US Court to hear "Climate Defence" argument in a Criminal Case

Original image author Chris Potter,, image modified
Original image author Chris Potter,, image modified

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Climate activists on trial for blocking an oil train may be about to set a controversial legal precedent. According to Mother Jones, for the first time in American legal history, activists will be allowed to present their concerns about climate change as a legal defence for their allegedly criminal actions;

Activists on Trial for Blocking Oil Train Will Argue It Was Justified by Climate Change

n September 2014, five climate activists with Rising Tide Seattle managed to halt the passage of a crude oil train at the BNSF Delta rail yard in Everett, Wash. After eight hours blocking the tracks, the five were arrested and charged with criminal trespass and blocking a train. Today, they go on trial.

In court, the activists—known as the Delta 5—will argue their act of civil disobedience was necessary. A spokesperson for Rising Tide said the activists “will be the first ever to argue that their actions were justified because of the threat of climate change, using the ‘necessity defense.’ The outcome of [the] trial could set national precedent for climate related civil disobedience and is being carefully watched.” The defendants will call on a rail safety expert and a climate scientist to argue that their actions were justified.

“There came a point where I could no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to act,” said Delta 5 member Patrick Mazza. “I had to put my body on the line to demand not talk, but action on a massive scale to rapidly replace fossil fuels.”

Read more:

I’m sympathetic to concerns about shipping oil by rail. In my opinion, building an oil pipeline, like the pipeline President Obama recently vetoed, is a much safer way to transport flammable hydrocarbons, than transporting oil by train.

But how could climate concern possibly be a plausible defence for criminal acts?

The law recognises that extraordinary actions, which would normally be illegal, are sometimes justified in extreme circumstances, such as an immediate threat to someone’s life.

However, Climate Change in no sense qualifies as an immediate threat to someone’s life. Climate change does not have the same desperate imminence, as extraordinary circumstances which are currently recognised by the law, such as responding to a home invasion or a violent assault. Even if climate change ultimately threatened the survival of humanity, it is advancing at a literally glacial pace.

Activists should recognise that there is time for them to change climate policy by legal means, through political campaigns, to try to persuade voters to support the climate cause at the ballot box. Committing crimes won’t persuade people, except for the handful who already think climate change is a major threat. The fact voters aren’t listening is not a justification for breaking the law. If activists want people to listen, they could start by presenting a compelling case for action – something they have so far failed to provide.

Having said this, there is precedent, a possibility the protestors might win their court case. In 2008, protestors in England were found not guilty of criminal damage, after presenting a climate defence.

UPDATE – It looks like the “necessity defence” has just been rejected by the court.

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George Tetley
January 14, 2016 5:22 am

Yes Judge, I did rob the bank of $5,000,000
because with that money I could save the planet
! How?
I would reduce my carbon footprint and in doing so set an example to the world ,

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  George Tetley
January 14, 2016 5:47 am

Your argument would be thrown out of court. Given the Algore Precedent : “Mo’ money = larger carbon footprint.” That’s why activists want to see everybody (but themselves) poor.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 14, 2016 5:58 am

ok, so burn the money, unfortunately that too would be a crime – to burn US currency, perhaps you could rob a bank holding foreign currency and burn it?

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 14, 2016 6:01 am

Burning money would warm up everything! No, you have to freeze the money by dumping it in Antarctica.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 14, 2016 6:59 am

In robbing the bank, just take a debit card with an unlimited balance–problem solved!
(Since we’re being silly here, I might as well “go for broke”!) LOL!

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 14, 2016 11:42 am

Emsnews – dumping it in Antarctica?! That’s littering, man, littering! No, you have to spend it – I’ll help if you need me to. 🙂

Reply to  George Tetley
January 14, 2016 8:41 am

Careful with that, if I were on this jury I’d recommend a lengthy sentence inside a mental institution for these degenerates.

Reply to  George Tetley
January 14, 2016 3:21 pm

Yes Judge, I did rob the bank of $5,000,000
because climate affecting my mental state……

Reply to  George Tetley
January 14, 2016 4:57 pm

Perhaps it would be fitting for the judge to find them guilty and sentence them to life without oil or oil related/ fossil products.

January 14, 2016 5:27 am

Eric Worrall:
You rightly say

In 2008, protestors in England were found not guilty of criminal damage, after presenting a climate defence.

Yes, and James Hansen who was then the head of NASA GISS traveled to the UK to give evidence to the Court on behalf of the miscreants.
Courts cannot assess science so they balance the credibility of witnesses. The fact that the US government had appointed Hansen as head of NASA GISS provided Hansen with more credibility to the Court than the prosecuting British Crown could muster. Hansen’s testimony resulted in the Court acquiting the ‘Kingsnorth Six’.
I said then and I repeat now that such action from a US government agent, Hansen, in opposition to the a legal prosecution by the British Crown was a hostile act against the UK by the US government.
It remains to be seen if an agent of the US government will attend Court to provide testimony on behalf of the ‘Delta 5’ miscreants.

Reply to  richardscourtney
January 14, 2016 6:40 am

It would in keeping with the policies of His Royal Highness, the King of the United States. Ruling by Executive Decree, without regard for the wishes of The People as expressed by their representatives in Congress.
The King rules by Executive Decree because he alone knows what is best for The People of the United States. The King does this because The People of the United States are obviously not fit to make their own decisions, because they elected a majority of Republicans to Congress, and the King knows that Republicans are the root of all evil.

Reply to  ferdberple
January 14, 2016 7:13 am

He also does this because, like Charles I in 1640, he knows that the legislature will not pass or fund any of his fantasies.

