An environmentalist activist convicted of sabotaging oil pipelines in 2016 now claims he is having second thoughts about using the necessity defense to justify his crimes.
Michael Foster, who was convicted earlier this month of criminal mischief after damaging the Keystone XL Pipeline, now claims that he might “honor the judge and the jury and their verdict” rather than appealing the conviction. The antic was probably a waste of time, he now claims.
“It’s been a year, and pollution is worse today than the day I turned the Keystone valve shut,” Foster, who faces up to 21 years in prison for his actions, told reporters Tuesday. “Based on that alone, I wonder how effective it was. If people don’t respond quickly (to climate change), it won’t matter.”
Foster, a Seattle-based activist who spends his time urging coffee shops to use different cups to save trees, took part in a protest aimed at gaining attention for climate change awareness. He is part of a much larger group of environmentalists who engaged in coordinated efforts to stymie the multi-billion oil pipeline.
Judge Laurie Fontaine dismissed Foster’s necessity plea, telling the defendant 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 scuttled. She disallowed Foster from trying to use former NASA scientists and climate activist James Hansen as an expert witness.
Pipeline developers have been successful in recent cases against environmentalists.
A federal judge determined earlier this year that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind Dakota Access Pipeline, could hide information pertaining to the pipeline’s leak points at areas along its route. The judge argued the exception was necessary to prevent possible acts of vandalism in the future.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other DAPL opponents believe information disclosing the route’s leak points could bolster their arguments that the line needs further environmental studies. The project is slated to shuttle 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil from the Dakotas to parts of Illinois.
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