Activists Turn Up the Heat in Illinois and Texas

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As draconian anti-protest bills, known as ‘critical infrastructure’ bills, make their way through state legislatures in Illinois and Texas, coalitions in both states are growing and becoming more vocal in opposition.

Over 3,000 people have submitted witness slips against HB 1633 in Illinois. The bill would impose steep penalties on peaceful civil disobedience protests that impede pipeline construction and operations and hold organizations that support such protests liable with huge fines. The bill also, perhaps unintentionally, could lead to draconian penalties for ‘damaging’ property in a rail yard, trucking station, or even a telephone pole, because it defines critical infrastructure so broadly.

Yesterday, a coalition of fifty groups including Defending Rights & Dissent that is led by Illinois environmental groups hosted a press conference at the state capitol to highlight its concerns with the bill.

HB 1633 should be called the “protect big energy from the people bill.”

Elizabeth Kosuth, Illinois People’s Action

The bill was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Criminal Law Committee yesterday evening, but that meeting was canceled.

Live in Illinois? Take action here!

Meanwhile, in Texas, a broad coalition is driving callas and emails to state lawmakers and engaging in protests at the Capitol in opposition to two bills: HB 3557 and SB 1993. These bills also impose draconian penalties for peaceful civil disobedience, even on one’s own property (an amendment to allow for an affirmative defense if a property owner protests and ‘impedes’ pipeline construction on their own land was defeated).

Live in Texas? Take action here!

The coalition includes the necessary voices of indigenous people and communities most impacted by environmental degradation.

Indigenous people and people of color often have to carry the burden of the devastating effects of society’s dependency on fossil fuels. We see lower life expectancy rates. We see higher cancer rates.

Jennifer Falcon, Society of Native Nations Campaign Manager

Anti-Protest Bill from V&M Productions on Vimeo.