Reply to  ferdberple
January 14, 2016 1:07 pm

ferdberple: It will be interesting to see how TransCanada’s law suit turns out:
CALGARY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – TransCanada Corp sued the U.S government on Wednesday to reverse President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, and also plans to seek $15 billion in damages from a trade tribunal.
TranCanada’s lawsuit in a federal court in Houston, Texas, called rejection of its permit to build the pipeline unconstitutional. In a separate action under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the company said the pipeline permit denial was “arbitrary and unjustified.”
The company’s U.S. lawsuit does not seek monetary damages but wants the permit denial invalidated and seeks a ruling that no future president can block construction. Its request for $15 billion under NAFTA reflects its desire to recover its investment in the pipeline.
– See more at:

Reply to  richardscourtney
January 14, 2016 7:00 am

So what you’re saying is that ANY criminal act can be justified with a “Climate Defense”.
Wow–wait until Organized Crime gets a whiff of this!

Reply to  RockyRoad
January 14, 2016 7:25 am

It is worse than you suggest. The case of the ‘Kingsnorth Six’ sets a legal precedent that would require an Act of Parliament to overthrow.
As I said, the action of an agent of US government, Hansen, in opposition to a legal prosecution by the British Crown was a hostile act against the UK by the US government.
And I repeat that I await with interest to see if an agent of the US government will attend Court to provide testimony on behalf of the ‘Delta 5’ miscreants.

Reply to  RockyRoad
January 14, 2016 7:49 am

I’m with you except that I don’t think the prosecution in any trial represents the interests of the state; it’s the whole judicial process which does that and an acquittal is every bit as valid as a conviction.
The fact that so many take crazy jimmy seriously is alarming. Their credulity undermines their credibility.

Reply to  RockyRoad
January 14, 2016 8:41 am

I think richardscourtney, for whom I have high regard, may be slightly in error on the effects of the ‘Kingsnorth Six’ decision.
Unless I’m mistaken, always possible, this was.a jury trial at a Crown Court and no appeal was made. If that is the case then another Crown Court jury is entitled to take a different view based on the evidence presented to it. The Court of Appeal is certainly not bound by the outcome at Maidstone.
The trouble is that our environmental friends have been most assiduous at worming their way into the minds of the Establishment and who knows what judgments might be made by a higher court were one ever asked to establish the law!

Reply to  RockyRoad
January 14, 2016 10:08 am

I can’t agree that a precedent has been set in the UK here. Only last month we say several criminals convicted of a very similar action to Kingsnorth miscreants when they very temporarily stopped work on coal mining on Matt Ridley’s land in Co Durham, Northumberland.
They don’t mess around with a few softheaded London wide boy’s in the north.

Reply to  RockyRoad
January 14, 2016 11:12 am

I’d be more interested to see if a representative of the UK government testified for the defense.

Reply to  RockyRoad
January 14, 2016 3:18 pm

Newminster-“I think richardscourtney, for whom I have high regard, may be slightly in error on the effects of the ‘Kingsnorth Six’ decision… jury trial at a Crown Court and no appeal was made. If that is the case then another Crown Court jury is entitled to take a different view based on the evidence presented to it. The Court of Appeal is certainly not bound by the outcome at Maidstone.”
It was a jury trial at a crown court with no appeal made.

Wil Pretty
Reply to  richardscourtney
January 14, 2016 10:27 am

Kingsnorth power station has shut down and is currently being demolished.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Wil Pretty
January 14, 2016 11:51 am

“… demolished” … because …

Wil Pretty
Reply to  Wil Pretty
January 15, 2016 12:44 am

Full story on Wikipedia – Kingsnorth power station.

Reply to  richardscourtney
January 14, 2016 3:25 pm

I am not a lawyer, but I have never heard of a contemporary decision of an English court being accepted as precedent in a US court. Anyone have an example?

Ziiex Zeburz
January 14, 2016 5:29 am

And you ask me if it was me that cased that traffic accident ? No, I am not sorry that 31 people died and 67 cars and trucks were destroyed , we are saving the planet! No Judge I will not accept the medal, your next case deserves 2.

Mark Gilbert
January 14, 2016 5:35 am

dude, this could be an AWESOME way for somebody to get the facts out. Although courts are not truly about truth or justice. hmmm.We need a Superman

Alan the Brit
January 14, 2016 5:43 am

This is potentially a green light for extermist prostests, destruction of property, assault, & murder! Once they believe they have the “Law” on their side, there will be no stopping them! I killed him/her because they were a direct threat to the future of my child, etc! The argument knows no limitation! The oil company needs the best lawyer money can buy!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
January 14, 2016 5:55 am

It’s right up there with radical “animal rights” activists who’ve burned down labs, let farm animals loose and kidnapped people’s dogs to “save” them. Personally, I’ve had “activists” about up to HERE! It’s time for some pushback against all these nutters!

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Goldrider
January 14, 2016 6:36 am

don’t know if you’re a Brit or American/Canadian, etc., but a few years ago, those disgusting vile bastards doug up the remains of an elderly relative of a owner of a companyy that bred rabbits for animal testing! They are that vile. I always level the charge at animal rights brigaders, that if they didn’t know who was responsible, they knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone, who was!!!! I won’t let them get away with their”feel good” activities!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
January 14, 2016 6:43 am

This is no different than shooting doctors that perform abortions to save the lives of the unborn children.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  ferdberple
January 14, 2016 8:57 am

This is not quite true. You could argue an exigent circumstance if you burst into the operating room just as the doctor was about to start a D&C “with extreme prejudice”. Potting the good doctor through his kitchen window on a Sunday is not going to get you there. Since, AFAIK, no shooting incident was executed at the precise instant of imminent harm, the courts have been able to dodge the hard questions indefinitely.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  ferdberple
January 14, 2016 9:16 am

“Performing abortions to save the lives of the unborn children?” Perhaps you might have constructed your sentence more to your meaning.

Reply to  ferdberple
January 14, 2016 11:49 am

Michael, read the whole sentence.

