through the West, every hurricane is more intense than it otherwise would be, droughts last longer, lakes are drying up, the seas are rising and surging, and with fracking even earthquakes are no longer a pure act of God.
Most previously natural disasters are now unnatural disasters, made worse by our hand more than the hand of God or Mother Nature. Michael was facing 23 years in prison on four charges.
Three of us were there to provide expert testimony in three topic areas to help the judge and jury understand why Michael should be acquitted. Two of us were there to speak to different aspects of nonviolence and one was on hand to speak about the urgency of a rapid change in our general habits but a specific exam of the dirty tar sands oil that flows through the Keystone pipeline.
Climatologist James Hansen is 76 years old and is the one who announced that "global warming has arrived" in when he worked as a scientist at the Goddard Space Center. Every single prediction he made then has come to pass. The contempt for anyone coming to North Dakota to "tell us how to live" the prosecutor's attack on Michael, who is now from Seattle was palpable He will be sentenced in January. Judge Fontaine ruled earlier that the "necessity" defense was not allowed.
We hoped I would still be able to testify about the threat of climate change and urgency of fossil fuel phaseout, to make the jury aware of factors affecting Foster's state of mind and his action. However, this too was not allowed. I prefer taking the offensive, lawsuits against the real criminals, but let's consider the necessity defense and Foster's specific situation.
The necessity defense requires showing that: I can't imagine a more sympathetic figure than Foster. He reached the point of committing a supposed felony, turning off a tar sands pipeline, after decades of growing concern and increasing efforts to take helpful actions.
He walked the naturist talk, minimized his and his family's carbon footprint, became a vegetarian, even raising backyard chickens, showed that it was possible to live an American life while treading lightly on the planet.
He started the website ClimateChangeforFamilies. These were the actions of a feeling adult with a masters of education in counseling psychology. In counseling adolescents and families he observed the increased anxiety and stress that today's youth face , a fact partially attributable to realization that young people face lesser prospects and difficult times because of climate change.
As a practicing professional in the mental health area, he saw continuing governmental failure to address climate change as tantamount to child abuse.
Washington supposedly must reduce emissions on a pathway that, if adopted globally, would return atmospheric CO2 to ppm by In reality Washington's minimalist actions have little effect.
Foster relates a "celebration" of Governor Inslee on stage with the kids, while his reality is "half-measures" and "soothing and baffling expedients" that promise young people only a "period of consequences," tantamount, indeed, to child abuse. One cannot recognize the imminent danger without understanding the science.
It is not difficult science. The urgency of action arises from the slow response of the climate system to changes of atmospheric composition.
This slow response means that there is more global warming "in the pipeline" without further increase of greenhouse gases GHGs. Delayed warming is due mainly to the large thermal inertia of the ocean.
Michael Foster is a mental health professional deeply concerned about the well-being of young people and the global mess that we are leaving them. It is a travesty that Foster should go to prison, while those guilty of child neglect and abuse sit lavishly in Washington and corporate headquarters. As for the necessity defense, the evidence is overwhelming, it seems to me, that the second and third requirements are satisfied, i. The first requirement, proving that there is no legal alternative to violating the law, is harder to meet.
That is the reason I prefer to go on the offense, use the legal system to go after the real criminals. Michael Foster could have made an argument that the exceedingly slow pace of alternative approaches is inconsistent with the urgency of addressing the present climate emergency. Understanding the urgency of CO2 emission phasedown requires understanding the slow response of the climate system, the role of amplifying feedbacks, and the danger of passing a point of no return.
The interview begins with an audio clip of the 7-minute Valve Turner video , starting with the music and then the full phone colloquy in which Jay O'Hara notifies the pipeline company ten minutes in advance of a valve turning shut-down.
The interview lasts a little over 15 minutes, followed by a minute in which the host reads the statement given her by Transcanada Pipeline. Then jump to the end timecode We've been hearing about it for 30 years and we're running out of time I'm very grateful to be out on bond and able to tell this story until January We were not the originals.
We have to give credit to some wonderful women in Canada who did this first and taught us kind of how it was done. I turned off the Keystone Pipeline, and I got to tell you: It felt so good. I had friends on Facebook saying they were being ordered to shelter in place to avoid breathing outside air while poisonous water was seeping into their homes.
