Fort Benton, MT — Valve-turner and CDP client Leonard Higgins was sentenced on Tuesday for his part in a coordinated protest that shut down the flow of Canadian tar sands oil into the United States in order to fight climate change. A judge in Chouteau County, Montana, sentenced Mr. Higgins to three years deferred imprisonment, meaning that he will serve no jail time.
Mr. Higgins was previously found guilty of criminal mischief and criminal trespass and faced up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
The prosecution and the pipeline company, Spectra Energy (which has since been purchased by Enbridge), had asked the court to order restitution in the amount of $25,630 for costs allegedly resulting from Mr. Higgins’s protest. Instead, the court ordered Mr. Higgins to pay $3,755.47 in restitution.
Mr. Higgins’s right to present a complete defense was curtailed prior to trial when the court denied his right to present the climate necessity defense, a powerful tool that has seen recent success in other courts around the country. Climate Defense Project is working to appeal the denial of Mr. Higgins’s necessity defense.