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Boston Judge Acquits 13 Pipeline Protesters in Groundbreaking Decision
Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court decided it was necessary for the protestors to engage in civil disobedience to block the construction of Spectra Energy's high-pressure fracked gas pipeline and acquitted the activists of civil infractions, according to media reports.
The judge made the decision after hearing each defendant's testimony. They argued the threat of climate change necessitated their civil disobedience.
"Part of why Judge Mary Ann Driscoll found no liability was because they engaged in a sustained effort to end the project and attempted legal remedies by the city council, mayor, and other agencies to stop the pipeline.
Even though the pipeline was still constructed and operational by January 2017, that was irrelevant. The judge found the activists were not liable."
"What happened today was really important," she said. "Essentially, the people that put themselves in the way of building this fossil fuel pipeline were found 'not responsible' by reason of necessity."
"The irony of that is that we are making ourselves responsible. We are part of the the movement that is standing up and saying we won't let this go by on our watch. We won't act like nothing's wrong."
According to The Independent:
"Neither Ms Driscoll or the court clerk was available for comment. However, one member of the court's staff who asked not to be named, told The Independent the judge had found them not responsible. The person denied, however, that the judge had made the ruling on the grounds of legal necessity."
The trial took place this week after the state prosecutor reduced the original charges of trespassing and disturbing the peace to civil infractions—the equivalent of a parking ticket.
The Civil Disobedience Center, which supported the protestors, said that the prosecution's reduced charges meant the activists were denied a chance to present a "necessity defense" against the gas pipeline.
"By reducing the charges, the prosecutor has avoided what could have been a groundbreaking legal case. The action effectively denied the 13 defendants a jury trial," the Civil Disobedience Center explained in a press release.
While the activists said they were disappointed that they would not get the chance to present their case to a jury of their peers, they still felt their resistance had a positive impact, the release noted.
He tweeted, "Good golly! A few minutes ago a Boston judge acquitted 13 pipeline protesters on the grounds that the climate crisis made it necessary for them to commit civil disobedience. This may be a first in America."
- DAPL cases could close in 2018 | Courts & Crime | bismarcktribune ... ›
- Tribe officials acquitted in North Dakota pipeline protests ... ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."