If I was driving in an unusual manner, or in an unusual location, or in any other way that seemed suspicious, then I would be fine with a cop stopping me and asking what I was up to. Taking pictures of a refinery is maybe like driving slowly in circles around an abandoned warehouse, or maybe sitting in an empty parking lot at 3AM with the engine running and the dome lights on - it's not illegal, but it's a little odd, and maybe warrants a simple stop-and-identify.
If I'm just driving to the grocery store, same as everybody else, not attracting any attention, then the cop isn't going to pull me over.
Perfectly said. It's dumbfounding how people throw away reason and pull completely different examples from their hats and expect them to be legitimate.
Aside from some military installations, do you have an example?
No, the issue was that the PD policy allowed the officers to make an "aesthetic value" judgment. "What" was being photographed should be obvious. "Why" it's being photographed isn't something the photographer is required to answer.
As far as Canada is concerned (I don't live, and rarely do I travel, to the United States, thus my emphasis is not on US law, but rather Canadian law as it is most relevant to me. That being said, the Security of Information Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. O-5) states that any photographs that could be considered or construed as national secrets, interfere with a large number of Canadian lives, impair or threaten the Canadian Forces, national security or intelligence, or government operations is illegal. As defined by the Act, these "illegal photographs" include subjects of "arsenals, armed forces establishments or stations, factories, dockyards, mines, minefields, camps, ships, aircraft, telegraph, telephone, wireless or signal stations or offices, and places used for the purpose of building, repairing, making or storing any munitions of war or any sketches, plans, models or documents relating thereto, or for the purpose of getting any metals, oil or minerals of use in time of war".
"Why" is definitely something the photographer should answer, within reason (please understand this concept).