Russ in Houston
Reply to  Alan the Brit
January 14, 2016 8:32 am

They were trespassing on Railroad property. The railroads are much more powerful then the oil companies. Any many instances, they are afforded the same rights and privileges as the Federal Government.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Russ in Houston
January 14, 2016 10:29 am

Good point, Russ in Houston. And the best thing about your comment, aside from the point about criminal (and civil) trespass, is that you keep us on track, focusing on the law.
While the Sno. Co. District Court judge (or jury, if a jury trial), if of low enough competence and or integrity,
(or the jury, if the prosecution does not hire an articulate, well-informed, expert (i.e., one who can simply, powerfully, refute the speculations of those who assert that human CO2 emissions cause significant changes in the climate zones of the earth) to refute the alleged nexus between stopping a fossil-fuel bearing train)
MIGHT hold for the defendants,
he or she will certainly be overturned on appeal**.
The law of “necessity” (and the like) does NOT excuse or justify blocking that train.
A case where such a defense likely would work would be, for instance, where there is a person stuck on the tracks who will, but for the actions of the defendants in stopping the train, be killed or gravely injured. The railroad would then have the right to sue the stuck person for negligently or recklessly putting herself or himself in harm’s way (if the facts warranted it). Another case, equally (to my mind, but not to all) eligible for such a defense would be if it were not a person, but an animal stuck on the track (an iffier likelihood of success for the defendant, there).
Note: that but for causation must be proven by the defendants here. That is where they will fall. There is NO direct (or indirect! — CO2 EMISSIONS UP. WARMING STOPPED — no evidence or quantitative measurement proving human CO2 does ANYTHING to the earth’s climate zones) nexus between stopping that train and the delusionary goal of “saving the planet”.
Yes, there are corrupt (or ignorantly zealous for fantasy science) judges and prosecutors. And the Envirostalinists (as several have pointed out) are quite powerful in the befuddled-former-hippy-controlled state of Washington. Nevertheless, the prosecutors of each county do NOT answer to the state governor. They answer to the people of their county who elect them. MOST of those judges and prosecutors care about the law. Many (not all, not all, but a much larger % than in the prosecutor’s office) defense attorneys do not care about the law, per se, (i.e., many have a chip on their shoulder and go far beyond the ethical duty of zealous representation, almost completely disregarding the law at times just to get their client off because “the man” is after their client or whatever is going on in those particular defenders’ minds, but, most prosecutors, do. Prosecutors and judges also do not like to lose and or be overturned on appeal and that is VERY likely with such a feeble defense, thus they are not likely to abet this junk litigation strategy.
Take heart! The U.S. is, even today, still a land of laws. And no one, not Richard Nixon, not Bill Clinton, not B. Hussein Obama, NO one,
is above
the law.***
As a couple of others have pointed out, I, too, immediately thought, “Well, heh, for an INSANITY defense, maybe…” i.e., to show that the delusions of the defendants excuse (not justify) their criminal behavior. This would only affect sentencing, however. The insanity defense does not justify the crime, thus, the defendants would be held guilty, but, instead of ordinary prison, they would be put into a state mental institution.
** Certainly, the U.S. Supreme Court was fooled by the “experts” v. a v. CO2, but, that was years ago. CO2 UP. WARMING STOPPED. If the side for science truth can marshall just one articulate, well-informed, genuine scientist of integrity, truth will win.
*** Of course there is that odd decision by Roberts v. a v. Obamacare… really wonder if the Obama admin. got to him via blackmail … . He could not, I feel certain, be bought, but, if there is something he would like to never, ever, be known… .
So! Given human nature, the bottom line is (despite the logic of all the above — i.e., logic and reason says loudly, “No” to such a “necessity” type defense)…., all of you who believe in God, pray! The law SHOULD prevail (and ESPECIALLY here, with such a flimsy excuse for a defense) …. but, in the end, only God can completely guard us from tyranny.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Russ in Houston
January 14, 2016 10:51 am

1. “…alleged nexus between stopping a fossil-fuel bearing train {and “saving the planet”}…
2. Yes, the Sno. Co. District Court judge has already somewhat abetted this bogus defense by even allowing such evidence to be admitted,
(if this is so – I have not read anything about this case, none of the pleadings, nothing except what was written above in the WUWT post (I will NOT go to “Mother Jones” for anything – they have proven over the years that they cannot be trusted for accuracy in their reporting))
nevertheless, the prosecutor is not likely “on the take” or in some kind of conspiracy to thwart justice, here, and, even if THAT is so, ultimately, on appeal, there will be enough judges of integrity to rule for truth and to uphold the law. On appeal, too, powerfully effective (at argument) intervenors amicus briefs will result in overturning any results obtained by corruption on the district/county prosecutor level.
Thus, no vile “climate change defense” precedent will, in the end, be set.

Reply to  Russ in Houston
January 14, 2016 7:58 pm

@ Janice Moore, 10:51 am, I did read the link to this report,UPDATE – It looks like the “necessity defence” has just been rejected by the court.
My question that came out that article about the reference to the accident in Quebec ( it was terrible) is this: Where did the connection to “Bakken Oil ” in that accident come from, Does anyone know if that is correct? I thought all that oil went straight south to refineries in the southern States like Texas why would it be transported north through Canada? Another smear? Against oil and Gas?? ( BTW how is your canine partner? )

Janice Moore
Reply to  Russ in Houston
January 14, 2016 9:35 pm

Dear Tobias,
Thank you for directing my attention to that HEARTWARMING “update!” Glad, so glad, to read that. That a judge would allow such nonsense in a court of law was quite disappointing.
I just looked up some news articles about the 2013 Lac Magentic train crash and here is a quote from one:
“All but one of the 73 tanker cars were carrying crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in New Brunswick …. .” (Source: )
Hope that was helpful.
Re: my “canine partner,” lol, THEY, Riley and Davy the German Shepherds, do consider themselves to be K-9 Officers, First Class (specialty: investigations!! and surveillance), but they are just my babies. And they are doing well. Riley, at 10, has spondylosis (spine deterioration), a painless, but, eventually incapacitating disease. So far, so good, only drags his hind paws about 10% of the time. Davy, the “little guy,” at 1.5 yr. is strong-as-a-horse! (I’m getting a special collar — he is not like any of my other shepherds…. I think the breeder was not completely honest and he has Akita in him…. loveable, but not as eager to please …. and NEVER again!!). Oh. Davy just read what I wrote and asked me to please change it to: “strong as a door.” Lol, to Davy, doors are the strongest things in the WORLD. Just — won’t — (hurl body against it) — BUDGE!
Glad you and your family (apparently) came through that big storm okay!
Take care (and thanks for your kindness in asking…),

January 14, 2016 5:44 am

..Your honor, the climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years…..Guilty as charged !!

