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

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

Updated December 9, 2019

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

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.

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)

Media Reports & References:

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