Associate Judge William C. Clifton of Rhode Island’s District Court handed down his verdict against Curt Nordgaard, and Peter Nightingale, who were arrested after locking themselves to the front gate at the site of Spectra Energy‘s compressor station in Burrillville, Rhode Island in a direct action organized by Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG).
Charges of disorderly conduct were dismissed; charges of willful trespass resulted in a one-year “filing,” which means that these cases will be dismissed if the defendants come into no further conflict with the law.
Nordgaard, a resident pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, stated after his arrest that “if we had legal means to stop this project, we would use them. Instead we are forced to protect families and communities through nonviolent civil disobedience, in proportion to the severity of this threat.” Nightingale, a professor of physics at University of Rhode Island and a member of Fossil Free Rhode Island and who was arrested last December during a sit-in in U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse‘s office in Providence, has kept the promise he made at the time: “This pipeline is immoral and unjust, and we will keep taking action until this dangerous project is stopped.”
Nightingale stated: “Under the Public Trust Doctrine, government has a duty to preserve Earth’s gifts for present and future generations. The fact that we cannot use this argument to justify our actions in Burrillville [in Rhode Island’s courts] is but one symptom of the environmental injustice that pervades our system of government.”
“Natural” gas has been touted as a bridge fuel by both the industry and the Obama Administration, but evidence has been mounting since 2011 that, independent of the use to which it is put, it is more dangerous for the climate than coal or oil. This development, along with a growing awareness of local impacts such as air and water pollution, threats to public health, earthquakes, etc. are continuing to draw unexpected activists into increasingly defiant acts of civil disobedience against fracking and gas-related infrastructure.
[This report compiled from a FANG press release]