In October 2016, extremists broke into and closed the safety valves on five pipelines.
In May 2017, arsonists broke in and attempted to burn a hole through a working pipeline.
Are these acts of property destruction? Acts of civil disobedience by idiots who failed to understand the potential personal and environmental damage they were risking?
No. They were acts of terrorism. Why? Because they were attacks against critical infrastructure.
The Department of Homeland Security lists 16 sectors of critical infrastructure “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”
Pipelines are on the list. Twice, really, since pipelines fall under both Energy and Transportation.
In fact, energy infrastructure is “considered uniquely critical because it provides an ‘enabling function’ across all critical infrastructure sectors.”
Much as “Keep It in the Ground” extremists would like to believe otherwise, all sectors of our nation—from emergency services to manufacturing to agriculture—depend upon oil and natural gas products.
Attempting to incapacitate or destroy the pipelines that transport these critical elements is not a legitimate form of protest or an attention-getting ploy. It is an act of terrorism that could endanger their own lives, the lives of innocent people in surrounding communities, and the environment.
Perhaps these people are simply failing to think through what they are supporting (such as those who hypocritically post #KeepItintheGround from laptops and cell phones made from oil and gas). Or perhaps they have darker motives.
There is a small (but growing) group of ecoterrorists who organize under the “Deep Green Resistance” label and are willing to destroy the industrialized world in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And they want mainstream activists to do just what they’re doing: normalize violence and acts of terror.
As a September 2016 post from DGR’s Facebook page stated, “One of the most important things aboveground activists can do is push for acceptance and normalization of more militant and radical tactics where appropriate. We vocally support sabotage when it occurs.” [emphasis added]
Pipelines are considered critical infrastructure because they transport the oil and natural gas that provide electricity and heat for our homes; the gasoline that allows cars, emergency vehicles, and industrial transport to run; and turns into the millions of products made from the petrochemicals, which range from car seats to medical supplies.
Damaging such key parts of our public health, safety, and the economy is not a college prank or a PR stunt. It’s terrorism.