Montana pipeline protester avoids jail, must pay restitution

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An Oregon climate change activist has avoided jail time and been ordered to pay $3,775 after he was convicted of illegally shutting down a crude oil pipeline in Montana.

State District Judge Daniel Boucher (boo-SHAY) sentenced Leonard Higgins on Tuesday to a three-year deferred sentence and restitution for damages.

Court clerk Rick Cook says Higgins’ record will be cleared of a felony criminal mischief conviction if he doesn’t violate the terms of his sentence.

He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Higgins entered a fenced site near Big Sandy, Montana, in October 2016 and closed a valve on pipeline operated by Spectra Energy.

The pipeline carries oil from Canada’s tar sands region.

Activists simultaneously targeted other pipelines in Washington state, North Dakota and Minnesota.

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