“While I’m very glad that the court acknowledged that we did not damage the pipelines, I’m heartbroken that the jury didn’t get to hear our expert witnesses and their profoundly important warnings about the climate crisis.” —Emily Johnston, valve turner

In October 2016, three defendants (Emily Johnston and Benjamin Joldersma of Seattle, and Annette Klapstein, of Bainbridge Island, Washington) shut off the valves of two Enbridge Energy Company pipelines near Leonard, Minnesota as a way to protest the oil industry’s contribution to climate change. The defendants were a part of a coordinated effort to shut down five Canadian tarsands crude pipelines in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington state. A total of 11 activists were charged in the four states; seven of them went to trial.

On October 9, a judge in Clearwater County, Minnesota dismissed the charges against the activists.

Although all expressed relief that they will not have to face the prospect of jail time, the dismissal effectively silenced the “necessity defense,” which stated that their civil disobedience was necessary because of the threat that fossil fuels.

Expert witnesses including Dr. James Hansen, a former NASA scientist (who has been called the father of modern climate change awareness) were in Minnestoa, prepared to testify for the trial.

In interviews following the dismissal, Klapstein spoke of the importance of keeping public awareness high to force action to combat the climate crisis.

Here are Democracy Now! links that provide excellent coverage about what happened: