Protestors spent most of the summer 35 feet in the air in sky pods tied to cypress trees. The goal was to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from running through Louisiana. Energy Transfer Partners was building the pipeline to move oil between Texas and St. James Parish in Louisiana. Even though the protestors were on private land with the landowner’s permission, some were eventually arrested. The pipeline was still completed.
Louisiana’s Governor, John Bel Edwards, signed HB 727 into law making trespassing on “critical infrastructure” a felony—something that was once a misdemeanor. The protestors who were arrested were jailed with bonds as high as $20,000. Four other states including Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, have enacted similar laws after the national attention of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The 2017 protest at Standing Rock included months of clashing with law enforcement. In Texas, a bill was passed that makes interfering with some oil and gas operations a third-degree felony—the same amount one would get with indecent exposure to a child. Lawmakers in seven other states, including Minnesota, are considering similar legislation. Some of the punishments could be up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.