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Ken Ward cuts the chain of the Trans Mountain stop valve site in Skagit County, Washington. Climate Direct Action

The valve turners recently listed by Homeland Security as "extremists" believe their action of shutting down 15 percent of the daily U.S. oil supply on Oct. 11, 2016 was their only option of fighting the climate crisis.

Valve turner Ken Ward of Climate Direct Action is going to trial this spring for the third time. He is charged with burglary and sabotage. EcoWatch teamed up with Ward and his attorney Lauren Regan, the executive director and co-founder of Civil Liberties Defense Center, on EcoWatch Live to share what this trial means for climate activists and why the U.S. government is listing some of these peaceful activists alongside mass murderers and white supremacists.

The valve turners recently listed by Homeland Security as “extremists” believe their action of shutting down 15 percent of the daily U.S. oil supply on Oct. 11, 2016 was their only option of fighting the climate crisis.


Valve turner Ken Ward of Climate Direct Action is going to trial this spring for the third time. He is charged with burglary and sabotage. EcoWatch teamed up with Ward and his attorney Lauren Regan, the executive director and co-founder of Civil Liberties Defense Center, on EcoWatch Live to share what this trial means for climate activists and why the U.S. government is listing some of these peaceful activists alongside mass murderers and white supremacists.

Watch the interview here:

Homeland Security recently listed the climate activists dubbed 'valve turners' as 'extremists' — some listed alongside mass murderers and white supremacists.What does this mean for others who care about climate activism?Read the story here: ecowatch.com/valve-turners-climate-direct-actionEcoWatch is live with Ken Ward, one of the valve turners of Shut It Down – Climate Direct Action and Lauren Regan, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Civil Liberties Defense Center who is defending Ken Ward in the upcoming trial.

Posted by EcoWatch on Thursday, February 6, 2020

“In a fairly short period of time, after making some phone calls to pipeline companies, we broke in to enclosures, cut some chains, closed what are called safety block valves and closed down all five pipelines that carry tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S.,” Ward said of the October 2016 direct action. It “might count as the most significant thing I’ve ever done on climate.”

Ward, who has been working in energy policy since 1978, including a variety of strategic approaches to climate change says “what sociologists and political scientists are demonstrating is that faced with this kind of situation, faced with an intractable political environment, where powerful industries have billions to spend … the single most effective thing that you can do is do engage in nonviolent direct action.”

Five members of Climate Direct Action are seen before a coordinated effort to turn off valves on a pipeline in four states. Climate Direct Action

In mid January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security listed these valve turners as “suspected environmental rights extremists” and “domestic terrorists.” What does this listing mean for climate activists?

Regan is not surprised by this “rhetorical” listing.

“The far right and the fossil fuel industry are spending about billion in a media campaign, basically a smear campaign. It’s one of the last-ditch efforts to try and persuade Americans that their gross profits are worth more than clean water and a healthy planet,” Regan says. “As they’re gasping for their last profiteering breaths, they are pulling out all of the dirty tricks that those types of profiteering industries have used historically.”

Such listings seem to have no relevance for climate activists, as those who engage in direct action are aware of risks such as being arrested and potentially facing serious consequences.

Regan points to “the overt bastardization of the truth or manipulation of reality by those industries.” It’s an attempt to “frame nonviolent civil disobedience as the same type of action as Nazis who murdered humans or anti-choice zealots that murder abortion doctors. I think normal humans with thinking brains see the incredible difference between those scenarios. It really exposes the desperation of the industry in my opinion.”

Ward mentions the “immense privilege” he has to engage in direct action here in the U.S. “Most people doing this around the world are getting killed or going to prison for long periods of time,” he says. “The costs are so low compared to that.”

Because Ward is engaged in climate action, he doesn’t have “a certain amount of existential dread.” He’d doing what he can. “I encourage everybody to think of what you could do,” because we’re out of time he says.

In the upcoming trial, Regan is defending Ward on the grounds of the climate necessity defense, something Ward was not permitted to offer in his first or second trial which both landed in a hung jury. Although Ward finished his sentence after the second trial, he chose to appeal anyway on the basis that he wasn’t allowed to use the only defense he had.

Regan outlines where they are in the process:

A defendant pursuant to the Sixth Amendment is entitled to assert defenses and have jurors who are the fact finders in trials determine whether or not the defense actually passed muster. The Washington Court of Appeals ruled in our favor and affirmed the right of a defendant to use the climate necessity defense.

