(Adds comments from defendant, paragraphs 3-4)
By Dan Whitcomb
June 7 A climate-change activist who disrupted
the flow of millions of barrels of crude oil into the United
States as part of a coordinated protest of global warming was
found guilty of burglary in Washington state on Wednesday.
But a Skagit County Superior Court jury deadlocked on a
second charge of sabotage against Kenneth Ward, a co-founder of
the Climate Disobedience Center.
"It's a pretty good outcome, actually," Ward, 60, told
Reuters in an interview shortly after the verdict was read.
Still, he vowed to appeal his conviction on the grounds that the
judge did not allow him to mount a so-called "necessity" defense
- that the protest was necessary to save the environment.
Ward said jurors told him following the verdict that they
struggled with the case because they supported his position on
climate change but could not find legal grounds to acquit him.
He was ordered to return to court on June 23 for sentencing
on the burglary count, which carries a maximum punishment of 10
years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
A first jury weighing the charges against Ward deadlocked on
both counts in February.
Skagit County prosecutors were expected to decide in the
coming weeks whether to put him on trial a third time on the
sabotage charge. Prosecutors did not immediately return a call
Ward has not disputed that he shut down a valve on Kinder
Morgan Inc's Trans Mountain Pipeline near Burlington,
Washington, but maintains that his actions are necessary in the
face of the government's failure to address global warming.
Groups have also protested the nearly completed Dakota
Access and Keystone XL pipeline.
Ward was arrested in October when he and other activists in
four states cut padlocks and chains and entered remote flow
stations to turn off valves to try to stop crude from moving
through lines that carry as much as 15 percent of daily U.S. oil
Supporters have called his trial an "all hands on deck
moment" for climate change activism.
Earlier this year President Donald Trump signed orders
smoothing the path for those pipelines in an effort to expand
Officials, pipeline companies and experts said the
protesters could have caused environmental damage themselves by
shutting down the lines.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa
Shumaker and David Gregorio)