activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: tar sands blockade

energy company settling lawsuit against activists who occupied power plant

EDF Energy is settling a £5 million lawsuit it filed against 21 environmental activists who occupied one of its gas-fired power plants in October 2012. According to today’s Guardian article,

The activists, part of the No Dash for Gas group fighting against a new generation of gas plants in the UK, had occupied the site of a gas-fired power plant owned by EDF in West Burton, beginning last October. Several remained strapped to a cooling tower at the site for over a week, the longest such occupation in the UK. EDF’s claim against the activists said this action had caused damage in excess of £5m, a figure that included staff and labour costs, delays to the completion of the station, specialist security and lost carbon emission credits.

Like the Tar Sands Blockade’s response to TransCanada’s $5 million lawsuit, the UK activists apparently agreed not to enter multiple sites operated by EDF. (A civil injunction against the activists is already in place and bars them from EDF power stations across the country.) The activists could also be incarcerated for the action, because they pled guilty to trespass charges on February 20 and several of them have previous protest convictions. The Guardian article states that we’ll find out in the next few weeks whether these will be “the first prison sentences for climate change activists in the UK.”

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

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.

human rights day: celebrating the determination of eco-warriors in east texas

Over the past several months, activists have put their bodies on the line in East Texas in an attempt to prevent Canadian oil corporation TransCanada from constructing the southern section of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. TransCanada has responded by hiring off-duty police officers, filing civil suits against protesters, and calling on-duty officers to remove protesters by using, at times, pepper spray, pain compliance, and Tasers. According to a November 23 New York Times article,

Since September, when construction began on the Keystone, the Tar Sands Blockade, a grass-roots coalition of East Texas landowners and environmental advocates from across the country, has been waging a nonviolent guerrilla campaign against the pipeline. About every week since construction began, blockade volunteers have locked themselves to construction equipment in protest. So far, 43 have been arrested.

Human Rights Day honors the December 10, 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As inclusive as the Declaration is, it doesn’t mention that people need clean air and water, in addition to a climate conducive to human life, all of which are threatened by tar sands mining. On November 20, the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation issued a statement of solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade that expounds on our duty to protect the natural world:

Every parent and grandparent has the responsibility to ensure a healthy planet for future generations. We implore the parents of Texas and the world to heed this call and to be accountable to the future of the children and grandchildren. We must defend the water, the air, and the land against the ravages of industry.  Let us act with bravery and take action, and let us take freedom into our own hands.

The eco-warriors in East Texas are embodying freedom by shattering any sense of inevitability regarding the pipeline. Even if you can’t physically join them, please call Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell (903-683-2271) and Wood County Sheriff Billy Wansley (903-763-2201) to demand that officers who abuse activists face discipline. All power to the blockade!