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Texas Pipeline Protesters Face Jail Time Under New Proposal

Published in Oil Industry News on Friday, 24 May 2019


Graphic for News Item: Texas Pipeline Protesters Face Jail Time Under New Proposal

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.

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.

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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.

Source: www.worldoil.com

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