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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Oil Train Blockade Activists Declare Win Despite Trespass Convictions

Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.
Rising Tide Seattle
Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.

Five climate change activists who blocked an oil train in Everett were convicted Friday of trespassing – but the jury gave environmentalists something to celebrate anyway.

The Delta 5, as the activists are called, had hoped to argue that blocking the BNSF Railway train tracks in September 2014 was necessary because of the looming threat of climate change.

But at the end of the trial in Snohomish County District Court, the judge told the jury that such a "necessity defense" would not stand and shouldn’t be considered in their deliberations. That meant climate change couldn’t play a role in their final decision.

It was a blow to the environmentalists.

But in an unexpected turn, the jury decided the activists are guilty of trespassing but not guilty of obstruction.

That means the Delta 5 won’t have to pay restitution for financial harm they caused BNSF Railway by blocking its trains.

They will be placed on probation and face fines of under $1,000. They will not serve jail time.