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US Justice Department commits to prosecute activists that damage pipelines

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The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday pledged to prosecute protesters who damage energy infrastructure in a move that could escalate tensions between climate activists and the administration of President Donald Trump.

The DOJ said it was committed to vigorously prosecuting those who damage “critical energy infrastructure in violation of federal law.” Attempts to “damage or shut down” pipelines deprive communities of services, and can put lives at risk, cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and threaten the environment, a department official said in a statement sent to Reuters.

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The statement was in response to a letter sent last month to Attorney General Jeff Sessions by 84 U.S. Representatives asking whether domestic terrorism law covers activists who shut oil pipelines in October last year. The DOJ said it was reviewing the letter.

The DOJ did not say whether it would investigate or prosecute the protesters who broke fences in four states last year and twisted shut valves on several pipelines importing crude from Canada that carry the equivalent of as much as 15 percent of U.S. daily oil consumption. The group Climate Direct Action said at the time the action was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has protested Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Dakota Access Pipeline.

Last month’s letter to Sessions, spearheaded by Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, and signed by at least two Democrats, said that when a protester burns a hole in an operating pipeline it risks igniting the contents and “killing not only the perpetrator but other innocent victims.” The letter had no details on any protesters who had ever actually taken a blowtorch to a live pipeline.

Five of the protesters, who say they only turned off valves on the pipelines, responded to Buck this week in a letter saying that their actions were nonviolent and were the “last resort in a desperate and necessary effort to avert catastrophic climate change.”

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States brought charges against the protesters. Ken Ward, who closed an emergency valve on a pipeline bringing oil sands crude from Canada, was sentenced to 32 days with most of it to be spent in community service.

The DOJ’s statement on the protesters is an escalation of the department’s stance from the days of the administration of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. In 2016, the DOJ along with the Army Corps of Engineers gave a temporary victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by refusing to approve an easement for Dakota Access. Trump moved to open Dakota Access early in his presidency.

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Angst over pipeline projects could escalate later this month. Nebraska regulators are set to decide then whether TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline, a project that has galvanized environmentalists but which Trump supports, should go forward.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump will turn to these secret weapons in desperation if the economy collapses before the 2020 election

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President Donald Trump, in recent weeks, has been stressing both economic themes and culture war themes. The economic themes were evident during a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on August 15, when Trump tried to frighten 401(k) owners into reelecting him and insisted, “You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes (under a Democratic president). So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me.” But if the U.S. does go into a recession in the months ahead, Trump will have a harder time selling himself as the salvation of the American economy — in which case, he would likely become even more aggressive in pushing divisive culture war themes.

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Indian PM Narendra Modi reportedly rejected the comparison in a Monday phone conversation with US President Donald Trump

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RNC’s Ronna McDaniels scorched for calling Elizabeth Warren a ‘liar’: ‘Every word Trump utters is a lie’

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The Republican National Committee chairwoman faced swift backlash for calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) a liar for claiming Native American ancestry.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly slurred Warren as "Pocahontas" to mock claims about her background, and the Democratic presidential candidate apologized Monday to Native American tribal leaders for any harm she had caused by promoting DNA test results to prove native ancestry generations ago.

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel gleefully mocked the Democratic presidential candidate.

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