Environmentalists cried foul when a judge called global warming a controversial issue during the high-profile trial of an environmentalist accused of sabotaging various oil pipelines.
Judge Michael Rickert said Jan. 24 that there is “great controversy” over the degree to which humans play in perpetuating so-called man-made global warming. He was addressing climate activist Ken Ward’s request to present a “necessity defense” to justify his attempts to shut down oil sands pipelines.
Ward is facing decades in prison for shutting down oil pipelines in Skagit County, Washington.
“I don’t know what everybody’s beliefs are on [climate change], but I know that there’s tremendous controversy over the fact whether it even exists,” the Skagit County judge said during the trial.
Rickert added: “And even if people believe that it does or it doesn’t, the extent of what we’re doing to ourselves and our climate and our planet, there’s great controversy over that.”
Activists believe the court has an obligation to recognize the existence of global warming.
“We are in the late stages of global collapse, and to have someone who is presumably as knowledgeable and aware as a judge should be blithely dismissing the biggest problem facing the world is chilling,” said Ward, who shut down the TransMountain pipeline in Skagit County.
One of Ward’s cohorts, Leonard Higgins, made similar comments during the trial, telling reporters Monday that he was shocked by Rickert’s disregard for the planet and the environment.
“My heart sunk,” said Higgins, who is himself facing criminal charges for similar actions. “I just did not expect him to say that climate science and climate change was still basically a matter for debate …”
Rickert also said turning off one pipeline would be pointless, because “the actual harm to be avoided is not avoided at all. All that happens is a valve is turned.”
Ward and Higgins’ actions are part of an overarching effort by eco-terorists to damage and sabotage the country’s pipeline infrastructure.
The FBI launched an investigation in October into a rash of fires along an oil pipeline owned by the developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-state oil pipeline used to shuttle Bakken oil from the Dakotas to Illinois.
The fires damaged various bulldozers and earth-moving equipment. Jasper County Sheriff’s office in North Dakota estimated the fire caused $2,000,000 in damages.
Further investigations indicate the fires were intentionally set.
Dakota Access condemned the “intentional burning of construction equipment by unknown individuals” in a statement and offered a $100,000 reward. A similar fire occurred Aug. 1, according to the Jasper County sheriff.
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