FACT CHECK: Texas Legislation Protects Critical Infrastructure, Doesn’t Allow Arrest For Mere Demonstration

CLAIM: The Texas Observer suggests that a bill before the state legislature designed to protect critical infrastructure projects would “chill civil disobedience” and allow authorities to arrest people for “simply demonstrating with signs at oil and gas sites, since their protest and presence could be construed as impeding operations.”



Texas House Bill 3557 is clear in its language:

A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, the person intentionally or knowingly: (1) damages, destroys, vandalizes, defaces, or tampers with a critical infrastructure facility; or (2) impedes, inhibits, or otherwise interferes with the operation of a critical infrastructure facility.

The legislation further clarifies that demonstrators’ mere presence does not apply. In fact, protesters would have to be on critical infrastructure property that is “completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property, are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, and indicate that entry is forbidden.”

In short, activists would be subject to penalties under the legislation if they damage or destroy critical infrastructure facilities – or if they impede with the operation of a facility while trespassing.