AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A bill that would stiffen penalties for those who damage or trespass around oil and gas operations is advancing through the Texas Legislature.
Republicans say the measure that passed the Texas Senate on Monday would not limit legal protests but would deter people from damaging any property deemed critical infrastructure.
Republican Rep. Chris Paddie’s bill would classify pipelines as critical infrastructure, putting them in the same category as power plants and water treatment facilities. It would protect any property deemed critical infrastructure.
The amended bill would still subject those who trespass and damage the facility to a third-degree felony with up to 10 years in prison. But people impairing or interrupting operations would now face a misdemeanor with a fine up to $10,000 and potentially up to one year in jail.