There sometimes seems to be an undercurrent here of the idea that environmental groups are rich bullies, and extractive industries are working for the common good, or at least are benign. Here’s some evidence otherwise regarding the latter.
One of the industry tactics is SLAPPs, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, wherein corporations try to intimidate their opponents by filing truly frivolous lawsuits – that they can afford but the defendant can’t. Matthew posted about one involving a forest products company here.
But your friendly oil and gas industry seems to be a leader in this field. Meaning that when you pay for your heat and transportation you’re also paying for this; “Using lawsuits to shut people up has long been a part of the oil industry’s playbook…” They lost a notable case recently when they sued youth groups (among others) after the groups won protections against neighborhood oil drilling in Los Angeles.
Many states have passed legislation to prevent this kind of intimidation of free speech, and a proposal is pending in Colorado, as described here, by an anti-drilling activist who has been SLAPPed:
I accept the urgency of climate change, and I am a proud advocate for our public lands. Many here agree with me, and together we have stood up to limit oil and gas development from expanding across the national forest and BLM lands.
The particulars of my case are unimportant here, although they can be easily researched. And I have already been found by a Colorado District Court to not have committed any actionable offense, and also awarded attorney fees for the “frivolous” and “vexatious” complaint made against me.
But all that is under appeal, and so I am still, over two years later, unduly burdened by and defending myself against this action.
Free speech is protected in our republic for good reason. Citizen input is grist for the mill of representational democracy. Dialogue and debate is a plus in pluralistic society. And this value is shared by Americans across the political spectrum. Free Speech allows people to participate robustly in government, speak truth to power, and to challenge the status quo.