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<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />Washington, D.C., March 7, 2002 — In a Capitol Hill conference today, several experts in security, politics, and communications revealed the troubling rise in acts of violence and destruction being committed by environmental and animal rights activists. The event, “Stopping Eco-Extremism: A Conference on Legislative, Legal, and Communications Strategies to Protect Free Enterprise, Private Property, and American Business,” was sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the crisis communications firm Nichols–Dezenhall.
“Environmental extremists have been successful in the part because opposition to their ideology and tactics was not coordinated,” said conference organizer Gregory Conko, director of food safety policy at CEI. “Today’s conference is the beginning of an effort to inform those in business and academia to the threat such organizations pose. Anyone who works in an environmentally unfashionable industry should be concerned.”
Speakers included Rep. Scott McInnis (R-CO), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, who spoke on the danger from groups like the Earth Liberation Front, whose members burnt down a ski lodge in his district in 1998 to protest commercial development in the Rocky Mountains.
James Jarobe, the FBI’s Section Chief of Domestic Terrorism/Counterterrorism Planning, described radical environmental groups as the largest and most active U.S.-based terrorist organizations, causing $43 million worth of damage since 1996 alone. Groups such as the Earth Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Front, and Earth First! have intimidated researchers and destroyed laboratories, businesses, and private property using arson, burglary, assault, and vandalism.
Nichols–Dezenhall CEO and author Nick Nichols also gave a warning about two trends he has tracked in recent years: first, a tendency of fringe environmental groups to rely increasingly on violent, destructive tactics, and second, the failure of corporations, universities, and other subjects of attack to defend themselves and their reputations. Nichols especially condemned the instinct of many executives in affected companies to try to placate activists groups with donations or public gestures.
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