Valve Turners: Linked lists of news and videos
The Valve Turners (USA)
Linked Lists of News Articles and Videos


7-MINUTE VIDEO: Shut It Down Today

Original composite video of the FIVE VALVE TURNERS in action in FOUR STATES on October 11, 2016:

• Ken Ward - Washington • Leonard Higgins - Montana • Michael Foster - North Dakota • Emily Johnston - Minnesota • Annette Klapstein - Minnesota

Also: Climate Disobedience Center
         Climate Defense Project

VIDEO + TRANSCRIPT (Democracy Now! TV)

Climate Direct Action:
Activists Halt Flow of Tar Sands Oil
By Shutting Off Valves of Five Pipelines

October 12, 2016    (12 minutes)

Canadian Valve Turners Did It First!

January 13, 2017 - TEXT: "COURT: Enbridge 'disappointed' with outcome of case, says company spokesperson", by Sara Simpson and Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer (CANADA)

A group of environmental activists who chained themselves to Enbridge Line 9 equipment left a Sarnia courtroom Friday without criminal convictions in what's being billed as a precedent-setting victory for pipeline demonstrators across Ontario.
     Vanessa Gray, 24, of Sarnia, along with Guelph residents Sarah Scanlon, 30, and Stone Stewart, 29, had been facing charges of mischief endangering lives and mischief over $5,000 after they occupied an Enbridge site on Mandaumin Road and allegedly manually shut down a valve there on Dec. 21, 2015. But after a year-long legal battle — including a series of meetings between the Crown and the defence to arrive at a resolution — all charges were withdrawn against the women Friday after they agreed to an 18-month court order to stay away from Enbridge property.
VIDEO: "Activists Shut Down Enbridge Line 9 in Canada Again! *The Indignants*"   (3 minutes)

For more news articles, GOOGLE these words: Vanessa Gray pipeline Sarnia.

2016 News • Valve Turners USA

• October 12, 2016 - "Activists disrupt key Canada-U.S. oil pipelines", by Nia Williams, Reuters

• October 12, 2016 - "Documentary filmmaker arrested at Canada-U.S. pipeline protest", by Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

• October 13, 2016 - "Celebrities rally behind filmmaker arrested in pipeline protests", by Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

• December 1, 2016 - "How 5 activists stopped the flow of Alberta Tar Sands oil into U.S.", by Emily Green, Street Roots News

• December 14, 2016 - "Activists Who Closed the Emergency Shutoff Valves on Tar Sands Pipelines: 'This Is an Emergency'", by Sarah Bernard, Seattle Weekly

   VIDEO: Kathleen Dean Moore Face-Time Interview with Valve Turners

Recorded December 13, posted December 14
(72 minutes)

The intros and Q&A begin around timecode 11:00


Editor's note: This is a superb way to get to know the hearts and minds of the 5 Valve Turners — plus the 2 members of the support team who (then) were facing felony charges, too: Sam Jessup and Reed Ingalls (Web moderator is Jay O'Hara; Kathleen Dean Moore poses the questions.)

   VIDEO: "Tars Sands Valve Turners Direct Action"

Recorded 12/12/16 at the Sole Repair Shop event space in Seattle. All five Valve Turners spoke and responded to questions at this event.

Scroll through the list directly below for a time-coded table of contents. Then click directly on the embeded video left and move the red time cursor to match the time-code for what you want to watch

(58-minute video)


   VIDEO: Leonard Higgins (Montana Valve Turner) Speaks in Missoula

Recorded December 7, posted December 22
(four episodes at event hosted by 350 Montana)

Episode 1 (12 min) - timecode 08:37 speaks of upcoming jury trial & "necessity defense"

Episode 2 (24 min) - timecode 03:50 details on why chose this action & how did it safely, openly

Episode 3 (25 min) - timecode 09:54 on media, Standing Rock alliance, why existing pipelines

Episode 4 (21 min) - timecode 13:26 story of "Lobster Boat" action stops coal tanker, Boston

   VIDEO: Leonard Higgins, Valve Turner, Arraigned

Recorded December 6, posted December 14, 2016

00:03 - summary of action info and location
02:05 - Leonard's post-arraignment speech outside courthouse (incl why acted)

