Bill makes Recruiting and training activists to vandalize pipelines a felony

A bill before the legislature sends a clear message to would-be eco-terrorists who may be targeting Minnesota. Anyone enlisting and educating individuals with the goal of damaging energy infrastructure in this state will get the book  thrown at them and their accomplices.

The proposed legislation by Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake follows the veto of a similar bill by former DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, according to the St. Cloud Times.

One of Mekeland’s bills would make it a felony to recruit or train protesters to “damage critical infrastructure, including pipelines.” It would also make trespassers liable for any damage to property, according to the bill’s text.

“This is simply an attempt to deter extremists from engaging in activities that could cause public safety hazards,” Mekeland in the release. Mekeland’s district includes Becker, home to the Sherco coal-fired generating plant.

The concern is more than hypothetical. Four eco-extremists were arrested in 2016 for tampering with the valves of Enbridge Line 4 in Clearwater County. Climate change vandals disrupted construction of Enbridge Line 3 near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border in 2018,  pouring cement in gas tanks and damaging other equipment.

A northern Minnesota logging company represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center recently took legal action after suffering significant property damage by trespassers. The news release states in part:

The incident is the latest in a string of violent criminal protests by extremists who believe they are justified in breaking the law as a form of environmental-political activism.

The criminals tore out wiring, stole keys, cut hydraulic lines causing oil to drain into the ground, poured sand, glue and water into Scheff’s equipment, cut and pulled out wiring and damaged dashboards, drive trains and oil reservoirs, causing more than $100,000 of malicious and intentional damage to the equipment of this small family logging company working under contract for St. Louis County.

“This is not an isolated incident, unfortunately,” added Scott Dane, Executive Director of Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota. “Many small businesses in Minnesota have experienced similar disruptions and vandalism, and it needs to stop. The victims here are our families, our friends, and our neighbors – their livelihoods are on the line.”

With the Enbridge 3 pipeline replacement project nearing final approval, law enforcement authorities need all the tools they can get to deter sizable protests anticipated to materialize along the route through northern Minnesota.