Friday, May 17, 2019

Shale Law in the Spotlight – Update on State Critical Infrastructure Protection Statutes: Indiana, Iowa, and Louisiana

Written by Chloe Marie – Research Specialist

Since 2017, a number of states have taken legislative action to protect elements of their infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines, from damage or disruption. While some have argued that the various legislative enactments are designed to reduce pipeline protests, legislators do not always explicitly mention ongoing protest as a motivation behind the legislation.

This article will comprehensively address critical infrastructure protection statutes that have been enacted in the states of Indiana, Iowa and Louisiana. A following article will address similar statutes in the state of North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. On June 13, 2018, we published an article entitled Overview of State Critical Infrastructure Protection Statutes and Related Legislation. This article and our subsequent article provide an update as well as additional details of the relevant state statutes.


On May 6, 2019, Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana signed into law Senate Bill No. 471 to establish criminal offenses for certain actions committed against critical infrastructure. The term “critical infrastructure” includes natural gas gathering, transmission and distribution pipelines and facilities, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and storage facilities, among others.

The new provisions apply to anyone who “knowingly or intentionally” enters property containing a critical infrastructure facility without the proper authority. Such an offense is a Level 6 felony, and the offender might face imprisonment of up to two years and a half, and/or a monetary fine of up to $10,000.

Anyone who damages or defaces a critical infrastructure facility in a reckless or intentional manner can be convicted of mischief, a Level 5 felony carrying a custodial sentence of up to six years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The offense may be increased to a Level 4 felony in cases where the damage to a critical infrastructure amounts to a pecuniary loss of at least $50,000 or when the damage causes a substantial interruption or impairment of a critical infrastructure utility service rendered to the public.

In addition, the legislation provides that someone caught conspiring to undermine the operation of critical infrastructure can be assessed a fine up to a maximum of $100,000, and anyone inciting another person either to enter property containing a critical infrastructure or to damage such infrastructure will be responsible for covering civil damages.

These provisions relating to criminal offenses involving critical infrastructure facilities will become effective on July 1, 2019.


Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law Senate File 2235 on April 17, 2018, establishing new penalties for sabotage that involve a critical infrastructure, such as any storage, transport or delivery system of natural gas and petroleum products.

According to this piece of legislation, any “unauthorized and overt act” taken with the intent of causing a substantial and widespread interruption or impairment of services provided by a critical infrastructure is considered to be critical infrastructure sabotage. The legislation clarifies, however, that any agricultural condition or activity related to farm production that interrupts or damages a critical infrastructure cannot be considered as sabotage. An individual who commits critical infrastructure sabotage will be charged with a Class B felony and sentenced to a fine of not less than $85,000 nor more than $100,000.


Act No. 692 relating to crimes against critical infrastructure – also identified as House Bill No. 727 – became law on May 30, 2018. This legislation amends and adds new provisions to Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:61 targeting violent pipeline demonstrations. Act No. 692 became effective on August 1, 2018.

The legislation provides that anyone involved in trespassing upon a critical infrastructure could face imprisonment for a maximum of 5 years, with or without hard labor, and/or a fine up to a maximum of $1,000. The legislation also clarifies that nothing in this Act should or may be interpreted as in any way preventing peaceful and proper demonstrations regarding matters of public interest or recreational activities located close to a pipeline area.

If any damage occurs to a critical infrastructure in an intentional manner, the perpetrator could be charged with a criminal offense and punished with a maximum imprisonment of up to 15 years, with or without hard labor, and/or a fine of up to a maximum of $10,000. In cases where human life is likely to be threatened, the maximum jail sentence and monetary fine would be increased respectively to 20 years and $25,000. In addition, anyone involved in a conspiracy to criminally damage a critical infrastructure can be imprisoned for as much as 12 years and fined not more than $250,000.


Additional Resources

This material is based upon work supported by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

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