Climate activist to speak in Whitefish

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Leonard Higgins

Climate activist Leonard Higgins will speak in Whitefish Saturday sharing the story of why he chose to risk 10 years in a Montana prison by closing an oil pipeline valve.

Higgins will share his story during a community presentation at 7 p.m. at the Whitefish Community Center. The event is sponsored by Glacier Climate Action.

On Oct. 11, 2016, Leonard Higgins cut a lock near Fort Benton, and manually turned off a pipeline carrying Alberta tar sands oil. He reported this act of civil disobedience and waited for arrest by the Choteau County sheriff. The retired Oregon man faces more than 10 years in prison at an upcoming trial this summer in Fort Benton.

Along with four other valve turners who acted simultaneously that day in four states, Higgins argues that the urgency of acting on climate change justifies their action to turn off the flow of tar sand oil, which is a major contributor of carbon pollution. The consequences of inaction on climate change far outweigh the personal consequences, he says.

“If people are not acting as though there is an emergency, people don’t believe there is an emergency,” said Higgins in a video produced by supporters. Higgins understood going in that he would almost certainly do time in prison for his act of climate change resistance, but he says it’s a price he’s willing to pay.

As an organization, Glacier Climate Action does not engage in acts of civil disobedience, and individual members have different opinions about the controversial practice. But the organization says it welcomes the opportunity to learn first-hand from a climate activist why he has taken this personal risk.

For more about the five valve turners including Higgins and their direct action campaign, visit http://www.shutitdown.today/ or watch their video: https://vimeo.com/187580141

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