Extremism in the Anti-Environmental Lobby

The anti-environmental lobby in the West is strengthening its power by collaborating with extremist groups across the country, fostering a climate in which people are afraid to voice their opinions, according to the Western States Center, a Portland-based non-partisan research group. In its latest report, the group details the close ties between anti-environmental leaders and well-known extremist organizations that include the militia movement, the John Birch Society and the county supremacy movement.The center, which documented its findings in "Extremists and the Anti-Environmental Lobby: Activities Since Oklahoma City," points to two broad factions that comprise the anti-environmental lobby: natural resource and other corporations, and ideologically driven activist and advocacy groups. Both factions stand to profit from the weakening or elimination of laws protecting public health and public lands, and they seek to exploit economic hardship in rural communities to further their own agendas, the report argues."Extremists and the anti-environmental lobby have made a cottage industry out of selling conspiracy and hate in communities wracked by a changing economy and corporate downsizing," said Tarso Ramos, report author and Western States research director. "Rather than working toward community-based solutions, extremist groups continue to peddle divisive rhetoric and fear that manipulates people facing hard times."The study, which examines the anti-environmental lobby since 1992, tells the story of community activist Ellen Gray of Washington State. She was confronted after a public hearing by a militia member who told her, "We have a militia of 10,000 and if we can't beat you at the ballot box, we'll beat you with a bullet.""This report documents what we've been seeing for years, a convergence of anti-environmentalists with militias and far-right extremists," explained Ken Toole, Program Director, Montana Human Rights Network. "The media should remain vigilant in exposing these groups and their hateful rhetoric, because words do matter and extremist intimidation undermines community well-being."The Western States Center's main focus is to track key issues and trends in an eight-state region of the West: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Alaska. Full text of "Extremists and the Anti-Environmental Lobby" is available at http://www.igc.org/westernstates/. For more information contact Tarso Ramos at 503-228-8866.

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