The Five “Valve Turners” broke in and turned off valves on the Keystone Pipeline and four other cross-border pipelines — in Washington, Montana and Minnesota. They are in their fifties and sixties and brave enough to risk jail, but not apparently brave enough to read skeptical material that might show that the actions they think are noble are really misguided, illegal, narcissistic, risky stunts as well as being pointless and inconvenient to thousands.
Foster, who is 53, was charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. At his bond hearing in Cavalier, N.D., he learned that he faced a maximum sentence of more than 26 years.
The NY Times gives them hero treatment. Scott of the Antarctic could not get a write up this nice:
What Foster didn’t expect was that once he’d broken through the chain-link fence, he would be briefly overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he was about to do. He faced away from the biting wind, and allowed himself to cry. He then put a gloved hand on the steel wheel, which was almost three feet across and mounted vertically as if on the helm of a ship, and began to turn it. For long minutes it spun easily, but then both the wheel and the ground below his feet began to shake. Foster had been told to expect this, but still he hesitated. When he resumed turning, he had to throw his body into the task, at times dangling from the wheel to coax it downward. Finally, he could wrestle it no farther, and the shaking stopped. He felt a profound sense of relief. He replaced the lock on the wheel with a new padlock, sat down and, breathing heavily, began to record himself on his phone. “Hey, I’ve never shot video for grandkids that I don’t have yet,” he told the camera, “but I want any grandkids, or grandnephews and nieces or whatever, anybody in any family tree of mine, to know that once upon a time people burned oil, and they put it in these underground pipes, and they burned enough, fast enough, to almost cook you guys out of existence, and we had to stop it — any way we could think of.”
Not necessarily a harmless protest:
Lonny Johnson, the TransCanada employee who visited the site after Foster turned the valve, testified that the valve wasn’t designed to be closed against pressure as Foster had done, but that he’d found no cracks or leaks when he inspected it. The prosecutors, however, argued that a leak could have caused a fire or explosion or polluted the nearby Pembina River.
One trial ended in a hung jury, and that Valve Turner got 2 days jail, plus 30 days community service. He should have been been given 30 days boot camp with skeptics as therapy for his delusions and a lesson to read both sides of the story so he is not an easy victim for rent-seeking, self-serving industries and bankers.
Foster however got a real one year sentence:
Judge Fontaine … rejected the necessity defense because, in her view, there were still legal means to address climate change. “If you can’t convince the government, then you convince the people,” she said, “and it seems to me the way you convince the people in this world is by 60-second sound bites, by commercials.”
Commercials cost thousands and are unattainable for many. Someone should tell the judge about blogs, radio interviews and cartoons. Then again, perhaps she did say that.
…“Everything about you, and everything you’ve said to me, is this was the right thing to do, this is what I’m called to do, this is what I have to do. So nothing about that tells me you wouldn’t do the same thing next month, next year, next week.”
Judge Fontaine sentenced Foster to three years in prison, with two of those years to be suspended and served on supervised probation. Jessup was given a suspended sentence of two years.
Michael Foster and Emily Johnston set up 350.org.
Foster, a family therapist, longtime environmentalist and father of two….
Check the irony. He’s a former family therapist, now divorced and estranged from his own kids. I can’t throw in a wry line. This is just sad:
When Foster committed himself to the climate movement, he also recruited his children, then 8 and 10, to march and speak alongside him. His older child, now a cleareyed 16-year-old, says that both siblings were initially happy to participate — in part because it gave them a chance to spend time with their father, whom they saw less and less of as his activism increased. But before long, they felt pressured. “When we would try to refuse, when we would say, ‘Hey, I’m tired,’ or ‘Hey, I have homework,’ or ‘Hey, I have school today,’ it would be: ‘Don’t you care about the planet? Don’t you care about the future?’ ” the older child explains. “That felt awful, because of course we cared, of course we wanted to do our part. But it felt like he was using our voices to spread his message.”
He couldn’t let his family off the hook either, and resentments deepened. “When people asked me how things were going, how I was doing, I’d say, ‘He’s doing important stuff, and it matters,’ ” says his ex-wife, Malinda, who asked that her last name and her children’s names not be used to protect her family’s privacy. “I’d also say, ‘I really respect Gandhi, but I wouldn’t want to be married to him.’
Both Malinda and her older child say they felt constantly judged, and frustrated, by Foster’s inflexibility. In 2014, Malinda filed for divorce, and his children said they no longer wanted to be part of his activism — or part of his life.
The media, spineless politicians, and university academics who fail to do their jobs take advantage of weak-minded, obsessive types. That doesn’t excuse reckless action and personal responsibility. But taxpayer funded operatives shouldn’t be feeding that element with a personality flaw either.
h/t to Howard “Cork” Hayden: author of many skeptical books including NEW! Energy: A Textbook, at www.energyadvocate.com. There are free resources at the site too.