January 14, 2016 5:49 am

A criminal offence? So the prosecution will be state or federal lawyers. It will be up to them to demonstrate flaws in the defence. Let’s hope they are WUWT readers.

Reply to  Dave
January 14, 2016 6:14 am

With this govt, they will order the prosecution attorneys to deliberately lose.

Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 6:36 am

Just like Mass. vs EPA, the prosecutor and defense council will work together to establish climate change precedent that will allow Eco-terrorists to destroy the economy.
Defeating capitalism ranks slightly higher in priority than saving the planet for most of these zealots.

Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 6:50 am

Criminal trespass on private (railroad) property is not a federal offense. However it is not unlikely that local or state prosecutors in Seattle are just as snookered by the Climatists as the feds are. In which case, look for no more than a slap on the wrist.
/Mr Lynn

Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 6:58 am

they will order the prosecution attorneys to deliberately lose
Here is what Hillary and Obama say:
Suicide bombers are justified in blowing up Americans because Americans won’t let them into the country.
Here is what Al-Qaeda and ISIS say:
Suicide bombers are justified in blowing up Americans because Americans are bombing Muslims in the Middle East and Africa.
When a government blames the mortar bombing of an Embassy and the killing of an Ambassador on a movie that upset some Muslims, and sends a top government adviser on network TV to support this position, you know you have a government that has no clue.
Imagine what it would be like if the tables were turned, and the US was living under a foreign occupation. The People of the US would cheer every time some American blew up or killed an occupier. This is the reality.

Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 7:01 am

“Hey, nice career you got there. It’d be a shame to see anything happen to it.”

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Dave
January 14, 2016 7:31 am

Criminal trespass on private (railroad) property is not a federal offense. However it is not unlikely that local or state prosecutors in Seattle are just as snookered by the Climatists as the feds are. In which case, look for no more than a slap on the wrist.

the Washington State Governor is certainly all in on the climate scam. He’s on record blaming the recent wildfires and droughts on CAGW. I don’t know how tight a rein he has on his prosecutors though.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 14, 2016 9:20 am

From a very long time ago, the contiguous nation was called “the 47 states and the soviet of Washington.” Mr. Alberts is more than correct.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 14, 2016 2:32 pm

“When a government blames the mortar bombing of an Embassy and the killing of an Ambassador on a movie that upset some Muslims, and sends a top government adviser on network TV to support this position, you know you have a government that has no clue.”
I can’t be sure what you mean, as in what exactly you feel you know the people who played that “movie outrage card” have no clue about, but to my mind, seeing what you described there caused me to think those you’re calling “a government” are ruthless deceivers, not clueless dopes.
PS~ I had by that time shaken off the (I now see as) bizzaro indoctrination the same sort of people have hammered into our heads, that: No one in positions of power ever “conspires”.

Mumbles McGuirck
January 14, 2016 5:54 am

I am wondering why it took the police eight hours to arrest them and clear the tracks. Seems they are being cut an awful lot of ‘slack’. As long as they are spouting some boutique cause, they are handled with kid gloves. Let you or I go down and try to stop trains to protest, say, government spending and see how long it takes to haul us to the hoosegow.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 14, 2016 8:32 am

So true! Do you have railway police down in USA. Here in Canada, the rail companies have their own police force who would clear the protesters out right quick.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
January 14, 2016 12:26 pm

Yes, the major US railroads have had them since 150+ years ago, when they were building track through Indian Country. They have federal police powers, and preventing a train from running is a federal crime.

January 14, 2016 5:56 am

Your Honor, I had to obtain those documents from the Heartland Institute by fraud and then counterfeit an additional document that slandered the organization. It was necessary to save the planet.

Reply to  FerdinandAkin
January 14, 2016 10:14 am

I haven’t heard from Peter (the criminal) Gleek lately. I wonder what he’s been up to.

Ian W
January 14, 2016 5:57 am

The prosecutors need only call Viscount Christopher Monkton as their expert witness. A fair play exchange for Hansen supporting criminal damage in UK. This could be a turning point event.

Reply to  Ian W
January 14, 2016 7:38 am

How about Mark Steyn?

January 14, 2016 5:59 am

Given the venue and that the lawyers are government workers and likely caught up in climate obsession, I am betting on an arranged show trial designed to give the defendants a not-guilty result and a nice precedent for more climate crime.

Reply to  hunter
January 14, 2016 6:37 am

+10 Bingo.

January 14, 2016 6:07 am

All the prosecution needs to present is the graphic showing actual temperature trends against the forecasts made by the climate models. The court can only conclude that the threat is no where near as eminent as the Dimwit 5 are proclaiming, and that their actions were simply criminal and served no noble purpose.

DC Cowboy
January 14, 2016 6:07 am

Seems to me that this is about as effective as the ‘Twinkie defense’ and the ‘Affluenza defense’.

Tom Halla
Reply to  DC Cowboy
January 14, 2016 7:00 am

re dccowboy–the Twinkie defense and the Affluenza defense were succesful, whinch is why they are so infamous.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 14, 2016 8:22 am

The Twinkie defense has been much satirized, but it was neither successful, nor did it actually revolve around Twinkies. He was severely depressed, which involved quitting his job, leaving his wife, and abandoning his standard fare of health food. While the lawyers did mention Coke specifically by name, it was journalists that added Twinkies to the mix and coined the term.

