Department of Homeland Security Warns of Eco-Terrorism Threats on Pipeline

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a new report warning that the $900 million Diamond Pipeline — which will carry crude oil from Cushing, Okla., to a refinery in Memphis, Tenn. — could be the target of eco-terrorism attacks similar to those against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  The DHS report explains,

“DHS and the authoring fusion centers assess the most likely potential domestic terrorist threat to the Diamond Pipeline construction project or associated entities is from environmental rights extremists motivated by resentment over perceived environmental destruction.” (emphasis  added)

The report also states,

“While most opposition activity related to pipeline construction remains nonviolent and lawful protest activity, some violent extremists may take advantage of lawful gatherings to attempt to threaten, incite, or commit violent acts against public safety officers or facility staff.”

As EID recently explained, #NoDAPL-style protest camps have been set up in multiple states to oppose pipeline and oil and natural gas infrastructure projects. Many of the same #NoDAPL protesters who left behind big environmental messes and added to already burdened municipal budgets that taxpayers are forced to pay for in North Dakota are now traveling to these copycat camps.

A #NoDAPL camp in North Dakota. Source: NPR

DHS acknowledged in the report that the agency “is concerned negative perceptions about enforcement against DAPL opponents could inspire likeminded individuals to seek out reprisal violence against similar targets” and that these attacks would “likely be simple and designed to damage physical infrastructure or equipment by sabotage or arson” targeting “law enforcement, private contract security guards, or construction personnel,” as was the case in previous attacks against pipelines.

The DHS report explains that “environmental rights extremists have a long history of using arson attacks to inflict economic damage and disrupt projects or infrastructure they believe present a danger to the environment.” The multiple arson attacks against DAPL detailed in the report are listed below.

  • “On 1 August 2016, unknown individual(s) set fires in Iowa’s Jasper County targeting heavy machinery at three construction sites associated with DAPL, resulting in over $1 million in damages to equipment, including a bulldozer and a track hoe, according to media reporting. According to media reports citing local law enforcement, the fires damaged the vehicles’ engine and cab compartments, likely resulting in a total loss of the equipment. There have been no arrests or claims of responsibility for the attacks, which were the first local criminal incidents related to the project.”
  • “On 15 October 2016, unknown individual(s) committed a fourth arson against DAPL construction equipment in Jasper County, according to local news reports. According to media reporting citing local law enforcement, there have been no arrests. The attack occurred in the same area as one of the August arsons and involved similar tactics, possibly suggesting it was related to the earlier arsons. The arson resulted in over $2 million worth of damage. In both the August and October attacks, the targets’ proximity and relationship with DAPL, and the tactics, techniques, and procedures used suggest this incident was plausibly carried out by environmental right extremists. “ (emphasis added)

The report explains that although other methods such as homemade bombs or improvised explosive devices (IED) are not frequently used in attacks against pipelines, these types of weapons were recovered from #NoDAPL camps. From North Dakota’s Valley News:

“Law enforcement say they are investigating the use of homemade explosives at a Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest. They have recovered weapons and are investigating whether or not they are related to injuries a female protester suffered.”

“Law Enforcement received information that protesters were using one-pound propane cylinders as explosives and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation with support from Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recovered three of these propane canisters from the site of the explosion.

Investigators also collected rocks and glass jars consistent with the design of Molotov cocktails that were used as weapons against law enforcement.” (emphasis added)

Homemade explosive device recovered from #NoDAPL camp. Source: Valley News

While this report focuses specifically on one pipeline, its cautionary message can be applied to any of the projects currently facing opposition from extremists involved in the Keep It In The Ground movement (KIITG), who have a goal to stop all fossil fuel development by any means necessary. Whether or not these copycat camps leave a path of environmental destruction like they did in North Dakota or are successful in harming local contractors’ equipment with their well-documented tactics remains to be seen.

There are some certainties in the wake of what occurred in North Dakota, however: there will be extremists among the peaceful protesters and the local communities in their path will carry the financial burden of all of the protesters’ actions.

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