Britain is the latest battleground against efforts to make resistance to the expansion of climate-threatening fossil energy infrastructure a criminal—or at least civilly liable—act.
British-based chemical and energy multinational Ineos has asked a British court to make permanent an injunction it received last July that allows any campaigner against its fracking operations in that country “to be jailed, fined, or have their assets seized if they obstruct the firm’s activities,” the Guardian reports.
The company said through its lawyer that it respects “the fact that members of the public have a right in this free and democratic society to protest lawfully if they so wish. It is no part of Ineos’ agenda to seek to stifle the lawful exercise of such rights.” However, the temporary injunction it wishes to make permanent “specifically prohibits two techniques used by campaigners: delaying deliveries to sites by walking slowly in front of vehicles, and attaching themselves to lorries and other property with locks.”
The effort to shut down opposition to energy infrastructure that poses a climate or local environmental threat go beyond Britain.
The U.S. Interior Department released a review of its regulations late last month suggesting that it is contemplating restricting the right of the American public to resist fossil fuel developments that advance the Trump administration’s chest-beating goal of global “energy dominance,” E&E News [subs req’d] reports.
The proposed restriction left Jeremy Nichols, with the non-profit WildEarth Guardians, “shocked. This is beyond bizarre. Free speech is not a burden to the oil and gas industry. It’s an American constitutional right.”
In August, CNN reported that legislators in at least six U.S. states, including Texas and North Dakota—site of last year’s protracted blockade of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)—had proposed bills giving immunity to drivers who hit protesters “if the driver did not do so wilfully.” Observed the news channel: “The language in these bills is remarkably similar from state to state, and in some cases, nearly identical.”
That same month, DAPL’s builder, Energy Transfer Partners, filed a 231-page suit in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, ND, accusing Greenpeace, EarthFirst!, and BankTrack of “eco-terrorism” for “manufacturing a media spectacle” against the project and injuring its “critical business and financial relationships”.