Muzzling dissent: how corporate influence over politics has fueled anti-protest laws

Oil Fossil fuels Protest movements Business ethics Energy industries Environmental law Natural gas United States of America

Environmental justice, racial justice, and Indigenous rights movements have gathered momentum in recent years, achieving crucial victories in efforts to halt or end extraction projects that endanger nearby residents.

Unfortunately, industries and lawmakers are now attempting to criminalise and muzzle these acts of civil protest — with disturbing implications not just for natural resource fights, but for a wide range of protest activities, including around racial justice and police brutality.

Increasingly, lawmakers aiming to stifle protests against oil and gas pipelines have turned to so-called “Critical Infrastructure Protection” laws. Under the premise of protecting infrastructure projects, these laws mandate harsh charges and penalties for exercising constitutional rights to freely assemble and to protest. Since 2017, they’ve cropped up in states all over the country.

This report examines anti-protest laws passed or introduced in three states — Louisiana, Minnesota, and West Virginia — and traces how corporate influence has spurred elected officials to attempt to use those laws to clamp down on opposition to controversial oil and gas pipelines.

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