Full text of Leonard's arraignment speech

2017 News • Valve Turners USA


• January 18, 2017 - "Ken Ward Is Willing to Go to Jail for the Rest of His Life to Fight Climate Change. What About You?", by Leah Sottile, Willamette Week

   VIDEO: Ken Ward Records Thoughts 1 Day Before Action"

Recorded October 10, posted January 23    (2 minutes)

• January 25, 2017 - "Oregon Environmentalist Ken Ward Will Not Be Allowed a Necessity Defense in His Criminal Trial", by Leah Sottile, Willamette Week

• January 26, 2017 - "Why I risked jail time to shut down an oil pipeline", Opinion piece by Emily Johnston, Seattle Times

• January 28, 2017 - "Should Citizens Be Allowed to Protest Pipelines? There's a Major Fight in the Courts Brewing", by Annette Klapstein, AlterNet

• January 30, 2017 - "Facing Decades in Prison, Climate Activist Says We Have 'No Choice But Direct Action'", by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

• January 30, 2017 - "Trial opens for activist charged in pipeline disruption", by Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

• January 30, 2017 - "Anti-pipeline activists and film-makers face prison, raising fears for free press", by Sam Levin, The Guardian (U.K.)

• January 31, 2017 - "Judge in environmental activist's trial says climate change is matter of debate, by Sam Levin, The Guardian (U.K.)

• January 31, 2017 - "#ShutItDown Trials Begin: 'We must stop the fossil fuel industry in its tracks'", by Andy Rowell, Oil Change International

   VIDEO: "Emily Johnston and Jay O'Hara Summary of Ken Ward Trial" (prior to jury decision).

The link goes to the Shut It Down Today Facebook page; scroll down to January 31 entries and look for the picture of Emily and Jay in order to watch the video — along with a dozen more Ken Ward Trial videos posted on the Facebook page.

January 31, 2017    (9 minutes)

KEN WARD TRIAL RESULT - February 1, 2017 - "Trial of Oregon Climate Change Activist Ends in Hung Jury: Ken Ward walks ... for now", by Leah Sottile, Willamette Week

   VIDEO KING 5 TV: "Jury Deadlocks in Oil Pipeline Activist Trial"

February 1, 2017    (2 minutes)

   VIDEO: Michael Foster and Abby Brockway comment on "hung jury" outcome of Ken Ward's trial

February 1, 2017    (15 minutes)

• February 2, 2017 - "Valve Turner Case a Mistrial, But Also a Warning for Direct Action Activists", by Valerie Schloredt, YES! Magazine

• February 3, 2017 - "Washington State Jury Refuses To Convict First Valve Turner in Four State Tar Sands Pipeline Action", anon, Free Speech Radio News

• February 3, 2017 - "Pipeline Valve-Turners Fight for Peaceful Disobedience", by KiMi Robinson, TruthDig

   VIDEO: "Michael Foster - Valve Turner who shut down a Tar Sands Pipeline in North Dakota"

February 3, 2017    (6 minutes)

• February 5, 2017 - "Here's How Eco-Activists Can Fight Trump", by Ted Hamilton, The Daily Beast. (Editor's note: Ted Hamilton is a co-founder of the Climate Defense Project, supporting the Valve Turners. This lengthy article is a superb place to learn the history of the "necessity defense" in civil disobedience causes — and the nuances of its application in climate direct action resistance. Then go to the CLIMATE DEFENSE PROJECT website: a tremendous education is available there.)

