For what could be the second time in less than three weeks, a courtroom may again hear climate justice dissidents make one of the most important legal arguments of our time: that the only way to defend themselves and the environment was to break the law.
On January 7, a judge in Washington State allowed a band of climate dissidents – the Delta 5 – to make this argument to defend their blockade of a mile-long oil train at a BNSF Delta train yard in Everett, Washington, in September 2014. Next week, another group of climate dissidents, known as the “Montrose 9,” plan to make the very same argument in a courtroom in Cortlandt, New York.
In the Delta 5 case, Judge Anthony E. Howard, for the first time in a US court, allowed the dissidents’ lawyers to argue their defendants’ actions were justified by “climate necessity,” or the need to defend people’s lives and the planet against the impacts of climate disruption. The district judge allowed the arguments to be made for four days during the trial in January before ultimately instructing the jury to not consider this defense when making its deliberations.