Pennsylvania House Overwhelmingly Passes Eco-Terrorism Legislation

In March, the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would crack down on eco-terrorism in that state. The bill passed 168-16.

Sponsored by Rep. Robert Godshall, the bill defines ecoterrorism as an attack on property in which the perpetrators intends to,

(1) Intimidate or coerce an individual lawfully:

(i) participating in an activity involving animals
or an activity involving natural resources; or

(ii) using an animal or natural resource facility.

(2) Prevent or obstruct an individual from lawfully:

(i) participating in an activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources;or

(ii) using an animal or natural resource facility.

The second provision has proven very controversial given the vagueness of the wording. Just what does it mean to “prevent or obstruct” an animal enterprise. Are people who chain themselves to the doors of fur stores really committing an act of terrorism rather than trespass? Even people who support efforts to crack down on people who attempt to intimidate or coerce those working in animal industries might want to ask if it really makes sense to charge activists blocking entrance to a fur store with misdemeanor ecoterrorism. Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense at all and the entirety of that section should be struck from this bill before it is made into law.

The bill also increases the possible penalties for ecoterrorism, with those convicted of first degree felonies facing a prison term of up to 40 years and a fine of up to $100,000.

The bill now goes to the Pennsylvania state Senate for consideration. The full text of Pennsylvania House Bill 213 can be read here.

Source:

House targets ecology ‘terrorists’. Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania), March 17, 2005.

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