Oklahoma Trespassing Laws Beefed Up Against Protesters

A bill born partially out of protests by environmentalists against oil and natural gas pipelines in North Dakota has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

House Bill 1123, authored by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, creates a new misdemeanor level and two new felony levels for trespassing.

“This law isn’t about lost hunters or misplaced campers,” said Rep. Biggs.  “This law is about protecting our state’s most important and critical infrastructure by holding those who seek to do our state harm accountable.”

The misdemeanor level allows for a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in county jail for willfully trespassing onto property containing critical infrastructure.

 The first felony level allows for a fine of no less than $10,000 and a prison sentence for up to 10 years for individuals that willfully trespass with the intention to damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment, impede or inhibit operations of the facility. The final felony level is for a fine not less than $100,000 and a prison sentence for up to 10 years for successfully damaging, destroying, vandalizing, defacing or tampering with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility.

 As a state that has many military bases, miles of oil pipelines and hundreds of gas wells, the threat of people looking to do harm to Oklahoma’s critical infrastructure is real. The US Department of Homeland Security has gone as far to identify potential threat sources to specific Oklahoma assets.

 “Oklahoma has a proud history in both oil and gas and our support of the military,” Biggs said. “It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that we want to protect these resources.”

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