Weather Forecast


Valve Turners receive sentencing

CAVALIER, ND (WDAZ)--Two men shut off part of the keystone pipeline, but only one of them will spend time behind bars.

Today the two men were handed their sentences.

The men and their lawyers brought up everything from slavery to the election in their sentencing hearing -- all in an effort to stay out of jail.

"You have not expressed any remorse or any regret at ever any time at all,” said Judge, Laurie Fontaine.

That's the message from judge Laurie Fontaine to Michael Foster -- the man who shut off an emergency pipeline valve two years ago.

"We are not in a democracy today. Because if it was a democracy, Mrs. Clinton would be president. She got 3 million more votes,” said Attorney, William Kirschner.

Their lawyers say majority of people support action on climate change -- their voices won't likely be heard, as, he says, was the case in the last election.

Defending his actions to the judge -- Foster compared himself to abolitionists.

"If people are willing to step outside the legal system to challenge it. To not help capture a fugitive slave and return them to their owner,” said Michael Foster.

But the judge says turning the valve on the Keystone Pipeline cost the company more than a million dollars -- and anxiety for people living in Pembina County.

"Can't some of these people come up with a marketing plan to convince the population to make a change?" Asked Judge Fontaine.

The other man sentenced today, Sam Jessup, didn't turn the valve -- but he did live stream it online.

"I regret that I let left it on the criminal justice system to show my accountability to the people of Pembina county,” said Defendant Sam Jessup.

His regret led the judge to sentence him to two years on probation, with no jail time.

"I also don't have any idea how we're going to figure out how to address this as a country. And I feel like it's on all of us to try to figure that out,” said Jessup.

The County State's attorney hopes this sentencing serves as a lesson to any would-be valve turners.

"It is very important for everyone to understand if they come here to perpetrate in justice in violation of our laws, it will be dealt with accordingly. And we will pursue it. It is one of a kind and we hope that it remains that way,” said Pembina County States Attorney, Rebecca Flanders.

As for Foster?

He's in jail for the next year -- and will spend another couple years on probation.

Foster’s girlfriend says, in his absence, she plans to continue talking to children about climate change back home in Washington.

"I trust the system that yeah I guess I'm not worried about him being the system,” said partner, Sue Lenander.

The state is recommending each of the men pay 20 thousand dollars in restitution, but that will be decided at a later date.