January 2020, Vol. 247, No. 1

Global News

Wisconsin Enacts Felony Pipeline Trespass Bill

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed into law a bipartisan proposal making it a felony to trespass or damage oil or gas pipelines in the state, despite saying he had some problems with the bill. 

The new law builds upon a 2015 state law that made it a felony to intentionally trespass or cause damage to the property of an energy provider. The bill Evers signed expands the definition of energy provider to include oil and gas pipelines, renewable fuel, and chemical and water infrastructure.

Those found guilty could face up to $10,000 in fines and six years in prison.

The measure has broad support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, organized labor unions, utilities, the state chamber of commerce and a variety of trade groups representing farmers, restaurants, the paper industry and others.

Opponents argued at a public hearing in September that they weren’t advocating for violence but were concerned that the proposal would unnecessarily escalate penalties for activities that are already crimes and possibly ensnare people who didn’t realize they were protesting on private property.

Nine other states have similar laws, according to Greenpeace, which opposes the legislation.

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