FBI Zeroes in on Anti-Oil Sands Protesters

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
(photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)

Activists in the United States protesting the extraction of oil from Canada’s tar sands have been approached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) despite no apparent criminal activity stemming from their demonstrations.


About a dozen protesters in Idaho, Oregon and Washington have received calls from FBI agents saying they are seeking information about the protests, which have focused on “megaloads” of heavy equipment being shipped from the U.S. to Canada’s oil sands industry.


An attorney helping the demonstrators said the bureau appears to be keeping an eye on those opposed to the extraction of the toxic oil and the controversial pipeline project that would carry it from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.


“They appear to be interested in actions around the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline,” lawyer Larry Hildes told the Canadian Press. “It’s always the same line: ‘We’re not doing criminal investigations, you’re not accused of any crime. But we’re trying to learn more about the movement,’ ” he added. The protesters have largely refused to talk to the agents, on advice from Hildes.


An FBI official wouldn’t say why exactly the bureau was focusing on the demonstrators.

Spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich told the Canadian Press: “The FBI has the authority to conduct an investigation when it has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual has engaged in criminal activity or is planning to do so.”


“This authority is based on the illegal activity, not on the individual’s political views,” Dietrich said.


The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., reported that the FBI is seeking information on Deep Green Resistance, characterized as a radical environmental movement. The bureau and a police officer approached activist Herb Goodwin with questions about the organization. “It’s actually pretty spooky to have the FBI show up at your door, ask one question and leave,” Goodwin said. “I think they were more interested in megaloads than in Deep Green Resistance. I think they were there to put me on notice that I was being watched.”


A member of another organization, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, said it was unacceptable what the FBI was doing since all they’re doing is practicing civil disobedience. “We don’t see ourselves as posing any threat,” Helen Yost told the newspaper. “We see the FBI contact as being unwarranted.”

Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Anti-Oil Sands Activists in the U.S. Are Getting Visits from the FBI (by Alexander Panetta, Canadian Press)

FBI Contact Unwarranted, Environmental Activists Say (by Becky Kramer, Spokesman-Review)

Why Is the FBI Harassing Activists in Cascadia? (by Alexander Reid Ross, Defending Dissent)

Tar Sands Oil Extraction Uses more Water than Entire City of Toronto (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

The Quiet Plan to Bring Toxic Canadian Tar Sands to California Refineries by Rail (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


SWIFT 9 years ago
The FBI are serial liars. I think Herb Goodwin has it right: they visit to put you on notice that you are being watched. When the visiting agents return to their field offices, they file a form 302. A file on the individual visited, is started. For them to claim they only investigate crimes and not legal protests, is a giant lie! Don't talk to the lying, low-life scumbags.

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