HR 1374 is a tragedy waiting to happen. Tell your senators to throw it back.

Action #1: Easy “warm-up” environmental action.

(from 350 Conejo/San Fernando Valley) Easy action to email 20 Wall Street leaders to demand they  Defund Climate Chaos by the start of the COP26 climate talks on Novermber 1st in Glasgow, Scotland. Your email will be sent automatically to CEOs and key influencers in banks, insurance companies and asset managers.

Click here to sign onto the message!

Action #2: Call your senators to say “NO” to HR 1374

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to vote “NO” on HR 1374 – “Enhancing State Energy, Security and Emergency Preparedness Act.” Despite its good intentions, it is a dangerously broad and vaguely-worded bill. In protecting critical infrastructure like pipelines against “all physical and cybersecurity threats” in partnership with bottom-line foreign and corporate energy providers, it will cause more violence and civil rights violations. Already, protests have been criminalized in several states and water protectors have been subject to military-style attacks. This bill will make it worse.

Additional script if you want it: Rep. Cori Bush stated: “As lawmakers, we must legislate intentionally to protect every community from environmental harm, and we must speak up when legislation falls short of our values.” The Senator may not agree with Rep. Bush on everything, but these seem like very wise words. No sane legislator would want their name attached to a law that gets Americans killed over a foreign company’s pipeline. Send this bill back to the drawing board to remove all opportunities for corruption and collusion between the state and private sectors and add strong public oversight and protections for environmental protesters and their 1st Amendment rights.

Contact:

  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

What is this bill about?

Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, HR 1374 – Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2021 quickly and quietly passed the House of Representatives under “suspension of the rules,” with broad bipartisan support by a vote of 398-21 on June 22, despite last-minute opposition from high-profile representatives on both sides of the aisle. One dissenter, Rep. Cori Bush, (D-MO) stated “We cannot afford ambiguous language that allows space for state and local governments to further criminalize people protesting against environmental injustices,” referring to the recent efforts of Republican-controlled states to use critical infrastructure laws to expand criminal penalties that can be used against protesters.

According to its backers, the legislation provides financial assistance through the Department of Energy’s State Energy Program to help states formulate plans to secure energy infrastructure against “all physical and cybersecurity threats.” They say it will help states protect essential resources against cyberattacks like the recent Colonial Pipeline hack and natural disasters.

(grist.org) David Terry, executive director of the National Association of State Energy Officials, or NASEO, a nonprofit which helped draft the bill, contended in a phone interview that there is no legal pathway for states to use the funding provided through the bill to target protesters.

Terry said that the bill encourages states to formalize plans for how to protect vulnerable communities, hospitals, and food supply chains in the event of an energy disruption. “What it says in broad terms is look at the hazards in your state — not protesters, that’s not a hazard — look at the natural disaster hazards, look at the cybersecurity hazards,” he told Grist. “How would you respond if your power was out, if your fuel was out?”

A number of states already have such plans in place, and Terry said this bill would “raise the bar for everybody” by encouraging states that have had little historical experience of natural disasters — but will likely see more of them due to climate change — to prepare adequately. NASEO has been advocating for this legislation for about four years, and last year a version of the same bill passed the House but faced opposition from the Trump administration; ultimately it was not introduced in the Senate. Earlier this year, the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies fuel to nearly half of the East Coast, gave the bill’s supporters a renewed sense of urgency.

James Tager, research director of the free speech advocacy group PEN America, said the controversy over what he sees as an ostensibly well-intentioned bill is best understood in the context of an ongoing state-level onslaught on protest rights, which has often been undertaken in the guise of protecting energy security.

“I certainly can accept the contention that this bill was written with zero intent to degrade the right to protest and protest-related rights, but we are at a political moment where we are seeing state after state attempt to restrict the right to protest in the context of protest against pipelines, in the name of protecting critical energy infrastructure,” said Tager, who co-authored a report last year documenting 116 bills restricting protest rights introduced in state legislatures since 2015. “So if I were an activist on this issue, I would indeed read this and say, ‘OK, this will incentivize states to consider new measures along those lines.’”

