Testimony

The year is 1998. Notes about a hearing and T/S article that follows:

Chairman McCollum‘s Opening Statement – Hearing on Ecoterrorism

Our great Nation was built upon the bedrock of free expression. Those with strongly held views are welcomed into the public square. But when such advocates threaten or injure in the name of the cause they hold dear, they cross a very important line. Civilization cannot tolerate the physical attacks of another person, simply because of differing views.

Obviously, when protest results in injury or death, the message gets lost. In the case of today’s witnesses, the lost message is ostensibly “protect the earth.” Yet, as we will hear, ecoterrorism only encourages fear and anger. In the name of protecting Mother Nature, radical environmentalists generate nothing but terror.

There is no question that society has a large responsibility for protecting our planet. We must be concerned about issues such as the wholesale deforestation of rainforests and the extinction of some species of plant or animal. Environmental groups have been very successful in heightening our collective awareness of the limits of our natural resources. We know that we must plant new trees in place of the old, and we must set up protective habitats for birds, fish and other animals. Human beings have an obligation to be good stewards of our environment.

Yet the very fact that we are already taking these important strides underscores how inexcusable and unnecessary violent and destructive behavior in the name of this cause really is. Peaceful education and consistent advocacy in defense of plant and animal life has been proven to work. We simply cannot and will not tolerate domestic terrorism in the name of Mother Nature.

It should be noted that the Subcommittee has heard from the northern California faction of “Earth First,”claiming that the movement’s use of violence has been exaggerated. We have welcomed them to submit testimony for the record. We certainly do not want to unfairly malign any person or group, and I invite any statements for the record which can help clarify what actions the various groups endorse.

However, there is no denying that there have already been many victims of radical environmental attacks. This is not a manufactured problem. Our witnesses today have a unique perspective to bring to bear on this issue, and many have been subjected to personal injury or have had thousands of dollars in property destroyed. They are here to simply tell their stories, so that Congress may become better educated about these violent environmental movements, and I look forward to hearing from them.

Testimony of Representative Frank D. Riggs before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime In the Matter of Eco-terrorism
I am the Representative of the First Congressional District of California. The First District stretches from the Napa Valley in the south, along 350 miles of California’s North Coast to the Oregon border. To put that in perspective, the district is twenty percent larger than the State of Massachusetts. The North Coast is known for its abundance of Redwood and Douglas Fir forests. Today, as in generations past, men and women come to this place to make a living as foresters and loggers and mill workers. These environmental stewards manage the forests with love for the environment and rational science to provide wood for our nation and a future for their children. Unfortunately, times have changed and the work has become dangerous due to the radical philosophies of so-called environmentalists. These extremists do not only target loggers; they target any one who expresses a different opinion or philosophy than they do.

On October 16, 1997, my Eureka, California District Office was … [invaded]. The trespassers were protesting the acquisition of the Headwaters Forest, a 3500-acre tract of old growth Redwood forest. A private company, Pacific Lumber, which has logged in Humboldt County, California for over 100 years, currently owns the parcel. In exchange for their land, the Federal government and the State of California, in a bipartisan pact, agreed to compensate Pacific Lumber $380 million in taxpayer funds to forever preserve 7,500 acres of the precious forest and some surrounding land. I had a hand in crafting the deal, as did Senator Diane Feinstein, and that made me a target. The environmentalists, specifically Earth First!, wanted 60,000 acres preserved: an amount that would end all logging in Humboldt County, and leave over 1,000 people out of work in an already depressed area where unemployment hovers over 10%. But Earth First! wanted more and they were determined to terrorize any one who opposed them.