EXCERPTS: On Wednesday, the trial of climate activist Ken Ward — who faced felony charges of burglary and sabotage after shutting off a tar sands pipeline between Canada and the United States — ended in a hung jury in Skagit County Superior Court in Washington state. This neutral-sounding result was in fact a stunning victory for an activist who admitted that he'd broken the letter of the law to protect the climate, and who was barred from calling witnesses on his own behalf to establish a defense of necessity. It was also a possible harbinger of things to come for a new generation of activists desperate for strategies outside the mainstream.
    ... Prior to trial, the judge ruled that Ward would be barred from presenting any evidence related to necessity. Labeling the existence and causes of climate change matters of "tremendous controversy" — a statement that flies in the face of years of scientific consensus — the judge left Ward no option but to testify on his own behalf about his beliefs and motivations. That testimony, bare bones as it was, apparently did the trick. With at least one juror refusing to convict Ward, the case ended in a mistrial, meaning that the prosecution has the option of trying the charges again or adding new ones. For now, though, Ward walks free, his justification having won the day.
    ... The jury's refusal to convict Ward ratified the basic premise of civil disobedience: When the government fails to protect the planet, defend rights, or check corporate power, individuals must take matters into their own hands. It's no crime to conscientiously break the letter of the law to serve to the public good.
    ... This model of political action is radical in two senses. It's radical because it challenges the assumptions that our institutions are representative and that our laws serve the public good. Action must be taken outside the system to realize the system's democratic pretensions. It's radical, too, because it's a strategy that's been used in this country since before the Revolution. When juries refused to convict newspaper editors who had criticized colonial governors and abolitionists who harbored fugitive slaves, they ratified risky political action in defiance of established power. The same holds true for juries that acquit pipeline protesters or people sheltering immigrants. And by emphasizing a mismatch between the law and the will of the people, such campaigns often force reform of the challenged policy or institution.
• February 5, 2017 - "Jury Nullification Results in Hung Jury for Climate Activist", by Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica

SONG:"Act of Love" (February 2017)

   This song was written for the water protectors, the valve turners, and all for those who put their bodies on the line to fight the continued extraction and transportation of tar sands and other extreme fossil fuels. The words were inspired by the testimonies and interviews with the 5 valve turners that in October 2016 shut down all tar sands entering the United States via pipeline, with the help of their support crew. They now face federal charges and massive legal fees.

VIDEOS: MICHAEL FOSTER guest sermon at UU Church, Goleta CA    (Recorded February 12, 2017)

While many churches have thus far served as local venues for climate activist groups to host events featuring the VALVE TURNERS in Washington, Oregon, and California, Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta CA stepped forward to be the first church to welcome a Valve Turner into the pulpit at a Sunday morning service. The entire 7-minute Valve Turner Video was played during the service, prior to the sermon; this set a crucial context for the speaker.

Video of 22-minute sermon
Video of 20-minute Q&A
VIDEOS using
of the UU service.

   57-minute Joint Sermon with Rev. Michael Dowd

Click on timecodes to go directly to that segment of the video:

00:02 Title, guest speakers, 12 February (2 min)
00:16 Welcome by Drew Carter & bio of Rev. Dowd (2 min)
02:20 "Hieroglyphic Stairway" poem by Drew Dellinger (3 min)
05:00 Message for All Ages - Michael Dowd (3.5 min)
08:27 VIDEO:"Shut It Down Today" & intro by Michael Dowd (8 min)
16:47 Reading: Quote by Terry Tempest Williams (1 min)
17:49 SERMON pt 1 - Michael DOWD (6 min)
24:00 SERMON pt 2 - Michael FOSTER (15 min)
39:40 SERMON pt 3 - Michael DOWD (10 min)
49:52 Michael Foster - Closing words (2 min)
52:18 Michael Dowd - Closing words & Benediction (1 min)
53:20 Musical Postlude - "We Hold These Truths" - music & lyrics by church members Carrie Topliffe & John Douglas (4 min)

• February 13, 2017 - "Without Consent: Tar Sands Valve Turners visit UC Berkeley", by Steve Masover, Daily Kos

• February 13, 2017 - "Climate Disobedience in the Time of Trump", by Wen Stephenson, The Nation

Editor's note: The journalist begins with five paragraphs of background, and then a long Q&A with two of the Valve Turners, presented by this tagline: "Ken Ward and Emily Johnston are willing to spend decades in prison for shutting down tar-sands oil pipelines. They want you to understand why."

   "VIDEO: 'Valve turners' discuss value of civil disobedience", reporting by Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego Tribune online.
February 14, 2017.

TEXT EXCERPTS: "SanDiego350, the local affiliate of the national grassroots group, hosted four of the Valve Turners on Monday night in a free event to facilitate a conversation about the value of such protests. Annette Klapstein, Emily Johnston, Leonard Higgins and Michael Foster spoke to a crowd of local activists."

