Eco-terrorists are ‘more afraid of climate change’ than going to prison

By Chris White

Eco-activists responsible for sabotaging pipelines in 2016 are committed radicals willing to take whatever measure they deem necessary fight global warming, according to a report Tuesday from The New York Times.

Shutting off portions of the Keystone Pipeline and violating the law is necessary to prevent climate change, two of the Seattle-based activists told TheNYT. Their strident positions have come at a high price.

Emily Johnston, an editor and a poet from Seattle, joined several other activists from Seattle and across the West to shut-off valves on a pair of oil pipelines Canadian energy company, Enbridge, owns and operates.

“I’m not courageous or brave,” Johnston told a crowd at a progressive church in Oregon shortly after getting bailed out following her sabotage efforts. “I’m just more afraid of climate change than I am of prison.”

Temporarily closing down pipelines in Minnesota was part of an effort to save the world from fossil fuels, Johnston wrote in a 2017 editorial for The Guardian. A judge is allowing her to use a “necessity defense” to justify her actions in 2017 against the Enbridge Pipeline System.

She was not the only person in her group to demonstrate a rabid obsession with destroying energy projects to prevent global warming. Michael Foster’s compulsion to engage in direct action against pipelines seriously damaged his personal life and ultimately broke apart his family.

Foster was convicted in October of conspiracy and reckless endangerment after cutting through a chain link fence and turning a shut-off valve on the Keystone Pipeline to demonstrate against the Dakota Access pipeline. His behavior before that point had a profoundly negative effect on his children.

“When we would try to refuse, when we would say, ‘Hey, I’m tired,’ or ‘Hey, I have homework,’ or ‘He, I have school today,’ it would be: ‘Don’t you care about the planet? Don’t you care about the future’?” one of his older children said, referring to Foster’s repeated efforts to use his children as mouthpieces to distribute his message.

“This is not a typical criminal case,” Judge Laurie Fontaine said in 2017 during Foster’s trial. She was referring to the necessity defense Foster and his fellow activist, Sam Jessup, made to justify their actions.

“If you can’t convince the government, then you convince the people … and it seems to me the way you convince the people in this world is by 60-second sound bites, by commercials,” she added. If an activist is concerned about global warming, then the best option is to convince lawmakers to tackle the problem – engaging in eco-terrorism is not the answer, Fontaine noted.

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Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

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