Local DA dismisses criminal charges against climate 'activists' who blocked coal barge

Two activists in Falls River, MA, who used a lobster boat to block a coal barge from reaching an electric plant in Somerset, have had all criminal charges against them dismissed by the Bristol County District Attorney, Sam Sutter - who then promised a cheering crowd that he would join them for the "People's Climate March" in New York city two weeks from now.

I guess a District Attorney can indict a ham sandwich as well as dismiss charges against people with liverwurst for brains.

The Bristol County District Attorney, Sam Sutter, dropped the conspiracy charges and reduced the other charges to civil infractions this morning, saying that he saw the need to take leadership on climate change. He called climate change “one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced” and told a cheering crowd that he would join them at the People’s Climate March in New York City in two weeks.

Ken and Jay had sought to become the first American climate activists to use a “necessity defense”, arguing that the blockade was necessary in light of the imminent threat of climate change. They had planned to call former NASA climatologist James Hansen and environmentalist Bill McKibben to the stand as expert witnesses.

“The truth is that taking these sorts of actions is necessary in light of the drastic news that continues to be described by the science. This decision by the District Attorney is an admission that the political and economic system isn’t taking the climate crisis seriously, and that it falls to ordinary citizens, especially people of faith, to stand up and take action to avert catastrophe,” said Jay O’Hara, a Quaker.

“By dropping the criminal charges against us and stating that ‘political leadership on this [climate] issue has been gravely lacking,’ DA Sutter in effect accepted our necessity defense. The climate crisis is so terrible and so fast that it overwhelms ordinary political avenues. Even now, as the West Antarctic ice shelf is in unstoppable collapse, the Brayton Point plant is increasing the amount of coal it burns. Protest works, indeed protest maybe the only thing that can save us,” said Ken Ward.

Ken and Jay’s blockade sparked a summer of action at the Brayton Point, including the arrest of 44 people at the gates of the plant in July 2013. Last fall, the owners announced the closure of Brayton Point in 2017.

First of all, if global warming was so imminent a threat that preventing a barge from delivering coal to one power plant was a "necessity," it's almost certainly too late to do anything about  climate change.

Secondly, it's obvious these loons didn't bother to read the IPCC interim report from 2013 that concluded 1) there has been a pause of at least 16 years in warming for unknown reasons; b) the rise in temperatures hasn't come close to predictive models; and c) the predicted long term rise in temps has been reduced - to name just a few of the changes from the original report.

Third, the US has already drastically reduced its CO2 emissions -a result of industries switching from coal to natural gas. The Wall Street Journal reported in April of last year:

Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is widely believed to contribute to global warming, have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012 and are at their lowest level since 1994, according to a recent estimate by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Energy Department.

Lowest since 1994? What that means is that the United States is the only country in the world to achieve its targeted reductions mandated by the Kyoto Accords - even though we were never a signatory.

Finally, it hardly matters how much CO2 we prevent from being released in the US. That's because China and India are building coal fired power plants far faster than we close our coal-fired plants here.

Some raw numbers on China's consumption of coal:

Coal, the most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels, accounts for 70 percent of energy used in China today and is responsible for about three quarters of electricity generation. 

  • In just 5 years, from 2005 through 2009, China added the equivalent of the entire U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants, or 510 new 600-megawatt coal plants.
     
  • From 2010 through 2013, it added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. again.
     
  • At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added roughly two 600-megawatt coal plants a week, for 7 straight years.  
     
  • And according to U.S. government projections, China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years.
Three new coal fired electric plants a month? And these Luddites are worried about drastically declining numbers of  coal-fired electric plants in the US?

Why not go block a couple of trains carrying coal in China? Or barges? If they really, really care about CO2 emissions, go to China and protest that government's expanding use of coal, as well as their lack of cooperation in the international arena on carbon reduction schemes.

The idea that any carbon scheme offered by the government or these activists would reduce CO2 emissions worldwide by one, single, molecule is absurd.

I wonder about the efficacy of a District Attorney who shows a marked preference not to enforce the law when his political beliefs are involved. His advocacy calls into question any future prosecutions he might handle involving coal companies, or climate change advocates. The very least a defendant should expect is an unbiased prosecutor who conducts a trial based on fact, not emotion or politics.

