Description: Criminal charges against protestors who used a lobster boat to block a coal shipment to coal-fired power plant.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Ward
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/08/2014 Press Release Charges dropped and reduced in conjunction with guilty plea. On September 8, 2014, Bristol County (Massachusetts) District Attorney Samuel Sutter dropped criminal conspiracy charges against two climate activists who in 2013 used a lobster boat to block a shipping channel to stop a coal shipment to the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The charges were dropped in conjunction with a plea deal in which the activists reportedly agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges of disturbing the peace and motor vessel violations and to pay $2,000 each in restitution. The activists had indicated that they would pursue a necessity defense that would require them to establish that climate change presented a clear and imminent danger, not one that was debatable or speculative; that they reasonably expected that their actions would be effective in directly reducing or eliminating the danger; and that there was no legal alternative which would have been effective to reduce or eliminate the danger. In dropping and reducing the charges, the district attorney called climate change “one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced” and said that “[i]n my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been sorely lacking.”