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Judge orders protestors who tried to stop N.H. coal train to refrain from climate activism

The silhouettes of four protestors
350 New Hampshire Action
Protesters flagged down the coal train to stop it and then occupied the tracks in Massachusetts in December 2019.

Four climate change activists, including three from Maine, were sentenced by a New Hampshire judge Friday for temporarily blocking a coal train in 2019.

(Catch up on NHPR's earlier coverage of this trial.)

The train was on its way to New England's last remaining coal plant in Bow, New Hampshire. Merrimack Station has faced repeated calls for closure and protests.

During their sentencing, the activists said the urgency of the climate emergency cannot be overstated and that government and regulators have failed to respond adequately. Judge Andrew Schulman disagreed.

"It's not that the political process, certainly, in this state has shut down. And my sense is that while it's fine to say that you don't like coal, that people aren't paying enough attention to climate, what's not fine is to stop the coal train," he said.

Schulman ordered the four to stay away from railroad property and to refrain from participation in climate activism and civil disobedience for several years. He also ordered them to pay several thousand dollars worth of fines and restitution to the railroad company.

All four were given suspended sentences of 6 months or less in jail.

An attorney for the group says she is disappointed with the decision and weighing a possible appeal.

Deputy News Director Susan Sharon is a reporter and editor whose on-air career in public radio began as a student at the University of Montana. Early on, she also worked in commercial television doing a variety of jobs. Susan first came to Maine Public Radio as a State House reporter whose reporting focused on politics, labor and the environment. More recently she's been covering corrections, social justice and human interest stories. Her work, which has been recognized by SPJ, SEJ, PRNDI and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, has taken her all around the state — deep into the woods, to remote lakes and ponds, to farms and factories and to the Maine State Prison. Over the past two decades, she's contributed more than 100 stories to NPR.
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