Climate Activist Michael Foster Sentenced To Three Years In Prison

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Climate activist Michael Foster will be imprisoned for shutting off the emergency valve on TransCanada’s Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline in North Dakota. This morning in Pembina County Court, Judge Laurie A. Fontaine sentenced Foster to three years.

Fontaine deferred two years of the sentence. Foster has been taken into custody and begins serving his sentence today.    

For his act of shutting off the Keystone pipeline, Foster was convicted on October 6th, 2017 of misdemeanor trespass and felony criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief.  Those convictions carried a potential maximum penalty of 21 years in prison.


North Dakota Pipeline Dissidents Michael Foster, Sam Jessup Convicted


TransCanada and the State of North Dakota had both pushed for a harsh sentence to deter other climate activists (the prosecution recommended five years).   Foster's act was part of a simultaneous, coordinated action in four states to shut off all major tar sands crude pipelines entering the United States. Today’s sentence comes 16 months after the original October 11, 2016 action, which temporarily stopped the flow of tar sands bitumen into the US --  the equivalent of 15% of daily domestic oil consumption.

A 53-year-old mental health counselor from Seattle, Foster has no prior convictions. He decided to take the action to shut off the Keystone pipeline after spending five years giving presentations on the climate emergency to over 13,000 people, spearheading litigation, and starting multiple climate groups, including Plant-for-the-Planet, which engages children in tree planting.

"I made a decision to commit civil disobedience to defend my family tree and yours, knowing that there is no government, no politician, no corporation on planet right now putting forward a plan to defend life as we know it," Foster said in a pre-sentencing interview. "My kids and yours won’t survive this mess if we don’t clean up all this."

Reacting to the sentence, Foster said, "It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting in jail. What matters is stopping the pollution. If other people don’t take action, mine makes no difference. And if they don’t, the planet comes apart at the seams.The only way what I did matters is if people are stopping the poison."

Foster’s co-defendant Sam Jessup was convicted of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief (a felony) and conspiracy trespass (a misdemeanor) for helping Foster by livestreaming his action. Those convictions carried a total potential maximum of 11 years, but Jessup will not be going to jail. Today he was sentenced to two years in prison with both years deferred and supervised probation.

At trial, Foster and Jessup’s legal team petitioned to be allowed to present the "necessity defense," a legal defense which acknowledges that the defendants technically violated the law, but argues that it was permissible because they did so to prevent a much greater harm, in this case the harms that tar sands, the most carbon-intensive form of oil, do to the climate.

It would have allowed the defendants to call expert witnesses and introduce testimony about climate change for the jury to consider. But Judge Fontaine refused to permit it.


Beltway Insider: Trump’s State of the Union; Immigration; Border Wall; Gallery; Media Stats on SOTU; Castro’s Son Suicide


Dr. James Hansen, the nation's premier climate scientist whose 1988 testimony to Congress alerted the public to climate danger, traveled to North Dakota to testify at the trial, but was barred from doing so by Judge Fontaine.

Outside the courtroom, Hansen emphasized that the public is largely unaware of how little time is left before climate change becomes irreversible, and that we are entering "the age of consequences" for burning fossil fuels.  He praised Foster for calling attention to it. "Michael Foster isn’t a criminal;" Hansen said, "he’s a hero."

Ken Ward and Leonard Higgins, Foster’s fellow "valve turners" who shut off tar sands pipelines in Montana and Washington state, respectively, also sought to present the necessity defense in their trials, and were similarly denied permission to do so. Both were convicted of felonies. Ward received a sentence of 30 days' community service. Higgins awaits sentencing in Ft. Benton, Montana on March 20.  

But in a landmark ruling in Minnesota, valve-turners Annette Klapstein and Emily Johnston who shut off Enbridge tar sands lines 4 and 67, were granted their request for a necessity defense. It was the first written opinion allowing climate necessity to be argued in an American court.  The ruling came during 2017's record-breaking storms and fires. The State of Minnesota has appealed the ruling. The trial is likely to take place this summer.

The Minnesota ruling was followed a few days later by a similar ruling in Spokane, Washington, permitting a necessity defense for a climate activist who participated in a 2016 coal train blockade.  That may be a sign that awareness of climate change and legal precedents are advancing to a point where other courts will entertain necessity defense for citizen climate actions.

"There is no chance the political system will prevent global collapse on its own," said Annette Klapstein. "If the earth is going to remain habitable for our children and grandchildren and all future generations, it will be because people saw the necessity of fighting for their right to survival, and we’re going  to argue the necessity of fighting for that right in court."

