Daily Beast Article Praises Eco Activist Who Appears to Admit to Felony

“Conscientiously” committing a felony is OK if done for environmental purposes, says the Daily Beast.

On Feb. 6, 2017, the Daily Beast published an article reveling at the news that eco-activist Ken Ward, who appeared to admit he had committed a felony, was walking free. The article was written by Ted Hamilton, co-founder of the Climate Defense Project, which offered Ward legal help in his trial. He argued that committing crimes in defense of the climate is moral and necessary.  

Ward admitted to cutting a lock to a fence and shutting off a valve to an oil pipeline for the sake of protecting the environment. He was facing up to 30 years in prison for what he did. But Kinder Morgan, the company that owns this pipeline, said “At the time of the incident, we were not operating through that portion of the line.” The jury in his trial was hopelessly deadlocked and it ended in a mistrial.

Hamilton’s piece never mentioned the potential danger of Ward’s actions. Canada's Energy Minister Jim Carr explained, "Tampering with energy infrastructure is a dangerous activity and it could cause harm to citizens and surrounding communities, which is unacceptable."

Though Ward seemed to admit deliberately breaking the law, Hamilton endorsed this behavior and said that this is “how eco-activists can fight Donald Trump.” He added that Ward getting off is “clearly a big victory for the climate movement.” 

Further clarifying his anti-Trump position, Hamilton argued “actions like Ward’s can form an important part of the civil resistance that’s rising to challenge Trump and his allies.”

Ward wanted to use a “necessity defence” based on climate change. This type of defence is used when the defendant claims to have no other option but to break the law. The judge refused this strange argument and said climate change is still a “tremendous controversy.” Hamilton said the judge’s decision was “a statement that flies in the face of years of scientific consensus."

In 2016, Hamilton wrote a similar piece empathizing with nine people who were accused of shutting down “a construction site along the Algonquin gas pipeline in Westchester County in November 2015.” But in this case, the judge accepted the “climate necessity defense,” a move that Hamilton praised. His organization is dedicated to defending people who engage in illegal but “nonviolent” demonstrations in defence of the climate. 

James Powers
James Powers is an intern in MRC Business.