The Wyoming legislature passed a bill Saturday that would allow the state to fine organizations $100,000 for supporting activism that involves impeding or damaging infrastructure, the Associated Press reported.
If signed by Republican Gov. Matt Mead, the bill would also establish harsher penalties on activists found guilty of destroying structures such as dams, pipelines, and power plants.
“We need to tighten up security on these facilities significantly,” GOP state Sen. Leland Christensen, who introduced the bill, told the Jackson Hole News And Guide. “As a nationwide provider of electricity, oil, and gas, an attack on these facilities could have national repercussions that would greatly affect Wyoming’s economy.”
Critics said the bill would stamp out peaceful protests along with the radical activists, but the bill’s supporters dispute the claim.
As originally written, the bill established a much higher penalty for organizations ranging between $10,000 and $1 million, the Jackson Hole News And Guide reports.
The degree to which environmental activists go to thwart development has alarmed lawmakers and industry interests in recent years. The construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to ports in Texas attracted a large amount of opposition from environmentalists, with some taking direct action against the project.
A Seattle man was sentenced to a year in prison in February for cutting through a chain-link fence and turning a shutoff valve on a part of the Keystone pipeline.
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