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A pulling unit or workover rig on an oil well in Utah.

In Utah, protests that hinder the functioning of fossil fuel infrastructure could now lead to at least five years in prison. The new rules make Utah the 19th state in the country to pass legislation with stiffer penalties for protesting at so-called critical infrastructure sites, which include oil and gas facilities, power plants, and railroads. The new laws proliferated in the aftermath of the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2017.

Utah’s legislature passed two separate bills containing stricter penalties for tampering with or damaging critical infrastructure earlier this month. House Bill 370 makes intentionally “inhibiting or impeding the operation of a critical infrastructure facility” a first degree felony, which is punishable by five years to life in prison. A separate bill allows law enforcement to charge a person who “interferes with or interrupts critical infrastructure” with a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Both bills were signed into law by the governor last week. 

Of the two bills, First ... Read more

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