NORMAN — A Norman woman’s case was recently dismissed after she chained herself to construction equipment last year in protest to the Keystone XL Pipeline, resulting in a trespassing charge.
Elisabeth Leja, 75, said her case in Okmulgee County was dismissed before she even arrived Thursday and she did not have to pay any court costs.
“Thirty-two people in Oklahoma chained or somehow attached themselves to Keystone equipment after me. They were of course in different counties but the result was that most of them were dismissed,” Leja said.
All of those people had the same lawyer as Leja, attorney Doug Parr, who “pushed things along for the sake of the environment.” Their cases were also dismissed with no costs, she said.
“Only those who were afraid of jail paid fines but did not spend any time in jail,” Leja said. “The state of Oklahoma apparently does not want this to go to trial. Environmentalists will win in the end, but everyone needs to become involved.”
Before her act of civil disobedience in February 2013, Leja had never been arrested for any kind of criminal conduct. When she entered the construction site that day, she said she didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs and no one from the TransCanada Corporation or construction company ever told her she was trespassing or asked her to leave.
She remained chained to the equipment until law enforcement cut the chains and arrested her.
“My intent was to stop construction of the pipelne for as long as possible and call attention to the issue of how production of the Canadian tar sands and continued reliance on fossil fuels will in all likelihood result in catastrophic climate change and currently is poisoning and killing both human beings and the environment,” Leja said.
She believed her action was justifiable because any trespassing law she may have broken was only broken to prevent a far greater harm: the extraction, transport, refining and burning of the Canadian tar sands.