criminalizing pipeline protests
Credit: Mark Klotz/Flickr

Lawmakers push to penalize pipeline protests

Lawmakers, driven by fossil fuel donors, are working to expand criminal penalties for pipeline protests under new federal safety regulations.

Emily Sanders reports for The Lever.


In short:

  • New federal pipeline safety legislation may significantly increase penalties for pipeline protests, broadening the definition of "attacks" on pipelines.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s draft reauthorization bill could make even attempting to impair pipeline operations a felony.
  • Advocates worry the vague language could criminalize peaceful protests, threatening free speech and dissent.

Key quote:

“What rights do these corporations have to come through our communities and wreak havoc and not be held accountable for anything they do?” — Anne White Hat, Indigenous activist.

Why this matters:

Increased criminalization of protests could suppress environmental activism, hindering efforts to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for potentially dangerous pipeline projects that threaten public health and safety. Read more: Why Indigenous women are risking arrest to fight Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through Minnesota.

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