The state then appealed up to the Washington Supreme Court. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in our favor and again affirmed the right to a climate necessity defense, thereby creating Washington state precedent for future activists to be able to use.

Since that time there has been one other climate activist that was prosecuted since our appellate victory and the state did not even attempt to hinder their right to use the defense at trial.

So now we will move forward with the ability to put on expert witnesses and to be able to argue to the jury that when you are balancing the harms of cutting a lock and temporarily shutting a block valve compared to the serious and imminent harms of the climate crisis, sea level rise, forest fires and everything else that is going on in terms of harm from climate change, when you balance those two things clearly the scales tip in favor of engaging in direct action to avert the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

When EcoWatch asks how a victory in Ward’s upcoming case would be good news for climate activists, Regan says “it’s already good news for climate activists.” For example, in Minnesota, where valve turners have also been granted the right to use the necessity defense, climate activists will be able to use it to argue a case to fight the Line 3 pipeline.

Regan stresses the importance of the upcoming trial: “It will be the first time that 12 jurors will be given all of the evidence and information to actually do that weighting and that balancing,” Regan says, while realizing that it’s a “big ask” for the public to justify a crime for the greater good.

“We’ve been really trained that when the state tells you that something is a crime that you’re supposed to think it’s bad and you’re supposed to punish them,” Regan says. “In light of all of the broken systems of democracy right now in our country, more and more people are coming to the realization that we may have to fight for our own lives and not rely on global policies and the fossil fuels corruption of the democratic processes.”

This trial will find out whether Americans who are not necessarily engaged in climate activism, the jurors, will agree that nonviolent direct action is justified in the face of the climate crisis, in what Regan says, will be a first.

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EcoWatch interviewed Maxime Leroux Thursday.on EcoWatch Live. EcoWatch Live Screenshot

Maxime Leroux, a 19-year-old student in France is creating an online community of people executing one "save" per day for the sake of the planet.

OneSave/Day is the name of the free app that is empowering thousands to commit to just one daily action to be a better environmental steward.

Maxime Leroux, a 19-year-old student in France is creating an online community of people executing one “save” per day for the sake of the planet.


OneSave/Day is the name of the free app that is empowering thousands to commit to just one daily action to be a better environmental steward.

“What an inspiration he is,” commented Misty Hay, an “EcoWatcher” who tuned in to an EcoWatch Live interview with Leroux on Thursday. “It’s bringing you one action every single day that you can do,” said Leroux.

Maxime Leroux, 19 years old, is studying International Management & Sustainable Development in Marseille, South of France.He's here today to share how he created an app that is positively impacting the lives of many called OneSave/Day.Spoiler alert: He had never touched app development before creating this.

Posted by EcoWatch on Thursday, October 10, 2019

Prior to the launch of this app, Leroux had never touched app development. He hadn’t even considered himself to be an environmentalist. “I had no real relationship to this topic,” he said.

Leroux was a typical college student who grew up with a “normal” life. He began to absorb headlines about the climate crisis which leave many with a growing sense of eco-anxiety. He shared more about these sentiments on the blog Eco Warrior Princess:

I was frustrated that there seemed nothing I could do every single day to make a difference; to me, taking daily action just seemed to matter.

My thoughts were that [I] alone would not have a crucial impact, but as a community, we could make all the individual actions count. Imagine 100,000 persons picking up one piece of trash on the same day. The result would be amazing, it would only take seconds for each participant to complete and the actions can easily be done every day.

EcoWatch, BBC and CNN Climate are some of many sources Leroux began to study to figure out the biggest problems our planet faces. Once he began examining the problems, he started to find the solutions.

Plastic pollution is the most obvious example. “What can we do about this problem?” he asked. “Where do we consume plastic? Why do we have plastic?” Once he figured out some of the sources of the problem, one place being grocery stores, he began to create simple “saves” that anyone can do such as: Take the minimum amount of plastic from the grocery stores. On the day of the interview the task was to find out about local car sharing options.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B18DNR-CI1e/

Since the app is in its early stages of evolution, there is much room for improvement and some bugs are currently being worked out. Leroux invites EcoWatchers to find the app on instagram by searching One Save a Day and to send any feedback or ideas for future saves.

A byproduct of doing one save per day is a feeling of satisfaction at the end of each day. He receives feedback from individuals saying, “At the end of the day I know that I’ve done something good on this day for the planet.”