 

Haute Tease

  • The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi Review - For the Home Sushi Chef Perfection is Attainable

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    For anyone who has ever tried to make Sushi at home, hoping for the quality and the presentation of the experts and ended eating splitting, half-filled, uneven, lopsided, California Rolls, The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi is for you.

     
  • Vincent Peach Jewelry Collection - A Hollywood Favorite Takes a Walk On The Wild Side

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A new tribe of bohemian is accessorizing Fall/Winter 2015. Rich and luxurious meets organic and free-spirited from Ralph Lauren's "Tribal" jewelry collection to Nashville Designer Vincent Peach's distinctly unique pieces, from Tahitian Pearl to Serengeti Gold, the emerging trends blend worlds and styles.

     
  • Extreme Weather Patterns End Year of Extreme and Deadly Weather

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A freak Winter Storm that pummeled the United Kingdom with apocalyptic rains has driven temperatures up more than 50 degrees in the North Pole creating balmy, and dangerous, conditions that induced polar ice cap melting and instability for the natural habitat.

     
  • Four Seasons Scottsdale Review – Expect the Unexpected

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Four Seasons Scottsdale, an AAA five-diamond gorgeous desert oasis that duly delivers on the high hospitality standards expected of an award-winning luxury resort, through an unpretentious, salt-of-the-earth, rustic charm, has a unique magic and mystique all its own.

     
  • DOCASA, Inc. Secures New Coffee Shop Location in London West End's Iconic Arts Theatre

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    DOCASA, Inc. (OTCQB: DCSA), through its award-winning subsidiary Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Limited in the United Kingdom ("UK"), announces the securing of a new coffee shop location in The Arts Theatre situated in London's world famous West End.   

  • Celebrity Interview: Director Gavin Hood Talks on the Making of Official Secrets, Casting, and Loyalty

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Gavin Hood, co-writer and director of Official Secrets, the contemporary espionage thriller chronicling the leak of a top-secret memo, the subsequent arrest and trial of British Spy Katherine Gun recently spoke with Haute-Lifestyle.com Publisher Janet Walker.

     
  • Celebrity Real Estate News: Johnny Carson’s Stunning Malibu Beach Home On Market

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The King of the late-night talk shows host Johnny Carson was a standout among entertainers. Though three preceded him in the genre: Arthur Godfrey, Steve Allen and Jack Parr, it was Carson who became the icon of late-night talk shows.

     
  • Beltway Insider: UK Hosts G8 Summit; Obama Heads to Germany; NSA Whistleblower On The Run; Student Loan Vote Stalled

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Barack Obama headed to Northern Ireland this week to participate in the G8 Summit and meet with leaders from the world’s largest national economies to discuss the most pressing global concerns.

     
  • Two Major Earthquakes Rattle Alaska; Strongest Since 1964's 9.2

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Two major earthquakes struck Anchorage, Alaska Friday morning, hitting just as businesses, schools and stores were opening for the day, sending frightened residents, into the streets, diving for cover and knocking local televisions stations off the air.

     
  • Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort – Family Friendly Sonoran Desert Destination

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak, a Spanish-Mediterranean-inspired resort, has held a firm reputation in Arizona for decades. Minutes from Scottsdale and Phoenix, the family friendly hotel, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary unveiling an $8.5 million renovation.

     
  • Ratchet & Clank Review - Charming, Thrilling, Fun Space Age Animation

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ratchet & Clank, from Gramercy Pictures, presents an intergalactic space battle of epic proportions in a galaxy far, far, away, as two unlikely companions become heroes and with the new found fame face challenges that could bring cataclysmic disaster.

     
  • Update: Gunman Kills at least 58; Injures more than 500 in Las Vegas Concert Shooting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A lone gunman, barricaded inside a hotel room overlooking an outdoor concert at the Mandalay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, has killed at least 58 and injured more than 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Faces Paris Criticism;Funerals Begin; European Terror Sweep; State of the Union

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama, in the wake of the Paris Terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo, has yet to explain to the American people his apparent snub and lack of leadership during the largest anti-terrorism gathering in post World War II Europe.

     
  • Z for Zachariah Review – End of World Drama Held Together by Three

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Z for Zachariah, from Lionsgate, presents an apocalyptic drama that pits good against evil as the final three people on earth come together employing Darwinism, faith and science, to rebuild lives that were stolen by nuclear accident.

     
  • John Carter - A Space Odyssey Adventure from Disney Pictures

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    JOHN CARTER, the Sci-Fi action adventure, from Walt Disney Studio Pictures, and Academy Award winning Director Andrew Stanton brings to the screen the ultimate intergalactic battle for planetary dominance