The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Pipeline Protesters Could Face up to 20 Years in Prison Under New Trump Proposal
By Jake Johnson
Building on efforts by multiple states to crack down on those fighting the construction of climate-destroying fossil fuel infrastructure, the Trump administration unveiled a proposal on Monday that would criminalize pipeline protests at the federal level and hit demonstrators with up to 20 years in prison.
The new proposal, released by Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, was immediately denounced by environmentalists as a serious threat to the First Amendment.
"This dangerous proposal threatens to undermine Americans' right to peaceful assembly and free speech," Kelly Martin, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fossil Fuels campaign, said in a statement. "It is a blatant attempt to intimidate those who would exercise their First Amendment rights to speak out against pipeline projects that put our clean water, communities, and climate at risk."
"Rather than focusing on shielding corporate polluters from public protest," Martin said, "the administration should be working to ensure that communities are protected from dirty, dangerous fossil fuel projects."
As Politico reported Monday, the Transportation Department's proposal would "treat some pipeline protests as a federal crime, mirroring state legislative efforts that have spread in the wake of high-profile demonstrations around the country."
The Trump administration, according to Politico, is "calling for Congress to expand a law that threatens fines and up to 20 years' prison time for 'damaging or destroying' pipelines currently in operation. The expanded version would add 'vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting, or inhibiting the operation of' either existing pipelines or those 'under construction.'"
Elly Page, attorney for International Center for Not-For-Profit Law — an organization that has tracked anti-protest efforts by individual states — told Politico that the Trump administration's "proposed penalty is far and away more extreme than what we've seen at the state level." "When you combine provisions that vague to penalties that extreme," Page said, "that creates uncertainty about what is and isn't legal." House Democrats signaled that they would oppose the measure, which comes just two weeks after the Texas state Senate passed a bill that would hit pipeline protesters with up to 10 years in prison. A spokesperson for House Energy and Commerce chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) told Politico that the congressman "has no intention of allowing a pipeline safety bill to be used as a vehicle for stifling legitimate dissent and protest." On Twitter, the Natural Resources Defense Council warned that as "we grapple with the mounting climate catastrophe, the fossil fuel industry is holding nothing back in its attempt to silence its critics and those who assemble to protest their destruction of our shared climate."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Peter Gleick
War is a miserable thing. It kills and maims soldiers and civilians. It destroys infrastructure, cultures and communities. It worsens poverty and development challenges. And it damages and cripples vital ecological and environmental resources.
Hundreds of activists gathered in the Swiss Alps on Sunday to mourn the loss of Pizol, a glacier that has steadily retreated over the last decade as temperatures have warmed the mountain tops, according to CNN.
Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on social media Saturday when he traveled in the first-ever motorcade to drive down the streets of Michigan's car-free Mackinac Island, HuffPost reported.
By Shawn Radcliffe
- As illnesses and deaths linked to vaping continue to rise, health officials urge people to stop using e-cigarettes.
- Officials report 8 deaths have been linked to lung illnesses related to vaping.
- Vitamin E acetate is one compound officials are investigating as a potential cause for the outbreak.
By Julia Conley
As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world — making it the biggest climate protest ever — they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.