On a balmy afternoon in late September of 2016 — then the hottest year on record — a 76-year-old retired Presbyterian minister named George Taylor and some two dozen fellow residents of Spokane, Wash., stopped along a stretch of road that abuts a major set of train tracks coming into the city. Ignoring “No Trespassing” signs, they crossed a stretch of grass and walked onto the middle of the tracks. In front of them stood the lead car of a freight train, idling under a clear blue sky. Behind it, dozens of jet-black, cylindrical train cars stretched toward the horizon. Taylor had studied them long enough to know exactly what they were carrying: crude oil. By the time Taylor stepped onto the tracks, he had been an environmental activist for nearly two decades and had attended his share of peaceful marches and rallies.
Downingtown, Upper Uwchlan, PA - Today, two local residents, Christine “PK” DiGiulio, Analytical Chemist and community watchdog from Downingtown, Upper Uwchlan, and Connor Orion Tripp Young, Registered Nurse and concerned citizen from Lionville, Uwchlan, were found not guilty by Magisterial District Judge Ann Feldman on disorderly conduct charges for halting construction of Sunoco|Energy Transfer’s widely opposed Mariner East Pipelines by locking their bodies to construction equipment on on January 6, 2022. They were represented in court by attorney Ronald Read. Former Public Health Commissioner of Philadelphia, Dr. Walter Tsou, said, “Christina and Connor asked every politician to help protect their families from contaminated water or the threat of a pipeline blast to no avail.
Portland, OR — CLDC attorneys Lauren Regan and Cooper Brinson, joined by co-counsel and Portland attorney Kenneth Kreuscher, are pleased that a Portland jury was unable to find their clients, a group of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Portland activists, guilty. Regan, Brinson, and Kreuscher used the affirmative defense known as the “necessity” or “choice of evils” defense. The defendants were not convicted of trespassing in the first degree—charges that resulted from their role in an April 28, 2019 action intended to halt Zenith Energy’s, a Texas corporation, (“Zenith’s”) essential role in the global facilitation and transport of fossil fuels, specifically, tar sands oil—one of the world’s most egregious source of carbon emissions and climate change.
It’s when you choose the lesser of two evils. It’s a time when action becomes necessary. It’s when one choice is breaking the law and the other is possible disaster. And as the world continues to heat up from manmade climate change, environmentalists say there is no other choice but to take action. Emily Johnston, 52, and Annette Klapstein, 66, both of Seattle, were among a group of five “Valve Turners” who turned down the flow of tar sands oil on pipelines from Canada into the United States for a short time in 2016.
The Lakota People’s Law Project legal team have all won a great victory! Immediately after we filed another 160 pages of hard-hitting evidence on the necessity defense, the North Dakota prosecutors dropped all serious charges against me. I am no longer facing six years in prison, a long separation from my wife and children, and the loss of my law license. Together, we have climbed this mountain! In the coming months, Lakota People’s Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel Sheehan and the entire team will continue to strategically confront the fossil fuel industry and their destructive agenda, which threatens our water, our planet, and the entire human family.
oday was the first day of the Resist Spectra trial and the judge ruled the necessity defense will be allowed! That means the six people who are on trial for trespassing for an action that halted construction on the Spectra/Enbridge AIM fracked gas pipeline for 16 hours in 2016 in New York will be allowed to argue that their actions were necessary to prevent imminent harm. The decision by Judge Ragazzo to allow the necessity defense comes on the heels of the release of the executive summary of an Independent Risk Assessment from Governor Cuomo’s administration that acknowledged unanswered questions and echoed years of safety concerns of experts and community members alike.
On March 27, 13 defendants went into the west Roxbury District courthouse to answer charges related to their arrests protesting the West Roxbury Massachusetts Lateral Pipeline. They expected to have charges against them reduced to civil infractions — the equivalent of a parking ticket. While finding no grounds to deny that motion from the prosecution, the judge chose to let each defendant testify briefly on the necessity of their actions. The defendants collectively presented a powerful and comprehensive argument for why they had a necessity to engage in civil disobedience to stop the imminent local and global harms of this fracked gas pipeline. Following their testimony, the judge acquitted ALL the defendants by reason of necessity.
By Emily Johnston for the Guardian. A little over a year ago, four friends and I shut down all five pipelines carrying tar sands crude oil into the United States by using emergency shut-off valves. As recent months have made clear, climate change is not only an imminent threat; it is an existing catastrophe. It’s going to get worse, and tar sands oil—the dirtiest oil on Earth—is one of the reasons. We did this very, very carefully—after talking to pipeline engineers, and doing our own research. Before we touched a thing, we called the pipeline companies twice to warn them, and let them turn off the pipelines themselves if they thought that was better; all of them did so. We knew we were at risk for years in prison. But the nation needs to wake up now to what’s coming our way if we don’t reduce emissions boldly and fast; business as usual is now genocidal.
By Sameer Rao for Color Lines. Native attorney and activist Chase Iron Eyes believes that the Dakota Access Pipeline’s (DAPL) attack on his ancestral homeland justified his and other water protector’s establishment of The Last Child Camp on private DAPL property in February. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department disagreed and charged him with felony riot incitement and misdemeanor trespass in March. The Associated Press (The AP) and The Bismarck Tribune reported on October 24 that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe member will present the “necessity defense” in a preliminary hearing on November 3. The judge will determine if he can use that justification during his February trial. Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute defines the necessity defense as an argument that justifies a criminal act “because it will prevent the occurrence of a harm that is more serious.” Iron Eyes argues that he defied state orders to evacuate anti-DAPL protest sites because of the harm the pipeline causes to Native lands. “Given the Dakota Access Pipeline’s imminent threat to my tribe’s and my family’s only water supply, I ultimately had no choice but to resist on the front lines,” Iron Eyes told The Tribune.
By Patrick Mazza for Cascadia Planet - What we did expect was that our act of civil disobedience, positioning on a tripod and blocking a fossil fuel train, would help generate a rising crescendo of actions spurring the public pressure needed to address those deadly threats. After many years when political response that scales to the challenge has been blocked by big money and corporate power, we believed that to make the political system work again, it needs the shock, dissonance and friction of nonviolent civil disobedience.
By Julia Carrie Wong for the Guardian. Five environmental activists who failed to convince a court that their attempt to block crude oil trains near Seattle was a legally justifiable act of civil disobedience on Friday were nonetheless praised by a judge as “part of the solution” to climate change. On Friday, the campaigners were convicted in a court in suburban Seattle of misdemeanor trespassing relating to a September 2014 protest in which they blocked railway tracks used by crude oil trains in Everett, Washington. The defendants intended to argue that their acts, though illegal, were necessary to prevent the greater harm of catastrophic climate change. After two days of testimony the judge refused to allow the jury to consider the necessity defense. The case marks the furthest defendants have managed to go in an American courtroom using the so-called “necessity” defense.