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The lobster boat "Henry David T" anchored blocking coal from being delivered to the Brayton Point Power Plant. Photo via http://lobsterboatblockade.org/

Mass. district attorney drops charges on coal protesters, says sympathetic to their aim

John Deede | Shale Plays Media Google+

Bristol County District Attorney Samuel Sutter announced on Monday that he was dropping the serious charges on two environmental activists who anchored their lobster boat in order to block coal shipments from reaching Brayton Power Plant in Somerset, Massachusetts this May.

As an act of civil disobedience, Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward dropped their 200-pound anchor in front of the area where freighter ships unload coal for the plant. The two immediately notified the authorities of their intentions and told them they would cooperate. The two raised banners on the boat saying “#coalisstupid” and “350” referencing the 350 parts per million concentration level for carbon dioxide that is considered safe in the atmosphere by many scientists. The activists blocked a ship carrying 40,000 tons of coal for a day.

The two planned to argue in court that their actions were necessary in order to combat climate change. What they didn’t expect was the prosecutor to announce that their charges would be reduced or dropped because he wanted to address climate change. Jess Bidgood from the New York Times reports:

Sam Sutter, the Bristol County district attorney who dropped the conspiracy charge and downgraded the others to civil infractions, strode out of the Fall River Justice Center clutching an article on climate change written by the environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who was prepared to testify as an expert witness for the defense. Mr. Sutter told more than 100 climate activists who had gathered outside that he had reached his decision in part because of environmental concerns.

“Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced,” Mr. Sutter said. “In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been sorely lacking.”

The two will be required to pay $2,000 apiece in restitution for the act.

Related: Greenpeace agitates Chevron in Romania

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