Pipeline Tampering Is ‘Civil Disobedience,’ Not Crime to Democracy Now!

By Julia A. Seymour

A group calling itself Climate Direct Action simultaneously tampered with oil pipelines in four states Oct. 11, claiming it was necessary to stop all tar sands oil flowing into the U.S. because of the climate “emergency.”

At least 10 people were arrested in connection with the dangerous pipeline interference. Climate Direct Action also claimed their actions were done in “solidarity” with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

The White House took the tampering seriously. According to The Hill, White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the incidents and he said the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Transportation were investigating.

“When it comes to the security of our infrastructure, particularly our energy infrastructure, that’s something that the United States and this administration takes quite seriously,” Earnest said.

Liberal news outlets had a very different perspective. Rather than call the actions crimes or eco-terrorism, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman called it “unusual civil disobedience.” Her broadcast didn’t even admit that manually shutting down oil pipelines could actually cause environmental damage through a spill or rupture.

The progressive news show, which got at least $410,000 in direct funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, Marisla Foundation, Park Foundation and Wallace Global Fund in recent years, aired a long segment about Climate Direct Action’s way of “taking on the fossil fuel industry.”

They aired video of valve tampering by while playing soft music: a ClimActs song called, “Skinny Dove Angel,” Goodman said. Then she and co-host Juan Gonzalez reported the story from the left and interviewed two climate activists knowledgeable about the valve tampering.

The anchors spoke sympathetically about the crimes while the activists they interviewed praised Climate Direct Action and the acts as “necessary.” Activist Jay O’Hara said the “whole team approached this action with the same spirit of love and compassion and grief that the world that we are living in is not the world that we need.”

The only other view in the program were the briefly read statements from affected energy companies which condemned the actions as “reckless” and “dangerous.”

What Democracy Now! didn’t admit was that industry experts agree with that assessment.

Carl Weimer, executive director at the industry watchdog Pipeline Safety Trust, told Reuters it was a “dangerous stunt.”

“Closing valves on major pipelines can have unexpected consequences endangering people and the environment. We do not support this type of action,” Weimer said.

Goodman bragged on a previous program that a North Dakota town had a warrant to arrest her for criminal trespassing at the sight of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, although charges were later dropped.

Two other liberal non-profit journalism outlets also reported Climate Direct Action’s pipeline interference. Grist.org ran an uncritical story about the “protesters” in its “Briefly” section and wrote that the group is seeking donations for the legal expenses of those arrested. Grist gets funding from the Rockefeller Brothers and Park Foundation, in addition to money from the Grantham Foundation and Schmidt Family Foundation.

Inside Climate News also uncritically mentioned “activists” temporarily shut down five pipelines in a larger story about environmental activism to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.