‘I’m Just More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prison’

Foster, who is 53, was charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. At his bond hearing in Cavalier, N.D., he learned that he faced a maximum sentence of more than 26 years. When prosecutors requested that his bail be set at $100,000, Foster asked for a chance to speak. “Your Honor,” he said, “one of the main reasons for this action is to appear here and see justice done for our children, and to protect the air and land and water that they will require to survive. So it’s very important for me to be here in this courtroom, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m — it’s terrifying — but I am not going to miss it.”

Judge Laurie Fontaine set his bail at $75,000.

I first met Foster on a pitch-black evening in November 2016, a week after the presidential election, in the community room of a progressive church in Hood River, Ore. Foster and the four others accused of pipeline sabotage, all of whom had been released on bail, had been dubbed the Valve Turners, and this was their first public appearance since their coordinated action. They stood in a self-conscious line before their audience, unsure how to begin.

One by one, they recounted their actions on the morning of Oct. 11. Ken Ward, 61, a longtime environmental activist from New England, closed a shut-off valve on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline near Mount Vernon, Wash. Leonard Higgins, 66, a soft-spoken Unitarian and retired state-government employee from Corvallis, Ore., closed a shut-off valve on the Enbridge Express Pipeline near Coal Banks Landing, Mont. Emily Johnston, 51, an editor and a poet, and Annette Klapstein, 65, a retired attorney for the Puyallup tribe, traveled together from Seattle to Leonard, Minn., and turned the shut-off valves on a pair of pipelines owned by Enbridge. The five men and women said little about themselves, dwelling instead on what they saw as the existential threat of…

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