There are some familiar signatures there: Ted Yoho, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Daniel Webster. These are our honorable leaders in Washington. We have sent our very best there!
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Congressmen push Jeff Sessions to call environmentalists terrorists
Four Democrats join 80 Republicans on letter asking the Attorney General to treat pipeline sabotage as domestic terrorism.
Environmental activists who sabotage oil and gas pipelines to protect land, water, and the climate should be treated like out-and-out terrorists, according to 84 members of Congress who sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday.
The letter asks Sessions if he currently has enough power to treat pipeline sabotage as not only criminal but terrorist activity, encourages him to treat interference with pipeline systems as an assault on the United States’ national security, and seeks to define pipeline “terrorism” as any act that knowingly damages oil and gas infrastructure.
While the letter cites a series of pipeline-cutting operations by radical environmentalists from last October as its primary motivation, the language contained in it would seem to envelop even the nonviolent resistance tactics employed by the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies last year to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens to permanently destroy their water supply.
Standing Rock protesters, charged last year, are facing a legal nightmare
The pipeline is back in progress, but justice never came for “Water Protectors.”
It is unsurprising that 80 Republicans from states heavily represented in the oil and gas industry seek dramatically harsher criminal treatment of environmental activists’ most radical and effective techniques. But four Democrats also signed the letter — Reps. Filemon Vela, Henry Cuellar, Gene Green, and Vicente Gonzalez, all members of the Texas delegation — giving the letter a blush of bipartisanship.
Of the four Democrat signers, only Gonzalez appears to not have a deep financial relationship with the oil and gas industry. The first-term congressman poured huge sums of his own money into his campaign, edging out another self-funded attorney in the Democratic primary before walking to a nearly 20-point win in November over his Republican challenger. His district is about as safely blue as any in Texas.
The letter is likely to find a receptive ear from Sessions. Under Sessions, the Department of Justice is pursuing hundreds of serious felony charges against people in Washington, D.C. who were caught up in a mass arrest on Inauguration Day, an unprecedented move in a city where police and prosecutors have typically been much more selective about identifying individual malevolence when protests turn violent. The broader conservative movement has also endorsed the idea that we need more laws restricting protester rights and setting criminal penalties for activities historically understood as protected by the First Amendment, pursuing new curbs on protester rights at the state level in several legislatures.
Republicans push anti-protest laws
Bills targeting nonviolent protests are multiplying across the country.
Those smaller-scale attempts to pass new legislation have largely stalled to date, though President Donald Trump’s team still hopes to make dangerous policy changes to rules governing police-citizen interactions that would have far-reaching and chilling effects.
The pipeline crackdown idea has a more immediately insidious spin to it, however. The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline is already looking to destroy environmentalism’s largest resistance bloc in court, seeking to convince a judge that Greenpeace owes them hundreds of millions of dollars. The case invokes laws designed to target organized crime to argue that Greenpeace’s work to disrupt drilling and pipeline projects cause criminal economic harm to the companies and shareholders they target. The case, being argued for the company by Trump’s personal attorney’s firm, echoes the dynamics of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel’s successful destruction of Gawker.
During their protest, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, while ultimately unsuccessful at stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built under their primary water source, drew headlines and support from around the country, including from U.S. military veterans. The Greenpeace lawsuit and tactics like it — including labeling pipeline protesters as terrorists — would flip the narrative and potentially undermine environmental activism writ large, Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard told ThinkProgress in an email.
“This is more fear-mongering by a corporate bully hoping to see what it can get away with in Trump’s America,” Leonard said. “These pipelines threaten human and sovereign rights, compromise drinking water that millions of people rely on, potentially contaminate people’s land and livelihoods, and create more climate-charged superstorms affecting vulnerable communities around the world.