Pipeline Protesters May Face 20-Year Federal Sentence

Pipeline Protesters May Face 20-Year Federal Sentence
Under the federal plan released Monday, protesters who block the construction of oil or gas pipelines could face up to 20 years in prison.

(Bloomberg) -- As Texas goes ... so goes the nation?

A Trump administration proposal to strengthen criminal penalties against people who interfere with interstate pipelines may be harsher than the draconian legislation approved by Texas lawmakers last month.

Under the federal plan released Monday, protesters who block the construction of a crude or natural gas pipeline could face up to 20 years in prison. It’s one of several changes to U.S. law sought by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as part of a periodic reauthorization of pipeline safety rules.

Current law prescribes a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for damaging or destroying an interstate pipeline. The amendment would apply that same penalty to vandalism and "disruption."

“If the intention is to squash valid and well meaning protests, that’s a bad regulation,” said transportation consultant Richard Kuprewicz. “The devil’s in the detail.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which regulates pipeline safety, said the proposal isn’t intended to prevent lawful protesters from exercising their first amendment rights. In a statement Tuesday, the agency said it will work with Congress to ensure any final legislation reflects that.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stephen Cunningham in Washington at scunningha10@bloomberg.net ;Catherine Traywick in Denver at ctraywick@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net Jessica Summers




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Rudolf Huber  |  June 07, 2019
Your freedom ends where mine starts. If you express your opinion loudly but peacefully, you shall be free to do so. If you damage others property or threaten someone else's safety, you are a terrorist and must be judged accordingly. Peaceful 1st amendment protesters don't cause millions or sometimes billions in damages. Sadly, those going to jail will be made in martyrs but I would expose them to those suffering most from their actions. people that cant heat their apartments anymore because this madness has made heating unaffordable to them. Those protesters should be directly exposed to the misery they cause. or better, take their iPhones away. That hits them harder.
Robert Parisi  |  June 05, 2019
I wouldn't want protesters to arbitrarily be treated more severely than someone committing a violent premeditated crime. Our income is dependent on pipeline dividends but mercy & fairness first.
Randy Verret  |  June 04, 2019
Yep, the "devil IS in the details." So, if you DESTROY construction equipment, impede lawful work & endanger safe operations along a construction zone or TURN master VALVES that can create catastrophic environmental consequences, you need to THINK about it. Nobody is suggesting impeding anyone's first amendment rights. Consider ill conceived, lawless activity along a pipeline to be the equivalent of yelling "fire" in a theater when it comes to your 1st amendment privileges. Further, as a constructive suggestion in exercising your 1st amendment rights, I'd propose "activists" put more energy into actively participating in the scoping & public review process associated with pipeline permit approvals. THAT is a constructive way to be heard...