Legislation was introduced January 30 in the West Virginia House of Delegates that would heighten the penalties for protesting near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructures. Under the provisions of H.R 4615 knowingly trespassing on property containing a critical infrastructure facility is punishable by a year in jail and a $500 fine. Criminal trespassing on critical infrastructure property with the intent to “vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment, or impede or inhibit operations” of the facility is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
An organization or person found to have “conspired” to commit any of the offenses–regardless of whether they were committed–is subject to a criminal fine. The bill newly defines “critical infrastructure facility” under West Virginia law to include a range of oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities that are fenced off or posted with signs indicating that entry is prohibited.
The House Judiciary Committee, to which the bill has been referred, has scheduled a hearing on the measure for February 10. Click here for the full text of the bill.