Climate activists are facing criminal charges after shutting down tar sands oil pipelines from Canada to the United States on Tuesday morning.
Ken Ward, an Oregon resident, along with two others turned the wheel on an emergency shut-off valve in Anacortes owned by Kinder Morgan. Seattle residents Annette and Emily Johnston turned a valve in Minnesota, and Michael Foster shut a valve in North Dakota.
They were part of a group of activists who tried to shut off tar sands oil transport at five different sites across the country in solidarity with the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"Even if we stop today, burning fossil fuels, we have caused impact. We no longer have the time to go around and think about what the policy is going to be. We need to stop and that's what we did today. We stopped the flow of crude oil," Afrin Sopariwala said.
The activists call tar sands oil one of the most destructive of fossil fuels – destructive enough they all risked arrest. The Skagit County Sheriff's office is charging the Anacortes activists with burglary and criminal sabotage.
Ward is known as a father who wants to protect the Earth for kids like his own.
"He comes at this work from a place of love, comes at this from a place of deep concern and sadness that this is the avenue left to try and inspire the citizenry and leadership of this country," Jay O'Hara said. "They are demonstrating the resolve and inviting leaders like President Obama and Prime Minister Mirabaud and others to take the same action within their own sphere of influence."
Kinder Morgan sent KING 5 the following statement:
"Earlier this morning, reckless trespassers broke into a location on Trans Mountain's Puget Sound pipeline system in Washington State. At the time of the incident, we were not operating through that portion of the line and their actions did not cause the release of any product. Local authorities responded and three individuals were arrested. We are conducting a thorough inspection to ensure the integrity of the pipeline system."
The activists say they called each company's emergency hotline to warn them ahead of time, raising questions about security around the oil lines.
Kinder Morgan sent the following statement in response:
"Trans Mountain's number one concern is for the safety of the public, our employees, our neighbours, as well the security and safety of our operations. We have security measures in place at all Tran Mountain facilities in Canada and the United States. In today's incident, local authorities responded quickly and were arrested before the individuals involved could harm themselves, the community or the integrity of the pipeline. As with any incident, we will be reviewing our procedures and security measures."