Valve Turners Brought to Justice

BISMARCK, N.D. — An environmental activist from Seattle has been sentenced to one year in prison for targeting an oil pipeline in North Dakota.

From the Crime Archives, Bismark ND KVRR Local News  Men Sentenced for Shutting Down Keystone Pipeline The objective facts are provided by Alison Voorhees February 6, 2018

Michael Foster in October 2016 cut through a chain link fence near Walhalla and turned a shut-off valve on the Keystone Pipeline.

He was convicted last October of conspiracy, criminal mischief and trespass but acquitted of reckless endangerment.

Samuel Jessup of Vermont, who filmed Foster’s protest, was sentenced to two years of probation for conspiracy.

A more sympathetic report from Seattle Met Seattle Activist Who Shut Off Keystone Pipeline Sentenced to One Year in Prison  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Foster, along with activists in three other states, in a coordinated effort turned the valves off the tar sands crude pipelines entering the U.S. from Canada. Foster stopped the flow of oil for seven hours, allegedly costing TransCanada $50,000. The pipeline transports an estimated 590,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to refineries in Texas’s Gulf Coast.

Foster was convicted in October of misdemeanor trespass, felony criminal mischief, and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief. (He was acquitted of the reckless endangerment charge.) The crimes carried a potential maximum penalty of 21 years in prison. TransCanada and the state of North Dakota recommended five in the hopes a harsh sentence would discourage future climate activists.

“It’s gonna suck being a little old vegan in prison,” Foster told Seattle Met months earlier. “But honestly? Living in this system of overconsumption, beside this concrete river of CO2 that is always flowing on I-5—everywhere I go in this town that I love feels like prison. So the idea of living in prison? It doesn’t bother me the way it should.”

The Pembina County Court judge in Cavalier, North Dakota, sentenced Foster to one year in prison and two years deferred. He begins his sentence Tuesday. Sam Jessup of Vermont, who livestreamed Foster turning the North Dakota valve, was sentenced to supervised probation for conspiracy.

Elsewhere we have:  “Michael Foster isn’t a criminal; he’s a hero.” —Dr. James Hansen, climate expert.

What Was Said in Court

Some of the courtroom record is provided by ABC affiliate WDAZ under the category Crime and Courts:

The men and their lawyers brought up everything from slavery to the election in their sentencing hearing — all in an effort to stay out of jail.

“You have not expressed any remorse or any regret ever, any time at all,” said Judge, Laurie Fontaine.

That’s the message from judge Laurie Fontaine to Michael Foster — the man who shut off an emergency pipeline valve two years ago.

“We are not in a democracy today. Because if it was a democracy, Mrs. Clinton would be president. She got 3 million more votes,” said Attorney, William Kirschner.

Their lawyers say majority of people support action on climate change — their voices won’t likely be heard, as, he says, was the case in the last election.

But the judge says turning the valve on the Keystone Pipeline cost the company more than a million dollars — and anxiety for people living in Pembina County.

“Can’t some of these people come up with a marketing plan to convince the population to make a change?” Asked Judge Fontaine.

The County State’s attorney hopes this sentencing serves as a lesson to any would-be valve turners.

“It is very important for everyone to understand if they come here to perpetrate injustice in violation of our laws, it will be dealt with accordingly. And we will pursue it. It is one of a kind and we hope that it remains that way,” said Pembina County States Attorney, Rebecca Flanders.

The state is recommending each of the men pay 20 thousand dollars in restitution, but that will be decided at a later date.


You do the crime, you do the time.  These are crimes and jail time is what the law requires.  Journalists downplay that the sentence is three years, with two of them deferred.  As posted previously, Iowa state senators are considering a law to increase penalties on such crimes considerably.

See Upping the Stakes for Ecoterrorists




  1. Bob Greene · February 10

    Says a lot about journalist when they say “turned the valves off the…pipeline” Turned the valves from the pipeline, turned off the valves from the pipeline? I’m not sure I’ve ever turned a valve off even with bad words and my usual ugly face. I have opened and closed many a valve to start or stop flow.

    Eco terrorists ought to have to pay for the damage they do.


  2. Hifast · February 11

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


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