The valve turners were acquitted today, which means the trial will not move forward with expert witnesses being able testify on the impacts of climate change and urgency of our taking bold and immediate action.
Watch live stream videos below for statements immediately following the verdict.
Wow. We didn't see that coming: All charges dropped at the #ClimateTrial! Even before #climate scientists and health professionals got to testify to the impacts of climate change, the Judge ruled that the state did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute. More soon.
Exciting news! I’ve started a new podcast with my friend, colleague, and internationally recognized climate activist Tim DeChristopher. The Climate Workshop Podcast is dedicated to working through the challenges of the climate crisis from the uncharted to the unthinkable.
We’re calling this the Climate Workshop Podcast because we’re “workshopping” the emerging ideas at the boundaries of the climate change discourse, and because we are very conscious of the fact that all our talking needs to be connected to actually doing the work of defending a livable and humane future.
Listen and Subscribe
Below is a SoundCloud player with the introductory episode which covers why we’re making a podcast, the kind of converstionswe hope to share, and some of our background.
You can subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast platform using the following links. Want additional news and updates on the show? Sign up to receive Climate Workshop Podcast email updates.
We’re funding this project using Patreon, the membership site for content creators. If you’d like to help support the podcast at $1 or more per episode, you may become a patron of the show here. We have our first few patrons which means we have started the journey towards being 100% listener supported. Thank you for your support, be it subscribing, sharing this podcast, or becoming a patron.
Boston, MA — In an effort to bring attention to the growing number of deaths caused by climate driven extreme heat and the dangers of continued fossil fuel extraction, Boston area activists staged the “Mass Graves Pipeline Protests” on June 29th. To connect the dots between mass graves in Pakistan and the trenches being dug by Spectra Energy in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood, activists including my colleague Tim DeChristopher (I do media work with Tim) and Al Gore’s daughter, Karenna Gore, stormed and occupied the pipeline trenches.
A total of 23 people were arrested with six seeking to go to trial, including Tim DeChristopher and Karenna Gore. They are calling themselves the Mass Grave 6.
The morning of the action I asked Tim how he was thinking of it. Is this direct action? A funeral? A die-in? Tim suggested this might be something new as we enter a new age of anticipatory mass graves.
After a series of eulogies for those who have died as a direct result of climate change, Tim DeChristopher spoke on our entering the “Age of Anticipatory Mass Graves.”
You can see more of my footage and footage by Kori Feener (she filmed activists taking the trench) in the following Democracy Now! segments.
West Roxbury, Boston, MA – On Saturday, February 13, 2016 Unitarian Universalists from across Massachusetts gathered at Theodore Parker Church to organize against the construction of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.
Texas based Spectra Corporation is building a pipeline that will carry fracked gas into the West Roxbury, Boston, MA community. The pipeline has been met with strong local resistance.
While Unitarian Universalists have participated in previous protests, organizers are now reaching out to Unitarian Universalists congregations across the state to supersize their numbers.
Mobilizing 500+ Unitarian Universalists
The stated goal of this organizing effort is to mobilize 500+ Unitarian Universalists to join the local resistance fighting the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline and to block construction when Spectra returns in April.
If successful, this would be the one of the largest coordinated Unitarian Universalist social justice action in Massachusetts history.
Congregations interested in participating in this effort may contact Evan Seitz, UU Mass Action Climate Justice Organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Resist the Pipeline website, there are many local concerns and larger issues related to climate change driving opposition to Spectra building a pipeline carrying fracked gas into West Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts.
This is a high pressure pipeline (750 psi) at risk for explosion.It will run within a hundred feet of an active blasting quarry, and through residential neighborhoods, and past several schools.
Massachusetts does not face an energy crisis, and does not need new gas infrastructure. Residents will not get a monetary benefit from the additional natural gas supply. If anything, our utility rates will likely increase.
The local permitting process was overridden by the abuse of the concept of “Eminent Domain”. This pipeline was not approved by the local permitting process, but by a travesty of democracy that used the power of a federal agency to override local concerns.The FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), which oversees and approves all gas pipeline projects, gave Spectra Energy permission to build this pipeline. FERC is a remote and unaccountable federal agency, with the authority to override all local legal processes. In the words of Robert Kennedy Jr., FERC is a “rogue agency, a captive agency, controlled by the big energy corporations.”
Natural gas is mostly methane. Methane is 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. Methane is also a local health risk, because of the reality of leaks and groundwater contamination at the source where it is fracked. It is also, like any fossil fuel, turned into C02 when it is burned, adding to the overall unsustainable amount of carbon in the atmosphere already.
The crisis of climate change requires us to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure–such as this gas pipeline. Instead we should invest in conservation, fixing leaks, and invest in renewable energy infrastructure. All new fossil fuel infrastructure will help bring the planet to a tipping point for climate change, after which it cannot be stopped. Climatologists and other scientists are now in total agreement that in order to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius, we must stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere immediately. (Methane, the main component of fracked gas, is turned into CO2 when it is burned, like all other fossil fuels.)
Dangers of Boston Region Gas Leaks
The Feb 13th gathering included a presentation on the hazards of Boston area methane leaks from existing natural gas infrastructure by Boston University Earth & Environment Professor Nathan Phillips.