Editor's note: The VIDEO includes interviews of the 2 women who shut down tar-sands pipelines in Minnesota: Annette Klapstein and Emily Johnston, plus documentary footage of the action, and comments by a SanDiego350 leader.

   NEWS: "'Valve Turners' Get Warm Welcome", reporting by Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times, 27 February 2017.

"The crowd stood and applauded when the six took the podium, cheered loudly at several points during the presentation and gave the speakers a standing ovation at the end of the two-hour event."

"I think now is the time when direct action and civil disobedience is particularly needed," Leonard Higgins said. "We do need to change the concept of what's politically possible." ... "If you're an older white person, this is your job," Annette Klapstein said. "It's up to us to take these risks."

Editor's note: This is a superb article for accessing quotations by each of the Valve Turners. Kathleen Dean Moore served as moderator. The event attracted an audience of 150 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Corvallis.

Two videos of the Corvallis event were livestreamed onto Facebook: Video 11 minutes and Video 10 minutes. Key quotes:

Annette: "If you're and older person, this is your job" • Michael: "I still can't believe it; this hand shut off the Keystone 1 pipeline!" • Emily: "We really have no choice; we have to stop it — and we can stop it, because those pipelines come through our communities."

• March 6, 2017 - AUDIO: "Meet the Standing Rock Pipeline Protesting 'Valve Turners' Facing Criminal Charges", on The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC. Valve Turner Ken Ward and documentarian Steve Liptay are interviewed on radio for 17 minutes.

Video 14 minutes
Video 17 minutes
Video 18 minutes
Richly illustrated
3-part VIDEO series
at Seattle area
middle school

28 February 2017

• March 10, 2017 - "As Their Trials Begin, Climate Protecting 'Valve Turners' Say 'Shut It Down' Is 'Necessity'", by Jeremy Brecher, Common Dreams (website). Lengthy background article (and supportive advocacy) focuses on the Necessity Defense and the history of how its practice has brought about pivotal changes in America (and is continuing to do so for re-stabilizing climate). Highly recommended for educational purposes in classrooms, churches, and activism meetings.

EXCERPTS: The Valve Turners are asking to present what is called a necessity defense. Though not widely known, this defense is well established in Anglo-American common law; as early as 1550, an English merchant who dumped passengers' cargo overboard was acquitted on the grounds that his action was necessary to prevent their ship from capsizing. While judges very often resist such necessity claims, since the 1970s hundreds of people who have committed civil disobedience in service of the public good have been acquitted on the grounds that their actions were taken to prevent a greater harm.
    To make a necessity defense, the accused must prove that they believed their act was necessary to avoid or minimize a harm; that the harm was greater than the harm resulting from the violation of the law; and that there were no reasonable legal alternatives. As the state of Washington Supreme Court put it, the necessity doctrine provides that an act is justified "if it by necessity is taken in a reasonable belief that the harm or evil to be prevented by the act is greater than the harm caused by violating the criminal statute."
    So first of all, the Valve Turners will have to prove to the court that the harm of climate change is greater than that of shutting a pipeline. They will seek to call expert witnesses who will have no difficulty laying out the catastrophic current and future effects of fossil fuel emissions. They can point out that in a recent federal court case the U.S. government acknowledged that climate change poses "a monumental threat to Americans' health and welfare" by "driving long-lasting changes in our climate," leading to an array of "severe negative effects, which will worsen over time." As Ken Ward has put it, "In this context and with these terrible imperatives, my actions of walking across a field and cutting a fence chain are inconsequential and excusable compared to the ghastly effect of continuing to burn tar sands oil."[1]
    Many of the Valve Turners have had direct experience with the effectiveness of such actions. In 2013 Ken Ward blocked coal shipments to the Brayton Point power plant in Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter the new owners of the plant announced its closing.[2] Annette Klapstein participated in a in the Shell No! civil disobedience campaign against arctic drilling, including blockading the Port of Seattle for a day, which contributed to Shell Oil's decision to cease operations in the Arctic.[3]
    In a case brought by Our Children's Trust on behalf of 21 young people against the federal government, Judge Aiken ruled that if "governmental action is affirmatively and substantially damaging the climate system in a way that will cause human deaths, shorten human lifespans, result in widespread damage to property, threaten human food sources, and dramatically alter the planet's ecosystem," then those affected have a claim for protection of their life and liberty under the fifth amendment. "To hold otherwise would be to say that the Constitution affords no protection against a government's knowing decision to poison the air its citizens breathe or the water its citizens drink." Judge Aiken also ruled that if the government was knowingly destroying the earth's climate, it was in violation of the public trust doctrine, which requires governments to act as trustees for essential natural resources. She quoted a judicial opinion that that the right of future generations to a "balanced and healthful ecology" is so basic that it "need not even be written in the Constitution" for it is "assumed to exist from the inception of humankind."..."We don't all have to do the same thing," [Emily Johnston] emphasizes, "nor should we." But "we all have to do something." Because otherwise, "we're passively consenting to the devastation of most life on earth."

