A bill aimed at condemning and rooting out acts of eco-terrorism was introduced to Congress Monday by U.S. Rep. Phil English of Erie, R-3rd District.
Singling out an organization called the Earth Liberation Front, English's proposal directs the Federal Bureau of Investigation to work closely with state and local law enforcement to help choke out destructive and extremist acts.
In a release, English describes the Earth Liberation Front as a loosely connected network of environmental activists, founded by a radical faction of the Earth First organization in Britain that works to destroy the property of those perceived to be exploiting the natural environment.
"While we are waging a war on terror overseas, we must be vigilant in insisting that terrorism on our homeland will not be tolerated," English said.
"This organization's approach to getting their message across is an affront to the democratic process of our peaceful people. This organization uses the freedoms of our country to encourage violence and destruction on our own soil. This is outrageous and must not be tolerated."
Such condemned acts range from releasing mink from mink farms to setting fire to heavy construction equipment. Last year such acts resulted in about $1.4 million in damage in the 3rd District, including a March 24, 2002, arson attack on construction equipment at Wintergreen Gorge in Erie; and a June 2002 release of all foxes bred at Dana Fox fur farm in Erie, with a similar act occurring at Mindek Brothers Fur Farm in nearby Harborcreek. ELF subsequently released statements taking responsibility for each, English said.
In Mercer County, such environmental crimes are not prevalent, said District Attorney James P. Epstein. The attorney general's office has specialized units that in the past have prosecuted several local hazardous waste disposals, but as far as cases of terrorism in the county "nothing remotely like that" has occurred, Epstein said.
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