Michael Foster is a 53-year old mental health counselor in Seattle, and he was also one of the Climate Activists that demonstrated against the pipeline in an act known on social media as the shutitdown action. The result is now a three-year prison sentence for Michael and Sam Jessup who filmed Foster’s action.

Not all Climate Change activists are the same in their beliefs on how to best clean up the planet.. Some climate change activists believe that civil disobedience is not the course to take, instead they believe that using the law and platforms made for debates to create the change they want to see in the world. Other Climate Change activists believe in taking the route of civil disobedience in order to clean up planet earth, and Michael Foster was one of those activists.  

In 2016 several hundred activists went to North Dakota to protest the TransCanada Keystone pipeline. TransCanada is a massive North Americans energy company who was responsible for the Keystone pipeline.  

Last Tuesday Foster defended his actions by saying, “I made a decision to commit civil disobedience to defend my family tree and yours, knowing that there is no government, no politician, no corporation on the planet right now putting forward a plan to defend life as we know it… My kids and yours won’t survive this mess if we don’t clean up all this.”  

Other activists have defended Foster’s actions by attacking TransCanada for being the real crime to humanity, because of the companies use of fossil fuels. There has been no response from TransCanada besides pushing for a harder sentence upon Michael Foster.  

“If other people don’t take action, mine makes no difference, and if they don’t, the planet comes apart at the seams. The only way what I did matters is if people are stopping the poison,” Foster also commented.  

The Ruling and the Court Case:  

Foster wasn’t the only person participating in the valve turning. As it turns out this wasn’t a small demonstration, because of the effect ShutItDown had on social media. Even with that being the case, most of the other activists haven’t received harsh sentences like Foster has.  

Other activists got away with it because they argued that their action was necessary for helping and supporting the human race and that breaking the law was necessary for fulfilling this goal. Fosters and Sam the person who filmed the act had the same defense case as the others, but Judge Laurie A. Fontaine rejected the defense.  

Dr. James Hanson, “the Father of modern climate change awareness,” has called Michael Foster a hero for the actions he did against TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline.  

Emily Johnston is a fellow valve turner who has also defended Foster’s actions, “No word on when TransCanada & the others will be tried for crimes against humanity. But they will be—the only question is whether we can get them to pay damages before they declare bankruptcy & disappear. ,” she posted on Twitter.  

The Climate Direct Action launched the shutItDown action, and they released a statement in Foster’s defense and attacked North Dakota and TransCanada for pushing for a harder sentence on Foster, “TransCanada and the State of North Dakota had both pushed for a harsh sentence to deter other climate activists (the prosecution recommended five years).” 

What do you think? Is Michael Foster a hero or a Criminal?  







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