Ward and Brown announce legislation to protect critical infrastructure

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State capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, at night

Special to the
Opelika Observer

Last week, Sen. Cam Ward (R – Senate District 14) and Rep. Chip Brown (R – House District 105) jointly announced the filing of legislation to enhance the protections of critical infrastructure assets in Alabama. Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 36 aim to amend a 2016 law which defined critical infrastructure in Alabama and created criminal penalties for unauthorized trespassing on such property. The legislation filed today adapts language from a variety of other states’ laws and adds the unauthorized use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to the trespassing statute which is a Class A misdemeanor. The legislation also imposes a Class C Felony for individuals who “injure, remove, destroy, break or otherwise interrupt or interfere with the operations of a critical infrastructure asset” during the commission of unauthorized entry.
“This legislation is an important step in enhancing a bill I sponsored and passed in 2016,” Ward said. “Critical infrastructure assets are the backbone of our quality of life in America and we must do everything we can to have the proper legal protections in place. Damaging critical infrastructure is a serious offense which can lead to significant safety and environmental hazards as well as disrupt economic activity across the state, region and even the entire country. With this legislation, we will ensure we continue to provide the necessary protections for our domestic energy security in Alabama. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate on this important issue.”
“Alabama is blessed to be the home of a variety of critical infrastructure assets across the state. Not only do these assets provide jobs to Alabamians, but they also support our day-to-day lives with the resources we often take for granted. We must continue to be vigilant with our efforts to combat any potential threats to our critical infrastructure both domestically and abroad, and that is why I am pleased to sponsor this legislation. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to ensure we are leading the way toward protecting one of the very pillars of our society – our critical infrastructure,” Brown said.
“The Energy Institute of Alabama commends Senator Ward and Representative Brown for taking the proactive measure to ensure Alabama’s critical infrastructure assets are protected. In times of uncertainty, domestically and abroad, measures like this legislation are a welcome sign from our political leaders who are taking a proactive and logical approach to ensure our domestic energy security,” said Chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama Seth Hammett.
“Manufacture Alabama is thankful for the leadership of Senator Ward and Representative Brown in sponsoring this vital piece of legislation. Protecting the state’s critical infrastructure is extremely important to not only our members, but the people of Alabama. This bill will further provide law enforcement and the Judicial Branch the tools that it will need to deter individuals bent on destroying private property and disrupting the flow of energy,” said Manufacture Alabama President and CEO George Clark.
“We applaud Senator Ward and Representative Brown for their commitment to protecting our state’s critical infrastructure. Pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure are instrumental in delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy to Alabama’s working families, and this bill provides an important mechanism to deter those who would hope to interrupt our state’s flow of energy and create a potential safety risk to communities, first responders and the environment,” said Alabama Petroleum Council Executive Director Jon Barganier.

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