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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Historic ‘Necessity Defense’ Allowed in Pipeline Case : “This is historic because it’s the first time the necessity defense has been accepted as a legal defense in a court case.”

Nov 27, 2018 04:54PM

On January 8, Cortlandt Town Justice Kimberly Ragazzo will hand down her ruling on the two-year-old case of several members of SANE Energy Project, who climbed a fence near the Indian Point nuclear power facility in Cortlandt Manor to protest the planned construction of a Spectra gas pipeline there. 

According to member Judy Allen, SANE’s mission is to replace fracked gas infrastructure with community-led, sustainable energy.

“Many of us had attended meetings of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in hope of averting Spectra’s plan,” she says. “Local elected officials had spoken out against the pipeline, and we wrote, called and visited the offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Governor Cuomo, to no avail.” 

At the recent trial, Ragazzo allowed the “necessity defense,” the argument that the group’s actions were necessary to prevent a greater, imminent harm.

“This is historic because it’s the first time the necessity defense has been accepted as a legal defense in a court case,” Allen says. “Our pro bono lawyer, David Dorfman, was brilliant in exposing the dangers of a gas pipeline so near a nuclear power plant and in laying out the case we made for protecting the health and safety of our community.” 

For more info about the Sane Energy Project visit SaneEnergy.org.