Tom Halla
Reply to  benofhouston
January 14, 2016 12:18 pm

The twinkie defense got Dan White from Murder 1 to manslaughter, and the Affluenza defense got the defendant ten years probation. I would call those results “sussessful”.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 14, 2016 12:31 pm

The Twinkie defense case also gave a huge career boost to Dianne Feinstein. I would hope other conservatives would take that lesson to heart before trying it themselves.

January 14, 2016 6:11 am

If mere concern about potential harm sometime in the distant future is sufficient to justify actions now, then we will have reached the point where nothing is illegal.

michael hart
Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 6:23 am

Who watched The Minority Report movie?

Ben of Houston
Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 8:17 am

No, let’s be honest. Nothing “politically favored” is illegal. This is the same defense that we had used in lynchings for years. They were an acceptable target going outside the bounds of their position and were violently put back. Except this time, it’s being done officially, without even the pretense of actual justice.

January 14, 2016 6:12 am

“I’m sympathetic to concerns about shipping oil by rail. In my opinion, building an oil pipeline, like the pipeline President Obama recently vetoed, is a much safer way to transport flammable hydrocarbons, than transporting oil by train”
12,000 miles of pipeline has been built across the US in the last 5 years.

Reply to  richard
January 14, 2016 6:15 am

Good, but not enough.

Reply to  richard
January 14, 2016 6:38 am

When were the permits issued?

Reply to  FTOP_T
January 14, 2016 6:50 am

“That’s because for years behind the scenes – as most media attention and activist energy has gone into fighting Keystone XL North – the Obama Administration has quietly been approving hundreds of miles-long pieces of pipeline owned by industry goliath Enbridge and other companies”

Reply to  FTOP_T
January 14, 2016 7:06 am

This current US administration is the least transparent, most devious of any I can remember, and I remember Ike well. If you want to know what the POTUS really believes or thinks, just take the opposite and THAT’s the truth. Just refer to the last State of Denial Address as an excellent example.

January 14, 2016 6:15 am

Another argument for the prosecution would be to outline the impact on the region if fossil fuels were immediately banned as these Loathsome 5 are demanding. There would be a complete collapse of society, including deadly riots, starvation, people dying from exposure and no emergency services, from hospitals to fire and police. Compare that to the possibility of it being two degrees warmer 100 years from now, and the judge can only conclude that they need to make room for 5 more in the state pen, are at least in the local asylum!

Reply to  jclarke341
January 14, 2016 1:18 pm

jclarke341: If I were king, I wouldn’t outline the impact of fossil fuels, I would simply ban the sale of fossil fuels and petrochemicals products in Washington State (including all synthetic clothing, bicycle tires etc.) for one month. Of course you would give all the refineries an exception so Tankers and Railways can still bring in crude and send out refined product.
I wonder how many hours it would take before people realized how much they rely of fossil fuels and petro-chemicals.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 14, 2016 8:54 pm

@ Wayne Delbeke, 1:18 PM, One month? I would say one week and the chaos would be complete! People seem to forget that if you shut down transportation of food, drugs ( medical AND Illegal) and so on stores would be empty in a few days, looting and destruction would start after 48 hours!

January 14, 2016 6:18 am

Might as well let them, since courts are already crowded with pseudoscience “experts” arrayed on both sides of many court cases. See CARB use of a mail order degreed expert.

January 14, 2016 6:19 am

Unfortunately with our nutbag activist judges that “defense ” will probably prevail.

ferd berple
January 14, 2016 6:28 am

What about the harm done by the defendants actions? someone’s life may depend on the oil in the train reaching market. without oil for transportation or heating someone may die because of lack of alternatives.
saving someone’s life 100 years in the future needs to be weighed against taking someone’s life today.

Tom in Florida
January 14, 2016 6:31 am

Perhaps the defense should cite Asimov’s Zeroth Law.

January 14, 2016 6:33 am

Have the jurors heard about the 97 percent consensus?

Reply to  Resourceguy
January 14, 2016 7:49 am

I would love to hear the 97% consensus as part of the defense.
Just let a knowledgeable skeptic on the stand for rebuttal.
Maybe the public would learn the truth about CO2 caused CAGW consensus.

DD More
Reply to  mikerestin
January 14, 2016 9:27 am

Mike doesn’t take that ‘knowledgable’ of skeptic to make the point. Just the questions and responses.
Using Cook et al.2013 , Doran and Kendall Zimmerman, 2009 & AMS survey Stenhouse et al., 2014 as basis to the 97%.
So answering the questions –
1) most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic?
2) When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
3) Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
4) Regardless of the cause, do you think that global warming is happening?
5) How sure are you that global warming (a. is /b. is not) happening?
Answers and questions use generalized words of most, think, significant, contributing and no values or significance is asked for. No where is proof or dates or amounts or data of +/- estimates required and did you see CO2 anywhere?
Do these questions really provide the answer that; stopping man-made, catastrophizing, CO2 control knob, ever increasing (global warming / climate change / disruption / weirding ) [pick 1 or more], which can only be prevented by higher taxes, more regulations and a loss of personal freedom will actually keep us all from floating down the River Styx in a handbasket?
See for the numbers.

Gunga Din
January 14, 2016 6:34 am

I thought innocent by reason of insanity was already a legal precedent.
The prosecution should get their opinions of “An Inconvenient Truth” then introduce the UK court ruling several years ago that it was political and error ridden.

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 14, 2016 10:56 am

I have always thought that “innocent by reason of insanity” was a ludicrous verdict. Technically because no-one has been found guilty and convicted the case remains unsolved. The British version “guilty but insane” brings closure. The guilty but insane person will receive compulsory treatment in a secure hospital until such time as they are determined by competent authorities to be no longer a danger to themselves or others, are the detention has the force of law (they are afterall guilty of the crime for which they were convicted).

January 14, 2016 6:36 am

Sounds very much like the “He needed killin’, yer honor” murder defense.

