Minn. Supreme Court allows pipeline protesters to use climate 'necessity defense'

Contractors work on an oil pipeline in Wisconsin.
Contractors work on an oil pipeline in Wisconsin.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News file

Climate change protesters are claiming victory in their effort to present an unusual "necessity defense" against felony charges stemming from efforts to shut down oil pipelines.

The Minnesota Supreme Court declined Wednesday to review a ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that backed the protesters, who will still face an uphill legal battle when their case goes to trial this fall.

Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein acknowledge turning the emergency shut-off valves on two pipelines in 2016 in Clearwater County of northwestern Minnesota as part of a coordinated nationwide action. Eleven activists were charged in all.

The Court of Appeals ruled in April the two Seattle-area women can argue that they believe the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude is so imminent that they were justified.

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