Companies decry 'valve turners' who shut down pipelines

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - An idea developed by indigenous peoples and environmentalists in Canada to protest an oil pipeline in 2015 has been embraced recently by climate change activists in the U.S.

They call themselves valve turners, because they break onto private pipeline property and turn above-ground emergency shut-off valves to protest fossil fuels. They're willing to go to jail. But laws aren't uniform, so sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

The energy industry and its advocates say the fledgling protest tactic amounts to domestic terrorism. Nothing has happened federally, but several states are trying to stiffen penalties for targeting "critical infrastructure" such as pipelines.

Valve turners say they won't be deterred because the planet is in jeopardy if they can't raise awareness of a pending climate change catastrophe.