The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) promised to prosecute climate activists and protestors that damage and sabotage oil infrastructures such as pipelines, Reuters reports.
Damaging key energy infrastructure threatens lives, costs millions in taxpayer funds, and is a danger to the environment, a DOJ official told Reuters. The announcement comes weeks after 84 congressmen co-signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking if the DOJ intends to monitor U.S. oil infrastructure for attacks from protestors.
“While we are strong advocates for the First Amendment, violence towards individuals and destruction of property are both illegal and potentially fatal,” the letter states.
Two pipeline activists delayed completion of a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) for weeks by cutting empty sections of pipe and destroying heavy equipment earlier this year. The two protestors were caught and admitted to causing the damage after being arrested for publicly attacking the Iowa Utilities Board building sign with a crowbar and hammer.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline is an issue that affects this entire nation and the people that are subject to its rule,” one of the saboteurs said after being arrested. “With DAPL, we have seen incredible issues regarding the rule of law, indigenous sovereignty, land seizures, state-sanctioned brutality, as well as corporate protections and pardons for their wrongdoings. To all those that continue to be subjected to the government’s injustices, we humbly stand with you, and we ask now that you stand with us.”
The activists used blowtorches to cut through empty, exposed pipeline valves. The congressional letter specifically mentioned that using blowtorches on pipelines risks igniting fuel that may be inside, causing an explosion that would kill the saboteur, as well as any innocent victims that may be nearby.
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