Law enforcement agencies across the country are worried that environmental thriller How to Blow Up a Pipeline will inspire actual attacks on fossil fuel infrastructure.
Twenty-three different state and federal agencies have sent out at least 35 missives about the movie, according to government documents obtained by Rolling Stone.
“The film has potential to inspire threat actors to target oil and gas infrastructure with explosives or other destructive devices,” reads an 6 April bulletin from the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.
“The consensus amongst law enforcement and the private oil sector is that this film may motivate attacks or disruptions on critical infrastructure throughout the country,” added a warning from the ATF.
While the agencies were not warning of a specific threat, the content of the film, which features a group of young activists attempting to sabotage a Texas oil pipeline, clearly has them alarmed.
Daniel Goldhaber, who directed the movie, told Rolling Stone the film is “a work of fiction that addresses one of the real world’s most pressing issues by telling a story about eight characters who believe that destroying an oil pipeline is an act of self-defense. That audiences have so strongly connected with it only demonstrates the gravity of the climate crisis and reinforces our urgent need to address it.”
How to Blow Up a Pipeline is based loosely on a 2021 book of the same name by Andreas Malm, a Swedish professor of human ecology and climate activist.
The book is not a literal set of instructions about attacking oil pipelines, but rather an argument that the urgency of the climate crisis requires direct sabotage of fossil fuel infrastructure because governments have failed to heed peaceful grassroots calls for more climate action.
“To say that the signals have fallen on the deaf ears of the ruling classes of this world would be an understatement. If these classes ever had any senses, they have lost them all,” he writes in the book.
Infrastructure attacks have happened in recent months.
Vandalism at four power stations in Washington state cut power for thousands of people in December, while substations in North Carolina and Oregon have also been attacked.