It’s Now a Felony, On Par With Murder, To Protest Oil Pipelines in Texas

May 30, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Assuming the governor doesn’t veto it, you could soon go to prison in Texas for peacefully protesting the construction of an oil or gas pipeline… even if its on your land

The Texas state legislature just passed a law criminalizing oil pipeline protestors, including environmental activists, indigenous groups and landowners, whose property has been taken via eminent domain.

The governor is expected to sign it.

Causing physical damage to oil and gas facilities could land you with a third-degree felony (the same category as murder) punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Even peaceful protestors who “impair or interrupt” operations could be charged with a felony and up to two years in prison.

Assuming the governor doesn’t veto it, the new law is expected to squash building resistance to the 650-mile Jupiter oil pipeline and the 430-mile Permian Highway gas pipeline, which would come very close to aquifers that provide 80 percent San Antonio’s drinking water.

The law “is a fear tactic to dissuade environmental justice movements like Standing Rock from challenging the continued use of fossil fuels.” said Jennifer K. Falcon, campaign manager for the Society of Native Nations, in a press release.

“We are at a tipping point as our ecosystems decline at accelerated rates, and instead of protecting our environment, we are protecting big oil and pipelines.”

Falcon believes the measure is a violation of the First Amendment.

“It’s a pity that policymakers are continuing to protect the dirty fossil fuel industry and there are higher fines for chaining yourself to a fence than a company gets for poisoning the water with benzene,” she added.

Since protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline captured national attention in 2016, five states have enacted laws laying out harsh penalties for protesting so-called “critical infrastructure”—facilities such as pipelines, compressor stations, refineries, and wastewater treatment plants.