Charges Dropped Against MN Pipeline Activists in Landmark Trial

Oct 10, 2018

A Minnesota court has acquitted three anti-pipeline activists who broke into an oil pipeline facility two years ago, intending to cut off the flow of tar sands oil coming into the United States from Canada. In October of 2016, the so-called “valve turners” cut chains and turned manual safety valves on a pair of Enbridge pipelines to stop the flow of oil.

The activists say their decision to break the law was necessitated by the clear and present danger posed by climate change. They had hoped to call expert witnesses, including the former top climate scientist at NASA, James Hansen, to testify to jurors. But on Tuesday, a district judge agreed with a defense motion to throw out charges because the activists had not intended to damage the pipeline. This is Emily Nesbitt Johnston speaking just after her acquittal on felony charges Tuesday.

Emily Nesbitt Johnston: “I’m very relieved the state of Minnesota acknowledged we did no damage and intended to do no damage. I also admit that I’m disappointed that we did not get to put on the trial we hoped for. You know, we very much wanted everyone to be able to hear—for our jurors to be able to hear—from our expert witnesses. We did this action almost two years ago to the day—Thursday will be the second anniversary—because the problem of climate change is so urgent that we have to start shutting tar sands pipelines down now.”

Later in the broadcast, we’ll go to Minnesota to speak with two of the valve turners, as well as their attorney and former NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

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