‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ Ignites FBI Warnings Against Eco-Terrorism

"That audiences have so strongly connected with it only demonstrates the gravity of the climate crisis and reinforces our urgent need to address it," director Daniel Goldhaber said.
"How to Blow Up a Pipeline"
Courtesy Everett Collection

Well, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” has been taken quite literally by law enforcement.

The Neon-distributed film based on the non-fiction book by of the same name has inspired an FBI alert warning against inspiring real-life terrorist attacks on energy infrastructures. Rolling Stone reported that the FBI bulletin warns against the film’s threat to fossil fuel production.

“The film has potential to inspire threat actors to target oil and gas infrastructure with explosives or other destructive devices,” the April 6 alert from FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate reads. The directive encouraged police and government officials to look for suspicious activity such as “people attempting to access infrastructure facilities to discrete or unusual use of cameras or video recorders, sketching, or note-taking aimed at learning about infrastructure operations,” Rolling Stone wrote.

Similarly, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives alert read, “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.” The bulletin was posted March 21.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” does not give instructions on how to carry out its title. “Euphoria” and “You” Season 4 breakout Lukas Gage“Sharp Stick” actress Kristine Froseth, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner, and Jake Weary star in the film about a group of environmental activists who are determined to dismantle an oil pipeline in West Texas.

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber, who co-wrote the adaptation with Ariela Barer and Jordan Sjol, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” has been deemed as not a direct ecoterrorist threat.

A senior U.S. government official involved in protecting pipelines and other infrastructure told Rolling Stone, “If someone wants to attack a pipeline, they’ll attack a pipeline. They don’t need to be inspired by a movie to do so.”

Similarly, a senior weapons of mass destruction intelligence analyst with Maryland’s state Coordination and Analysis Center’s anti-terrorism division analyzed the accuracy of the film.

“The movie definitely does NOT provide a step-by-step guide to construct a device, it’s much more focused on the radicalization process and why these subjects choose to conduct the attack,” the analyst wrote in a missive titled “How to Blow Up A Pipeline— Movie Review from IED Perspective.”

The analysis continued, “I took a bunch of notes (70 percent chance someone submits a see something/say something tip on me).”

Neon tweeted, “94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. 35 US Law Enforcement Warnings.”

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline: director Daniel Goldhaber told Rolling Stone the thriller is a “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.”

Goldhaber summed up, “That audiences have so strongly connected with it only demonstrates the gravity of the climate crisis and reinforces our urgent need to address it.”

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