Climate Activist Convicted After Pipeline Protest in Montana

Montana jury found Oregon man guilty of criminal mischief and trespassing

By Molly Priddy

FORT BENTON, Mont. — An activist who was trying to call attention to climate change has been found guilty of criminal charges for closing a valve on a pipeline carrying crude oil from Canada to the United States.

A Montana jury found Leonard Higgins of Portland, Oregon, guilty of criminal mischief and trespassing on Wednesday.

Sentencing was expected later in the day.

Higgins faces up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine on the criminal mischief charge, a felony. Trespassing is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in county jail and a $500 fine.

Higgins entered a fenced site near Big Sandy, Montana, in October 2016 and closed a valve on pipeline operated by Spectra Energy. Activists simultaneously targeted other pipelines in Washington state, North Dakota and Minnesota.