MISSISSIPPI - Oil & Gas "Critical Infrastructure" Anti-Protest Bills

  • Posted on: 18 February 2019
  • By: Connor Gibson

Updated October 29, 2020

See Full Report: State Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest of Oil & Gas "Critical Infrastructure"

2020 MS HB 1243

  • Approved by Governor on June 25, 2020
  • Passed by Senate on June 15, 2020
  • Passed by House on March 4, 2020
  • Filed and referred to House Judiciary B Committee on February 17, 2020

ICNL analysis:

Would create new potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates two new offenses: “critical infrastructure trespass,” and “impeding critical infrastructure.” Critical infrastructure trespass is defined in the bill as knowingly entering onto infrastructure property without authorization or not leaving once notified to depart; the bill classifies it as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. “Impeding” critical infrastructure is defined to include “preventing legal access to” a critical infrastructure property or construction site. Under the bill, such impediment is punishable by 7 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the impediment results in $1,000 worth of damage or economic loss. If the damage or loss is less than $1,000, the offense is punishable by six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. The bill also provides that an organization “that aids, abets, solicits, compensates, hires, conspires with, commands or procures” someone to impede critical infrastructure is subject to a $100,000 fine and liable for a civil action by the infrastructure facility. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks—-as well as "[a]ny site where the construction or improvement of any [referenced] facility... is ongoing.”

ALEC legislators:

At least 1 of 4 co-sponsors of HB 1243 are known ALEC Mississippi affiliates: Rep. Scott Bounds

Industry Funding to Sponsors:

The four co-sponsors of HB 1243 have received at least $28,900 from the following industries which are all named in the bill as owners of "critical infrastructure": oil and gas, electric utilities, railroads, and chemical manufacturers.

Industry Lobbying:

Positions on specific bills is not included in Mississippi lobbying disclosures.

On Feb 12, Cornerstone Government Affiars lobbyist Joe Sims took four state Representatives out for dinner, courtesy of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Refiners (AFPM). Three of those legislators are on the House Judiciary B committee, where the 2020 bill was first introduced, five days after the meal: Reps Jansen Owen, Rob Roberson, and Hank Zuber. After the committee voted to advance the bill, all four of the Representative that dined with Sims voted to pass the bill out of the House. Sims was retained by AFPM to advance a similar bill in 2019, as reported by Grist (more details in section on SB 2754, below)

The following entities disclosed 2020 lobbying activity to the MS Secretary of State, including some of the most aggressive companies pushing fossil fuel anti-protest legislation in other states:

Lobbying reports were also filed by Atmos Energy, the Mississippi Petroleum Council, Plains All American Pipeline, and Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company.

Notably, the following companies that have been actively lobbying for these bills in other states are not registered to lobby in Mississippi in recent years (2018-2020): Marathon Petroleum, ExxonMobil, Enbridge, Energy Transfer, TC Energy (TransCanada), Valero Energy, Shell, Phillips66, BP, NextEra, American Petroleum Institute.

2019 MS SB 2754

  • Died in House commiitee on Mar. 5, 2019.
  • Passed Senate on Feb. 11, moved to House on Feb. 12, 2019
  • Introduced Jan. 19, 2019

ICNL analysis:

Would create new potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates two new offenses: “critical infrastructure trespass,” and “impeding critical infrastructure.” Critical infrastructure trespass is defined in the bill as knowingly entering onto infrastructure property without authorization or not leaving once notified to depart; the bill classifies it as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. “Impeding” critical infrastructure is defined to include “preventing legal access to” a critical infrastructure property or construction site. Under the bill, such impediment is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the impediment results in $1,000 worth of damage or economic loss. If the damage or loss is less than $1,000, the offense is punishable by six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. The bill also provides that an organization “that aids, abets, solicits, compensates, hires, conspires with, commands or procures” someone to impede critical infrastructure is subject to a $100,000 fine and liable for a civil action by the infrastructure facility. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks—-as well as "[a]ny site where the construction or improvement of any [referenced] facility... is ongoing.” 

ALEC legislators:

2 of 5 co-sponsors are confirmed Mississippi ALEC legislator affiliates: primary sponsor Sen. Sally Doty, and Sen. Bob Dearing.

According to the Cottonmouth blog on Mississippi politics, Novartis took MS state Sen. Sally Doty out for dinner at Eddie V's in Scottsdale, AZ, on Dec. 1, 2011...during the ALEC States & Nation Policy Summit, in Scottsdale, AZ, from Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2011.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a member of ALEC Private Enterprise Board member PhRMA, picked up the check at swanky New Orleans restaurant Calcasieu during the August ALEC meeting, spending $281 on food & drink for Sen. Joey Fillingane (R - Sumrall), Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R - Winona), Sen. Michael Watson (R - Pascagoula), Sen. Buck Clarke (R - Hollandale), and Sen. Walter Michel (R - Jackson).

Novartis also bought dinner for Sens. Watson and Michel at Eddie V's in Scottsdale, but this time added newly-elected Senators Sally Doty (R - Brookhaven) and Josh Harkins (R - Flowood) to the party.  Novartis claims they paid a total of $90.16 for dinner for the foursome, which seems low when you look at Eddie V's dinner menu.  Again, I'm assuming some other company split the bill on this one.

You can review Novartis Pharmaceuticals' 2011 lobbying report here.

The ALEC conference was hosted less than a mile from the restaurant.

Oil & Gas Lobbying:

As reported by Naveena Sadasivam for Grist,

This January, a lobbyist working with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers wrote to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s policy advisorpromoting legislation “to provide for criminal penalties for those who wilfully and illegally trespass, disrupt, destroy” oil and gas facilities. The lobbyist noted in his email that he was “expecting a bill from Chairman [Angela] Cockerham and Chairman [Sally] Doty,” two members of the state’s legislature representing each side of the aisle. Doty and Cockerham introduced bills that fit his description in the Mississippi House and Senate that week.

2019 MS HB 1336:

  • Introduced Jan. 21, 2019,
  • Died in committee and folded into SB 2754 (above)

ALEC legislators:

Sole sponsor Angela Cockerham is not a confirmed MS ALEC affiliate legislator.

ALEC staff claimed involvement in HB 1336 in two internal newsletters obtained by Documented. An email sent to ALEC members in February, 2019, from ALEC's Energy task force director Grant Kidwell, names HB 1336 (and erroneously names SB 293, which was actually a similar anti-protest bill in Missouri at the time):

 

Another email, sent by ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson in March, 2019, also refers to ALEC's involvement in Mississippi anti-protest legislation:

 

CSG legislators:

Sole sponsor Angela Cockerham is a confirmed CSG affiliate:

  • Cockerham attended the CSG Southern Leadership Conference 2017 annual meeting

  • Cockerham attended a CSG delegation visit to the tar sands oil mines in Alberta, Canada, in 2012, including a Shell in-situ operation. (photo)

ALEC legislators:

Sole sponsor Sen. Lincoln Hough is not an known affiliate of ALEC.

Media Reports & References:

Alexander C. Kaufman, Mississippi Set To Become The 13th State To Criminalize Fossil Fuel Protests, HuffPost, June 16, 2020

Naveena Sadasivam, After Standing Rock, protesting pipelines can get you a decade in prison and $100K in fines, Grist, May 14, 2019

Steve Horn, Bills Criminalizing Pipeline Protest Arise in Statehouses Nationwide, The Real News Network, February 22, 2019