TX Pushes Pipeline Damage Bill

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2019

Pipeline protesters could face up to 10 years in prison if they damage the oil or gas infrastructure or otherwise interrupt operations, according to a bill that recently passed both chambers of Texas legislature. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall.

According to the Bloomberg, under the new bill, infrastructure damage and delaying pipeline construction count as a third-degree felony, which carries the possibility of two to 10 years of incarceration, a sentence that is on par with drive-by shooters who miss their target.

Texas Pipeline Bill

The measure passed the state’s House on May 7, followed by the Senate’s approval on Monday (May 20). The Texas Oil & Gas Association voiced its approval of the bill, citing that the motion facilitates better protection against “intentional damage” for property owners and pipeline companies.

Republicans have noted that the bill, yet to be titled, would not place restrictions on legal protests. Instead, the measure emphasizes deterring people from damaging property that is considered critical infrastructure. Those that interrupt operations could be subject to a misdemeanor with a fine up to $10,000, and possibly up to one year in jail.

Environmental groups have voiced criticism over the measure, however, dubbing it an assault on free speech. Cyrus Reed, interim director for the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter, told Bloomberg in an email that the bill was not about security and safety. "It was about silencing protesters trying to protect their water and land."

Gov. Greg Abbott has yet to sign the bill. If he does, the measure will become law.

“It appears that under this law, something as small as breaking a zip tie could result in felony charges punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines,” said environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, which has voiced its opposition to the bill.

In a similar move earlier this year, South Dakota pushed legislation that would allow the state to request funding from pipeline companies to deal with protest-related costs.


Tagged categories: Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Program/Project Management

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