pipelines

State Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest of Oil & Gas "Critical Infrastructure"

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

Image and related article via The Real News Network.

Updated October 14, 2019. Greenpeace USA.

Lawmakers in several states are introducing bills that would increase criminal penalties for people who trespass "critical infrastructure" facilities, such as oil and gas pipelines, power plants, and petrochemical refineries. 

According to many of these legislators, these bills are a reaction to widespread protests of oil and gas infrastructure. Some of the protests have captured the nation's attention, such as the indigenous-led protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota and in Iowa against the Dakota Access Pipeline, opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from Nebraska to Texas, protests of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana, and opposition to several pipeline projects in Pennsylvania.

Nine states have enacted some form of these bills into law: North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Missouri.

This effort to add felony-level penalties to peaceful protestors does not appear to be in reaction from the constituents of the politicians sponsoring such legislation. In contrast, there is much evidence of coordinated pressure from the oil and gas industry, electric utilities, and chemical companies. According to The Intercept, 85 percent of the nation's "critical infrastructure" is privately owned.

Many of these bills are virtually identical. Several companies and lobbying organizations used groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) to put these policies into the hands of legislators. These model "critical infrastructure" anti-protest bills adopted by ALEC and by CSG would allow prosecutors to impose large fines and felonies, not only on individuals who are arrested, but organizations that are deemed to be supporting those individuals. 

Offenses such as vandalism and violence are already illegal in these states and grounds for prosecution. Nonviolent offenses, like trespassing, are also already illegal in these states. People arrested for protesting oil and gas infrastructure--before these "critical infrastructure" bills became law in several states--already faced severe legal threats. Many people were jailed, imprisoned, and fined for nonviolent activities that occurred during protests of petrochemical pipelines.

The following pages assemble a variety of information on these state bills, and the model bills, organized by state, and then in reverse chronological order. This research is an attempt to measure how polluting companies are using a combination of lobbying, state legislative consortiums, and campaign cash to afford extra legal enforcement against protests of oil, gas, and electric infrastructure. Greenpeace relied heavily on the US Protest Law Tracker, published by the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL). 

OIL & GAS INFRASTRUCTURE ANTI-PROTEST BILLS, BY STATE: 

* = bill(s) passed into law

These pages will continue to be updated with new information.

OIL & GAS INFRASTRUCTURE ANTI-PROTEST BILLS, PRESENT TO PAST:

2019: 

October 10, 2019: Wisconsin AB 426 passed in House vote, referred to Senate. (see Wisconsin Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

September 18, 2019: South Dakota SB 198 "riot boosting" law blocked by US District Judge Lawrence Pierson via preliminary injunction (see Mother Jones and Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

September 12, 2019: Wisconsin AB 426 introduced. (see Wisconsin Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

September 5, 2019: Wisconsin SB 386 introduced. (see Wisconsin Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

July 11, 2019: Missouri HB 355 signed into law by Governor. (see Missouri Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

June 14, 2019: Texas HB 3557 signed into law by Governor. (see Texas Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