Don Perry
January 14, 2016 6:41 am

The current circumstances in this country are becoming like the plot in a B Grade movie or scenes out of a nightmare. This can’t really happen, can it, is what I think and feel. I would not be surprised at all if this defense works and they are acquitted. After all, an underage kid can get drive drunk, kill 4 people and be let off with a slap on the wrist using a defense of “affluenza”– too rich and spoiled to appreciate adherence to the law. As an older citizen, I believe more than half of the people and all of the government have lost their minds. It is rapidly approaching the time to refresh the tree of liberty.

January 14, 2016 6:42 am

Another example of the,”it’s basic physics” defense.
After all, all events in the universe are determined merely by the interplay of sub-atomic particles and forces.
So all events are predetermined from the moment of the creation of the universe.
Hence, the train was always going to be stopped by the “useful idiots”.
And the earth WILL either warm up OR cool down.
And these miscreants will either be released or hopefully lined up and shot.
And since, as we are told – it’s all the action of mindless atoms – your honour. It was the atoms what did it, see? – and it seems cruelly vindictive to hold these poor imbeciles to account for their law-breaking activities.
And so, I rest my case.
But, sarc off, if such a defense is permitted then we should expect even more energy to be directed toward the obstruction of the business activities of others.
There are only two ways in which to advance a position in a competitive market – one is to actively increase one’s own market share and the other is to work towards impeding the activities of the competition.
With so many useful idiots who possess so much free time, now abundant in the west, it has never been easier or cheaper for the enemies of western energy independence to raise a mob.
The enterprise of mob raising has already returned many times the original investment in brainwashing.
What a joy this must be, for all providers of “alternative” sources of energy. i.e. the ones that are the real alternative to western fossil fuel extraction and production. Such as those in the middle east, Russia.
Good job, idiots, Vladimir Putin sends his kind regards!!!

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
January 14, 2016 6:49 am

“So all events are predetermined from the moment of the creation of the universe.”
Heisenberg says not.

Reply to  DHR
January 14, 2016 6:59 am

How much will Heisenburg charge for his expert testimony?
Any chance that we could also summon, Bohr and Schrodinger?
Maybe we could use the train was “simultaneously stopped and not stopped” defense.
Or the relativistic defense in which the apparent deceleration of the train was equivalent to uniform motion in a gravitational field (to a hypothetical observer sealed in a carriage with only access to an mass-spring accelerometer.)
This could get very complicated quite rapidly. 🙂

Tai Hai Chen
January 14, 2016 6:43 am

Them their butts to jail. Minimum 10 years.

January 14, 2016 6:49 am

it could backfire
now they have to prove the connection between fossil fuels and climate change in court
worst case nightmare scenario for climate science

Mike Macray
Reply to  Jamal Munshi
January 14, 2016 7:46 am

” it could backfire
now they have to prove the connection between fossil fuels and climate change in court
worst case nightmare scenario for climate science..”
I like that idea.. make them justify the motive…
I would suggest self immolation as a better way to attract the Buddhist monk (1960s Vietnam) or the Tunisian fruit vendor ( spark of the Arab Spring).. of course they would have to use bio fuel not fossil fuel..sic.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Jamal Munshi
January 14, 2016 8:13 am

Jamal Munshi January 14, 2016 at 6:49 am
“it could backfire”
Yes if the District attorney wants their scalp.
First. in a “save the earth” defense you have the obvious, the earth is still here. So no need for criminal activity.
Second, fourteen months after their actions you had Paris COP21. which was planned at the time ‘Delta 5’ acted. So to make the save the earth defense work they have to discredit COP21 and show President Obama as ineffectual. Can’t have it both ways, Ether the proper authorities are capable of dealing with the problems if there are any, or not.
If the immediate threat did not exist then the defense fails.
This could get interesting.

January 14, 2016 6:51 am

And then there will be train stoppages or derailments to block the GMO corn shipments and the non organic foods and those savage meat haulers.

Mark from the Midwest
January 14, 2016 6:53 am

The counter-argument would follow that a person might feel so “threatened” by the protesters that extreme action was necessary.
This is a classic case where a judge should not allow a jury to determine anything but the question of law, were they trespassing? If they are not guilty then it has to be by reason of mental defect, (they did not no that what they were doing was a violation of the law).
The question here is not if the protesters are guilty or not, the facts are pretty clear in this case. The question is: Do they get a judge who’s incompetent or somewhat corrupt, and subsequently loses control of the jury?

January 14, 2016 6:59 am

These eco-terrorists didn’t think clearly. Stopping one train for a few hours accomplishes nothing except to annoy the railroad and oil company. Burning down one or more oil refineries would actually reduce oil product consumption, at least for a while. Their goal was therefore not to reduce “climate change” but to gain attention for their cause. Should it be legal to commit a crime to gain attention? God help us if that comes to pass.

Reply to  DHR
January 14, 2016 8:09 am

I agree with Mike and you both.
This sounds like the correct answer for an honest judicial system.

Walt D.
January 14, 2016 7:01 am

It could be argued that as cult members, their mental capacity has been diminished and they no longer have the judgement to determine what is right or wrong in the eyes of the law.

Reply to  Walt D.
January 14, 2016 8:10 am

let me add…”and should therefore be removed from society.”

Alan McIntire
January 14, 2016 7:06 am

Rather than try and stop train shipments, a more effective way to stop energy use would be to adopt terrorist tactics and go around sabotaging power plants , power lines and gas stations, leaving EVERYONE stuck in the dark ages.

Reply to  Alan McIntire
January 14, 2016 2:38 pm

Don’t give them any ideas.

January 14, 2016 7:14 am

Hopefully the rail company also goes after these clowns with a civil lawsuit.

Reply to  deebodk
January 14, 2016 8:46 am

Hard to get a payout from these types of losers with nothing to their name.

Reply to  RWturner
January 14, 2016 10:03 am

If you could prove a conspiracy, you might be able to go after any organization that supported them.

John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia.
January 14, 2016 7:15 am

Meanwhile, at the fantasy world of The Guardian:
“Climate change disaster is biggest threat to global economy in 2016, say experts”.

