Op-ed: “No tolerance for eco-terrorism”

The Virginian-Pilot published an op-ed by GAIN strategic adviser James “Spider” Marks calling for an end to unlawful and dangerous protest tactics known as ‘eco-terrorism.’ Marks points to an incident that occurred just earlier this month in Virginia at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site, where anti-fossl fuel activists are suspected of lighting equipment on fire that led to half a million dollars’ worth of damage. Marks notes this dissent is troubling, and unfortunately becoming the new normal, as he writes:

In recent years this kind of radical activism, which was once universally condemned, has become an accepted form of protest. All the while, public tolerance for such guerilla-style tactics has become more callous and calcified by a mounting regularity of attacks, celebrity endorsement and some lawmakers’ willingness to turn a blind eye.

Make no mistake: There should be no room for these acts of violence and eco-terrorism. Public leaders should call them out. Vandalism of our nation’s energy infrastructure puts communities and the environment in danger. Far from achieving some noble cause, this senseless destruction sows fear, puts law enforcement in danger and undermines the security of networks critical to our daily lives. This behavior simply defies logic.

Activists continue to disregard impressive pipeline safety records – instead opting to promote ideological rhetoric rather than fact. Regulators and developers have worked closely together to ensure safe completion and operation of pipelines in order to meet the growing energy needs of American consumers.

In conclusion, Marks contends these protest tactics have real ramifications on our way of life. He concludes that peaceful demonstrations will always have an important place in our country – but our leaders must take a stand against extremist tactics that could cause physical harm or undermine our energy infrastructure. He writes:

Eco-terrorists’ tactics are not without consequence. They have caused millions of dollars in damages and stirred anxiety in our communities. The Dakota Access Pipeline protests alone cost the state of North Dakota $38 million for law enforcement and clean-up efforts. With the help of grandstanding politicians focused on scoring quick partisan points rather than finding reasonable transportation solutions for energy products, activists have succeeded in delaying, disrupting and often derailing important infrastructure projects across the country.

Even beyond the monetary costs, the lost jobs and the burdens on businesses and families, eco-terrorists’ actions reach further still. Their destruction has emboldened radicals who enact senseless tragedy. Nowhere else in society are tactics of sabotage and aggression condoned. All too frequently, however, environmental extremists are given a pass.

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