"Appeals Court Allows Necessity Defense In Pipeline Protest"

"MINNEAPOLIS — Four protesters can present an unusual 'necessity defense' against criminal charges stemming from efforts to shut down two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein acknowledge that they turned the emergency shut-off valves on two pipelines on Oct. 11, 2016, in Clearwater County of northwestern Minnesota. It was part of a coordinated action by Climate Direct Action activists to shut down five pipelines that carry tar sands crude from Canada to the Unites States in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Washington state. A total of 11 activists were charged.

But the two Seattle-area women, as well as two defendants who filmed them, are the only ones who have been given permission to present a full necessity defense. They want to tell jurors that the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude — which contains more climate-damaging carbon than other forms of oil — is so imminent that they were justified and had no legal alternatives. They plan to call expert witnesses who will back them up."

Steve Karnowski reports for the Associated Press April 23, 2018.

Source: AP, 04/24/2018