Michael Foster cuts a lock at a TransCanada pipeline valve site near Walhalla on Oct. 11, 2016, before turning the emergency valve and stopping the flow of oil. The incident has prompted a North Dakota legislator to introduce a bill that seeks to be a stronger deterrent for damaging critical infrastructure.

Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a bill that supporters say will deter tampering with or damaging pipelines and other critical infrastructure.

Burgum signed Senate Bill 2044 on Wednesday evening after the legislation received support from a majority of Senate and House members.

The bill was introduced in response to activists who turned an emergency valve of an oil pipeline in northeast North Dakota in 2016.

The legislation includes a penalty of up to $100,000 for an organization that is found guilty of conspiring with an individual who tampers with or damages critical infrastructure.

Opponents argued the bill would punish association and potentially stifle free speech.

April Fairfield, chairwoman of the Dakota Resource Council, said the organization is disappointed Burgum signed the bill and plans to hold a rally on Friday outside of the Capitol.

“We must send lawmakers and the governor the message that we take our right to protest seriously,” said Fairfield, of Bismarck.

Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, the primary sponsor of the bill, has said she does not believe the bill will infringe on free speech. Myrdal said her goal is to prevent out-of-state organizations from funding damage to critical infrastructure.

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(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)