MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers has signed into law a bipartisan proposal making it a felony to trespass or damage oil or gas pipelines in Wisconsin.
Evers signed the measure Wednesday, despite complaints from opponents that it would violate free speech rights and disproportionately affect American Indians whose lands are often affected by pipeline projects.
Evers says even though he signed the measure, he wanted to reaffirm that tribal nations “deserve to have a voice in the policies and legislation that affect indigenous persons and our state.”
The new law builds upon a 2015 state law that made it a felony to intentionally trespass or cause damage to the property of an energy provider. The bill Evers signed expands the definition of energy provider to include oil and gas pipelines, renewable fuel, and chemical and water infrastructure.
The Wisconsin measure has broad support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and numerous organizations.