February 3rd, 2018

180203 ohio anti-protest law fracking fossil fuels first amendment

I have long made the case that the single most important amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the 21st—proposed on 20 February 1933 and ratified less than nine months later (on 5 December) by the extraordinary process of specially selected State Ratifying Conventions—because only the 21st nullifies a previous amendment with 15 simple words: The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. If anyone thinks it can’t happen here, you have another think coming.

Alleen Brown, reporting in Ohio and Iowa Are the Latest of Eight States to Consider Anti-Protest Bills Aimed at Pipeline Opponents for The Intercept, ledes:

Lawmakers in Ohio and Iowa are considering bills that would create new penalties for people who attempt to disrupt the operations of “critical infrastructure” such as pipelines. The bills make the states the latest of at least eight to propose legislation aimed at oil and gas industry protesters since Donald Trump’s election.

How is it that legislators who worship at the altar of our second amendment are so glibly prepared to gut the first?>

In a word: money. Brown explains:

The bills were proposed less than a week after the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, which has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, finalized a model policy titled the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act,” which calls for more severe punishment for those who trespass on facilities including oil pipelines, petroleum refineries, liquid natural gas terminals, and railroads used to transport oil and gas.

We have a long history in the United States of institutional violence against protesters and we should all remember that the great socialist leader Eugene Debs was imprisoned under the Sedition Act of 1918.

What makes Ohio vital? Take a look at this map showing how the Nexus, Utopia, Rover, Tennessee and Columbia pipelines slither across the state. The companies, particularly Wealth Energy Transfer Partners, wants to ensure that the profits fossil gas flows. Brown continues:

The Ohio bill includes clauses specifically dedicated to barring drones from flying over infrastructure projects. During the height of protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, a small number of Native American drone pilots used drones to monitor the progress of construction and the activities of police, as well as to publicly document an indigenous aerial perspective of events.

Ohio is home to the controversial Rover pipeline, which is also owned by Energy Transfer Partners. Rover’s builders have repeatedly spilled massive quantities of clay-based drilling mud as they’ve bored under waterways, leading environmental regulators to halt construction multiple times.

The bills are part of a nationwide trend of states pushing legislation to quiet disruptive protests that beyond fossil fuel development, have centered on themes including police violence, white supremacy, and anti-immigrant policy. According to a database created by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, 56 bills that would restrict people’s right to peaceful assembly have been introduced in 30 states since the 2016 election.

Many of the bills would impact protesters fighting oil and gas infrastructure, but those explicitly framed by lawmakers as addressing fossil fuel protests have been particularly successful, making up the majority of the bills that have actually become law. Bills aimed at infrastructure protesters have passed in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.


Vince Grzegorek reporting in Ohio Bill Would Target Pipeline Protests for Scene, has also picked up the story.


  1. […] will suck energy to power our fantasy visits to Disney theme parks. (Such views are the reason that Ohio Republican legislators want to ban the flying of drones over fracking operations.) Or, closer to home, how about this view of fracking […]

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