HB 275: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines
Would create a new felony offense for “improper tampering” that could cover some protests near pipelines and other infrastructure that do not involve actual property damage. The bill broadly defines “critical infrastructure” to include above or belowground pipelines, as well as a range of other gas, electricity, water, mining, and telecommunications facilities. The bill’s “improper tampering” felony applies to infrastructure property “for which the owner or operator thereof has employed measures that are designed to exclude unauthorized persons, which may include measures such as fences, barriers, or guard posts.” Under the bill, “improperly tampering” could include any unauthorized action to “change…the physical condition of the property or any portion thereof,” or to “knowingly and intentionally… deface” critical infrastructure property. As such, the 2nd degree felony offense—which is punishable by 15 years in prison and $10,000—could cover actions as minor as chalking protest messages or taping posters onto a pipeline, or protesters inadvertently trampling a field during a demonstration that is next to and part of a covered facility.(See full text of bill here)
Introduced 25 Oct 2023.
Issue(s): Infrastructure, Trespass