Sutter should be fired.

Two activists in Falls River, MA, who used a lobster boat to block a coal barge from reaching an electric plant in Somerset, have had all criminal charges against them dismissed by the Bristol County District Attorney, Sam Sutter - who then promised a cheering crowd that he would join them for the "People's Climate March" in New York city two weeks from now.

I guess a District Attorney can indict a ham sandwich as well as dismiss charges against people with liverwurst for brains.

The Bristol County District Attorney, Sam Sutter, dropped the conspiracy charges and reduced the other charges to civil infractions this morning, saying that he saw the need to take leadership on climate change. He called climate change “one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced” and told a cheering crowd that he would join them at the People’s Climate March in New York City in two weeks.

Ken and Jay had sought to become the first American climate activists to use a “necessity defense”, arguing that the blockade was necessary in light of the imminent threat of climate change. They had planned to call former NASA climatologist James Hansen and environmentalist Bill McKibben to the stand as expert witnesses.

“The truth is that taking these sorts of actions is necessary in light of the drastic news that continues to be described by the science. This decision by the District Attorney is an admission that the political and economic system isn’t taking the climate crisis seriously, and that it falls to ordinary citizens, especially people of faith, to stand up and take action to avert catastrophe,” said Jay O’Hara, a Quaker.

“By dropping the criminal charges against us and stating that ‘political leadership on this [climate] issue has been gravely lacking,’ DA Sutter in effect accepted our necessity defense. The climate crisis is so terrible and so fast that it overwhelms ordinary political avenues. Even now, as the West Antarctic ice shelf is in unstoppable collapse, the Brayton Point plant is increasing the amount of coal it burns. Protest works, indeed protest maybe the only thing that can save us,” said Ken Ward.

Ken and Jay’s blockade sparked a summer of action at the Brayton Point, including the arrest of 44 people at the gates of the plant in July 2013. Last fall, the owners announced the closure of Brayton Point in 2017.

First of all, if global warming was so imminent a threat that preventing a barge from delivering coal to one power plant was a "necessity," it's almost certainly too late to do anything about  climate change.

Secondly, it's obvious these loons didn't bother to read the IPCC interim report from 2013 that concluded 1) there has been a pause of at least 16 years in warming for unknown reasons; b) the rise in temperatures hasn't come close to predictive models; and c) the predicted long term rise in temps has been reduced - to name just a few of the changes from the original report.

Third, the US has already drastically reduced its CO2 emissions -a result of industries switching from coal to natural gas. The Wall Street Journal reported in April of last year:

Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is widely believed to contribute to global warming, have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012 and are at their lowest level since 1994, according to a recent estimate by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Energy Department.

Lowest since 1994? What that means is that the United States is the only country in the world to achieve its targeted reductions mandated by the Kyoto Accords - even though we were never a signatory.

Finally, it hardly matters how much CO2 we prevent from being released in the US. That's because China and India are building coal fired power plants far faster than we close our coal-fired plants here.

Some raw numbers on China's consumption of coal:

Coal, the most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels, accounts for 70 percent of energy used in China today and is responsible for about three quarters of electricity generation. 

  • In just 5 years, from 2005 through 2009, China added the equivalent of the entire U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants, or 510 new 600-megawatt coal plants.
     
  • From 2010 through 2013, it added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. again.
     
  • At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added roughly two 600-megawatt coal plants a week, for 7 straight years.  
     
  • And according to U.S. government projections, China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years.

Three new coal fired electric plants a month? And these Luddites are worried about drastically declining numbers of  coal-fired electric plants in the US?

Why not go block a couple of trains carrying coal in China? Or barges? If they really, really care about CO2 emissions, go to China and protest that government's expanding use of coal, as well as their lack of cooperation in the international arena on carbon reduction schemes.

The idea that any carbon scheme offered by the government or these activists would reduce CO2 emissions worldwide by one, single, molecule is absurd.

I wonder about the efficacy of a District Attorney who shows a marked preference not to enforce the law when his political beliefs are involved. His advocacy calls into question any future prosecutions he might handle involving coal companies, or climate change advocates. The very least a defendant should expect is an unbiased prosecutor who conducts a trial based on fact, not emotion or politics.

Sutter should be fired.