Big Oil, working through ALEC in at least eight states, decided to up the ante in an attempt to ensure that no other massive petroleum or natural gas project ever gets canceled because of protesters risking life, limb, and lengthy prison time and fines.
Opinion -Legislators across eight American states are drafting laws that would increase punishments to up to a $1 million fine and 10 years in jail for those who trespass on "critical infrastructure facilities," which include oil and gas pipelines, power plants, and petroleum refineries.
The main companies pushing for such protection are TransCanada, SempraEnergy, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Energy Transfer. The Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline are two major projects that have drawn large-scale protest movements. The Dakota Access pipeline was particularly contentious, with oil companies hiring private security firms to mace and turn loose dogs on protesters. These inhumane actions were in response to "serious" property damage by the protesters - as exemplified by the spraypainting of a bulldozer by presidential candidate Jill Stein.
The widespread protest movements caused former President Barack Obama to cancel both the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines. President Donald Trump reversed course on both projects and started construction on them, so Big Oil decided to up the ante in an attempt to ensure that no other massive petroleum or natural gas project ever gets canceled because of protesters risking life, limb, and lengthy prison time and fines. The states that are pushing for the 10 years in jail and $1 million fines are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Wyoming.
Karavani takes aim
Political comedy show Redacted Tonight picked up on this wave of activist-targeting legislative activity. Naomi Karavani, Redacted Tonight correspondent, draws attention to how these penalties affect environmental activism organizations like Greenpeace:
In these bills you have a $1,000 fine for simply protesting on oil companies' land and $1 million for being an organization that's affiliated with protests, so if you're Greenpeace you should stop canvassing and start mugging people in the streets [to raise that kind of dough]. They could say ‘Excuse me but do you have a moment for the environment ... because, if not, Sonny the body-building vegan could make you'."
Karavani brilliantly explains to viewers the exact special interests working to punish activists in the interest of big oil:
This is part of a wave of bills by ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing legislation-templating org] and the Koch brothers, sponsored by the petroleum industry to target protesters. What makes this bill unique is that it is conspirators who have vicarious liability for damage done in a protest."
Karavani attempts to do a mind meld with the oil companies but it proves difficult because she has ethics:
Yeah well the oil companies tried calling the activists terrorists and it never really caught on so - apparently too soon for those who remember 9/11 so ... I don't know ... we need something just as vague but also sinister. ‘Conspirators' are people housing activists ... handing them blankets when its cold ... and worst of all this can lead to the pipeline protesters having high morale."
If that sounds a bit disjointed, well you try explaining all the Orwellian stuff the corporations and government come up with! It's also hard to get a terrorism label to stick on someone who's dedicated and desperate enough to live in one tree just so that it isn't bulldozed.
Karavani forges on, pretending to be on the side of big oil.
Critical infrastructure is the bedrock of our economic system, so it can be any place with a fence or a sign - like pipelines, nuclear, chemical, or electric plants, train tracks, train stations, radio stations, TV stations, parking lots, a doggy run... You could be sitting on critical infrastructure right now as you watch this show so that's probably enough to prosecute you."
Having made her points with maximum snark, Karavani is done and it's time for Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp to move on to other pressing news of the weird. And time for us to deconstruct their "critical infrastructure" segment.
The straight poop on critical infrastructure
The activists engaging in tampering with America's "critical infrastructure" will most likely do it regardless of penalty. Simply put, their attacks on the infrastructure are too important, too imperative to be deterred by penalties. Many of these people are natives and remember every broken treaty as they plan their attacks on these petro plants.
As is true with most things in life, Hollywood has lied to us about what would happen if a random person struck oil. Jed Clampett could never exist. The U.S. government and its partners in the oil and gas industry would steal Jed's oil. They wouldn't pay him for it.
As for The Beverly Hillbillies, I'm really only familiar with the old theme song:
Listen to my story ‘bout a man named Jed,
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed;
Then one day he was shootin' at some food,
When up from the ground came a bubblin' crude!
Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea . . ."
Yep, Jed misses the squirrel but hits the mother lode in his little patch of swamp and oil starts gushing from the ground.
But here's what would really happen to old Jed. He'll call a slick-talkin' oil company man who'll show up in a bolo tie smoking a cigar and probably smoke one with Jed - what Jed doesn't know is that the oilman is smoking a $100 cigar and Jed a $3 one.They make a deal. Oil company workers invade his property to extract the oil. They let Jed know his deed to his land ends at the ground. This actually is the case in many states. Mostly the ones that have embraced fracking.
Jed will protest and talk of the roots of his little swamp garden:"Mister, they're below the ground and I've always owned them." He'll be lucky if the oilman doesn't claim a right to Jed's carrots and turnips along with the oil.Then the oilman will buy the house for 20 percent of what Jed paid for it.Eventually the Clampetts lose their suit for the house and they move to Pine Bluff Arkansas to live out of a Red Roof Inn with the whole family sharing one room. Think Grapes of Wrath.
The TV show The Pine Bluff Hillbillies is canceled after just half a season due to terrible ratings. However, it receives an award for an accurate portrayal of childhood hunger.
Watch the entireRedacted Tonightsegment: Systemic racism is alive & well, Tucker Carlson's bigotry, criminalizing protest.
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Nick Rehwaldt is a MintPress News intern. He is an author, artist, and standup comedian focused on political issues, with much of his material ripped from the headlines on any given week. He's also a proud non-voter and global citizen who happens to live in the U.S.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.
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