WISCONSIN Oil & Gas "Critical Infrastructure" Anti-protest Bills

  • Posted on: 10 September 2019
  • By: Connor Gibson

Updated October 18, 2019.

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

2019 SB 386

  • Scheduled for hearing in Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on October 22, 2019.
  • Concurrent with AB 462 (see below), with identical co-sponsors, which passed the House on October 10, 2019
  • Introduced on September 5, 2019, referred to Judiciary and Public Safety Committee

2019 AB 426

  • Passed in House on October 10, 2019, referred to Senate
  • Passed 13-0 in House Energy & Utilities Committee hearing on October 2, 2019
  • Public hearing in House Energy & Utilities Committee held on September 26, 2019 (video).
  • Introduced on September 12, 2019, as a concurrent bill to SB 386 (below)

ICNL Analysis:

Would create new potential penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other property of "energy providers." The bill expands existing law related to trespass and property damage to broadly include the property of all companies in the oil and gas industry. Under the bill, trespass onto the property of any “company that operates a gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, water, or chemical generation, storage, transportation, or delivery system" would be a Class H felony, punishable by six years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Accordingly, protests in a range of locations could be covered, whether on land containing a pipeline or the corporate headquarters of an oil company. Any damage to property of such a company, with the intent to "cause substantial interruption or impairment of any service or good" provided by the company, would likewise be a Class H felony under the bill. [This analysis is of the concurrent bill SB 386, below]

ALEC legislators:

  • 5 of 16 co-sponsors are confirmed ALEC WI affiliates: Sen. Van H. Wannggard (R-21), Sen. Steve Nass (R-11), Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-84), Rep. Ken Skowronski (R-82), and Rep. Ron Tusler (R-3).

CSG legislators:

Industry lobbying:

Public records obtained by Documented show that several trade associations representing oil, gas, chemical and other companies are advocating for SB 386, along with several local trade unions:

  • American Petroleum Institute
    • Represents most of the U.S. oil industry, including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Dow Chemical, Enbridge, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Magellan Midstream, Phillips66, Shell, TransCanada (aka TC Energy), and Williams Companies.
    • API was retained by lobbyist Marcus Bently of Bently Government Affairs.
    • Bentley was scheduled to meet with state Senator Janet Bewley, or her staff, on June 13, 2019.
    • Bentley was scheduled to meet with state Representative Shae Sortwell (R-12), or his staff, on September 18, 2019 at 1PM.
    • Bently was communicating with staff of state Representative Mike Kuglitsch in May 2018, as reported by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).
    • API lobbyist Erin Roth testified in favor of the bill before the Assembly Energy & Utilities Committee on Sept. 26, 2019 (video)
  • American Chemistry Council
    • The ACC Represents BP Lubricants, Chevron-Phillips Chemical Co, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Huntsman, Occidental Chemical Corp, Marathon Petroleum, Saudi Aramco (Motiva), Shell Chemical Co. Marathon Petroleum was listed a member of the ACC until 2018, but Marathon senior vice president Ray Brooks is serving on the ACC Board of Directors from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019. 
  • Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group
    • Members include Enbridge and Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia-Pacific
  • Wisconsin Paper Council
    • Members include Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia-Pacific
  • Wisconsin Utilities Association
    • Members include Allete, Alliant Energy, Dominion Resources, WE Energies, and Xcel.

Lobbying records disclosed by the Wisconsin Ethics Commission list BNSF Railway, in addition to the trade associations above.

According to public records obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, Koch Industries lobbyist Jeff Schoepke and American Petroleum Institute lobbyist Erin Roth received an email from API lobbyist Marcus Bently (see above) with messaging guidance that broadly scapegoats environmental activists for "attacks" and "damage" to pipeline infrastructure. Andrew Cook of Hamilton Consulting, which represents Koch Industries, Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources, and Xcel Energy, was also copied on the email, along with two lobbyists for Arena Strategy.

Union lobbying:

Joining lobbyist Marcus Bently and the American Petroleum Institute, legislators with the American Legislative Exchange Council, and other industry groups named above, the following trade unions have asked Wisconsin legislators to support SB 386:

  • Construction Business Group
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 139
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Wisconsin
  • Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors of Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' Association of Milwaukee
  • Wisconsin Building Trades Council
  • Wisconsin Pipe Trades
  • Wisconsin Laborer's District Council
  • Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association

Confrontation of co-sponsor Sen. Jan Bewley (D-25) by Indigenous Community Groups:

At a Price City community hearing, attorney Philomena Kebec (a member of the Anishinaabe group of indigenous communities, with Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission) and activist Nick Vander Puy pressed co-sponsor Sen. Jan Bewley to explain her support for felony laws against nonviolent trespassers. This is a five-part video, all clips can be found here.

Media Reports and References:

Erik Gunn, Pipeline protest bill has evolved from state to state: How GOP and corporate drafters shaped it to win backing from unions and votes from Democrats, Wisconsin Examiner, October 18, 2019

Phyllis Hasbrouck, Letter: Lawmakers should oppose the 'felony trespass bill', Madison Cap Times, October 14, 2019

David Armiak, Bill to Criminalize Environmental Protests in Wisconsin Heads to the Assembly Floor, Center for Media and Democracy, October 10, 2019

Patrick Marley, Paralyzed Wisconsin lawmaker Jimmy Anderson assails GOP's plan to accommodate his disability, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, October 10, 2019

Erik Gunn, Bipartisan bill divides unions, environmentalists, Wisconsin Examiner, October 1, 2019

Naveena Sadasivam, Trespass near a pipeline, go to prison for 6 years? It could happen in Wisconsin., Grist, September 30, 2019

Nate Beck, Drawing the Line: Bill to make it felony to trespass on construction sites, Wisconsin Law Journal, September 27, 2019

Scott Bauer, Wisconsin weighs felony for actions against pipelines, Associated Press, September 26, 2019

Michelle Phillips, Op-ed: Squelching Protest, Middelton Times-Tribune, September 26, 2019

David Armiak, Wisconsin Legislators Seek to Criminalize Climate, Environmental Protests with Latest Bill, Center for Media and Democracy, September 16, 2019