John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia.
Reply to  John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia.
January 14, 2016 7:21 am
Reply to  John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia.
January 14, 2016 7:28 am

The only possible explanation is that the Guardian, and they economists it is writing about, are from another planet. One cannot blame everything on climate change on a planet were the climate is not noticeably changing, unless, of course, it isn’t about climate change at all!

January 14, 2016 7:19 am

In the old west, the penalty for stealing a mans horse was often quite severe, because the horse was vital to a man’s survival and livelihood. Since then, the horse has been largely replaced by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are now vital to our survival and livelihood, perhaps even more than horses used to be.
Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page on horse thieves, concerning the 19th Century Western US: “Since these farmers and migrants depended on their horses, horse thieves garnered a particularly pernicious reputation because they left their victims helpless or greatly handicapped by the loss of their horses. The victims needed their horses for transportation and farming. Such depredation led to the use of the term horse thief as an insult, one that conveys the impression of the insulted person as one lacking any shred of moral decency.”
Since fossil fuels are equivalent to the 19th Century horse, any attempt to deprive people of fossil fuels should be viewed as particularly despicable. The Despicable 5 should not only be tried for their crimes, but publicly recognized as ‘lacking any shred of moral decency’!

Berényi Péter
January 14, 2016 7:21 am

The action
On September 2nd, 2014, Abby Brockway (Presbyterian), Michael LaPointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew and Liz Spoerri erected an 18’ tripod in the Everett Delta rail yard (Everett Washington) in front of an oil train carrying 3 million gallons of Bakken Crude headed to the Anacortes refinery. Supported by a strong team on a nearby bridge Rising Tide Seattle and allies successfully blocked an oil train for 8 hours and continued telling the story that the climate crisis demands – that we take the scientific information seriously. For this action they are charged with second degree trespass and delay/obstruction of train.
The “strong team on a nearby bridge” has 4 (four) members. Hilarious.
At least they have seen Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Berényi Péter
January 14, 2016 10:16 am

I notice the sub line in the sign “not conductors”. Now look at those guys sitting in chairs under the sign. Do they not look like they may have been conductors? Is this really a union issue about losing conductor jobs shrouded in the “climate change” theme to garner sympathetic support??

January 14, 2016 7:25 am

Necessity should force replacement of oil trains with oil pipelines (less energy needed to move the oil), and more natural gas pipelines. As well as more nuclear power.
Release the experts!

January 14, 2016 8:12 am

Some folks have worried that the prosecutors will ‘throw’ the case.
There are two methods by which other parties may give evidence in a case; intervenor and friend of the court. These are allowed when the outcome of a case might affect third parties. It gives them the possibility to protect themselves.
The defendants in this case will plead necessity. That means they had to break the law in order to prevent a greater harm. I would say that the precedents aren’t on their side; here’s an example:

Necessity as a defense to criminal acts conducted to meet political ends was rejected in the case of United States v. Schoon.[3] In that case, thirty people, including appellants, gained admittance to the IRS office in Tucson, where they chanted “keep America’s tax dollars out of El Salvador,” splashed simulated blood on the counters, walls, and carpeting, and generally obstructed the office’s operation. The court ruled that the elements of necessity did not exist in this case. (op cit)

I followed Groklaw for years and learned one thing. Lawyers are often surprised by the outcome of court cases. That said, I don’t think the necessity defense will work in this case. IANAL YMMV

Reply to  tobias smit
January 15, 2016 6:04 am

The judge told the jury to ignore the necessity defense. That’s good but it doesn’t mean the jury will follow that instruction.

Joel Snider
January 14, 2016 8:31 am

If these activists are given a free reign, there is no telling what damage they will do. They’ve already forgiven themselves for things they haven’t even done yet. I live in Oregon, and the rank and file street greenies are an incredibly arrogant, self-righteous, sanctimonious bunch who can do no wrong, AND who are catered to by the powers that be within the state – particularly Portland. This court case is a recipe for disaster – REAL disaster, not computer model speculations. Activists being given justification and absolution by the courts would unleash anarchy at their whim.
Like I’ve said since the nineties, the biggest threat of climate change is the activists. And I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better… IF they get better.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  Joel Snider
January 14, 2016 9:26 am

“Free rein” is the proper expression (saith the old horseman).

Joel Snider
Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
January 14, 2016 11:16 am

I learn something new every day here. I actually looked this up and this was what I found:
‘The usual spelling of the phrase meaning freedom to do as one pleases is free rein, not free reign. The latter is a common misspelling, and it almost makes sense given reign‘s meaning (i.e., the exercise of sovereign power). But free rein, an allusion to horseback riding, is the original form, and it is much more common in published texts.’
And the ‘exercise of sovereign power’ was actually how I always interpreted the phrase, and in this context, actually fits better.
Nevertheless, your correction is duly noted.

The Original Mike M
January 14, 2016 8:50 am

Yes your honor, I set fire to the houses to ward off evil spirits which is my protected right of religious expression. And as you can plainly see – IT WORKED!

January 14, 2016 8:51 am

Given the defense they plan to mount, the next time a railroad has to deal with such stupidity, I recommend they get some muscle there, drag the activists over to a stand of trees, and chain them in place. That way, the railroad can claim that they, too, were saving the planet by saving those particular trees. How on Gaia could the activists complain? Either all get convicted, or none do.

John F. Hultquist
January 14, 2016 9:01 am

This legal action will be in:
Snohomish County South District Court
Just north of Seattle, Washington
What could go wrong?

January 14, 2016 9:06 am

Reply to  Russell
January 14, 2016 10:08 am

Do you have a point?

Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 11:39 am

Maybe he is indicating pipelines are a better idea?

Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2016 12:31 pm

That will be it, Duster, a pipeline is a much better idea. If only someone had thought of it… Oh, wait.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Russell
January 14, 2016 10:49 am
After the first Gulf War….As MarkW says, do you have a point

Dennis Thomason
January 14, 2016 9:22 am

If I were the Judge, I would ask the question “How did you get to the rail yard?” When the five answered via a hydrocarbon powered vehicle, I would throw them out. To further his case the judge could determine the extent of their hydrocarbon dependence.

