Sending Office: Honorable Ken Buck
American Petroleum Institute (API), Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL), Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA)
Cosigners: Ken Buck, Kevin Cramer, Lamar Smith, Trent Franks, Doug Lamborn, Steve Chabot, Randy Weber, Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, Blake Farenthold, Pete Sessions, Mark Meadows, Rob Bishop, Neal Dunn, Doug LaMalfa, Ralph Norman, Jeff Duncan
Disrupting the flow of oil or natural gas pipelines can cutoff service to consumers, damage the environment, and be lethal to perpetrators. While there are often policy disagreements about the future of energy production, destruction of property that endangers
Americans is illegal and counterproductive to this debate.
I invite you to cosign my letter to Attorney General Sessions raising awareness of this growing issue. It is vital we understand if the Department of Justice has the ability to adequately combat these dangerous crimes and ensure the safety of all our constituents
who currently rely on this energy infrastructure.
If you would like to sign on, or have any additional questions, please contact Jake Bornstein (Jake.Bornstein@mail.house.gov) in my office.
Member of Congress
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
Multiple media sources have reported recent attempts to disrupt the transmission of oil and natural gas through interstate and international pipeline infrastructure. In some instances, individuals have used blow torches to burn holes in pipelines or promoted
violence against oil and gas company employees. In April, a newspaper in Colorado went as far as publishing a letter to the editor that stated, “If the oil and gas industry puts fracking wells in our neighborhoods, threatening our lives and our children’s
lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?”
While we are strong advocates for the First Amendment, violence toward individuals and destruction of property are both illegal and potentially fatal.
Damaging pipeline infrastructure poses multiple risks to humans and the environment. When an individual burns a hole through a pipeline currently in operation, there is a high probability this could ignite the contents, killing not only the perpetrator but
other innocent victims. It also has the potential to cause property and environmental damage, as well as disrupt services to communities and consumers.
Recent incidents of individuals attempting to shut down lines by turning valves at pump stations illustrate the danger. Operation of pipeline facilities by unqualified personnel could result in a rupture – the consequences of which would be devastating.
Even though some activists commit these acts of sabotage to raise awareness about climate change, they only create the serious risk of harm to the environment they claim to care about.
We realize the Department of Justice (DOJ) faces unique challenges when confronting these crimes, including identifying suspects amidst the rural and remote infrastructure across the country. But maintaining safe and reliable energy infrastructure is a matter
of national security.
With this information in mind, we request that you respond to the following questions:
- Do existing federal statutes, including the Patriot Act and Pipeline Safety Act, adequately arm the DOJ to prosecute criminal activity against energy infrastructure at the federal level?
- Has the DOJ taken any prosecutorial or investigative action against those involved with the highly publicized October 11, 2016, attempted sabotage of four major crude oil pipelines in multiple states? If not, please explain the DOJ’s reasoning for not pursuing
- Does the DOJ intend to pursue federal prosecutorial or investigative action of any individuals who knowingly and willfully damaged or destroyed interstate or international pipeline infrastructure?
- Do the attacks against the nation’s energy infrastructure, which pose a threat to human life, and appear to be intended to intimidate and coerce policy changes, fall within the DOJ’s understanding of 18 U.S.C. Section 2331(5)?
We look forward to your response and to working together on this important issue.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0