Building on efforts by multiple states to crack down on those fighting the construction of climate-destroying fossil fuel infrastructure, the Trump administration unveiled a proposal on Monday that would criminalize pipeline protests at the federal level and hit demonstrators with up to 20 years in prison.\u0022Rather than focusing on shielding corporate polluters from public protest, the administration should be working to ensure that communities are protected from dirty, dangerous fossil fuel projects.\u0022 —Kelly Martin, Sierra ClubThe new proposal, released by Transportation Department\u0026#039;s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, was immediately denounced by environmentalists as a serious threat to the First Amendment.\u0022This dangerous proposal threatens to undermine Americans\u0026#039; right to peaceful assembly and free speech,\u0022 Kelly Martin, director of the Sierra Club\u0026#039;s Beyond Dirty Fossil Fuels campaign, said in a statement. \u0022It is a blatant attempt to intimidate those who would exercise their First Amendment rights to speak out against pipeline projects that put our clean water, communities, and climate at risk.\u0022\u0022Rather than focusing on shielding corporate polluters from public protest,\u0022 Martin said, \u0022the administration should be working to ensure that communities are protected from dirty, dangerous fossil fuel projects.\u0022As Politico reported Monday, the Transportation Department\u0026#039;s proposal would \u0022treat some pipeline protests as a federal crime, mirroring state legislative efforts that have spread in the wake of high-profile demonstrations around the country.\u0022The Trump administration, according to Politico, is \u0022calling for Congress to expand a law that threatens fines and up to 20 years\u0026#039; prison time for \u0026#039;damaging or destroying\u0026#039; pipelines currently in operation. The expanded version would add \u0026#039;vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting, or inhibiting the operation of\u0026#039; either existing pipelines or those \u0026#039;under construction.\u0026#039;\u0022So. Yeah. This is very very bad (and also just the latest in a trend that started in oil-friendly states): Trump pushes up to 20 years in prison for pipeline protesters https://t.co/yuqiNHibLf via @thinkprogress— David Turnbull (@david_turnbull) June 3, 2019Elly Page, attorney for International Center for Not-For-Profit Law—an organization that has tracked anti-protest efforts by individual states—told Politico that the Trump administration\u0026#039;s \u0022proposed penalty is far and away more extreme than what we\u0026#039;ve seen at the state level.\u0022\u0022When you combine provisions that vague to penalties that extreme,\u0022 Page said, \u0022that creates uncertainty about what is and isn\u0026#039;t legal.\u0022House Democrats signaled that they would oppose the measure, which comes just two weeks after the Texas state Senate passed a bill that would hit pipeline protesters with up to 10 years in prison.A spokesperson for House Energy and Commerce chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) told\u0026nbsp;Politico that the congressman \u0022has no intention of allowing a pipeline safety bill to be used as a vehicle for stifling legitimate dissent and protest.\u0022On Twitter, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warned that as \u0022we grapple with the mounting climate catastrophe, the fossil fuel industry is holding nothing back in its attempt to silence its critics and those who assemble to protest their destruction of our shared climate.\u0022\u0022We\u0026#039;re not giving in to the dirty fossil fuel industry\u0026#039;s bullying ways,\u0022 said NRDC.