Environmental activists say that this vaguely worded legislation potentially weaponizes state forces and codify a money pipeline for states to accept and solicit private funding from anyone, including mega-donors and private corporations. Under the guise of creating “energy security plans” — specifically around so-called “critical infrastructure,” which, of course, includes pipelines — this new bill not only paves the way, but legally standardizes requirements for companies like Line 3 parent Enbridge and Keystone XL (KXL) parent TransCanada to fund state forces to put down Native-led dissent. 

Collin Rees, a campaigner at the environmental advocacy group Oil Change International, said the bill’s “overly broad language” provides “a blank check to do almost anything that a state wants to do and claim is even vaguely related to energy.”

(From lakotalaw.org) Water protectors are already fighting multinational, multibillion-dollar corporations. With HR 1374, these companies would no longer need to hide their payouts to local police or disguise their pipeline funding as campaign donations. This bill opens the door to a whole new level of draconian enforcement, actually requiring that these corporations publicly hop into bed with state officials and state forces. 

Right now, these heinous practices are already happening and are no secret to those paying close attention — though everyone involved would prefer to keep such arrangements quiet. With this bill, America would be blurring the line between corporation and state, sanctifying the channeling of private funds into the hands of already violent and well-funded police and military forces (whether private, like TigerSwan, or public, like the National Guard).

Ultimately, America could also be engaging in the state-sponsored, public murders of water protectors. As recently reported by Democracy Now!, water protector and land back attorney Bruce Ellison has obtained documents indicating that “lethal force” could be deployed to suppress Indigenous activists resisting pipelines

Ellison, who obtained the documents through an investigation of the now-ended KXL pipeline, said that the South Dakota National Guard was slated to be the main force to ensure KXL’s full build — including, potentially, the use of lethal forceAccording to Ellsion, such force can now be used in defense of both people and property in South Dakota, including if officers perceive that no other remedy could be employed when suspected offenders are leaving the scene.

While this situation is outrageous and shocking, it’s just one example coming out of South Dakota. The state also passed a pair of “riot boosting” laws last year and established a “peace fund” that required TransCanada to put up to $20 million to be used for anything having to do with construction of KXL. Imagine all of this on a national scale. 

Should HR 1374 pass, that could happen. It would provide the vehicle for enacting this South Dakota scenario in every state, at every pipeline, and at every protest.

These are dangerous and dark times. Proposed by a Democrat lawmaker in the wake of the cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline Co., the bill seems to have wide-ranging support. It was introduced and passed in the house very quickly. The timing of this is no coincidence; it passed just before the Treaty People’s Gathering — the largest stop Line 3 demonstration to date. You will perhaps remember the helicopters that day descending on water protectors and creating massive dust storms, the hundreds of police deployed from multiple counties, the zip ties used on human limbs. 

Lawmakers seem to care little about all of that. They’re more concerned with protecting oil industry profits, and the Senate is now hearing expert testimony on pipeline cybersecurity measures. 

Being a water protector is dangerous when you stand between a multi-billion dollar pipeline and its pathway to profit, because the police and state won’t hesitate to use force to ensure that these companies win. Imagine making this fight harder, increasing the police force, giving corporations more power, and using death as a deterrent to facilitate the ongoing extraction of Mother Earth at the hands of these soulless barons. Now realize you don’t have to imagine it. It’s here. It is HR 1374.

Frontline Water Protectors need your help. This bill could be passed by those who are unable to see the sacred. Please help make sure your senators understand the stakes. Tell them to vote NO on HR 1374. States like South Dakota and Minnesota cannot be entrusted with massive amounts of additional funds and authority to put down protest with maximum force to protect investments in a dying industry that’s also killing our planet. We must stop this violence here. 

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