By Ben Wolowski, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
A new Indiana bill proposes to significantly curb protests related to pipelines and other "critical infrastructure." Senate Bill 471, which recently passed the Senate, would enhance criminal penalties for peaceful protests against pipelines, refineries, and natural gas facilities, that occur on private property. Proponents contend that the bill is part of a nationwide strategy to protect fossil fuel-related infrastructure.
Opponents of Senate Bill 471 contend that it unconstitutionally infringes upon free speech and assembly. Some fear that it stands to chill speech that is critical of the fossil fuel industry and its projects, like the Keystone XL Pipeline. Critics of the bill also note that trespassing and damaging property are already criminalized, and that the bill goes too far in targeting "conspirators" of these protests with fines of up to $100,000.
This article from the Indianapolis Star provides more detail on both sides of the debate on Senate Bill 471.
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