Fossil Fuel Industry Pushed Legislation Criminalizing Pipeline Protestors, Emails Show

In May 2017, petroleum refiner and pipeline operator Valero Energy placed a phone call to then-Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, asking for support on HB 1123. The measure increased criminal penalties for those who trespass on a “critical infrastructure facility,” including pipelines, refineries, storage facilities and electrical power generating facilities. 

“They think it will help deter vandalism & disruptive actions,” former Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s assistant wrote in an email to the Governor’s personal email account. Following the phone call, two days later, Fallin signed the bill into law. 

Less than a year after the bill’s passage, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) adopted a “model” bill borrowing language from the Oklahoma law, and since then more than a dozen states from across the country have followed. 

The 2017 email is featured in a new report from Bloomberg, highlighting the push by oil lobbyists to make pipeline protests a felony. 

The email correspondence, obtained by Documented from an open records request made to the Oklahoma Governor’s office, can be viewed here and below:

Photograph by Peg Hunter. Used under Creative Commons license.

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