Activists, who faced felony charges under Texas’ anti-protest law for protesting at the Houston Ship Channel in 2019, signed an agreement that will allow them to be cleared of all state charges in six months. The Pretrial Intervention Agreement was part of a “negotiation to expedite the dismissal of charges in lieu of a trial.”
The Greenpeace activists arrested in Houston blocked Houston Ship Channel, the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the country where refineries for ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and more operate, for 18 hours. The goal of the protest was to draw attention to the continued harm being done to humans and the environment by the fossil fuel industry, according to Greenpeace.
“This was a peaceful action,” Deepa Padmanabha, USA Deputy General Counsel at Greenpeace, said. “The most dangerous thing about that shipping channel wasn’t the activists — it was and continues to be fossil fuel executives’ reckless plans to push us further towards climate chaos.”
While the activists originally faced a felony charge under Texas’ anti-protest law, a Texas grand jury declined to issue felony indictments on Wednesday, according to a press release.
The District Attorney’s office will dismiss all of these cases once the waiting period is over, “as long as certain costs incurred by law enforcement were paid,” according to a press release. The activists signed off on the Agreements.
“The activists would have loved for these cases to be tried as their actions were at all times justified,” Nicole DeBorde Hochglaube, attorney at Hochglaube and DeBorde, said. “The reality is that getting all of these misdemeanor cases to trial faster than getting them dismissed pursuant to this agreement would have been very unlikely.”
Around 700,000 barrels of oil pass through the Houston Ship Channel every single day and this is set to increase to more than 2 million barrels in a few short years, according to a press release.
“We are in a climate emergency, created by the fossil fuel industry,” Padmanabha said. “We have little more than a decade to take ambitious action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change—that means starting the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy now. We can either take the bold actions necessary to stave off climate crisis today or suffer the radical consequences of climate-fueled disasters—more floods, more megastorms, and more fires—for years to come.