[News] Oil Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, Leaked Recording Shows

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
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 
such demonstrations.

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 
<https://www.alec.org/model-policy/critical-infrastructure-protection-act/>, called 
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 
<https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6266212-Critical-Infrastructure-ALEC-Letter-Dec72017.html> of 
support from AFPM and others, first reported 
<https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pipeline-environmentalist-terrorism_us_5a85c2ede4b0058d55672250> by 
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 
held liable.”

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 
aren’t curtailed.

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 

Emails obtained 
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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