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Appellate court rejects necessity defense


WHITE PLAINS, NY — A New York State Appellate Court has upheld the conviction of actor James Cromwell, activist Pramilla Malick and others known as the Wawayanda Six. The group was convicted of minor charges after blocking access to the 650-megawatt Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant then under construction in December 2015.

Cromwell, Malick and Madeline Shaw had appealed their conviction on the grounds that they were compelled to action because of the so-called necessity defense, because of the danger the burning of natural gas poses to the environment and the health and future of humans.

The court said that the dangers the defendants claimed regarding burning of natural gas was “speculative, abstract, or remote” and that the “public injury which defendant sought to prevent lacked immediacy.”

Scientists Anthony Ingraffea and Robert Howarth testified at the original trial that the CPV plant would increase emissions from electricity in the state by 10%. Critics have argued that projects like the CPV power plant would lock the state into fossil-fuel use for decades to come.

In a press release, Malick, chair of Protect Orange County, noted that the group recently released a report that “documented extreme adverse health impacts in Orange County as the plant became operational in January 2018.

“In December 2015, we blockaded the power plant and just two years later, by January 2018, people began to get sick,” she wrote. “That impact was imminent then and we were right. Just yesterday the climate news headlines sounded another alarm with permafrost melting 70 years earlier than predicted. As I write this, the time frame for what should be considered imminent is accelerating.”

“The institutions of the state are interested not in equity, nor in justice, but only the maintenance of the status quo. They live in denial of the reality that the survival of all life on this planet hangs by a thread,” Cromwell said.

After the initial conviction, Malick, Shaw and Cromwell refused to pay the fines levied against them and instead spent three days behind bars.


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