   VIDEO: Guest sermon by Ken Ward at Northshore UCC
     Woodinville WA, delivered 19 March 2017

"Love in a Time of Cataclysm" is the sermon title.

Sermon text is available online.

Excerpt: "By our action we hope to serve as a pivot point on which the course of history turns, but those odds seem long. Given the choice, however, none of us would act differently. This is our expression of love — for all living things, for our children, for all peoples, for our enemies, and for life."

   VIDEO: Guest sermon by Michael Foster at Saltwater Church
     Des Moines WA, delivered 26 March 2017

Sermon title: "Spiritual Leadings for Direct Climate Action"

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Des Moines, WA (Saltwater Church) invited Foster to present a guest sermon on Sunday morning. The 19-minute sermon video (with added images) became available on youtube April 25, as linked above.

• March 23, 2017 - "Activists employ 'necessity' strategy in pipeline trials", by Alex Sakariassen, Missoula Independent.
EXCERPTS: ... The months since Higgins, Ward and their cohorts broke into remote pipeline valve stations with bolt cutters have been packed with shifting trial dates, court hearings and, in Ward's case, a hung jury. Higgins is currently scheduled for a pretrial hearing in Fort Benton in May, with a tentative trial date of July 18. According to 350 Montana chair Jeff Smith, whose nonprofit hosted an event with Higgins late last year, Higgins plans to return to Missoula May 13 and 14 for speaking appearances that will double as a pitch for support in his legal battle. He's facing charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass and felony criminal mischief for breaking into a Spectra Express Pipeline station several miles south of Big Sandy and manually closing the shut-off valve.
    There's no debating the facts of what Higgins did. All the valve turners' actions were livestreamed on social media, and Higgins has talked openly about the months of planning and preparation that went into the shutdown. Higgins doesn't plan to refute any of this in court. Instead, he plans to enter a so-called necessity defense, arguing that given the responsibility to protect innocent people from the ravages of climate change, he had no choice but to take illegal action.
    The strategy is not without precedent. Six Greenpeace activists used it in 2008 after they shut down a coal-fired power plant in Kent, England, by scaling its 200-meter smokestack. All six were cleared by a jury, prompting international news outlets to speculate that the tactic would catch fire in the environmental community. In 2014, Ward and another climate activist employed a necessity defense to fight criminal charges over their use of a lobster boat to block delivery of a 40,000-ton coal shipment to a power station in Somerset, Mass. That case never made it to trial. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter dropped the charges and took the opportunity to proclaim climate change "one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced."
    "When activists take these actions, they mean it," says Jay O'Hara, Ward's partner in the coal blockade and a founding member of the nonprofit Civil Disobedience Center, which is now supporting the valve turners with legal and financial assistance. "So how do you say, 'I meant it?' [The necessity defense] is less about publicity and more about embodying the convictions of, 'This is the right thing to do. I'm not going to evade responsibility.'"
    "Montana is as good a place as any to have that conversation [on climate change]," he says, "and this is exactly where these conversations should be happening. It shouldn't be a liberal elitist conversation. It's a conversation we need to have in the heart of America with average, everyday citizens."


• March 30, 2017 - post by Emily Johnston (Minnesota valve turner) on the Shut-It-Down.Today website.

   FILM TRAILER: "The Reluctant Activist (on Ken Ward)

April 3, 2017 - Although the trailer has been released, filming will continue through Ken Ward's retrial in Skagit County WA in late May, with anticipated late summer opening of this documentary.

