Activists filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the 2018 amendment to the Louisana Critical Infrastructure Law, a pipeline trespass law that opponents claim infringes on their rights to protest.
The plaintiffs contend that the language in the amendment drafted by the Louisana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association was “so vague, overly broad and sweeping in scope” that people cannot determine where they “can legally be present, who decides where they can be present or what conduct is prohibited that can subject them up to five years in prison” along Louisiana’s 125,000 miles of pipelines. The network of pipelines are not visible nor clearly marked and run through private properties and public spaces. The plaintiffs argue that the purpose of the legislation is to “chill and harshly punish, speech and expression in opposition to the pipeline projects.”
The plaintiffs include pipeline opponents and journalists charged with felonies under the new law, landowners, community leaders and environmental justice organizations. The defendants include Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, District Attorney of the 16th Judicial District of Louisana Bo Duhé and Sheriff of St. Martin Parish Ronald J. Theriot, who have been enforcing the new law by arresting protestors.
According to a press release from the Center for Constitutional Rights, this Louisiana law is part of a national trend of legislation advocated for by oil and gas interests that aim to eliminate protests against fossil fuel infrastructure projects.