States consider new laws increasing penalties for pipeline protesters

A dozen protesters were arrested in Cushing, Oklahoma seven-and-a-half years ago when they tried to stop a proposed oil pipeline between there and a Valero refinery in Memphis, Tennessee.  Proposed new laws in multiple states could stiffen the penalties.

Members of the group Arkansas Rising attached themselves to oil drums filled with cement and firefighters had to free them before they could be taken into custody.  About 40 protesters were present in January 2017.

Oil and gas lobbyists want criminal penalties expanded for actions like that.  The federal penalty is already a felony with sentences of up to 20 years in prison.  The industry is working to expand the definition of “attacks” on pipelines.

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