A climate change activist who attempted to shut down one of five oil pipelines in four states last year goes to trial on Monday.
Michael Foster is the first of a group of activists who were involved in an effort to block the flow of oil from Canada in order to bring attention to the global threat of climate change.
Foster and the other members of the activist group plan to argue that breaking the law was in the public interest due to the harm fossil fuels pose to the Earth's climate.
Many scientists blame the burning of fossil fuels for raising the temperature of the Earth and resulting in potentially catastrophic effects such as drought and more severe hurricanes.
Foster and the activists were with the group Climate Direct Action when they were arrested for attempting to shut down pipelines in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington state. The action was meant to protest the nation's continued use of fossil fuels, while showing solidarity with people protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline that was still under construction at that time.
Approving the Dakota Access pipeline has been a priority for President Trump and his administration. The president signed an executive order earlier this year that sped up the pipeline's permitting. The pipeline has since opened.
More recently, however, a federal court ordered a new environmental review for part of the line that goes underneath Lake Oahe, which has since stopped oil from flowing through part of the pipeline.
Foster and the activists trespassed on private property with the intent of closing valves for five pipelines operated by Enbridge, Spectra Energy, Kinder Morgan, and TransCanada that built the Dakota Access line.
All five pipelines are used to move oil from Canada to the United States, according to the Associated Press.