Gooch Jim 01 05 17 FRANKFORT, Ky. (9/23/19) — State Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence has pre-filed legislation aimed at preventing damage to the infrastructure assets Kentuckians rely on for critical energy needs.

“As chair of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, it is my job to champion policies which provide an abundant supply of energy to meet the needs of our citizens,” Gooch said. “When folks trespass on private property and damage the very infrastructure that delivers the energy that heats our homes and fuels our businesses, they must be held accountable. It is important that we protect our state’s infrastructure assets and energy supply. That is exactly what BR 204 seeks to do.”

Gooch’s bill states that anyone who tampers with, impedes or inhibits operations of a key infrastructure asset, a category that BR 204 adds natural gas pipelines and other forms of infrastructure to, would be guilty of a Class D felony count of criminal mischief. Guilty parties may also be held liable for damages they cause on infrastructure assets, as well as liable if protesters they pay violate the law.

In 2017, eco-terrorists were found to have burned holes through sections of the Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa, as part of a deliberate effort to stop access to a new energy source. Rising fears of more incidents down the road has led to efforts to curtail pipeline protesting that leads to violence and damages.

“Everyone has a right to protest or speak out against something they perceive is an injustice,” Gooch said. “But when someone damages property, especially property used to provide a public good, it is common sense that they should be punished and held responsible for the damage they cause. In fact, it is such common sense that a similar bill passed the House of Representatives just last year with support from nearly every Republican and a majority of Democrats.”

BR 204 will be considered by the General Assembly during the 2020 legislative session. Specific details of the measure can be viewed here. A similar measure, HB 238, was approved by the House during the 2019 Session with strong bipartisan support, by a vote of 81-16.

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