January 14, 2016 9:51 am

This is a highly dangerous precedent on the part of the courts to even allow this type of argument. This has the potential for eco/green groups, completely of their own ideology, to bring the US industrial/resource sector to a complete halt – because of climate change concerns. Even road transportation could be targeted on account of climate change, oil transportation, food shipments targeted, ship traffic disrupted – this is pure madness on the part of the court. Then again in Obama’s America there is 50/50 chance the green will indeed win their case and if so the insanity that could occur is beyond imagination.

Bruce Cobb
January 14, 2016 9:56 am

This constitutes domestic terrorism, and their actions must not be allowed to stand. They deserve both jail time, and hefty fines.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 14, 2016 12:44 pm

Agreed! This is what they should be charged with. Domestic terrorism. That’s a charge that should be flung at those heading Greenpeace and other such activist groups, not just their foot soldiers. They are, after all, organizations hell-bent on disruption and destruction, without ever applying research or scientific thought to check if their hateful notions are sound.
Their beliefs make them a cult. Their actions make them criminal. Their demands are anti-human. Even their treatment of their own people, those on the bottom rung, those collecting money for them door-to-door or in shopping malls, is shockingly poor. These groups have no respect for anything or anybody, they just want to tear down civilization. It’s deliberate. They are gleeful at the very thought. They’re not even bothering to hide it anymore.

January 14, 2016 10:13 am

Let’s see them try to get out of paying taxes with the defense based on protest against tax revenue being used by evil oil companies with subsidies. Insanity has its limits.

January 14, 2016 10:30 am

Will the jury be able to distinguish between a climate science defense and the insanity defense? The defense team may not care.

Reply to  Resourceguy
January 14, 2016 12:37 pm

Remember, this is Washington state. The jury may be high.

Reply to  jdgalt
January 14, 2016 9:14 pm

LOL But this could also involve the judge and as far as the 8 hour delay? Maybe they all had to sober up before making decisions?

Reply to  tobias smit
January 14, 2016 9:40 pm

Remember the airlines’ time-worn edict for pilots: “Eight hours, bottle to throttle.”

January 14, 2016 10:41 am

In Australia, a guy
– forged bank letterhead
– got a phone number which he answered claiming to be a bank officer
– lodged a fake Stockmarket announcement that purported to withdraw funding from a coal mine, causing the manipulation of the stock
He naturally became a hero of the meeja, and the Greens party outright supported his criminal action.
One might assume forgery, impersonation and stockmarket offences might draw several years in prison.
Look it up to see what the actual deal agreed by the prosecutor was.

George Daddis
January 14, 2016 10:46 am

In “the good old days” our heros (Gandhi, MLK, Mandela) used the tool of Civil Disobedience to show that their convictions outweighed and personal discomfort. All expected, and were “rewarded” with jail time for their actions. As a result, their sacrifice brought converts over to their side.
Today’s liberal loons are so pampered they expect that the “righteousness” of their cause should exonerate them from any punishment at all. (e.g. the whole “occupy” movement which was resurrected from 1960s campus radicals).
A far cry for the moral courage of Buddhist monks who would die for their cause.

January 14, 2016 10:57 am

Anyone else here amazed that it took 8 hours to arrest the criminals? Train companies have their own police forces usually, and even if they were far away or could not get the miscreants to clear the path the local law enforcement should have had it done in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t take 8 hours to clear a car crash with a death involved.
Also, trains usually carry more than one thing, was there anything else on that train aside from oil? Even if these crazy fools manage to escape serious jail time though each of the companies who had their wares delayed has the opportunity to go after those responsible for recompense.

Reply to  jgriggs3
January 14, 2016 2:53 pm

It is very odd indeed that it took eight hours to arrest these miscreants and clear the tracks. Were the BNSF police told to hold off?
BNSF oil trains are usually ‘unit trains’, meaning they a transporting only one commodity.
/Mr Lynn

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
January 14, 2016 9:16 pm

Like I said earlier they all had to sober up from using the “green”.

Pat Paulsen
January 14, 2016 11:37 am

I’d like to see the science discussed in the court room. The alarmists cannot defend their side. They are stuck with just one parrot line – 97%. Of course, the courts do not want to look at the issue – do they?

January 14, 2016 2:39 pm

Merely believing in Global Warming/Climate Change is enough to exonerate Warmistas within their own mind, allowing them to carry out the most foolish or criminal acts imaginable. Even the killing of public ‘Deniers’ and ‘Climate Apostates’ can be considered to be justified.

Alan Robertson
January 14, 2016 3:59 pm

Just remember who owns that oil train and who lost profit, as result of the blockade and will lose more if this sort of thing is tolerated. Some things just will not fly, regardless of the politics of the useful idiots parading around with their signs. Gotta remember the wizard’s behind the curtain… this may not turn out so well for the defendants.

Ralph Kramden
January 14, 2016 6:36 pm

It’s just a form of insanity defense.

Warren Latham
January 15, 2016 10:53 am

Thank you for the very interesting report, however, you have used the expression “climate change” five times and in doing so you fall into the trap of appearing to give credence to that expression which, after all, began as “global warming” !
Would you PLEASE STOP USING that expression.
I respectfully submit that you consider using instead the very word “CLIMATE”.
If your article was edited to DELETE the word “change” (and just say “climate”) it would impress readers in a positive manner.
We all know that there is no such thing as global warming: there are only “climate(s)” systems; none of which is capable of remaining unchanged.
Every time that writers use the dreaded “climate change” expression they unwittingly strengthen the hands of climate loons and the bed-wetters.
Regards and thanks,

January 15, 2016 12:58 pm

Wheel in Al Gore as expert witness. He has more credentials on paper than groups like CARB are accustomed to at least.

January 21, 2016 6:57 pm

Hmm. What kind of court would allow this? Seems to me that all the court needs to know is whether they blocked the train and whether they broke a law in doing so. Their motivation for doing so is immaterial.

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