June 12, 2015

In Wyoming it’s now illegal to collect data about pollution

A new Wyoming law expands on the “ag-gag” trend of criminalizing whistleblowers in a new way: making it illegal for citizens to gather data about environmental pollution.
Wyoming’s Senate Bill 12, or the “Data Trespassing Bill” as it’s being called, criminalizes the collection of “resource data.”
It defines collection as “to take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or federal government.”
Yes, you read that correctly. This law is explicitly targeting those who gather evidence from open land of corporate pollution for the purpose of turning that evidence over to the government.
The law goes on to say that any evidence gathered without the property owner’s written or verbal permission will not be admissible as evidence in any civil, criminal or administrative proceeding.
The Wyoming bill came with heavy support from cattle ranchers, who are involved in a lawsuit against the Western Watershed Project. Ranchers say the environmentalists improperly collected water samples, which showed elevated E. coli levels.
The lawsuit is pending, but regardless of how it turns out, collecting data on public lands is now illegal in the state.
“This is an effort to make it illegal for citizens to gather truthful information about all the people using natural resources,” Wyoming attorney Justin Pidot told VICE News. “It has a significant chilling effect on citizens who want to gather information about public land.”
I talked to VICE about how this fits into the broader ag-gag trend:
Will Potter, an investigative journalist who has written extensively on government attempts to clamp down on environmentalists, told VICE News the Wyoming bill had the potential to be enforced as broadly as Pidot and Wilbert fear because the wording gave room for a myriad of interpretations.
“Over and over again I’ve seen promises by politicians that legislation is not going to be used in X, Y, or Z way but it doesn’t play out that way,” Potter warned. “Once you put laws like this on the books they can be pushed to their limits.”
North Carolina recently passed a sweeping ag-gag law as well, which was opposed by AARP, veterans, animal welfare advocates, and domestic violence groups.
These laws are a blatant attempt by corporations to shut down any attempt to investigate their activities and hold them accountable.
This Wyoming law, just like ag-gag laws, ensure that evidence collected can’t be used in court. Even if the evidence shows pollution that is putting public health at risk.


  1. Simple fix, the law says a person can't trespass to "collect" it, doesn't say you can't collect it without trespassing. Doesn't say anything about a drone. A drone isn't a person. It also doesn't cover public land and it can't prohibit aircraft from using airspace above private land because air rights and airspace is all federal. Also you aren't trespassing in my state or most states if you are navigating waterways on private land during waterfowl season where game can be found. This is a trespass law with holes you can drive a truck through. Besides if water is the issue, take them to federal court for violating the clean water act... These guys just can't be serious about this stopping environmentalists.

  2. How's that so-called 'freedom' GWB claimed 'They' hate you for workin' out for ya DUHmerica? Hmmm?

  3. America the fascist's dream! Oh how proud Hitler would be to see what we've become.

  4. Good thinking! Only there is something suspicious about the alleged cattle ranchers and that is the real benefactor of this law are chemical, mineral, oil and gas companies and under anti-terrorism laws, rules and procedures it is already illegal to photograph these installations so that broadly defining a right-of-use permitted area as, "installations," meaning you have built anything on that land automatically covers the land.

  5. A criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice and suppress/destroy evidence.

  6. Oh absolutely. This has nothing to do with cattle ranching, it has to do with fracking.. They know perfectly well that fracking causing earthquakes and poison ground water. The bastards are desperately trying to hide the crime in plain site. Won't work A$$hats.

  7. Like that whole Bundy ranch standoff which turned out to be about an oil company wanting to drill next to his property.

  8. So, it's easy enough.
    Collect your data and post it on a blog that has a terms and service agreement that no piece of filth government apparatchik can read it.
    The media will do the rest.