A lawyer for an environmental activist convicted of targeting an oil pipeline in North Dakota said he doesn’t think a judge’s decision disallowing the threat of global warming as a defense to justify the crime would be grounds for an appeal.
Defendant Michael Foster, of Seattle, said he has not decided whether to appeal his jury conviction to the North Dakota Supreme Court, and part of him wants “to honor the judge and the jury and their verdict.”
Foster took part in effort on Oct. 11, 2016, to draw attention to climate change by turning off valves on five pipelines that bring Canadian oil south. Foster targeted the Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota. Other activists targeted pipelines in Minnesota, Montana and Washington state.
A jury in North Dakota’s Pembina County on Friday convicted Foster after a weeklong trial of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and conspiracy. He faces up to 21 years in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 18. The man who filmed his protest action, Samuel Jessup of Winooski, Vermont, was convicted of conspiracy and faces up to 11 years.
Foster had hoped to use a legal tactic known as the climate necessity defense — justifying a crime by arguing that it prevented a greater harm from happening. Prosecutors objected, saying they didn’t want a trial on global warming.