NORTH DAKOTA - 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"

2019 ND SB 2044

  • Signed by Governor Doug Burgum on April 11, 2019.
  • Passed House with amendments on March 25, 2019.
  • Passed Senate on Feb. 15, 2019.
  • Introduced Jan. 3, 2019

ICNL analysis:

Enhances potential penalties on individuals who protest near existing and planned gas and oil pipelines by criminalizing acts that interrupt or interfere with criminal infrastructure facilities. In addition to prohibiting actual tampering with critical infrastructure property and equipment, the bill prohibits “interfering, inhibiting, impeding, or preventing the construction or repair” of a criminal infrastructure facility. Further, the bill expands the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” to include a “site or location designated or approved for the construction of a facility” such as an oil or gas pipeline. Intentional interruption of a criminal infrastructure facility, including by interfering with pipeline construction, would be a Class C felony under the bill, subject to a penalty of five years' imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both. The bill also creates organizational liability for such acts: An organization found to have “conspired” with an individual who committed the interference could be criminally liable for ten times the fee imposed on the individual, or up to $100,000.

ALEC legislators:

3 of 6 co-sponsors are confirmed ND ALEC affiliate legislators: Sen. Janne Myrdal, Rep. Chuck Damschen, and Rep. Jim Schmidt

  • Sen. Jessica Unruh, chair of the ND Senate Taxation Committee, presided over a hearing featuring ALEC’s Jonathan Williams in September, 2018.

An email sent by ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson in March, 2019, refers to ALEC's involvement in North Dakota anti-protest legislation:


CSG legislators:

3 of 6 co-sponsors are confirmed CSG affiliates:

  • Sen. Dave Oehlke participated in the CSG BILLD program in 2007, attended the CSG Shared State Legislation committee meeting in December, 2015. Oehlke was a member of the CSG Midwest Canada Relations Committee in 2017-2018.

  • Sen. Jessica Unruh helped give Bakken tours to CSG Midwest legislators, according to the CSG Midwest Stateline 2015 annual meeting report.

  • It appears Sen. Chuck Damschen was listed as a member of the 2017 CSG Midwest Health & Human Services committee, but the link is dead.

2017 HB 1293:

  • Introduced Jan 12, 2017
  • Signed into law Feb 23, 2017

ICNL analysis:

Expands the scope of criminal trespass activity under state law such that it could encompass protests, demonstrations, or other gatherings on private property, if notice against trespass is “clear from the circumstances.” The offense could be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. The law also creates an additional, noncriminal trespass offense and allows officers to issue a citation with a $250 fine for trespassing. Governor Burgum signed the law on February 23, 2017.

ALEC legislators:

5 of 11 sponsors are confirmed ND ALEC affiliate legislators: Rep. Craig Headland, Rep. Kim Koppelman, Rep. Mike Nathe, Rep. Matthew Ruby, Rep. Bernie Satrom

CSG legislators:

  • 7 of 11 sponsors are confirmed affiliates of the Council of State Governments, and its regional subsidiaries:

    • Rep. Kim Koppelman is co-chair of the Council of State Governments’ committee on Shared State Legislation (SSL), which approved a critical infrastructure protest model bill in December, 2017. Koppelman was CSG’s national chair in 2008, and served on CSG’s executive committee. Koppelman has been involved with CSG since at least 2000, and has participated in the SSL committee meetings for many years, since at least 2004 to 2017.

    • Rep. Jason Dockter participated in a 2016 training program for legislators new to CSG.

    • Rep. Jim Gruenich participated in a 2018 training program for legislators new to CSG

    • Rep. Craig Headland was in the CSG Midwest Agriculture committee in 2017-2018

    • Rep. Mike Lefor participated in a 2015 training program for legislators new to CSG.

    • Rep. Mike Nathe participated in a 2009 training program for legislators new to CSG.

    • Sen. Terry Wanzek was affiliated with CSG Midwest as early as 2002.

Oil & Gas Campaign Contributions:

Co-sponsors received $16,651 from oil and gas companies and employees

Media Reports & References

Luke Darby, Red States Are Criminalizing Speech to Wage War on Environmental Activists, GQ, June 7, 2019

Nicholas Kusnetz, More States Crack Down on Pipeline Protesters, Including Supporters Who Aren’t Even on the Scene, InsideClimate News, March 28, 2019

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

Will Parrish, North Dakota Seeks to Restrict Access to Public Records After Standing Rock Reporting Exposed Law Enforcement Abuses, The Intercept, February 11, 2019

C.S. Hagen, New Bill Targets Protestors, First Amendment, High Plains Reader, Jan. 23, 2019

Nicholas Kusnetz, How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters, InsideClimate News / Washington Post, August 22, 2018

Steve Horn, Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests, DeSmog, February 21, 2018

Alexander C. Kaufman, Environmentalists Say They’re Averting Climate Disaster. Conservatives Say It’s Terrorism., HuffPost, February 20, 2018

Zoë Carpenter and Tracie Williams, PHOTOS: Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests, The Nation, February 16, 2018

Andrew Graham, Would bill to protect energy infrastructure stifle protests?, WyoFile, February 15, 2018

Alleen Brown, Ohio and Iowa are the Latest of Eight States to Consider Anti-Protest Bills Aimed at Pipeline Opponents, The Intercept, February 2, 2018

Steve Horn, ALEC, Corporate-Funded Bill Mill, Considers Model State Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protesters, DeSmog, December 11, 2017

Sean Kitchen, ALEC Style Bills Aim to Criminalize Pipeline and Fracking Demonstrations Throughout Pennsylvania, Raging Chicken Press, May 10, 2017

Alleen Brown, Oklahoma Governor Signs Anti-Protest Law Imposing Huge Fines on "Conspirator" Organizations, The Intercept, May 6, 2017

Steve Horn, Newspaper Owned By Fracking Billionaire Leaks Memo Calling Pipeline Opponents Potential "Terrorists", DeSmog, April 23, 2017

Traci Yoder, New Anti-Protesting Legislation: A Deeper Look, National Lawyers Guild, March 2, 2017

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