The Department of Transportation announced on Monday a proposal that would criminalize demonstrations against the construction of oil and gas infrastructure, according to GQ.
The proposed regulation follows closely a number of laws enacted in resource-rich states over the past two years. The proposal is also patented after a model bill introduced by The American Legislative Exchange Council -- a coalition of conservative lawmakers and private business interests
The law may impose harsher punishments than the regulations in Oklahoma and Louisiana, threatening up to 20 years of prison time, according to GQ.
An Agency spokesperson denied the bill is intended to “ inhibit lawful protesters from exercising their first amendment rights,” and added that they would work with Congress “to make sure that this is clear in any final legislation."
Oklahoma was the first state to pass anti-pipeline protest laws aimed at protecting Critical Infrastructure. Louisiana, South Dakota, and Texas quickly followed.
The string of state regulations was prompted by the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in 2016, during which thousands activists squared off against police forces and private mercenaries.