The Duluth News Tribune published an opinion editorial by Craig Stevens, former senior adviser to U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and GAIN spokesman. In the article, Stevens discusses the “rapidly developing” trend in which anti-energy protestors have taken to vandalizing energy infrastructure in attempts to delay construction.
Stevens points to a recent incident where federal prosecutors have charged vandals Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya for conspiracy to damage an energy facility after the pair damaged the Dakota Access Pipeline as it was being built. He points out,
“Ironically, despite claims that the Dakota Access pipeline poses a threat to the environment and surrounding communities, bigger threats are in the dangerous and unlawful vigilante tactics of protesters like Montoya and Reznicek. The pipeline has now been operational for more than two years, safely and efficiently transporting the energy that American consumers use and need every day.”
Unfortunately, this incident is not unique as there have been other localities that have resorted to imposing harsher penalties on people that purposefully damage infrastructure. Stevens continues,
“There have been dozens of recorded incidents of pipeline vandalism and unlawful protest over the last decade across the United States and Canada. A number of states, from Louisiana to Pennsylvania and Texas to Ohio, have introduced or passed legislation to counter these dangerous protests, to keep workers and bystanders safe, and to protect critical infrastructure.”
Putting oneself and others in harm’s way is not the best way to exercise First Amendment rights. But as Stevens points out, energy opponents will have to accept responsibility for their actions.