BISMARCK, N.D. – An oil and gas industry group is seeking to highlight what it says is an increase in protester attacks on energy infrastructure such as oil pipelines through an online database cataloguing incidents of "eco-terrorism, sabotage, arson, vandalism and violence."
The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance announced the database through its affiliated Energy Builders coalition Wednesday, two days after a bipartisan group of 84 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing concern about recent incidents and asking if existing laws are enough to adequately prosecute acts that are criminal.
The mounting pressure comes as protests against energy projects, particularly fossil fuel pipelines, have spread across the country in the wake of last year's large-scale protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Thousands of people took part, camping on federal land for months, with 761 arrests in a six-month span.
"That type of what I would consider egregiously inappropriate activity, protest groups are trying to emulate that across the country," said alliance President and CEO Toby Mack. "That's what we're on guard for."
Many of the Dakota Access opponents maintain they used peaceful methods such as prayer to protest the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois. However, two Iowa women have publicly claimed that they vandalized the pipeline.
Greenpeace, which is being sued by the pipeline's developer for allegedly interfering with its construction, called the Dakota Access protest "a powerful act of united resistance."
"Corporations and their governmental enablers are desperate to silence dissent every way they can," Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said.
She called the new database "more fear-mongering by corporate bullies hoping to see what they can get away with in Trump's America."
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