Oil pipeline opponent uses ‘necessity defense’ – What is it?

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — An American Indian activist and former U.S. congressional candidate in North Dakota accused of inciting a riot during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline says he’ll seek to present a “necessity defense.”

That’s justifying a crime by arguing it prevented a greater harm.

Chase Iron Eyes has pleaded not guilty to inciting a riot and criminal trespass. He could face more than five years in prison if convicted at trial in February.

Pipeline protesters who try the necessity defense typically argue they’re combatting climate change. Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, says he hopes to show that civil disobedience was his only option to resist a threat to drinking water from the pipeline.

A judge will hear arguments Nov. 3.