Click the link above to watch the 02:31 trailer and to read the film's synopsis, which centers on a short bio of Ward.

   "Skagit County Jury Refuses to Convict Six of Those Arrested During 'Break Free' Climate Protests", by Sara Bernard, Seattle Weekly.

April 17, 2017 -"Last May, thousands of people flocked to Anacortes to stage a massive, three-day climate protest at the site of the two largest oil refineries in Washington state. Hundreds pledged to commit civil disobedience there, and sure enough, 52 were arrested in the wee hours of the final morning for refusing to leave the oil-train tracks they'd occupied for 36 hours.
     Most of the 52 were ultimately charged with second-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor that carries a light penalty: A $250 fine and an eight-hour community service requirement. This spring, as their Skagit County trials began (there will be seven in total), jury after jury served each set of defendants their small convictions, regardless of any climate-crisis or legal arguments they or their lawyers made. But on Friday, during the fifth trial, two jurors refused to do so — despite what Joldersma [far left in photo] describes as an unsympathetic judge and aggressive prosecutor. "The presumption of guilt was palpable" in the courtroom, he says. From his point of view, "The judge clearly thought we were guilty. To me, it seemed like she felt like she was going through the motions."

The facts of the case were never in question; all defendants claimed they were sitting on those train tracks at that time. They just said they did so because the climate crisis demands it. And two of the jurors, including Skagit County resident Karen Swan, believed them. "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your stand and your risk, I'm honored to have been a juror in your case," Swan said, in a statement to the defendants. "I can very much relate to you in regards to the emotional pain I feel about our world and the destruction of people and the environment."

   VIDEO: Higgins & Foster - From Climate Despair to Direct Action

April 17, 2017 - Two Valve Turners, along with the documentarian facing charges for filming the action in North Dakota (Steve Liptay), spoke at a college-wide seminar for the Earth Week theme of Climate Direct Action. The event took place at Highline College (Des Moines, Washington — on the south side of Seattle).

This reworked video is just the 9-minute segment of responses given by Leonard Higgins and Michael Foster on the issue of acknowledging one's despair, working through the process, and then initiating action.

The full 37-minute video recorded by the college can be accessed here.

   • The above video is featured (May 2017) on The Work that Reconnects Website

• May 7, 2017 - "Spinning the Wheel: Corvallis 'valve turner' gambles climate protests will pay off", by Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette Times.

Editor's note - This lengthy news article is perhaps the most in-depth article presenting not only Leonard Higgins' background and perspective but also the details of the shut-down pipeline actions of all five of the 'valve turners', including safety considerations (and oppositional arguments).

EXCERPTS: Leonard Higgins is a foot soldier in the fight against global warming. In late 2012 he helped launch 350 Corvallis, the local chapter of an international organization that pressures governments to take action on climate change. The following year he was one of about 40,000 people who took part in the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., and that fall he helped lead a demonstration against the Keystone XL oil pipeline at the Corvallis office of the Environmental Protection Agency. He signed petitions, attended legislative hearings, toted protest signs and reduced his personal carbon footprint. He shackled himself to an 18-wheeler at the Port of Umatilla to halt a drilling equipment "megaload" destined for the Canadian oilfields, fought against the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal in Coos Bay and blockaded railroad tracks in Anacortes, Washington, to prevent oil shipments from reaching refineries there.
     None of it worked...."Despite what Obama was saying, we weren't taking the aggressive action that was needed, and we weren't taking a leadership role in the world," he said. "It was obvious that something more needed to be done."

EXCERPTS cont: After closing the valves, the activists locked the wheels in the off position and placed flowers or leaves as a token of respect for the environment, then waited for the authorities while supporters outside the enclosure live-streamed their actions on social media and independent filmmakers videotaped the events. None of them tried to leave the scene. "We didn't want to do that and just run away, like fugitives," Higgins said. "We wanted to demonstrate what we believe is the responsibility of all good citizens, what patriotism looks like now."

• May 11, 2017 - "Havre judge denies valve-turner Leonard Higgins' 'necessity defense'", by Alex Sakariassen, Missoula Independent.

