NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Eco-Terrorists Threaten Lives, Property

September 26, 2003

Terrorists are loose in America. Eco-terrorists. Radical environmentalists burn down apartment complexes, attack SUV dealerships and spike trees and national forest trails. They destroyed an electrical substation in Canada, vandalized a ski lift in Arizona, wrecked a utility bridge in Montana, cut power lines in Arizona, Colorado and Utah, and damaged construction equipment at various sites. Arson is their tool of choice, one that is likely to eventually kill people as well as destroy property, says Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Existing law covers traditional crimes, but has not targeted organizations fomenting eco-terrorism. Observes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which works with state legislators: "Making no legal distinction between the common thug who vandalizes a public park and an organized eco-terrorist...allows for a significant circular turnover rate, where criminals return to their organizations to commit further crimes in other locations or jurisdictions."

  • ALEC has proposed model legislation to prohibit acts of or support for environmental terrorism, set penalties for violators, allow victims to sue for treble damages, target organizations that promote eco-terrorism, and allow forfeiture of property used in such offenses.
  • They are not designed for broader use against ever more expansive targets, unlike the old RICO legislation and recent Patriot Acts I and II.

Although a higher standard of living makes it easier to protect the environment, some trade-off between ecological and economic values is inevitable. In a democratic society, however, such disagreements are fought with words, not guns, says Bandow.

But an extremist few have decided to use violence to get their way. They, like al-Qaida's adherents, threaten American lives and property.

Source: Doug Bandow, "The Terrorists Have Arrived: Eco-Saboteurs Seeking Blood," Investor's Business Daily, September 25, 2003.


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