Earth First! is an organization which, while purporting to practice nonviolence, outwardly advertises “monkeywrenching” on the Earth First! web site. Monkeywrenching, also euphemistically called “ecotage,” is the practice of sabotaging logging equipment. The web site also refers to such destruction of private property as “unauthorized heavy equipment maintenance.” Earth First! also advocates tree spiking, the act of driving a metal spike into a tree to damage a saw, or outright vandalism. The results of monkeywrenching vary. Most of the time it causes the cessation of logging activities. Often times it causes property damage. In Ukiah, California, which is in my Congressional District, it killed a logger. Too many times these activities have caused grave injury and even the loss of life. Many a rigger, logger and treefeller have suffered injury because of a severed hydraulic line or tree spike. Yet the Earth First! website and the Earth First! Journal actually advertise and sell Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching.

Earth First! practices the politics of siege warfare. They condone the use of sit-ins to halt lawful logging practices or, in my office, the normal operation of business. While these protests are certainly within the rights guaranteed to every American under the Constitution, their goal is not public awareness. Their goal is to sap local resources by tying up law enforcement and clogging the judicial system.

As I stated earlier, the incident in my Congressional Office is not an isolated case. I believe that the Earth First! invasion on October 16th is only a small example of a larger, some would call criminal, nationwide organization that believes in the politics of intimidation and terror. This organization, and all organizations like it, should be treated as all terrorist organizations are treated in this nation: as wanton criminals.

Earth First! engages in a deliberate, orchestrated, systematic criminal conspiracy that should be punishable under the RICO statue. While RICO is stigmatized as a law for “mobsters” or “organized crime,” the statute has been expanded to protect all Americans from organized crime syndicates, a moniker I believe that fits Earth First! like a black glove.

The systematic, organized ecoterrorism of Earth First! and other militant organizations must stop. Lives have been lost. Too many communities have been damaged. Too much time has been wasted. These organizations are a threat to every American who dares to think differently than they do.

TESTIMONY OF RON ARNOLD

Before the U.S. House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee, Crime Subcommittee

ECOTERRORISM IN AMERICA

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Ron Arnold. I am testifying as the executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, a nonprofit citizen organization based in Bellevue, Washington. The Center has approximately 10,000 members nationwide, most of them in rural natural resource industries.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you on behalf of our members for holding this hearing today. It is long overdue. For the past five years our members have routinely contacted our headquarters to report crimes committed against them of a type we have come to call ecoterrorism, that is, a crime committed to save nature. These crimes generally take the form of equipment vandalism, but may include package bombs, blockades using physical force to obstruct workers from going where they have a right to go, and invasions of private or government offices to commit the crime of civil disobedience. So you can see, Mr. Chairman, the range of ecoterror crimes ranges from the most violent felonies of attempted murder to misdemeanor offenses such as criminal trespass. But they are all crimes. I am not here to discuss noncriminal actions that do not result in arrests and convictions.

Two views on Earth First! Terror:

Terrorism In America by Barry Clausen, North American Research
The Courier. March 28, 1996 Issue

If environmental terrorism had not emerged, terrorism in America would have been virtually non-existent in the late 1980’s.
During the 1980’s in America, concern over environmental issues led some extremists to turn to terrorism. Guided by a philosophy that is still evolving and expanding, environmental and animal rights terrorists believe that only through terrorist acts can they convey their message and beliefs to others. More importantly, these groups exhibit a fatalistic view that if left unchecked, humans will bring the world to a cataclysmic end. They believe it is their job to ensure that this does not happen.

During the last several years there has been terrorism against the nuclear industry, mining, ranching and the timber industry, not only in America but throughout the world. One of the major concerns of environmental terrorists is that of nuclear power. On November 7, 1987 the Evan Mecham Eco-terrorist International Conspiracy (EMETIC) made it’s first “official” appearance when they sent a letter to the Fairfield Snow Bowl ski resort advising them that the chairlifts at the resort had been sabotaged. The group EMETIC selected it’s name as a sarcastic slap at Evan Mecham, the former governor of Arizona.

