DAPL-style protesters could face jail under new ‘critical infrastructure’ protection laws

DAPL-style protesters could face jail under new 'critical infrastructure' protection laws

New laws introducing harsher penalties against protesters who target “critical infrastructure” such as oil and gas pipelines are now pending in half a dozen states in the US.

The legislation is aimed at deterring protests similar to the one that delayed operations at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota in 2016.

Bills have been ushered through state legislatures in Minnesota and Louisiana, states that host parts of the Bakken system, a underground network of pipelines which includes the DAPL and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil system which links oil fields in North Dakota and the Mexican Gulf Coast. The laws ban protesters from trespassing into territories through which “critical” oil and gas pipelines run.

Legislation recently introduced in Minnesota carries a penalty of up to one year in prison for those found guilty of recruiting, training, aiding, advising, or conspiring with trespassers. The penalty can be increased to 10 years if the trespasser intends to “substantially disrupt” the facility.

Critics worry that the wording could be applied to peaceful protests blocking access to all kinds of infrastructure. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law warned that, under the Minnesota law, critical infrastructure could include bus stations and bridges – effectively giving authorities carte blanche to crack down on peaceful protesters.

In Louisiana, lawmakers went further. According to a bill passed in the state’s legislature this week, people trespassing in territory containing critical infrastructure could face up to five years in prison. If it is thought the intention is to commit criminal damage, trespassers could face as many as 20 years.

The legislation also significantly broadens the definition of “critical infrastructure” to include pipelines as well as “any site where the construction or improvement of any facility or structure.” As a result, any protester could be sent to prison for simply taking part in a rally at a pipeline construction site.

Private security firm compared DAPL protesters to ‘jihadist insurgency’ – leaked documents

The Minnesota and Louisiana proposals are far from isolated cases. Oklahoma planned to introduce huge fines for protesters in a bill adopted in May 2017. Similar legislation was introduced by Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as Wyoming.

The Ohio and Pennsylvania bills are pending while Iowa passed its law in April. In Wyoming, the bill passed the legislature before being vetoed by the state’s governor.

The $3.8 billion DAPL is a 1,172 mile (1,866 km) underground pipeline, built to carry oil from the Bakken shale oil fields in North Dakota to the oil tank farm in Illinois. In 2016, a number of Native American tribes in the North and South Dakota opposed the pipeline construction, arguing it would threaten their sacred burial grounds as well as their sources of freshwater.

Beginning in April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe set up a protest encampment near Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. Over the course of the summer the camp grew to thousands of people. At some point, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, bulldozed a section of the land that the Standing Rock documented as a historic, sacred burial site. The move forced the protesters to enter the area, where they were attacked by private security workers, who used attack dogs and tear gas.

US Judge rules against tribes seeking to stop Dakota Access Pipeline

In late October, the National Guard and police with riot gear and military equipment cleared the encampment over claims the area wasn’t safe because of winter temperatures. The construction that was temporally suspended by the Obama administration was eventually greenlighted by Donald Trump.

The protesters were also subsequently sued by the ETP that accused them of being “eco-terrorists.” In the meantime, a private security firm hired by the ETP to provide security consulting for the DAPL project, which was accused of sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters, is seeking the settlement for the accusations. It is ready to pay fines as long as it does not have to admit any wrongdoing.

“The reason they are doing it is that they are worried about the fact that all this information that they gathered becomes useless in subsequent lawsuits that would follow,” Mike Papantonio, an American attorney and a TV presenter, who hosts the “America’s Lawyer” show on RT America, said, commenting on the issue.

“What the company is likely to do here is just to protect information that they illegally gathered,” he said, adding that this firm “did a lot of [things] wrong,” and a series of lawsuits against it could still “become very significant.”


A Beginner’s Guide to Hemp Oil, the Cannabis Product That’s Legal Right Now



By Hannah Sentenac Thu., May 29 2014 at 7:00 AM

With medical marijuana on everyone’s lips (in more ways than one), people are buzzing about weed, hemp, cannabis, THC, CBD, and all kinds of other related terms that you might or might not understand. It’s OK — this is confusing stuff.

Leave it to Cultist to offer a little clarity about one such topic you’re probably hearing a lot about: hemp oil. From "cannamoms" to Whole Foods salespeople, lots of folks are touting the benefits of this product. But what is it, exactly, and what does it do?

See also: How to Become a Medical Marijuana Millionaire in Ten Easy Steps

So what is this stuff?
Let’s start with what hemp oil is not. It is not marijuana. It does not get people high. Both originate from the same plant, but marijuana is cultivated for the buds (which have to be carefully raised for that specific purpose). They’re also grown differently.

The oil has only trace amounts of THC, the psychotropic component in weed. Instead, it has higher concentrations of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is the medicinal boon people are all atwitter over.

"You’ll see two kinds — hemp oil drawn from the plant and hemp oil drawn from the seeds. Ours is drawn from the mature stalks of the hemp plant," says Andrew Hard, director of public relations for HempMeds, a California company whose hemp oil products are sold all over the world. The stalk and seeds don’t fall under the definition of what the U.S. government dubs marijuana, he says; that’s why the products are legal in all 50 states.

Aw, man. So it won’t get me stoned?
Sorry, man. Let’s put it this way: The medical marijuana bill that recently passed the Florida House would allow patients with cancer and conditions that result in chronic seizures or severe muscle spasms to use marijuana pills, oils, or vapors that contain 0.8 percent THC or lower and 10 percent CBD or higher. Right now, those things are illegal.

HempMeds’ Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO), as a comparison, has 15.5 to 25 percent CBD by volume but only trace amounts of THC.

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Kentucky court overturns $24M royalty verdict against Dallas-based Atmos Energy


Published: 25 January 2013 09:16 AM



LOUISVILLE, Ky.The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned a $24.7 million jury verdict against Dallas-based Atmos Energy stemming from a lawsuit by landowners who claimed they didn’t get their rightful royalties from an oil and gas project.

The appeals court on Friday ordered a new trial in the case of landowners who sued Atmos.

An Edmonson County jury in 2010 awarded about $7.7 million to the landowners, and the rest to a company owned by Robert Thorpe, which acted as a third-party producer in the project.

The jury initially awarded $31.35 million, but post-trial motions knocked $7 million off the final judgment.

The appeals court also dismissed claims against Atmos for fraud, conversion, negligence, “excessive fees,” and intentional interference with a contract.