- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Terrorism by radical environmentalists is costing taxpayers millions of dollars, says a congressman who is pushing for mandatory prison sentences — and even the death penalty — for such crimes.
"Criminal action in the name of environmentalism is unacceptable," said Rep. George Nethercutt, Washington Republican and sponsor of the sentencing bill.
Members of the radical Earth Liberation Front (ELF) simultaneously burned the office of an Oregon commercial tree farm and its fleet of 13 trucks, and the University of Washingtons Center for Urban Horticulture in Mr. Nethercutts home state.
"You cannot control what is wild," the group said in its statement claiming credit for the May 21 incident.
The university fire caused $3 million in damage, and ELF has caused more than $40 million in damage since 1997 "to entities who profit from the destruction of life," the groups Web site states.
On Monday, ELF claimed responsibility for last weeks sabotaging of the University of Idaho biotechnology building — the second such attack on the new facility by the organization, which opposes genetic engineering.
"Ecoterrorists are becoming more aggressive and wasting taxpayer money," Mr. Nethercutt said. "The Washington fire and others at research facilities are destroying not only the progress of researchers, but taxpayer dollars."
Should lives be lost in future acts of destruction, Mr. Nethercutt says, the guilty parties also should pay with their lives.
"When someone dies, you have a terrorist act similar to Oklahoma City. This is serious," Mr. Nethercutt said.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, failed to attach similar legislation to a justice bill during the last congressional session. The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee has not introduced a bill this session, but Hatch aides say he is watching how Mr. Nethercutts legislation proceeds in the House.
A spokesman for Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Sensenbrenner has not reviewed the bill, but that the issue merits concern.
"He takes any act of terrorism by extremists, including so-called ecoterrorists, very seriously," said spokesman Jeff Lungren.
Supporters of the measure say a May 16 National Public Radio commentary by Mary Sojourner is indicative of the lax attitude toward crimes by environmental radicals, and that Mr. Nethercutts bill sends a message to those attracted to the underground movement that their actions will have consequences.
Miss Sojourner praised ecoterrorists for burning down houses in a new Arizona development and said she wanted to "send money for matches" and that "vengeance is a moral response."
"Its tragic that Nethercutts efforts are necessary, especially when other publicly funded entities are cheerleading terrorism," said Rob Gordon, executive director of the National Wilderness Institute.
"I dont generally like the idea of hate crimes, but if I did, this would be at the top of the list," Mr. Gordon said.
"They try to romanticize this movement, these public entities that glorify the revolutionary nature of these people, when, in fact, I think they have a screw loose," Mr. Nethercutt said.

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