Groups call for 'ecosabotage' laws legislation

The Olympian


SALEM, Ore. -- A coalition of lobbyists from agricultural and forest products groups is urging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would prosecute acts of "ecosabotage" under the state's racketeering law.
The lobbyists describe "ecosabotage" as violent acts that target loggers, farmers and others who make a living off the land. Examples include spiking trees, vandalizing logging equipment and burning offices associated with logging or farming operations.

But the bill, proposed by Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, has sparked concern among environmentalist groups that say the law singles out one type of activism over others.

Sierra Club of Oregon lobbyist Martin Taylor said that while his group did not endorse any criminal and violent acts, it opposed SB385 in part because ecosabotage was too broadly defined.

"If you're talking about influencing, that could be people committing really minor violations, such as trespassing for the purpose of getting arrested, or standing in front of a logging truck, or tree-sitting," he said.

Unlike almost every other crime, ecosabotage would not fall under any statute of limitations; a case could be opened against a suspect of committing such an act, no matter how long ago it occurred.

Dave Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said the bill's lack of time limits for prosecuting ecosabotage suspects runs afoul of the Constitution.

If the Legislature decides to waive any statute of limitations "based on a political viewpoint of those who carry out the offense, you're going to be in trouble constitutionally," he said.

Kelly Stoner, director of the group Stop Eco-Violence!, said sabotage that targets agricultural, forestry, and animal research and production is so terrorizing to people in those industries and their families that it merits extraordinary efforts to stop it.

"It sends a clear message," she said. "If you burn it, spike it, sabotage it or destroy it, we will use every means at our disposal to ensure your arrest and successful prosecution


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