May 29, 2019: Illinois HB 1633 died in Senate committee after being tabled. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 20, 2019: Texas HB 3557 passed in Senate, previously passed in House. (see Texas Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 15, 2019: Tennessee SB 0264 signed into law by Governor. (see Tennessee Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 15, 2019: Missouri HB 355 passed in Senate with amendment adding "critical infrastructure" language. (see Missouri Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 6, 2019: Indiana SB 471 signed by Governor as Act 471. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 1, 2019: Ohio SB 33 passed in Senate. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Apr. 30, 2019: Tennessee SB 0264 passed in House, previously passed in Senate. (see Tennessee Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 11, 2019: North Dakota SB 2044 signed into law by Governor. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 11, 2019: Illinois HB 1633 passed in House. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Mar. 27, 2019: South Dakota SB 189 signed by Governor Kristi Noem (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 25, 2019: North Dakota SB 2044 passed in House, prevously passed in Senate. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 19, 2019: Indiana SB 471 passed in House, previously passed in Senate. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 7, 2019: Texas SB 1993 filed. (see Texas Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 7, 2019: South Dakota SB 189 passed in Senate and in House (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 6, 2019: Texas HB 3557 filed. (see Texas Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 5, 2019: Mississippi SB 2754 died in House commiitee. (see Mississippi Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 5, 2019: Kentucky SB 238 died in Senate committee. (See Kentucky Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 4, 2019: South Dakota SB 189 introduced. (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Feb. 15. 2019: Kentucky SB 238 passed in House. (See Kentucky Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 12, 2019: Ohio SB 33 introduced. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 12, 2019 Idaho SB 1090 died in Senate committee. (see Idaho Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 11, 2019: Idaho SB 1090 introduced and read first time on February 11, 2019. (see Idaho Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 11, 2019: Mississippi SB 2754 passed in Senate. (see Mississippi Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 7, 2019: Indiana SB 471 passed in Senate. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 7, 2019: Illinois SB 1304 introduced, concurrent with HB 1633. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 5, 2019: Kentucky SB 238 introduced. (See Kentucky Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 4, 2019: Wyoming HB 10 died in committee(see Wyoming Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Jan. 31, 2019: Illinois HB 1633 introduced. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 23, 2019: Missouri SB 293 introduced, later folded into HB 355, above. (see Missouri Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 19, 2019: Mississippi SB 2754 introduced. (see Mississippi Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 17, 2019: Pennsylvania Senators announced they will reintroduce SB 652. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 14, 2019: Indiana SB 471 introduced. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 3, 2019: North Dakota SB 2044 introduced. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2018:

Dec. 6, 2018: Ohio SB 250 passed Senate, then died in House committee. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Oct. 10, 2018: Pennsylvania SB 652 died in House committee. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Aug. 8, 2018: Louisiana Act 692 (HB 727) officially went into effect. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jun. 13, 2018: Pennsylvania SB 652 referred to House committee. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

May 30, 2018: Louisiana HB 727 signed by Governor as Act 692. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 30, 2018: Minnesota SF 3463 vetoed by governor. (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 23, 2018: Pennsylvania SB 652 passed in Senate. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 9, 2018: Minnesota HB 3693 postponed and folded into SF 3463. (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 17, 2018: Iowa SB 2235 signed by governor, became law. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Mar. 27, 2018: Iowa HF 2349 withdrawn, folded into SB 2235. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 26, 2018: Louisiana HB 727 introduced. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 15, 2018: Minnesota SF 3463 introduced (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 15, 2018: Wyoming SF 74 vetoed by governor. (see Wyoming Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 12, 2018: Minnesota HB 3693 introduced. (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Feb. 19, 2018: Wyoming SF 74 introduced. (see Wyoming Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 16, 2018: Iowa HF 2349 introduced, replacing HSB 603 and SSB 3062. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 12, 2018: Iowa SB 2235 introduced. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Jan. 31, 2018: Iowa HSB 603 introduced. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 24, 2018: Ohio SB 250 introduced. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 23, 2018: Iowa SSB 3062 introduced. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 20, 2018: ALEC board approves model bill. (see American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC Model Bill: Critical Infrastructure Protection Act)

2017:

Dec. 15, 2017: Council of State Governments model bill adopted. (see Council of State Governments CSG Model Bill: Trespassing, Interference, and Destruction of Critical Infrastructure)

Dec. 7, 2017: ALEC model bill considered internally at ALEC meeting. (see American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC Model Bill: Critical Infrastructure Protection Act)

 

May 15, 2017: Oklahoma HB 2128 signed into law by governor. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 3, 2017: Oklahoma HB 1123 signed into law by governor. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Apr. 25, 2017: Pennsylvania SB 652 introduced. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 12, 2017: Colorado SB 17-035 died in House committee. (see Colorado Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Mar. 28, 2017: Georgia SB1 died in committee. (see Georgia Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 27, 2017: South Dakota SB 176 signed into law by governor. (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Feb. 28, 2017: Colorado SB 17-035 approved by Senate. (see Colorado Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 23, 2017: North Dakota HB 1293 signed into law by governor. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 6, 2017: Oklahoma HB 2128 introduced. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 6, 2017: Oklahoma HB 1123 introduced. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 3, 2017: South Dakota SB 176 introduced. (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Jan. 12, 2017: North Dakota HB 1293 introduced. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 11, 2017: Colorado SB 17-035 introduced. (see Colorado Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 1, 2017: Georgia SB1 introduced. (see Georgia Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2016:

