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

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

Updated February 19, 2020

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

2019 MO HB 355

  • Signed by Governor Mike Parson on July 11, 2019
  • Passed in Senate on May 15, 2019, with new amendment adding "critical infrastructure" provisions using language from SB 293, below.
  • Passed in House on April 1, 2019
  • Prefiled December 19, 2018

ICNL analysis:

Would create new potential penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines and other "critical infrastructure." The bill--which was substituted by a Missouri Senate committee for a House bill on sentencing guidelines--would heighten the penalties for trespass occuring on critical infrastructure property. Trespass with intent "to damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, [or] tamper with” a facility or intent to “impede or inhibit the operations” of a facility would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Protesters seeking to peacefully demonstrate against construction of a new pipeline, for instance, with the intent to disrupt that construction, could be prosecuted under the bill. The bill would also newly criminalize "damage" to critical infrastructure, broadly defined to include vandalism, and make it a Class C felony, punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

The bill would also newly and broadly define "critical infrastructure" to include oil and gas pipelines, refineries, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks—whether operational or under construction. 

ALEC legislators:

Sole sponsor state Rep. Dean Plocher is not a confirmed MO ALEC affiliate legislator.

2019 MO SB 293

  • Died in the Senate after May 17, 2019.
  • Approved by the Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee in the Missouri Senate on March 13, 2019.
  • Introduced on Jan. 23, 2019

ICNL analysis:

Would heighten potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates the offense of "willful critical infrastructure trespass," defined as willfully entering property containing a critical infrastructure facility or the construction site of such a facility, without permission of the property's owner or lawful occupant. Under the bill, willful critical infrastructure trespass is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. A person who willfully trespasses with the intent to "impede or inhibit" the infrastructure facility or construction site is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,000. The bill also provides that an organization found to be a "conspirator" with anyone convicted of the above offenses is liable to a fine of ten times that levied on the individual. "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--"whether under construction or operational." 

ALEC legislators:

Sole sponsor state Sen. Lincoln Hough is not a confirmed MO ALEC affiliate legislator.

CSG legislators:

Sole sponsor state Sen. Lincoln Hough is not a confirmed affiliate of CSG.

Industry Lobbying:

According to witness slips submitted to the Missouri Senate Commerce Committee for a hearing on Feb. 27, 2019, SB 293 is supported by the following companies and groups, among others:

  • American Chemistry Council (ACC)
  • American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)
  • Missouri Agri-Business Association. Members include:
    • Archer Daniels Midland
    • BASF
    • Bayer (and subsidiary Monsanto)
    • Cargill
    • CropLife America
    • Dow AgroSciences
    • DuPont
    • Koch Industries (via subsidiaries Intrepid Potash, Koch Agronomic Services, and Koch Fertilizer)
    • Syngenta
    • The Fertilizer Institute (represents Dow, Kinder Morgan, Koch Industries, and Shell)
  • Missouri Association of Electric Co-operatives (local affiliate of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, NRECA) 
  • Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Members include:
    • Ameren
    • AT&T
    • Bayer
    • BNSF
    • Boehringer Ingelheim
    • Cargill
    • CenturyLink
    • Koch Companies Public Sector
    • Monsanto
    • Peabody Energy
  • Missouri Petroleum Council (local affiliate of the American Petroleum Institute).
  • Missouri Railroad Association
  • Missouri Telecommunications Industry Association
    • Members include AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon
  • Summit Utilities
  • TransCanada

Many of these entities are both Council of State Governments (CSG) sponsors and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sponsors. NRECA lobbyist Jennifer Jura is the co-chair of ALEC's environment task force, a position she held when ALEC approved its model critcal infrastructure bill in December, 2017, which greatly resembles Missouri SB 293. The ACC, AFPM and NRECA are all Associate Members of CSG, as of 2018.

Media Reports and References

Emily Park, Missouri’s “Pipeline Protest Bill” could make some protests illegal, raising First Amendment concerns, Kansas City Pitch, April 9, 2019

Austin Huguelet, Springfield senator's model bill on 'critical infrastructure' riles environmental groups, Springfield News-Leader, April 4, 2019

Editorial, Missouri bill aims to silence environmentalists. It could silence farmers, too., St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 4, 2019

Bryce Gray and Jack Suntrup, Missouri bill could criminalize protesting 'critical infrastructure' pipelines and facilities, raising First Amendment concerns, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 2019

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