Friday, March 10, 2017

Party in Sandpoint on Saturday to raise money for oil valve turners' legal defense

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 3:29 PM

North Idaho activists will be raising money for the legal defense of five "valve turners," who last October closed emergency shut-off valves at five major pipelines that transport Canadian crude oil to the U.S.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide will host a party at noon Saturday, March 11, in the upstairs room at Eichardt's Pub, 212 Cedar Street, in Sandpoint. All ages are welcome to the free event, with a suggested donation of $10.

They hope to help raise $50,000 to help pay for legal costs for the five activists who shut off pipelines carrying tar sands oil from Canada to Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.

The people who turned the valves, as well as people who were there to document what they did, face felony and misdemeanor charges, and could face years or decades in prison.

Ken Ward, the activist who turned the shutoff on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline near Burlington, Washington, already went to trial, but a hung jury didn't reach a verdict, so he will have a retrial, expected to start in May. He's facing charges of felony burglary and criminal sabotage, as well as another felony for possession of a controlled substance, the Skagit Valley Herald reports.

Other activists who face charges include Leonard Higgins, who turned off Spectra Energy's Express Pipeline in Montana, Michael Foster, who shut off the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota, and Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein, who shut off the Enbridge Line 4 and 67 Pipelines in Minnesota.

All of the activists live in Washington and Oregon, and argue that they took the action out of necessity to combat climate change.

They will try and mount a "necessity defense," which argues that illegal or criminal action was necessary to avoid greater harm, and was in the public's interest.

More information on the action and activists can be found at

SHUT IT DOWN TODAY from Steve Liptay on Vimeo.

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Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...