[News] Oil Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, Leaked Recording Shows
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Mon Aug 19 18:54:37 EDT 2019
Oil Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline Protests,
Leaked Recording Shows
Lee Fang - August 19, 2019
_The American Fuel_ & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a powerful lobbying
group that represents major chemical plants and oil refineries,
including Valero Energy, Koch Industries, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and
Marathon Petroleum, has flexed its muscle over environmental and energy
policy for decades. Despite its reach, AFPM channels dark money and
influence with little scrutiny.
The group is now leveraging its political power to criminalize protests
of oil and gas infrastructure.
In an audio recording obtained by The Intercept, the group concedes that
it has been playing a role behind the scenes in crafting laws recently
passed in states across the country to criminalize oil and gas pipeline
protests, in response to protests over the Dakota Access pipeline. The
laws make it a crime to trespass on public land used for “critical
infrastructure,” impose a fine or prison time for violators, and hold
protesters responsible for damage incurred during the protest. Many of
the laws also carry heavy fines to groups and individuals who support
The trade group, which was founded in 1902, has long played an outsized
role in shaping policy disputes. Last year, AFPM and its members
mobilized over $30 million
to defeat the carbon tax
proposed in Washington State, easily outspending an environmentalist
campaign funded by philanthropist billionaires and small donors.
In June, Derrick Morgan, a senior vice president for federal and
regulatory affairs at AFPM, spoke at the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation
conference in Washington, D.C., explaining the role his trade group has
played in criminalizing protests. AFPM did not respond to a request for
James G. Flood, a partner with law firm Crowell & Moring’s lobbying
practice, introduced Morgan as “intimately involved” in crafting model
legislation that has been distributed to state lawmakers around the
country. The attendees at the event received copies of the model bill
the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, distributed through the
American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative nonprofit that
serves as a nexus for corporate lobbyists to author template legislation
that is then sponsored by state lawmakers affiliated with ALEC.
When the template legislation went out to hundreds of ALEC member
legislators, it was accompanied with a letter
support from AFPM and others, first reported
HuffPost. The ALEC task force that developed the legislation also
representatives from AFPM.
“So you see that, and you’re reading the materials as well, that this
model legislation would itemize criminal trespass and also a liability
for folks that cause damage during protest,” Morgan said, citing the
Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.
“Another key aspect of it,” Morgan continued, “which you also include,
is inspiring organizations — so organizations who have ill intent, want
to encourage folks to damage property and endanger lives — they are also
The legislative text Morgan described has been introduced
in various forms in 22 states and passed in nine states: Texas,
Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota,
and North Dakota.
_Any effort to_ sabotage pipeline infrastructure is already a federal
crime. The AFPM-backed bills expand the purview of law enforcement,
classifying peaceful protests that seek to block the construction of
pipelines as a violent threat.
For instance, the Oklahoma variation of the law
<https://legiscan.com/OK/text/HB1123/id/1603494>, which copies much of
the template legislation, creates fines of at least $10,000,
and imprisons, for up to a year, demonstrators who have shown the
“intent” to have trespassed to damage or in any way disrupt an
infrastructure facility. Those convicted of damaging or disrupting
infrastructure face a minimum of 10 years in prison, as well as much
as $100,000 in fines.
A presentation slide from the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation
conference, featuring oil and gas industry model legislation.
Image: Provided to The Intercept
The Oklahoma bill, signed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin in 2017 also levels
fines for organizations found to have been “conspiring” with
perpetrators, with penalties of 10 times the fines paid by
perpetrators. This suggests advocacy groups linked to protesters could
be fined from $100,000 to $1 million.
In Iowa, the legislation
signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds this year, creates penalties of $85,000 to
$100,000 for those convicted of sabotaging critical infrastructure,
which the law defines broadly as any interruption to a variety of services.
South Dakota’s version
of the critical infrastructure protest law creates civil penalties for
“riot boosting,” which the law signed by Gov. Kristi Noem, defines as
anyone who “directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons
participating in the riot.”
The version of the model legislation enacted in Iowa, says Daniel Zeno,
ACLU of Iowa Policy Director, “has the potential to chill environmental
protest, punish public participation, and mischaracterize advocacy
protected by the First Amendment.” The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit
against the South Dakota version of the bill, and is monitoring how the
bill will be enforced in other states to ensure free speech rights
As The Intercept has previously reported
the Pennsylvania version of the pipeline protest legislation, proposed
this year, would require demonstrators to reimburse the cost of policing
the demonstration. The bill defines demonstrations as “a political rally
or event, a demonstration, speech making, the holding of vigils or
religious services and all other forms of conduct the primary purpose of
which is expressive activity or expression of views or grievances.”
In his remarks, Morgan cited the costs associated with dealing with the
Dakota Access pipeline as the impetus for the lobbying push. “We’ve seen
a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma
in 2017,” Morgan said. “We’re up to nine states that have passed laws
that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your
AFPM also financed
<https://www.republicreport.org/2014/keystone-xl-refinery/> a variety of
pro-pipeline advocacy groups to build the appearance of public support
for the projects, particularly Keystone XL, and was highly involved in
the fight over DAPL.
The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed
bipartisan support. In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards
signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the
Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, “We
almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated
legislature.” The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over
time constraints at the end of the legislative session.
_Lobbying disclosure standards_**vary by state, but evidence suggests
AFPM and its member companies have played a direct hand in getting bills
passed, moved along through committees, and signed into law.
In Missouri, the witness list in support of the pipeline protest bill
Peter Barnes, AFPM’s state and local outreach manager. The Cheyenne
office of law firm of Holland & Hart reportedly crafted the pipeline
protest bill proposed in Wyoming on behalf of AFPM and provided the text
for a local GOP lawmaker to introduce, according to a local news story
by the investigative journalism nonprofit Documented show efforts by the
oil and gas lobby**to pressure Oklahoma’s governor to sign the pipeline
protest legislation. In one email, an assistant to the governor relays a
message from Valero lobbyist Julie Klumpyan, noting that she had left a
message urging Fallin to sign the bill. “They think it will help deter
vandalism & disruptive actions,” wrote the assistant. Valero is a
prominent member of AFPM.
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