Dec. 16, 2016: Washington SB 5009 pre-filed. (see Washington Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Dec. 8, 2016: Michigan HB 4643 referred to Senate, where the bill died. (see Michigan Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Dec. 7, 2016: Michigan HB 4643 approved by House. (see Michigan Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 2, 2016: Alabama HB 77 died after first reading in House Judiciary Committee (see Alabama Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2015:

August 1, 2015: Louisiana Act 366 becomes effective. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

July 1, 2015: Louisiana HB7 signed by Governor Bobby Jindal as Act 366. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 26, 2015: Michigan HB 4643 introduced. (see Michigan Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 6, 2015: Louisiana HB7 prefiled. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2006:

Council of State Governments adpoted “Unauthorized Entry of a Critical Infrastructure” model bill. (see Council of State Governments CSG Model Bill: Trespassing, Interference, and Destruction of Critical Infrastructure)

2004:

June 10, 2004: Louisiana Act 157 signed into law by Governor Kathleen Blanco (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Media Reports & References:

2019

Jamie Corey, Fossil Fuel Industry Pushed Legislation Criminalizing Pipeline Protestors, Emails Show, Documented, August 20, 2019

Delilah Friedler, A Judge Just Blocked South Dakota’s “Riot-Boosting” Law, But Anti-Protest Measures Keep Spreading, Mother Jones, September 18, 2019

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Oil Companies Persuade States to Make Pipeline Protests a Felony, Bloomberg, August 19, 2019

Lee Fang, Oil Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, Leaked Recording Shows, The Intercept, August 19, 2019

Jake Wartel, Anti-Protest Bills, from National to State Level, Gain Ground, Defending Rights & Dissent, July 12, 2019

Susie Cagle, 'Protesters as terrorists': growing number of states turn anti-pipeline activism into a crime, The Guardian, July 8, 2019

Delilah Friedler, South Dakota’s “Riot-Boosting” Law Aims to Curb the Next Standing Rock Before it Even Starts, Mother Jones, June 18, 2019

Naveena Sadasivam, Mess with a Texas pipeline now and you could end up a felon, Grist, June 17, 2019

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

Alan Neuhauser, Pipeline Protest Laws Spark First Amendment Concerns, US News & World Report, June 6, 2019

Rebecca Stoner, Why are Unions Joining Conservative Groups to Protect Pipelines?, Pacific Standard, May 31, 2019

Alleen Brown, Pipeline Opponents Strike Back Against Anti-Protest Laws, The Intercept, May 23, 2019

New Lawsuit Challenges Anti-Protest Trespass Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, May 22, 2019

Jacob Shea, States Crack Down on Environmental Activists, Sierra Club, May 20, 2019

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

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, ALEC Wants to Make Protest Illegal in Illinois, TruthOut / Greenpeace USA, May 10, 2019

Sue Udry, Free Speech is the Critical Infrastructure to our Democracy, Protect Rights & Dissent, May 8, 2019

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, Anti-Protest Legislation is Threatening our Climate, May 3, 2019

Mike Lee, High-profile protests spur state bids to tamp down unrest, E&E Publishing EnergyWire, April 24, 2019

Sarah Lazare and Simon Davis-Cohen, Fossil Fuel Companies Are Enlisting Police to Crack Down on Protesters, In These Times, April 16, 2019

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

Alleen Brown, The Green Scare: How a Movement that Never Killed Anyone Became the FBI's #1 Domestic Terrorism Threat, The Intercept, March 23, 2019

Traci Yoder, The Attack on Climate Justice Movements, National Lawyers Guild, March 14, 2019

Sarah Bowman, This Indiana bill is meant to protect pipelines. Critics say it infringes on free speech., Indianapolis Star, March 10, 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

Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, How Police, Private Security, and Energy Companies are Preparing for a New Pipeline Standoff, The Intercept, January 30, 2019

2018

Derek Seidman and Gin Armstrong, How to Research the Corporate Forces Behind Pipeline Protest Criminalization, LittleSis, September 27, 2018

Sarah Lustbader and Vaidya Gullapalli, States Use Anti-Protest Laws to Protect Oil Pipelines and Criminalize Environmental Activism, The Appeal, August 22, 2018