Leroux wrapped up the EcoWatch Live interview by encouraging viewers to avoid comparing themselves to others such as those thriving in the zero-waste lifestyle and to try instead one “save” a day.

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Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.

The win came shortly after the Center for Biological Diversity asked a federal judge to stop construction in 68 miles of the Arizona border via a filed injunction saying the government unlawfully ignored dozens of laws in place to protect wildlife habitat. The delay is set to last until October, leaving many environmentalists concerned this is only a temporary win. On Thursday EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity Borderlands Campaigner Laiken Jordahl via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out what we should expect to happen in the coming weeks and to gain clarity on the energy on the ground of our borderlands.

Last week we received positive news on the border wall’s imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.


The win came shortly after the Center for Biological Diversity asked a federal judge to stop construction in 68 miles of the Arizona border via a filed injunction saying the government unlawfully ignored dozens of laws in place to protect wildlife habitat. The delay is set to last until October, leaving many environmentalists concerned this is only a temporary win. On Thursday EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity Borderlands Campaigner Laiken Jordahl via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out what we should expect to happen in the coming weeks and to gain clarity on the energy on the ground of our borderlands.

​Watch the interview:

"Every American should be outraged that the border wall in Arizona will be built across some of our most iconic national wildlife refuges and national park lands." — Bryan Bird, southwest representative for Defenders of WildlifeLIVE now with Center for Biological Diversity.

Posted by EcoWatch on Thursday, August 22, 2019

“This is an important win, but it’s so temporary and it’s important to stress that,” said Jordahl. “Bulldozers are already arriving on site in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the San Pedro River in Arizona.”

To find out more about this specific monument and surrounding area, watch this video which is part of the Center for Biological Diversity series Border Views:

BorderViews #30

Imminent Border Wall Construction in National Park Lands in Arizona.The Center for Biological Diversity and conservation groups just filed a preliminary injunction to halt the imminent construction of Trump's border wall through protected Arizona wilderness.In our latest Border Views video, the Center's Laiken Jordahl takes you to Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This important national monument will be one of the first wild places forever scarred by the Trump administration's wall if we fail to stop its construction.

Posted by EcoWatch on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A temporary win means there is still a plan for bulldozers to tear through wildlife refuges in October. The department of homeland security will replace waist-high vehicle barriers currently in place with a “30 foot impenetrable wall, complete with night lighting and cameras on top,” said Jordahl. “It will have a profound impact on wildlife connectivity in ways that these vehicle barriers do not.”

Jordahl reiterated the importance of understanding the conservation aspects of vehicle barriers and how the border walls replacing them will have irreparable harm on wildlife — not only 93 endangered species at risk from the wall, but “virtually every single terrestrial animal [that will not be] able to cut across this impermeable barrier.”

[Read to find out 93 endangered species threatened by Trump’s wall.]

“We are proposing quite literally to ram a border wall through the heart of the best Sonoran Desert habitat anywhere in the world,” said Jordahl.

What can we do about it?

The Center for Biological Diversity recommends a “huge outpouring of support and advocacy,” and that EcoWatchers reach out to Congress stating that we want “legislative protection for these nature areas.”

According to Jordahl Republicans want to approve billion more for border walls which would wall off the rest of the U.S. Mexico border. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, please call Congress.

Border wall construction is already happening and underway in Organ Pipe. Currently the Center for Biological Diversity has a pending lawsuit, awaiting a decision by Sept. 4. If they lose and Trump is allowed to waive any and all environmental protections to rush wall construction, they expect ground to be broken in almost 60 miles: through the entirety of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and across San Pedro River which is the last free flowing river in the American Southwest.

Jordahl says the most important things anyone can do are to raise awareness, to share videos like this interview and to help the Center Biological Diversity to reframe the argument and discussion around the border.

“If politicians in DC and most of the American public knew the reality of the land here, the beauty of the land and how fragile these ecosystems are, there’s no way we’d be talking about ramming a medieval wall through some of these expansive and beautiful nature areas,” said Jordahl.

Another thing EcoWatchers can do, if able, is take a trip to the border to see the borderlands for themselves. Some places Jordahl recommends visiting are Organ Pipe in Arizona and Big Bend in Texas. Jordahl’s view of the borderlands is one with flourishing national treasures, diverse wildlife habitat where black bears and jaguars dwell in the same place, rugged spectacular landscapes and seven different units of the national parks service.


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