FULL TEXT: Leonard Higgins is preparing to go to prison. The wind dishevels his white hair as he talks about swinging by Deer Lodge between speaking engagements in Missoula and Bozeman this month, just to scope things out. He's already spoken with his partner back home in Corvallis, Ore., about how they'll stay in touch if he's incarcerated, about how often she'll be able to visit.
    "I think the odds are against me," says Higgins, 65, "so I'm preparing for being convicted and serving whatever sentence the judge decrees." Even so, this soft-spoken activist, who until last year balked at the thought of public speaking, isn't exactly giving up. Higgins committed to the possibility of jail time well before he broke into a Spectra Express Pipeline station south of Big Sandy last October and shut down the flow of oil. His actions aren't disputed in the case now headed to trial in Fort Benton on July 18, and he says he isn't shirking responsibility for his civil disobedience. "There couldn't be anything further from the truth. I'm asking people and the court to step up alongside me to take responsibility for what's happening."
    That's not how Judge Daniel Boucher viewed the situation in Chouteau County last month. On April 12, Boucher issued an order denying Higgins' request to present a necessity defense — an argument that Higgins' actions were necessitated by the immediate danger that climate change poses to his family, his friends, and every other human on earth. Boucher asserted that in attempting to enter such a defense, Higgins "cringes from the individual responsibility that historically accompanies protest and social change." And Boucher didn't stop there. "It is clear from his memorandum that Higgins expects to attract publicity through his trial," Boucher wrote, "and in turn, to place U.S. energy policy on trial."
    Higgins has already attracted a significant amount of publicity. He and several fellow valve-turners have spoken at universities and Unitarian fellowships along the West Coast, and are beginning an East Coast tour in early June. Higgins Skyped into a house party in Montreal in April, recently attended a direct action workshop in Bozeman, and has upcoming appearances in Whitefish and Missoula (the latter hosted by 350 Montana on May 13). "I'm hoping to impart a sense of emergency, a sense of personal responsibility to respond," Higgins says.
    Higgins and his legal team are also busy crafting an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court, in the hopes that the justices will disagree with Boucher's assessment and allow his necessity defense to proceed. Without it, Higgins says, he's unsure how much latitude he'll have to explain the motivations for his actions. "It's an act of desperation," he says. "I don't think that there's a direct cause and effect that my taking this action will carry the day, but it contributes, just as in other acts of civil resistance in other movements in the past."

   VIDEO: Withdrawing Consent - Annette Klapstein and Emily Johnston on shutting down tar sands pipelines

(posted) May 11, 2017 - Dec 2016 Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein joined with the three other 'valve turners' in speaking to an enthusiastic audience in Seattle — two months after the group had shut down all five pipelines carrying Canadian tar sands in the USA. The two women worked together in shutting down two tar sands pipelines in a remote location in northern Minnesota. Here they speak about the underlying imperative.

Note: This short video contains excerpts from an hour-long video filmed by Ed Mays at the Seattle event, and then posted on his youtube channel here:

• May 12, 2017 - "In Landmark Climate Activist Trials, Judges Deny Defendants' Requests To Let Juries Hear Evidence About Climate Change",, via Newswire.

EXCERPT: In the landmark case of Ken Ward, one of several climate activist facing severe felony charges for shutting the emergency valves on pipelines carrying oil sands, Judge Michael E. Rickert of Skagit County Superior Court in Washington state yesterday for a second time denied the request for a "necessity defense." Note: 13 paragraphs follow.

   VIDEO: Leonard Higgins - What Can I Do About Climate Change?

(posted) May 14, 2017 - Dec 2016 Leonard Higgins joined with the four other 'valve turners' in speaking to an enthusiastic audience in Seattle — just two months after the group simultaneously shut down all five pipelines carrying Canadian tar sands in the USA.
     Higgins shut down the tar sands pipeline in a remote location in Montana. Here he talks about why; given the severe climate crisis, he felt "called" to do so. He explains that climate activists who undertake direct action are fulfilling a public necessity and thereby defending the right of future generations to a livable planet. Note: This short video contains excerpts from an hour-long video filmed by Ed Mays at the Seattle event, and then posted on his youtube channel here:



Climate Disobedience Center