FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

West Virginia Legislation Would Make Civil Disobedience Against Gas Pipelines a Felony

Industry drafted legislation (HB 4615) that would make civil disobedience against a pipeline or  other fossil fuel projects a felony is moving through the West Virginia legislature.

The House of Delegates Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation February 10, 2020 at 8:30 am.

Eight of the nine co-sponsors of HB 4615 have received a collective $48,050 in campaign contributions from oil, gas, electric utility and railroad interests.

Tracy Cannon of Hedgesville, West Virginia has been leading a coalition of citizens against the Mountaineer gas pipeline that cuts through the Eastern Panhandle. She’s planning to make the five hour drive to the state capitol building in Charleston for the Monday hearing and has set up a Facebook events page.

“The ‘Critical Infrastructure Protection Act’ would act to silence those of us who monitor and protest pipeline projects and other gas infrastructure,” Cannon said. “Leaders in Charleston worked to force the pipeline and Rockwool factory on us here in the Eastern Panhandle, against fierce resistance.”

“Now, the legislature is trying to make civil disobedience protests against gas infrastructure a felony punishable by one to three years and/or a fine of $1000 or more. The bill would also criminalize ‘conspiracy’ by organizations that sponsor civil disobedience and fine the organizations $5000 or more. Such fines could bankrupt small environmental groups.”

“West Virginians value their rights to free speech and free association as granted to us under the Constitution. We will not stand for the legislature taking these rights away.”

The Intercept reported last year that the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a powerful lobbying group, played a role in crafting similar legislation that has been introduced in more than 20 states.

“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,” the Intercept reported.

“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, 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.”

In West Virginia, Sierra Club put out a statement saying the proposed legislation would  “silence citizens’ constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association.”

“This bill seeks to shield wealthy fossil fuel corporations from criticism and protest,” the group said. “The corporate raiders this legislation would shield are the same ones who seize West Virginians’ land through eminent domain grabs, construct shoddy infrastructure destined to fail, and leave the taxpayers of our state with the hazardous mess and the economic ruin. Now they want to punish people who protest pipelines on their own land, and those who speak out about the harm done to their health, their families, or their future.”

“There are already laws protecting infrastructure in place, and these corporations already have all the cash they need to buy their free speech. This bill seeks to silence and punish those most harmed by the excesses of these corporations and the infrastructure they impose on our lands. We oppose this handout to the gas, oil, and coal industries at the expense of our rights. It’s bullying, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s un-American.”

More articles by:

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

July 08, 2020
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
Parth M.N.
Back to School in Rural India: Digital Divide to Digital Partition
Ed Sanders
The Burning of Newgate Prison: a Glyph
July 06, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?
JoAnn Wypijewski
On Disposability and Rebellion: Insights From a Rank-and-File Insurgency
Marshall Auerback – Jan Frel
There’s a Hidden Economic Trendline That is Shattering the Global Trade System
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Just and Talented Government for Our Hazardous Age
Manuel García, Jr.
Biosphere Warming in Numbers
Ron Jacobs
Kidnapping Kids: As American as the Fourth of July
Tasha Jones
Pyramids. Plantations. Projects. Penitentiaries
Binoy Kampmark
Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze
Eve Ottenberg
Re-Organizing Labor
Mike Garrity
How We Stopped Trump From Trashing a Critical Montana Roadless Area in Grizzly Habitat
Nino Pagliccia
The Meaning of the 1811 Independence for Today’s Venezuela
Michael Galant
We Need a Global Green New Deal
Jill Richardson
Learning Not to Look Away
Marshall Sahlins
Donald Trump at 130,000 and Rising
Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
Rob Urie
Class, Race and Power
John Davis
A Requiem for George Floyd
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mutiny of the Bounties!
Richard D. Wolff
Revolutionary Possibilities: Could U.S. Capitalism Turn Nationalist?
Richard Falk
When Rogue States Sanction the International Criminal Court
Louis Proyect
Smearing Black Lives Matter…From the Left
Ralph Nader
Trump and Pence – Step Aside for Professional Pandemic Scientists and Managers
Ramzy Baroud
Tearing Down the Idols of Colonialism: Why Tunisia, Africa Must Demand French Apology
Philippe Marlière
Challenging the French Republic’s Color-Blindness
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail