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necessity defense

Some recent Enbridge pipeline stuff

by Dan Burns on March 23, 2018 · 0 comments

enbridge– People get fed up, and I don’t blame them.
 

Leaders of the Red Lake Nation are formally calling for the removal of oil pipelines from their reservation in northern Minnesota.
 
The tribal council in January pulled out of a deal with Canadian energy firm Enbridge that would have allowed the pipelines to stay in place. Leaders now want the infrastructure removed altogether.
 
“We just want them to move their lines and clean up the pollution and the damages they’ve done the past 70 years,” Chairman told The Bemidji Pioneer after the council voted unanimously on Tuesday to remove the pipelines.
(Indianz.com)

– Enbridge spent more than $5 million lobbying Minnesota state officials, last year.

 

– A result in a closely watched “necessity defense” protest case:

 

Tuesday’s sentencing hearing tested a Montana court’s willingness to apply the severe penalties already available for use against pipeline protesters. For halting the flow of oil through Enbridge’s Express pipeline for several hours, Leonard Higgins, a 66-year-old retired information technology manager for the state of Oregon, faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for charges of misdemeanor trespass and felony criminal mischief. Higgins was sentenced to three years’ probation and $3,755 in restitution to the pipeline company…
 
Although the sentence is lenient in light of the possible penalties Higgins faced, it does not represent a full win for the activists. Higgins’s legal team had hoped Judge Daniel Boucher would allow them to argue that, given the severity of the climate threat, he had no choice but to act — a strategy known as a necessity defense. But Boucher said that since Higgins appeared to fear harm to his children and grandchildren, rather than an imminent threat to his own life, the defense could not apply. In his denial, Boucher wrote, “The energy policy of the United States is not on trial, nor will this court allow Higgins to attempt to put it on trial.”
(The Intercept)

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Pipeline protesters get a win in court

by Dan Burns on October 18, 2017 · 0 comments

oilspillThis isn’t a verdict, just a procedural ruling. And it certainly looks to me (though I’m not a lawyer) like the chances of acquittal are not high. But, nonetheless, cool.
 

A judge in Minnesota has cleared the way for an unusual and potentially groundbreaking defense, allowing climate activists to use the “necessity” of confronting the climate crisis as justification for temporarily shutting down two crude oil pipelines last year.
 
Robert Tiffany, a district court judge in Clearwater County, Minnesota, ruled on Oct. 11 that three activists who were arrested and charged with felonies last year can argue that they violated the law in order to protect citizens from the impacts of global warming and that they had no legal alternative.
 
“It is extremely unusual for a court to allow presentation of the necessity defense by environmental protesters,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “It will be fascinating to see how this trial goes and how much evidence the court allows.”
(Inside Climate News)

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