Seattle Activist Gets Sentenced In Massive Four-State Anti-Oil Protest

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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An Seattle-based activist was sentenced Tuesday to one year in prison for attempting to sabotage the Keystone Pipeline in 2016.

Michael Foster was convicted in October of conspiracy and reckless endangerment after cutting through a chain link fence and turning a shut-off valve on the Keystone Pipeline to demonstrate against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Foster told reporters shortly after his conviction that he might “honor the judge and the jury and their verdict” rather than appealing the conviction. He claimed the effort to shut down the line likely did nothing to prevent global warming.

“It’s been a year, and pollution is worse today than the day I turned the Keystone valve shut,” said Foster, who faces up to 21 years in prison for his action. “Based on that alone, I wonder how effective it was. If people don’t respond quickly (to climate change), it won’t matter.”

Some of his colleagues in the four-state effort to stymie the Keystone Pipeline were more combative.

Temporarily pipelines offline in Minnesota was part of an effort to save the world from fossil fuels, Seattle activist and poet Emily Johnston wrote in a 2017 editorial for The Guardian. A judge is allowing her to use a “necessity defense” to justify her actions in 2017 against the Enbridge Pipeline System.

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“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,” Johnston wrote, referring to a spate of hurricanes that clobbered the U.S. earlier this summer.

Clearwater County District Judge Robert Tiffany gave Johnston – and other activists from anti-oil group, Climate Direct Action – the option of arguing the fear of cataclysmic climate change justifies any action taken to stymie oil production and transport. The judge’s decision allows the group to produce various climate experts to testify about the upcoming climate Armageddon.

Another activist, Sam Jessup, was sentenced to two years of probation for live-streaming Foster’s actions.

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