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

Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, Recent Arrests Under New Anti-Protest Law Spotlight Risks that Off-Duty Cops Pose to Pipeline Opponents, The Intercept, August 22, 2018

Eliza Newlin Carney, Spate of anti-protest bills target social justice infrastructure, Sunlight Foundation, June 18, 2018

Sue Sturgis, Louisiana pipeline protection bill part of wider protest crackdown, Facing South / Institute for Southern Studies, May 11, 2018

Natasha Geiling, These states want to make planning a pipeline protest a crime, ThinkProgress, April 16, 2018

Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, Louisiana and Minnesota Introduce Anti-Protest Bills Amid Fights over Bayou Bridge and Enbridge Pipelines, The Intercept, March 31, 2018

Vera Eidelman and Maggie Ellinger-Locke, The Assault on Environmental Protest, American Civil Liberties Union / Greenpeace USA, March 16, 2018

Sue Udry, Toxic Brew: State Politicians, Gas & Oil Lobbyists, and ALEC Join Forces Against Environmental Protesters, Protect Rights & Dissent, February 21, 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

Traci Yoder, Conservative-led Anti-Protest Legislation Already Doubled Since Last Year, National Lawyers Guild, February 15, 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

2017

Steve Horn, As Trump Unfurls Infrastructure Plan, Iowa Bill Seeks to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, DeSmog, January 31, 2017

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

Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri, Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvannia's Mariner East 2 Pipeline, The Intercept, June 21, 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

    Contact: Connor Gibson - connor.gibson@greenpeace.org@climateconnor

    Industry: 

    Governors Submit Pro-Pipeline Letter Written by DAPL PR Firm

    • Posted on: 21 February 2017
    • By: JesseColeman

    The Governors of three states involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline are marching to the orders of a PR company hired by the pipeline’s builders.

    On October 25th of last year, the Governors of North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa sent a letter to the Army Corp of Engineers demanding approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

    A Greenpeace investigation has revealed that the first draft of this letter was written by LS2Group, a PR firm contracted by Energy Transfer Partners, the Dakota Access Pipeline’s (DAPL) main builder.

    Emails between Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s staff and Craig Schoenfeld, a senior account executive for LS2Group, contain a first draft of the three governors’ letter, written by LS2. An email from Schoenfeld obtained through an open records request makes plain that LS2 wrote the letter. He also questions why the letter was not sent to President Obama and other agency heads, as LS2 initially requested.

    “The draft letter we sent the four governors for consideration last month was addressed to the President, DOJ, DOI and Army, but the one approved by ND, SD, and IA was addressed to the three USACE commanders. I was curious if this was a request by one of the governors for the change i.e.to steer clear of political pushback.”

    The draft sent by LS2Group in September and the letter eventually sent by the Governors contain only minor differences in content.

    LS2Group has multiple employees registered to lobby for Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), and has been lobbying for DAPL since at least 2014.

    The PR firm has particularly strong ties to Governor Branstad of Iowa. It was Governor Branstad’s office that pushed the Governors of South and North Dakota to sign on to the LS2 letter.

    As DeSmogBlog points out, Branstad’s chief of staff from 2010 to 2013, Jeff Boeyink, is now a Senior Vice President of LS2Group, and lobbies for ETP in Iowa. Susan Severino Fenton, LS2Group´s Director of Government Affairs, is also a registered lobbyist for Energy Transfer Partners.

    LS2Group contributed $1,000 to Branstad in June of 2016. The PR firm has also contributed many thousands of dollars to the Republican party of Iowa since 2014.

    The ease with which oil lobbyists were able to slap the official seals of three governors onto their clients’ missive underscores the cozy relationship between the oil industry and State Governments in the region.

    The governors of Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota have fully supported the pipeline builders, providing militarized police to intimidate indigenous water protectors and their allies. As opposition to the pipeline escalated over the last few months, the Iowan government has brought severe criminal charges against those speaking against the pipeline.

    Currently ETP is drilling under the Standing Rock Sioux’s water source, the Oahe Reservoir, despite a promise by the Army Corp of Engineers to conduct a thorough environmental review. A Presidential Memorandum by Donald Trump effectively cancelled any ongoing environmental assessment of the pipeline and gave the company permission to begin drilling. Donald Trump has investments in ETP and Phillips 66, which are partnered in building the pipeline. Trump also has close ties to ETP CEO Kelcy Warren, who contributed large sums to Trump’s presidential campaign.

