Target: Governor of Wyoming Matt Mead
Goal: Do not make it illegal to gather evidence of pollution on public property.
A bill was recently passed in Wyoming that makes it illegal to gather information on public or federal lands, which in turn makes it illegal to document pollution on public property. The bill states that it is illegal 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.” This will hamper student research efforts, as well as any concerned citizens who wish to report littering or more extreme forms of pollution. Even the act of photographing litter or removing trash could lead to a $5,000 fine and a year in prison.
It is being claimed that the bill is a move that could be seen as an attempt to legally protect favored industries from being caught in the act of polluting public lands. Similarities have been drawn between the bill, named the Data Trespass Bill, and “ag-gag” laws that prevent people from collecting evidence at factory farms. Denounce this vague bill and protect the rights of citizens and activists to document and collect evidence of pollution in public areas.
Dear Governor Matt Read,
The recent Data Trespass Bill passed in the state of Wyoming is an affront to the rights of concerned citizens and students. The wording of the bill, while apparently benign at first look, actually prohibits people from documenting pollution on public and federal lands. In fact, it allows for their punishment to the tune of $5,000 and a year in prison, for the ridiculous crime of caring for their environment.
It is difficult to not suspect a form of favoritism in regards to industrial entities that might be operating in the affected areas. Collecting trash or photographing littering, dumping sites or other evidence of pollution is now a crime. The vague wording of the bill also creates confusion for people who wish to conduct field research, or who even wish to just take photos in national parks.
A line has been drawn connecting this bill to similar “ag-gag” laws, which are already controversial impediments to free speech and accountability in the agriculture industry. This bill is questionably legal, at best, and an attack on the freedoms of your constituents. Denounce this bill and use the powers and responsibility of your office to challenge it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: John Menard