Previous posts have covered the trials of “valve turners”, showing the legal maneuvers required to bring them to justice. Now we have a report that Iowa lawmakers intend on raising the stakes for those taking this path to “save the planet” from fossil fuel energy. From the Des Moines Register Iowa Senate bill would ban sabotage of pipelines, other ‘critical infrastructure’ Excerpts below with my bolds.
Criminal acts against pipelines, telecommunications facilities, water treatment plants, and a long list of other critical infrastructure would result in a long prison sentence and a steep fine under legislation advancing in the Iowa Senate.
Senate Study Bill 3062, proposed by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, appears to be a response to millions of dollars in damage inflicted by protesters on Iowa sections of the Dakota Access Pipeline, prior to the crude oil pipeline becoming operational last year across four states.
Explanation of the proposed legislation, Senate Study Bill 3062 from the Iowa Bill book: (full text here)
This bill creates the crime of critical infrastructure sabotage.
The bill defines critical infrastructure property as property and public utility property, both as defined in Code 9 section 716.7, that is considered critical infrastructure. The bill defines critical infrastructure to include electrical critical infrastructure, gas, oil, refined petroleum products, or chemical critical infrastructure, telecommunications or broadband critical infrastructure, wastewater critical infrastructure, and water supply critical infrastructure.
The bill additionally defines critical infrastructure sabotage to mean any unauthorized act that is intended to or does in fact cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public relating to critical infrastructure property. The bill provides that a person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage commits a class “B” felony, punishable by confinement for no more than 25 years. The bill also subjects a person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage to a fine of $100,000.
Jeff Boeyink, a lobbyist for Energy Transfer, the developer of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, told a Senate subcommittee Thursday he considers his company’s project to be the “poster child” of why the legislation is necessary.”This is not only dangerous, but it has huge monetary implications,” Boeyink said.
John Benson, a legislative liaison for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said Iowa law currently allows criminal charges for terrorism, arson, burglary and criminal mischief. However, these charges do not specifically include “critical infrastructure,” he said, and operators of these facilities want criminal charges that are appropriate for such actions.
The Senate subcommittee voted 3-0 Thursday to advance the measure to the full Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Tom Shipley, R-Nodaway, said the bill needs to be amended, but he believes it’s a step in the right direction.
“There is no question about it that we have people who are looking to do others harm,” Shipley said. That’s evidenced by “terrorist activities on pipelines” and other threats to infrastructure that can damage the nation’s economy and put lives in peril, he remarked.
Hundreds of Iowans protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and many were arrested in demonstrations along the pipeline route over the past two years. Most of the protests were peaceful, but in July 2017, two activists with a history of arrests for political dissent claimed responsibility for repeatedly damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline while the project was being built in Iowa.
Ruby Montoya, 27, and Jessica Reznicek, 35, who both resided in Des Moines at the time, described their pipeline sabotage as a “direct action” campaign that began in November 2016. They said their first incident of destruction involved burning at least five pieces of heavy equipment on the pipeline route in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista County.
The two women said they researched how to pierce the steel pipe used for the pipeline and in March 2017 they began using oxyacetylene cutting torches to damage exposed, empty pipeline valves. They said they started deliberately vandalizing the pipeline in southeast Iowa’s Mahaska County, delaying completion for weeks.
Reznicek and Montoya said they subsequently used torches to cause damage up and down the pipeline throughout Iowa and into part of South Dakota, moving from valve to valve until running out of supplies. They said their actions were rarely reported in the media.
The bill says that a person who sabotages critical infrastructure could be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by no more than 25 years in prison, plus a $100,000 fine.