Link to original article: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2018/04/03/pipeline-sabotage-bill-sent-iowa-gov-reynolds-sponsor-says-would-go-after-bad-dudes-not-peaceful-pro/480319002/
Coverage by The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa, April 3, 2018
Criminal sabotage of Iowa pipelines, telecommunications facilities, water treatment plants and other critical infrastructure could result in long prison sentences and large fines under a measure the Senate sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday.
Senate File 2235 passed on a 35-13 vote Tuesday. The Iowa House approved it 69-31 earlier.
The Republican-led Senate rejected an amendment that would have made it clear the legislation would not ban picketing or other public demonstrations. Sen. Tom Shipley, R-Nodaway, the bill’s floor manager, said “The First Amendment of the Constitution does not include the right to interrupt critical service to others.”
The legislation was proposed by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the wake of millions of dollars in damage inflicted by protesters on Iowa sections of the Dakota Access Pipeline, before the crude oil pipeline become operational last year across Iowa and three other states.
The measure would create the new crime of “critical infrastructure sabotage”, which would be Class B felony. It would be punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.
The bill defines critical infrastructure sabotage as an unauthorized and overt act intended to cause substantial and widespread interruption or impairment of service provided by the critical infrastructure.
Shipley said during Senate debate that the new law would protect people who need heat, electricity, fuel, and certain other necessities. He suggested the legislation would not prohibit the types of protests advocated by civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King. Jr.
“Those people are protected. But it goes after those bad dudes who would cause harm to the least among us,” Shipley remarked.
Officials said state law currently allows criminal charges for terrorism, arson, burglary and criminal mischief. However, these charges do not specifically include “critical infrastructure,” and operators of those types of facilities have wanted criminal charges to apply to damage to their
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 protests were peaceful, but some were intended to delay the completion of pipeline project.
In addition, two activists claimed responsibility in July 2017 for repeatedly damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline with oxyacetylene cutting torches to damage exposed, empty pipeline valves while the project was under construction in late 2016 and in 2017. However, no criminal charges have been filed to date against the two activists.
Ed Fallon of Des Moines, a leader of Bold Iowa, an activist group which opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline, said after the final Senate vote he believes many lawmakers were “duped” on the legislation by Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s developer. But he said there was a silver lining because a coalition of environmentalists, landowners and farmers worked with organized labor to oppose the bill. “We’re going to build on that,” he added.
Lobbyists registered in support of the bill include a host of other businesses and organizations, including Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Energy Transfer, CenturyLink, Magellan Midstream Partners, Iowa State Police Association, and others. Opponents include the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Bold Iowa, Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council, and others.
Indian tribes and environmental activists fought the pipeline, claiming it contributes to global warming by use of fossil fuels, threatens water supplies and interferes with native ancestral lands. In addition, Iowa farmers have opposed the state’s authorization of eminent domain to obtain access to their land for the underground pipeline.