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Three Oil Train Opponents Agree Not to Protest Again for 18 Months

Three women accused of blocking train tracks to protest oil and coal trains travelling through Spokane agreed today (Monday) not to protest again for 18 months. Their agreement was part of a two-hour long hearing that also included expert testimony related to climate change and non-violent civil disobedience.

The three women were among six people arrested during two separate protest actions last August and September. Deena Romoff and Margie Heller were arrested during the first protest. They were accused of blocking Burlington Northern tracks near Trent and Napa in east Spokane and forcing trains to stop their journeys. Maevea Aeolus was arrested in late September at about the same site.

Their agreement is they won’t block railroad tracks again for the next year-and-a-half, nor have contact with Burlington Northern. If they comply, charges of criminal trespass and blocking a transportation route will be dropped. If they don’t comply, they’ll face jail sentences and fines.

Two other defendants, Nancy and Rusty Nelson, are scheduled to agree to similar deals in early August. The sixth defendant, Lutheran minister George Taylor, will proceed with his trial in late August.

Taylor and the others say their actions are protests against what they see as a lack of action in combatting fossil fuel emissions.

At the Monday hearing, University of Montana climate scientist Steven Running testified there is a strong scientific consensus on climate change and the growing level of carbon emissions. Portland State Professor Thomas Hastings testified non-violent civil disobedience has historically been an effective tool in getting governments and other institutions to change policies.