'Pipeline Protection' Bill Clears Another Hurdle In OK Legislature

Wednesday, April 12th 2017, 5:23 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

A trespassing bill, prompted by pipeline protests in North Dakota, cleared another hurdle in the Oklahoma State Senate. House Bill 1123 dramatically raises the stakes for people who trespass and damage so called “critical infrastructure”, like oil pipelines.

"Is the intent of this legislation, is this the prohibition of tribes being able to protest?" asked Sen. Anastasia Pittman.

"There's nothing in this bill that says anything about protests," said Sen. Matt Bryce.

But the bill does spell out very high penalties for those who damage critical infrastructure. Specifically, up to $100,000 in fines and 10-years in prison.

"The $100,000 fine is to actually try to cause damage to the infrastructure. We need to have a very stiff penalty in place to deter this type of action," said Sen. Bryce Marlatt.

"The author of this bill discuss deterrence, which we've tried to create over the past 10-years, creating a significant deficit and overcrowded prisons, and we haven't deterred anything," said Sen. Kevin Matthews.

The bill passed by a 35-to-6 margin and now heads to the full Senate.