Unitarian Universalists are working to step up their game when it comes to climate justice.
At the Peoples Climate March Unitarian Universalists launched the Commit2Respond campaign, a growing coalition of Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience working for climate justice.
Individual congregations are taking bold action as well.
The resolution clarifies the congregations position on the fossil fuel industry and the disruption that industry is causing to the climate. It states that “we have an inalienable right to a liveable climate, and that both the fossil fuel industry and the laws that support that industry are in violation of those rights.”
The resolution states the congregation intends to fight for and defend the right to a liveable climate through organizing and supporting those who engage in civil disobedience to block new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Below is the full text of the resolution, followed by a video calling for other Unitarian Universalists to join this fight.
A Resolution Declaring our Right to a Livable Climate
Whereas, we are a community of faith that values the inherent worth and dignity of all people and communities, and seek to create and defend a world in which all people may lead full and productive lives;
Whereas, at least 80% of declared fossil fuel reserves in the ground must remain in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, defined by the international community as warming over 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit);
Whereas, fossil fuel companies have stated publicly they intend to burn all their known reserves, thereby directly threatening the livability of Bedford and Massachusetts;
Whereas, fossil fuel companies continue to grow their businesses by building new infrastructure to extract and transport fossil fuels;
Whereas, fossil fuel companies are a keystone institution within an economic system that has resulted in rising inequality and which systematically ignores the needs of people of color, workers, and communities with the fewest resources;
Whereas, we know that a world without the burning of fossil fuels is technologically possible, and that a transition to this world is being blocked by the fossil fuel companies and the politicians influenced by them;
Whereas, we know that climate disruption caused by the burning of fossil fuels is causing forced migrations, food shortages, mass extinctions, and the disruption of indigenous peoples around the world:
Therefore, be it resolved, by the First Parish in Bedford, that the congregation:
Recognizes that we have an inherent right to a livable climate, and that right trumps laws legitimizing the continued extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
Recognizes the continuation of extraction and burning of fossil fuels as immoral; therefore the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure is unconscionable.
Supports those in our community who through organizing or non-violent civil disobedience seek to reject or dismantle the laws legitimizing this industry.
Opposes any tariffs that may be imposed on Massachusetts ratepayers to fund new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the proposed Kinder Morgan and Spectra pipelines.
Stands in solidarity with frontline communities in their efforts to oppose fossil fuel infrastructure.
Empowers our ministers and elected officials to act in accordance to this resolution in conducting public affairs and speaking on behalf of this congregation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, if approved, the clerk of the Parish shall, within 30 days of the vote of the congregation, forward a copy of this resolution and the vote thereon to Gov. Charlie Baker, President of the Senate Stanley Rosenberg, State Representative Kenneth Gordon, State Senator Michael Barrett, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen Edward Markey, Congressman Seth Moulton, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and the chair and commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Climate Disobedience Center reports the following on the verdict of the Delta5 trial. See full press release on the Climate Disobedience Center website.
Lynnwood, WA – The historic case of the ‘Delta 5’ train blockaders has ended with a conviction on one of the two charges. After four days of testimony from the defendants and their expert witness a Jury found the defendants not guilty of impeding the movement of a train, but guilty of trespass in the second degree.
Immediately following the verdict three of the jurors gathered in the halls of the courthouse to talk with the defendants, their legal team, and supporters. In a heartfelt conversation the jurors expressed their support for the defendants, told their lawyers they would have acquitted on all charges were necessity instructions given, agreed to work with the Climate Disobedience Center to improve further cases and signed up to attend a lobbying day on oil-trains with defendant Abby Brockway.
“The fact that the full testimony on climate and oil trains was allowed, and the jury acquitted us of blocking an oil train makes this a historic trial. Two of the jurors said they are ready to join us lobbying at the state house, I’d call that a success,” said defendant Abby Brockway.
Despite the compelling testimony, the judge instructed the jury to limit their deliberations only to the question of finding whether there were violations of trespass and train laws.
“This judge refused to introduce our defense because of lack of precedent. It set me to thinking of all the bold judges who broke with precedent and advanced the cause of justice in the process, The necessity defense is something that needs a new precedent.” said Jackie Minchew of the Delta 5.
Jurors told the defendants and their lawyers that they were moved by the testimony on the climate crisis and oil train threats and that they would find ways to take action on both issues. “Welcome to the movement,” defendant Mike Lapointe told jurors as he and Brockway embraced them.
Four of the five defendants were sentenced to $550 in fines and fees and a two year probation. Mike Lapointe had his fines suspended due to his financial circumstances. The terms of their probation are that they have no further criminal violations and have no contact with BNSF property.
In 2014, Motivated by the alarming science of climate change, and by concern for the safety of those living in Washington’s fossil fuel corridors, the five local activists had blockaded a train used to transport explosive Bakkan crude oil in Everett on September 2, 2014.
“The Delta 5 knew that they had to step outside of business as usual to take climate action commensurate with the crisis. The fact that Judge Howard stayed within his strict legalism and declined to take a risk of conscience reinforces how important it is for citizens to take bold moral actions. It is clear from the comments of the jurors that this was a transformational moment,” said climate activist Tim DeChristopher. DeChristopher, a founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, had his own trial and conviction after disrupting a federal oil and gas auction in Utah in 2008.