So that's where I grew up and that's where the Keystone has a spur going really close to my old neighborhood. So it was it was a pleasure to be able to turn that valve and feel that thousand barrels of bitumen stopped moving. I am one of those people who has tried everything. I've made the signs. I've signed the petitions. I've met with my leaders and officials. I've proposed plans and policies. I think what radicalized me the most: I work with kids who plant trees and I help organize them.
They have a plan. These fourth, fifth, sixth-grade kids around the world are the United Nations 'tree counters'. They are trying to plant one trillion trees worldwide.
That's one new tree for every three trees living today. This is an incredible thing; most people have never heard of it. So I volunteer and I helped them organize. Well we met with some lawyers from Our Children's Trust and we brought a lawsuit against the State of Washington. And these kids won this lawsuit and for the first time in U. I'm not talking about future generations; I'm talking about young citizens of our state who are sitting in school and learning about this climate science and freaking out.
They have a plan to get the CO2 back into the ground and they're working on it. And they brought this case. The court directed the government to fix climate with a 'clean air rule' and then the government simply punted. They passed a rule here in the state which does nothing.
It tied up the courts for a couple of years. Even while the governor was celebrating these kids' historic landmark victory, quietly he was appealing that same victory.
After watching the kids win from the plaintiff's side, I realized that the courts were not going to be able to respond quickly enough. Our leaders, our donors, the people who, you know, call ourselves progressives: We watch our footprint and we say all the right things and share all the right things on Facebook, [yet] we are the ones who are not demanding immediate science-based action in response to a very clear and well-defined emergency.
Ultimately the judge has to decide, "Am I going to allow someone to present expert testimony and evidence at length in a way that might confuse the jury into thinking this guy's got a good excuse?
You know, this guy doesn't sound like a criminal to me. He may be crazy, may be wrong, I may disagree with his politics or his science, but look at him. You know, look at these people who are here from around the country to testify for him. Rebecca Voelkel , an expert on social justice and the religious imperative to take moral direct action. So you have these experts come and take the stand, and it would be hard for a jury to convict.
If we don't stop, we're like a junkie shooting a needle. If we don't stop, we can't correct or readjust or do anything. It will be too late for this generation. Climate activists secured a significant victory on Friday when a Minnesota judge issued a written opinion allowing the presentation of the climate necessity defense at a jury trial. The case stems from a set of coordinated "Shut It Down" actions last October, when activists across four states succeeded in shutting off the flow of tar sands through pipelines entering the United States from Canada.
Only a few courts have allowed presentation of the climate necessity defense, and until Friday no judge in a jury trial in the United States had recognized the defense in writing. In his opinion, Judge Robert Tiffany of the Ninth Judicial Court in Clearwater County noted that the necessity defense in Minnesota requires proof that the defendants avoided a significantly greater harm by breaking the law, there were no legal alternatives to breaking the law, that the defendant was in imminent danger of physical harm, and that there was a direct causal relationship between breaking the law and preventing the harm.
The judge also noted that the defense requires an "emergency situation" and that the state's "standard for the necessity defense is high. Kelsey Skaggs of the Climate Defense Project , which is working with the defendants and provided pre-trial briefing, said, "This is a very important step forward in the legal side of the movement to stop unchecked fossil fuel extraction. By recognizing the strength of the defendants' arguments in favor of direct action, the court acknowledged both the scope of the climate crisis and the people's right to act when their leaders fail them.
This decision will make it easier for other courts to follow suit. Other "Shut It Down" defendants have likewise tried to raise the defense, with less success. In June, Ken Ward was found guilty of burglary in Washington, after a first trial that ended in a hung jury and the judge blocked his necessity defense. Last week, after a judge prevented necessity evidence, Michael Foster and Sam Jessup were convicted of felonies in North Dakota. In Montana, Leonard Higgins has been barred from arguing necessity at his trial in November.
Activists and attorneys hope that Friday's decision will be useful in any appeals of these decisions and in future climate necessity defenses. On May 11, , prior to the contested omnibus hearing, Defendants submitted three affidavits from various experts in support of Defendants' necessity defense. At the contested omnibus hearing, all four Defendants testified in support of the necessity defense. The State did not present any witnesses.
The Court allowed the parties to simultaneously file any additional briefs by September 15, Both parties timely filed additional briefs. On August 17, , Defendants filed expert declarations. The Court took the matter under advisement on September 18,