In a statement on Thursday, Ward reiterated that sentiment, noting that he is “a responsible and law-abiding citizen” whose previous brushes with the law also involved attempts to avert climate catastrophe. In 2013, Ward and one other activist blockaded a shipment of West Virginia coal from arriving at Brayton Point Power Station in Massachusetts—an act for which they were later praised by a local district attorney who dropped all charges against them. Then last year, Ward took part in the Break Free from Fossil Fuels oil train blockade, also in Anacortes. 

“I did these things because I believe that it is the obligation of every thinking person to find a way to stave off climate cataclysm, and there is no effective, legal alternative to personal direct action,” Ward said. 

He cited a recent study from Oil Change International that showed the vast majority of fossil fuels must be left in the ground for a good chance at a habitable planet.

“In this context and with these terrible imperatives,” Ward said, “my actions of walking across a field and cutting a fence chain are inconsequential and excusable compared to the ghastly effect of continuing to burn tar sands oil.”

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