     

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    ExxonMobil, other pipeline operators don't have to pay into oil spill fund when it's tar sands oil?!

    • Posted on: 2 April 2013
    • By: Connor Gibson

    Photos courtesy of Lady with a Camera.

    Written by Carol Linnitt, crossposted from DeSmog Canada.

    As Think Progress has just reported, a bizarre technicality allowed Exxon Mobil to avoid paying into the federal oil spill fund responsible for cleanup after the company's Pegasus pipeline released 12,000 barrels of tar sands oil and water into the town of Mayflower, Arkansas.

    According to a thirty-year-old law in the US, diluted bitumen coming from the Alberta tar sands is not classified as oil, meaning pipeline operators planning to transport the corrosive substance across the US - with proposed pipelines like the Keystone XL - are exempt from paying into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

    News that Exxon was spared from contributing the 8-cents-per-barrel fee to the clean-up fund added insult to injury this week as cleanup crews discovered oil-soaked ducks covered in "low-quality Wabasca Heavy Crude from Alberta." Yesterday officials said 10 live ducks were found covered in oil, as well as a number of oiled ducks already deceased.

    Photographer Eilish Palmer, known as Lady with a Camera, has been working with HAWK (Helping Arkansas Wild Kritters), a wildlife rehabilitation centre, to locate and help ducks and other animals affected by the spill.

    We I connected with Eilish on the phone she was in the rain, searching for more oil-covered animals: "I'm actually out in the woods right now looking for animals. We just found two dead ducks and one live one…We actually saw a dead wood duck and we saw its mate, it couldn't fly away, only walk. It was pretty saturated." 

    Eilish said HAWK was the first responder for affected wildlife in the area but has since seen Exxon establish a local mobile unit to treat animals on site. "As the number of animals increased Exxon brought in their own rehabilitation centre because we were taking that animals to a centre about an hour away. HAWK doesn't have a mobile unit."

    In addition to ducks, the team working with HAWK also found this oil-laden male muskrat, suggesting a number of species may be affected.

    Faulkner Country Judge Allen Dodson said "I'm an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are. We don't like to see that. No one does."

    He added, "Crude oil is crude oil. None of it is real good to touch."

    The Exxon spill leaked 80,000 gallons of oil into an Arkansas residential area, causing the evacuation of 40 homes. This weekend Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president Gary Pruessing told displaced homeowners, "If you have been harmed by this spill then we're going to look at how to make that right." 

    According to InsideClimate News, Exxon is currently preventing the media from accessing the spill scene. Today the Arkansas Attourney General announced an investigation is being launched into the cause of the 60-year old pipeline's rupture. 

    The Pegasus pipeline was originally built in the 1940s and was recently dormant for four years before its flow was reversed to carry Alberta diluted bitumen from Illinois to the Gulf Coast. In 2006 Exxon called the line's reversal a win-win for the people of the Gulf Coast and Canada.

    The revelation that companies transporting diluted bitumen in the US have some concerned about pre-existing pipelines, as well as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that will transport the tar sands-derived oil across a number of ecologically sensitive areas. 

    According to the NRDC, in 2011 a number of pipelines carried Alberta bitumen in the US:

    Although the spread of oil refineries across the US receiving bitumen suggests the network of tar sands oil transport is much more widely spread across the States:

    The network potentially connecting bitumen-carrying pipelines with other pipelines is quite extensive across the US:

    Last week a coalition of environmental groups, communities and inviduals petitioned the US EPA and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Association (PHMSA) to place a moratorium on pending tar sands pipelines, including the Keystone XL pipeline, until new safety rules are established. 

    "Simply put, diluted bitumen and conventional crude oil are not the same substance," the petitioners wrote. "There is increasing evidence that the transport of diluted bitumen is putting America's public safety at risk. Current regulations fail to protect the public against those risks. Instead, regulations ... treat diluted bitumen and conventional crude the same."

    Image Credit: Refinery map by ForestEthics. Wildlife photos courtesy of Eilish Palmer, Lady with a Camera, used with permission.

     

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