- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

America is at war. Unlike past conflicts, however, we now face an enemy that directly threatens civilians and in stitutions within our borders. We are now more vigilant and circumspect than we were before September 11, and we must remain so.
Not only must we identify, locate and destroy those who would destroy us, as President Bush has pledged we will do, but government at all levels, aided by the private sector, must act to ensure security at home. However, actions have consequences, and it is vital the homeland security measures we undertake are well-reasoned and protective of our long-term national interests.
The goal of homeland security is to detect, prevent and defend against external threats to our citizens, our public spaces, and our economic well-being. There are those among us, however, who view homeland security as less an issue of national defense than as an opportunity to advance extremist political agendas by making unrealistic demands for the elimination of potential targets. Unfortunately, their actions threaten to inadvertently compromise the very security that we seek.
Groups such as Greenpeace are striving aggressively to place the burden for homeland security on the chemical and energy industries. The group's campaign reflects a cynical and myopic understanding of the terrorist threat.
Greenpeace seems to be motivated less by the prevention of terrorist activity than by its longstanding effort to eliminate the production and use of certain highly beneficial chemicals.
Greenpeace's irresponsible campaign aims to scare the American public with doomsday scenarios about imagined terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities and chemical plants. The campaign encourages news coverage that provides detailed maps and information about the storage of chemicals at specific facilities and the "worst-case scenario" threats to local communities.
Greenpeace and its allies are posting this information on the Internet, despite concerns from law-enforcement officials, emergency-response professionals, and industry that what they are doing is, in effect, providing a "road mapfl" for terrorists in choosing potential targets. And that's not all. Greenpeace activists are vigorously supporting Sen. Jon Corzine's Chemical Security Act, currently pending in the U.S. Senate, which would create a burdensome and counterproductive regulatory framework for chemical plant security.
The bill offered by Mr. Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, is an "environmental" bill, more than it is a "security" bill. At a time when the federal government is trying to consolidate and coordinate responsibility for the elements of homeland security, the bill would grant the Environmental Protection Agency not the new Department of Homeland Security the power to force chemical companies to take whatever steps it deems necessary, including forcing companies to significantly change their production processes, without requiring any analysis of the costs, benefits or potential consequences.
Even worse, it also contains a provision requiring chemical manufacturers to consider "inherently safer technologies." Chlorine is one obvious target of Greenpeace's ire. If this provision is adopted, the inevitable next step is to use it to obstruct or eliminate chlorine chemistry production, despite the fact that chlorine is essential to national defense, a sound economy, and public health.
Chlorine chemistry also plays an important role in our economic security, with end products that represent an estimated 45 percent of our gross domestic product.
Greenpeace may now be wrapping itself in the flag and decrying threats to our safety, but its ultimate goal remains the same. It seeks to discredit industrial chemicals regardless of the consequences. And chlorine has been in the group's cross hairs for more than a decade. They are simply using the threat of terrorism as a new front for waging this old battle, this time casting American industry, rather than terrorists, as the enemy.
By putting their anti-technology agenda above the security of the American people, Greenpeace is on a course that threatens to serve as a textbook example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. As we pursue the fight against terrorism, let us not forget as Greenpeace apparently has who the real enemy is.

Bonner R. Cohen is a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute in Arlington.


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