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U.S. law enforcement agencies have prepared plans to respond to any new protests against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline “by any means,” The Guardian reports, citing internal documents.
Among these means was the designation of pipeline protesters as domestic terrorists, the documents reportedly revealed. According to the report, most of the documents are emails between local and federal law enforcement agencies exchanged during 2017 and 2018, and discussing the possibility of a new wave of protests against Keystone XL and the agencies’ response should this happen.
Quotes in the Guardian report suggest most of the measures discussed involved denying protesters access to the property where the pipeline is yet to be built, including “by any means” necessary. One suggestion concerns the setting up of a “joint terrorism task force” involving officials from various state agencies to help in the coordinated response to future protests. Some of the emails addressed the potential felony charges that could be brought against pipeline protesters.
A few years ago U.S. law enforcement agencies had quite a lot on their plate with thousands protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline, another highly controversial pipeline project. The protesters camped on the site of the pipeline for months with tension between them and law enforcement rising, which eventually led to clashes and arrests, including because of attempts of the police to clear the area ahead of a cold spell in the beginning of winter, which many protesters refused to do, preferring to risk their lives for the cause.
While the Dakota Access has fallen off the media radar recently, Keystone XL is still alive. Opponents have challenged the project in court and have scored a victory, but the White House is strongly in favor of it and not giving up.
Meanwhile, states are preparing for protests. Wisconsin recently became the tenth state to pass anti-pipeline protests legislation, which will make trespassing on property where there is a pipeline a felony. While civil rights organizations may not like such legislation, oil and gas pipelines are considered critical infrastructure around the world and protecting them from activism that might tip into vandalism makes sense for legislators.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.