U.S. Justice pledges to prosecute activists who damage pipelines




  • In US
  • 2017-11-11 01:15:21Z
  • By By Timothy Gardner

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday pledged to prosecute protesters who damage oil pipelines and other energy infrastructure, a move that could escalate tensions between climate activists and the administration of President Donald Trump.

The DOJ said it was committed to vigorously prosecuting those who damage "critical energy infrastructure in violation of federal law."

Attempts to "damage or shut down" pipelines deprive communities of services and can put lives at risk, cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and threaten the environment, a department official said in a statement sent to Reuters.

The statement was in response to a letter sent last month to Attorney General Jeff Sessions by 84 U.S. representatives asking whether domestic terrorism law covers activists who shut oil pipelines in October 2016. The DOJ said it was reviewing the letter.

The DOJ did not say whether it would investigate or prosecute the protesters who broke fences in four states last year and twisted shut valves on several pipelines importing crude oil from Canada that carry the equivalent of as much as 15 percent of U.S. daily oil consumption.

The group Climate Direct Action said at the time the action was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has protested Energy Transfer Partners LP's Dakota Access Pipeline.

Last month's letter to Sessions, spearheaded by Representative Ken Buck, a Republican, and signed by at least two Democrats, said that when a protester burns a hole in an operating pipeline it risks igniting the contents and "killing not only the perpetrator but other innocent victims." The letter had no details on any protesters who had ever actually taken a blowtorch to a live pipeline.

Five of the protesters, who say they only turned off valves on the pipelines, responded to Buck this week in a letter saying that their actions were nonviolent and were the "last resort in a desperate and necessary effort to avert catastrophic climate change."

States brought charges against the protesters. Ken Ward, who closed an emergency valve on a Kinder Morgan pipeline in Washington state that transports oil sands crude from Canada, was sentenced to 32 days with most of it to be spent in community service.

The DOJ's statement on the protesters is an escalation of the department's stance from the days of the administration of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. In 2016, the DOJ along with the Army Corps of Engineers gave a temporary victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by refusing to approve an easement for Dakota Access. Trump moved to open Dakota Access early in his presidency.

Andrew Black, head of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, applauded the DOJ's move, saying that closing a valve without simultaneously controlling pumps along the pipeline could cause a dangerous rupture and a spill.

But Ward said the Justice Department was going after the wrong parties. "In a sane world, the DOJ would be using its discretion to prosecute pipeline and fossil fuel companies for causing irreparable harm to the planet," he said.

Divisions over another pipeline project that has galvanized environmentalists but which Trump supports could widen later this month. Nebraska regulators are set to decide then whether TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline, which would also ship crude from the Canadian oil sands, should go forward.



(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Cohen
Cohen's photo with Tom Arnold fuels Trump tape speculation
  • Tech
  • 2018-06-23 02:24:48Z

President Donald Trump's former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen retweeted a photo of himself with comedian Tom Arnold, who is working on a TV show to hunt down recordings of the president, fueling speculation Friday that Cohen has secret tapes of Trump and is willing to share them. Last

Trump tells GOP to
Trump tells GOP to 'stop wasting their time' on immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Friday told his fellow Republicans in Congress to "stop wasting their time" on immigration legislation until after November, dismissing his party's struggle to surmount internal divisions.

First lady visits migrant children at Texas detention center
First lady visits migrant children at Texas detention center

Melania Trump made an unannounced visit to a Texas facility Thursday, talking with children and staff as she got a first-hand look at some of the migrant children sent there by the U.S. government after their families entered the country illegally. The first lady's stop at Upbring New Hope Children

First lady Melania Trump visits detained immigrant children
First lady Melania Trump visits detained immigrant children
  • US
  • 2018-06-21 17:53:13Z

Melania Trump, whose pressure was a factor in getting her husband, U.S. President Donald Trump, to reverse his policy of separating immigrant children from parents, on Thursday visited a border detention facility where some of those children were being held. The first lady left the White House quietly in the morning and flew to Texas for the visit, a day after Trump signed an executive order keeping families who illegally cross the U.S. border with Mexico together. The trip to Texas was the most high-profile public appearance Mrs. Trump had made since undergoing a surgical procedure for a benign kidney condition on May 14.

In reversal, Trump signs order stopping family separation
In reversal, Trump signs order stopping family separation

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bowing to pressure from anxious allies, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending the process of separating children from families after they are detained crossing the U.S. border illegally.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.