Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Oklahoma law calls for heavy fines, jail time for protesting pipelines

The Keystone XL pipeline is going through Oklahoma
In response to protests in North Dakota over the Dakota Access Pipeline, a new law in Oklahoma calls for steep fines or prison time for people "convicted of trespassing at a critical infrastructure facility to impede operations." Denwalt reports for The Oklahoman. "That includes pipelines, refineries, chemical plants, railways and other industrial sites." The Keystone XL pipeline is going through Oklahoma.

The legislation had an emergency clause, so it became law when signed last week by Gov. Mary Fallin. Violators "could face a $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail if they intend to halt progress of a pipeline or otherwise interfere with operations," Denwalt writes. "The penalty increases to 10 years and $100,000 if the person is successful at damaging, vandalizing, defacing or tampering with equipment. The fine for just trespassing at a critical infrastructure site would be at least $1,000, but the Legislature did not include an upper limit." Organizations also would be held liable for the same acts, with fines 10 times greater.

Also last week, lawmakers approved another bill "that would make trespassers liable for damages to real or personal property," Denwalt writes. The bill's author "said the so-called vicarious liability provision would apply to people who give lodging to those who are later arrested for trespassing. He said the idea for the bill came from actions along the Dakota Access Pipeline."

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