Environmental activists protesting climate change inaction who shut down the largest US energy export port for a day agreed Friday to pay for the cost of first responders and court costs to settle state criminal charges, according to Reuters.
Greenpeace members had dangled from ropes off a bridge that crossed over the Houston Ship Channel to draw attention to the issue of climate change during a 2019 Presidential Debate in the city. The channel is home to refineries from global oil companies such as Exxon Mobile and Shell; more oil is exported through this channel than anywhere else in the country.
The protestors were charged under a new and highly controversial anti-protest law that activists say was designed specifically to target environmentalist protestors. The model law, developed by the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council and adopted by at least ten states, including Texas, criminalizes protest action on “critical infrastructure” and holds the accused liable for any damage that may have occurred. The protestors faced up to two years in prison under the law and fines of up to $500,000.
The charges of felony trespass were later dropped by a grand jury, but the protestors were then charged with misdemeanor obstruction. These charges will be dismissed if there are no further violations within the next six months, according to the agreement. The protestors that were arrested agreed to pay $250 in court costs in the settlement; Greenpeace also paid $58,450 in restitution to local first responders.