Charges dropped against 2 who blocked delivery to coal-burning plant to protest climate change

Associated Press

Criminal charges were dropped Monday against two environmental activists who used a lobster boat to block a shipment to New England's largest coal-burning plant.

Lawyers for Ken Ward and Jonathan "Jay" O'Hara had been prepared to argue that their clients' actions were necessary because of the threat posed by climate change.

Continue Reading Below

"Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been sorely lacking," Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter said in announcing the plea agreement on the day the trial was to have begun. "I am heartened that we were able to forge an agreement that both parties were pleased with and that appeared to satisfy the police and those here in sympathy with the individuals who were charged."

Ward and O'Hara were arrested after they used Ward's anchored lobster boat to block a delivery of an estimated 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset in 2013.

They will each pay $2,000 to cover expenses incurred by Somerset police. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss a conspiracy charge and reduced three other charges to civil offenses.

In statements released through the advocacy group Better Future Project, the men said they were pleased Sutter acknowledged the seriousness of the issue.

"The climate crisis is so terrible and so fast that it overwhelms ordinary political avenues," Ward said.

O'Hara said, "The truth is that taking these sorts of actions is necessary in light of the drastic news that continues to be described by the science."