US Legislative Briefer: Critical Infrastructure Bills

Targeting Protesters through Extreme Penalties

Published: October 2019

The United States has seen a rise in demonstrations surrounding the construction of natural gas and oil pipelines by those concerned about their harm to the environment, indigenous land, and landowner rights. In response to these protests, several states have proposed (and in many cases enacted) bills that proponents claim will protect critical infrastructure from trespass and vandalism.

This legislative briefer focuses on how critical infrastructure bills can undermine protesters’ right to peaceful assembly by creating draconian penalties for trespass as well as severely penalizing vaguely defined interference with the construction or operation of critical infrastructure sites.