Press Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynnwood, WA
For Immediate Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynnwood
Contact: Ahmed Gaya, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-960-2587,
Friday, January 8th, 2016
Lynnwood, WA – Five community members who blocked the path of an explosive oil train in Everett last year will finally go to trial in Snohomish County on Monday. In a surprise ruling Judge Anthony E. Howard has allowed the defendants to argue that their actions were justified by the threat of climate change. This is the first time a U.S. court has heard a ‘necessity defense’ in a case relating to climate action.
The defendants, known to supporters as the Delta 5, will call expert witnesses including a co-author of the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change report and a rail safety expert, to convince the jury that the threat posed by climate change justifies their acts of civil disobedience. “There came a point where I could no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to act. I had to put my body on the line to demand not talk, but action on a massive scale to rapidly replace fossil fuels,” said Patrick Mazza, a member of the Delta 5 who has worked for years as an advocate for climate action.
Next week’s trial was moved to the Lynnwood courtroom to accommodate a documentary crew and dozens of supporters who are expected to pack the courthouse. Some supporters have traveled across the country to attend, including Tim DeChristopher who gained national attention as ‘bidder 70’ after disrupting a 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction in Utah. DeChristopher spent two years in federal prison for his action.
The Delta 5 are receiving national support from the Climate Disobedience Center, a group cofounded by DeChristopher, whose founders call on their own experiences advancing the necessity defense in high profile cases to support others in bold acts of conscience. Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien has also expressed his support of the Delta 5.
Many supporters come from communities of faith who have rallied around the case. On Sunday Dec. 10th the Delta 5 will receive a pre-trial blessing at Woodland Park Presbyterian Church. “Before taking action I read the daily prayer from The Book of Common Prayer,” said Abby Brockway, a member of the Delta 5 who will be preaching at Sunday’s blessing. “I took the prayer with me as I climbed atop the tripod. I understood that climbing the tripod was my way of participating in the Book of Acts.”
While the Delta 5 defend themselves in court next week, Washington regulators are considering six new oil-by-rail facilities. In Vancouver regulators are holding hearings on the largest such terminal proposed in North America. With Congress’ recent decision to lift the oil-export ban more proposals are expected. Activists have pledged an increased campaign of direct action and civil disobedience until these terminals are rejected. The outcome of next week’s trial could set important precedent for future actions of this kind.
For more information visit:
Dr. Richard Gammon Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry and Oceanography, and Adjunct Professor (Emeritus) of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Gammon was a co-author of the first Scientific Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1990). As Chief of the Carbon Dioxide Program, he directed the US program to globally monitor atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories, Boulder, 1982-84).
Fred Millar an oil train safety expert
Dr. Frank Eugene James, M.D. speaking about the human health impacts of oil tankers.
Statements from defendants: