Charges Dropped Against Climate Activists

In May 2013, two environmental activists piloted a lobster boat close to the vast pile of coal at the Brayton Point Power Station, the hulking plant that overlooks this industrial inlet near the border between Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

With the tiny boat, the two men — Jay O’Hara, 32, and Ken Ward, 57 — dropped anchor and for a day blocked a freighter with a 40,000-ton shipment of coal, and they were charged with conspiracy, disturbing the peace and other violations.

The two were scheduled to be tried on Monday, and they planned to deploy an old legal argument called the necessity defense: They had no choice but to act because the consequences of climate change are so dire. But instead of a jury trial, the major charges were dropped or downgraded by the district attorney, who said, in effect, that he was sympathetic to the defendants’ point of view on climate change.

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