eugene conference includes panels on grand juries and the tar sands blockade

by Tim Phillips

The Public Interest Environmental Law Conference begins on Thursday in Eugene, Oregon. This year’s conference will include panels on the Tar Sands Blockade and what lawyers and activists should know about grand juries. Both panels are timely in light of recent events in Texas, California, and the Northwest.

In Texas, the Tar Sands Blockade recently settled a lawsuit TransCanada filed against activists by agreeing not to trespass or cause damage to Keystone XL property in either Texas or Oklahoma. According to a Tar Sands Blockade statement dated January 28, 2013,

In order to protect the livelihoods and dependents of brave activists like Tammie Carson, who locked herself to a truck carrying Keystone XL pipe, the activists agreed to settle the lawsuit. The corporation will not seek the $5 million in financial damages, and the named defendants and organizations agree to not trespass on Keystone XL property in Texas and Oklahoma or else face additional charges.

The direct action campaign against the pipeline has continued despite this setback.

In California and the Northwest, activists have been subpoenaed to testify before grand juries. The grand jury in California is investigating animal rights activists. In the Northwest, the grand jury was apparently convened to investigate anarchist organizing, and three people are incarcerated for refusing to cooperate. According to today’s CrimethInc. post,

a large number of people have been subpoenaed to a Washington State grand jury intended to map anarchist activity and relationships. Six of these subpoenas have been served; several more subpoenas are known to exist, but have not been successfully served. The government has very little to show for this effort, as all but one of the subpoenaed have refused to cooperate in any way and the entire operation is proving to be a media debacle.

Let’s hope the people attending next week’s panels in Eugene return to their communities better equipped to support these struggles.