Normalizing Ecoterrorism

Last week, a newspaper in Boulder, Colorado published a letter to the editor that advocated violent attacks on the oil and gas industry and suggested that those opposed to fracking “have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers.”

As egregious as that letter was, the response from the editorial board of the Daily Camera was significantly worse. While the online version of letter was edited to take out the direct calls to “eliminate” workers, it still urged people to “take action to dissuade frackers from operating here,” citing a Canadian “who fought back by pouring cement down wellheads and blew up wells.”

An editor’s note that accompanied the letter said, in part, “The Camera does not condone or endorse violence or property destruction of any kind. However, the letter presents a philosophical question the Camera believes is worthy of community conversation in the context of the ongoing discussion over fracking.”

According to Camera’s Editorial Page Editor Dave Krieger, that philosophical question is “whether it was appropriate in a free-speech zone to permit advocacy of a position that law-breaking, and even violence, was justifiable to oppose a perceived moral wrong, in this case, oil drilling in or near residential neighborhoods that oppose it.” Apparently, they believe it is.

“After considerable conversation,” he wrote, “we decided that the philosophical question [of advocating ecoterrorism and violence against oil and gas employees] is indeed appropriate and topical.”

In a subsequent email exchange with the Daily Caller, the Camera’s Executive Editor Kevin Kaufman doubled down arguing that environmental activists who commit acts of violence against industry employees are as morally justified as the U.S. was in bombing Syria last month.

“So it’s ok for the U.S., currently under the leadership of a right-leaning president, to take violent action on moral grounds, but it is not ok for citizens of Boulder County to ask fellow citizens to consider even violent actions?” Kaufman asked.

What is particularly troubling about the stance the paper is taking on ecoterrorism is that it comes directly from the terrorist playbook of the Deep Green Resistance, which advocates rampant ecoterrorism to “dismantle the industrial energy infrastructure as rapidly as possible” and bring about a decline in the human population.

In this alternate future, aboveground activists … push for acceptance and normalization of more militant and radical tactics where appropriate. They vocally support sabotage when it occurs. More moderate advocacy groups use the occurrence of sabotage to criticize those in power for failing to take action on critical issues like climate change rather than criticizing the saboteurs. 

They argue that sabotage would not be necessary if civil society would make a reasonable response to social and ecological problems … They do not side with those in power against the saboteurs, but argue that the situation is serious enough to make such action legitimate, even though they have personally chosen a different course.

Unfortunately, as both the letter-writer and the Daily Camera editorial board make clear, this is no longer an “alternate future”—it is the present day.