Texas Pipeline Protesters Could Face 10 Years in Prison

Texas Pipeline Protesters Could Face 10 Years in Prison
Oil pipeline protesters who interrupt operations or damage equipment could face up to 10 years in prison.

(Bloomberg) -- Oil pipeline protesters who interrupt operations or damage equipment could face up to 10 years in prison under legislation approved by Texas lawmakers.

Under a bill approved by both chambers of the state legislature, protesters found guilty of halting service or delaying construction of an oil or natural gas pipeline could be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years of incarceration. That’s on a par with the sentences meted out to drive-by shooters who fail to hit their mark.

The measure, authored by Republican Representative Chris Paddie, cleared the Texas House on May 7 and the Senate on Monday. The Texas Oil & Gas Association applauded its passage and said the bill provides property owners and pipeline companies “greater protections against intentional damage, delays, and stoppages caused by illegal activity.”

The bill still needs Governor Greg Abbott’s signature to become law.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, called the measure an assault on free speech. “The bill was never about safety and security,” Cyrus Reed, interim director for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said in an email. “It was about silencing protesters trying to protect their water and land.”

Keystone XL

States have been taking action to prepare for pipeline protests as environmental groups increasingly target infrastructure as part of their opposition to fossil fuels.

Earlier this year, South Dakota advanced legislation to allow the state to seek money from pipeline companies to help cover expenses related to protests. That bill aims to ready South Dakota for the contentious Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, which is held up in court but recently scored a new presidential permit from the Trump administration.

Other projects, including Energy Transfer LP’s Dakota Access crude pipeline and EQM Midstream Partners LP’s Mountain Valley gas conduit, have also drawn on-the-ground protests. Even in Texas, which is considered friendlier to the oil and gas industry, activists have staged opposition to the Trans-Pecos pipeline, which runs through the Big Bend region in the western part of the state.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Adams-Heard in Houston at radamsheard@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net Joe Carroll


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Craig  |  May 26, 2019
It really concerns me that "South Dakota advanced legislation to allow the state to seek money from pipeline companies to help cover expenses related to protests." The "PROTEST CAMPS" left so much trash, waste, debris that THAT had a major Environmental Impact. AND COST! Totally ignored!! SO, it is obvious that the "Environment" is not really their concern, only obstructing progress. Without oil and gas there are no plastic or rubber products, no clothing or food (agriculture is completely dependent upon fuel and fertilizer), no transportation or freight , no heat or electricity....no Industry whatsoever, NO JOBS. Return to the STONE AGE, hunter-gatherer society. The Sierra Club and other "Green" organizations merely attempt to BLACKMAIL pipeline companies, seeking a huge payoff to go away, on to the next victim. But it's the public that ends up paying.
Randy Verret  |  May 23, 2019
I am "ALL IN" on lawful assembly and anyone's right to express an informed opinion. What I'm not in-line with are folks destroying construction equipment, creating major delays with huge financial impacts, creating unneeded supply shortages that HURT fellow American consumers and outright LYING in the media. That is neither helpful nor a proper expression of free speech...
Cara meyers  |  May 23, 2019
The environmental activists perform vadalism and destruction of public and private property whenever they perform their” protests”. They do not just hold picket sites off the ROW but trash everything destroy equipment and defile the land with their garbage and waste when they “ camp’ at these sites. Its not protest; its narcissistic, ignorant destruction. It causes the rest of the public’s utility bills to go up and does nothing to resolve any issues. Protest off site elsewhere. Quit ruining decent people’s lives and livelihoods.
Craig  |  May 22, 2019
No where does this say "no freedom of speech"; it says "protection against illegal activities". There are also safety considerations for the protestors who could harm themselves and others by tampering with these projects during construction.
Rudolf Huber  |  May 22, 2019
Since when is the destruction of someone else's property "free speech"? Why is it OK to terrorize others that just want to live their lives? Free Speech means that you are free to express your opinion AND that I am free to NOT listen to it if this is what I chose to do. If you terrorize me or vandalize anyone's property in order to get my attention, you are a criminal as you take away my free volition to ignore your every word if I deem that to be in my best interest. You steal, you defraud, you coerce by illicit means and that cannot be free speech. That's a criminal endeavor and as it must be premeditated plus also mostly organized in an organization that has as its reason to be the execution of such criminal acts, it should logically be punished harder than simple theft or fraud. If you use a bullhorn in order blast my house with your crap, you are not exercising free will. You are a criminal and as a criminal, you shall be dealt with.
mitch monchinski  |  May 22, 2019
This is not what the USA is for. Against freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, regardless of issue at hand
Randy Verret  |  May 21, 2019
Well, I've said this in several other cases (Dakota Access, Mountain Valley & Constitution pipelines) and I'll say it again. Pipeline capacity is ESSENTIAL to keeping the electric grid stable and power generation air emissions continuing in the right direction. At present, these environmental "activists" have NO IDEA as to a CLEAN, SCALABLE and SUSTAINABLE alternative that can replace fossil fuels. Right now, "Keeping it in the Ground" would mean the loss of 65% of our electric generating capability and eliminate 95% of our transportation fuel & industrial heat. This is about physics, not drama & theater. Look to the Northeast as the "poster child" for how NOT to conduct environmental reviews & blockage of critical pipeline capacity. All I can say is next winter when your heater has no fuel & your lights are intermittent in your luxury New York apartment, just remember the right names (i.e. Sierra Club, et al) that "foisted" this unnecessary development on you. Time to change the energy discussion to what is REAL rather than the Green New Deal...