Keystone XL Protesters to be Regarded as Potential Domestic Terrorism Threats

Records shared with The Guardian also reveal discussions by police to stop protestors "by any means"

Back in October, the energy infrastructure giant TC Energy was at a due diligence hearing, assuring regulators that things were totally fine and that they'd definitely reviewed and considered all of the environmental and safety impacts of the controversial Keystone XL extension.

As fate would have it, on that very same day, a nearly 400,000 gallon oil spill was reported hemorrhaging from a Keystone pipeline system in North Dakota—its second major spill in two years. Oops!

This story and its frustrations come as no surprise to the thousands of indigenous and environmental activists who fought it and the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016.

As a refresher, the Keystone XL extension was rejected by the Obama administration after massive public outcry. It later became one of the first things Trump signed into action after his inauguration, under the guise of job creation.

After a long and arduous legal battle, records stemming from multiple government agencies (including local law enforcement, the Bureau of Land Management, the FBI, and the US Attorney's Office) have been released. These records were shared with The Guardian who reported on its contents.

These documents, most of which are emails from 2017 and 2018, detail a calculated plan of action to stop future protests as construction on the Keystone XL extension resumes.

Tactics discussed include:

• Denying protestor access to the property, keeping them as far away from the contested locations as possible "by any means.”

• Closing access to public lands near the pipeline route, including areas typically open for hunting and other activities.

• Assistance from joint terrorism and counterterrorism task forces, which will be available for "domestic terrorism or threats to critical infrastructure."

• Potential felony charges against protestors, citing the “civil disorder” statute that was used to prosecute activists at Standing Rock.

• US border patrol would be available to assist law enforcement around the border and has access to “drone assets,” akin to the surveillance drones employed at Standing Rock.

"It’s almost become the norm for folks to look the other way, feeling like there isn’t something they can do, that it’s beyond their grasp,” Candi Brings Plenty, a two-spirit Oglala Lakota Sioux activist working with the ACLU of Montana told the Guardian. “I want folks to see these pipelines the way they do the glaciers in the arctic. This is happening right here in their own front yard.”

Read more on The Guardian.