A couple of things this morning on the responsibility of protesters to follow the law.
First off, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law her pipeline legislation yesterday. The Coalition supports such legislation that protects individuals’ and groups’ ability to participate in the deliberative process and to ensure that stakeholders’ voices are heard, while also providing clarity about what crosses the line.
I was recently part of a panel discussion hosted by Mary O’Grady from The Wall Street Journal about this topic. You can see part of it here.
Here is GAIN’s statement on the signing of the legislation, you can cite me, Craig Stevens, as spokesman for the Coalition.
“We believe that all stakeholders – including those who oppose infrastructure projects – have the right to voice their opinions and have them heard throughout the legislative and regulatory process. We also believe that protesters should be held accountable if they break the law by damaging equipment, trespassing, or threaten workers or law enforcement. We support Gov. Noem’s efforts to balance citizens’ rights with the state’s responsibility to keep residents safe and to allow for lawful construction.”
Separately, last week, the GAIN Coalition released a report explaining how anti-pipeline protesters can be held legally accountable under tort law for their efforts to force financial institutions to break contracts with pipeline developers.
The report, “Vigilante Regulation: When Anti-Pipeline Activism Becomes Tortious Interference Activists,” shows how coordinated disinformation and direct action campaigns aimed at “defunding” critical infrastructure projects constitute as unlawful tortious interference.
The report was written by Phil Goldberg, Jamie Thompson, and Dalton Mott—all of which are attorneys at Shook, Hardy & Bacon and collectively have over 55 years of experience handling liability-related cases in the energy and environmental sphere.
Please see below for statements from me, Craig Stevens, and attorneys Phil Goldberg and Jamie Thompson.
Craig Stevens, GAIN Coalition Spokesman: “We certainly respect the First Amendment and the right to protest – but there is a legitimate process to address these concerns and we encourage all stakeholders to take an active role in that process. This report brings much-needed attention to the unlawful tactics anti-energy protesters utilize against permitted infrastructure projects. Too often, protesters turn to methods outside the regulatory process and the rule of law – like pressuring banks to break contracts that fund energy infrastructure.”
Phil Goldberg: “Allowing vigilante regulation to go unchecked undermines our democracy. We honor civil protests in this country, but we should not have to accept improper efforts to overturn the rule of law. Pipelines are carefully scrutinized, including for environmental concerns and with significant public input. When government approvals are finalized, the decisions must be accepted as part of our orderly society, not become triggers for the unlawful obstruction of property interests and economic rights. People who violate the law by improperly interfering with legitimate business activities, even to advance a political or public policy preference, can be held accountable for their actions through civil litigation.”
Jamie Thompson: “Pipelines are critical to providing consumers with affordable energy products in the safest means available. What we are seeing increasingly today is radical activism that exceeds the bounds of civilized discourse and proper behavior. The push by opponents, at all costs, to defund legally permitted projects through campaigns of intimidation, threats, or other inappropriate conduct crosses the line and should not be tolerated.”