During the next several months EMETIC claimed responsibility for many terrorist acts and finally on May 30, 1989 the first EMETIC members were arrested near Wenden, Arizona when they were caught cutting through an electrical support tower from a nuclear power facility. The three arrested were Mark Davis, Margaret Millet and Marc Baker. Dave Foreman, the founder of Earth First! and who currently holds a position on the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors was named with the others in the federal indictment released the following month. Charged with conspiracy (among other things), the group apparently intended to use the May 30th attack at Wenden, Arizona as a practice session before simultaneously attacking the power transmission lines at three separate nuclear facilities in California, Arizona and Colorado.

Unfortunately for Foreman and the other EMETIC members the group had been infiltrated by Michael Fain, an undercover FBI agent. All those arrested eventually pled guilty. Davis, Baker and Millet all received prison terms. Foreman’s sentencing was delayed until the summer of 1996; if he complies with the conditions of his probation, he will be allowed to enter a guilty plea to a misdemeanor Charge.

Since 1989 terrorism by environmental terrorists has expanded, including a demonstration by Earth First! in July of 1994, against the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Tennessee, that resulted in $480,142 in sabotage and down time at the facility. Since that time there have been tens of millions of dollars in sabotage against timber, mining and ranching interests throughout our country. In my next report, I will talk about Dave Foreman’s newest idea, “The Wildlands Project” and the groups connected to it. I will also list the Earth First! and Animal Liberation Front organizations that have adopted the Wildlands Project and where these terrorist organizations get some of their money.

A Times Standard Editorial: 6/11/98
Vandals, maybe, but not terrorists

While we have the highest regard and admiration for Rep. Frank Riggs, we believe his annoyance with Earth First demonstrators may be overriding his usual good judgment. Riggs this week appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to call for prosecution of Earth First as a terrorist organization under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute. He alleged that this and other environmental groups that engage in civil disobedience are in fact conspiring to commit acts of criminal violence.

We certainly hold no brief for Earth Firsters. they are mostly immature, self-infatuated nuisances, more interested in venting their spleen than making any contribution to serious debate on complex issues. This community, and the environmental movement, would be much better off without their presence.

But that said, to equate their stupid, childish antics with actual conspiracy to commit murder is a ridiculous overreaction. It is, in fact, the same sort of hyperbole that Earth Firsters themselves indulge in with their nonsensical demands to “jail Charles Hurwitz.” We are sorry to see our congressman emulate them.

Exaggeration of this sort trivializes the real thing. If blocking a road is terrorism or sitting in a tree is an act of violence, then what is bombing a building or gunning down a police officer?

As any conservative legal theorist will affirm, it is not sound practice to wrench interpretation of a law to cover cases not intended by the statute’s framers. The racketeering act was passed for a specific and very serious purpose – to offer society a defense against murderous professional gangsters engaged in clandestine criminal operations. It was never intended as a device to suppress political protest, however obnoxious.

This is not to say that actual acts of violence or vandalism should not be prosecuted – they certainly should be and usually are. But prosecuting tree spikers or vandals who damage logging equipment is a very different matter from trying to outlaw an organization because some of its supporters may have engaged in illegal activities. Neither Riggs nor any responsible lawmaker, we believe, would suggest criminalize wise-use and property rights organizations, or right-to-life groups, because some unbalanced fanatics have committed murder and arson in support of these causes.

Legislating from anger results in bad laws, and Riggs has good reason to be angry. Last October his Eureka office was invaded by demonstrators, some wearing ski masks, who dumped a tree stump and bags of sawdust there. His two staffers were frightened by the intrusion.

Compounding this injury was the subsequent publicity that resulted from police use of pepper spray on demonstrators who chained themselves in the office. Although Riggs was not present and was in no way responsible for the police action, he refused to duck the issue and defended the officers on the floor of Congress. He thus became, quite unfairly, associated in the public mind with the pepper spray controversy.

While this may not have led directly to his decision not to run for reelection, it was almost certainly a contributing factor. Earth First members believe their antics helped drive Riggs from office, and his disgust with the organization and its tactics is surely understandable.

Frank Riggs has served this district with honor and diligence. We would hope he would spend his last few months in office with dignity, not marring his admirable record with political posturing and displays of spite. He’s much to good a man for that.