Greenpeace USA Activists Who Blocked Fossil Fuel Thoroughfare Will Be Cleared Of Criminal Charges
by Valentina Stackl
November 5, 2021
November 5, 2021- Houston, Texas. Greenpeace USA is pleased to announce that after over two years in the court system, the Greenpeace activists signed an agreement that will allow them to be cleared of all state charges in six months.
The activists’ goal is and always has been to draw attention to the continued harm the fossil fuel industry is imposing on our people and planet, especially to residents of places like Houston who live close to harmful fossil fuel facilities.
The activists entered into a Pretrial Intervention Agreement which provides that the District Attorney’s office will dismiss all of these cases after a brief waiting period, as long as certain costs incurred by law enforcement were paid. In order to have these cases dismissed, the activists signed off on the Agreements which contained language drafted by the District Attorney as part of a negotiation to expedite the dismissal of charges in lieu of a trial.
On September 12, 2019, 22 Greenpeace activists blocked the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the country for 18 hours. The shores of the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel are also home to the second-largest petrochemical complex in the world. Refineries operated by ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and more sit dangerously close to homes and schools. Every day, these facilities threaten the health of the majority of Black, Brown, and low-income communities that surround them. They originally faced a felony charge under Texas’ anti-protest law, an unconstitutional law pushed forward by secretive lobbying groups like ALEC and oil companies like Koch Industries and Marathon Petroleum. In March 2020, a Texas grand jury on Wednesday declined to issue felony indictments.
Nicole DeBorde Hochglaube, Attorney at Hochglaube and DeBorde
“The activists would have loved for these cases to be tried as their actions were at all times justified. The reality is that getting all of these misdemeanor cases to trial faster than getting them dismissed pursuant to this agreement would have been very unlikely. It is disappointing that the elected District Attorney would issue a self-serving statement about a case which has yet to be concluded. These allegations are replete with legal problems and the District Attorney knew that a dismissal without a trial was appropriate for many reasons. It is unfortunate that the press release she issued does not address the many legal problems with these allegations which the DA would have been forced to address in a trial. It is also unfortunate that the District Attorney’s press release implies that these activists are guilty of any crime. The activists have been found guilty of absolutely nothing.
Greenpeace USA Activist Rico Sisney, who participated in the protest said:
“In Houston and around the world, Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. For too long, fossil fuel companies have poisoned communities to line the pockets of a handful of billionaires. They’ve gotten away with it in the same way that corporations and politicians get away with dehumanizing migrant, disabled, low-income, and other marginalized people all too often. Working together, we can ensure that the clean energy revolution will leave no one behind.”
Greenpeace USA Deputy General Counsel, Deepa Padmanabha said:
“We are in a climate emergency, created by the fossil fuel industry. We have little more than a decade to take ambitious action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – that means starting the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy now. We can either take the bold actions necessary to stave off climate crisis today or suffer the radical consequences of climate-fueled disasters — more floods, more megastorms, and more fires — for years to come. This was a peaceful action. The most dangerous thing about that shipping channel wasn’t the activists — it was and continues to be fossil fuel executives’ reckless plans to push us further towards climate chaos.”
On average, 700,000 barrels of oil pass through the Houston Ship Channel every single day. If the fossil fuel industry gets its way, that will increase to more than 2 million barrels in a matter of years (source). Business as usual for oil companies means climate chaos and more toxic pollution for us all.
Contact: Valentina Stackl, Greenpeace USA, [email protected], (734) 276 6260