Washington, D.C. – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee together with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today hailed the House of Representatives passage of bipartisan legislation that will enhance the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Justice’s ability to prosecute animal rights extremists who cross the line and utilize violence and terroristic threats, while expressly preserving the First Amendment rights of animal rights activists to peacefully protest and boycott lawfully.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Inhofe and Feinstein, was drafted with technical assistance from counter-terror experts at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Senate passed identical legislation on September 29, 2006 and the bill now goes to the President to be signed into law.
Sen. Inhofe Statement:
“With unanimous support in both the House and the Senate, Congress has now provided law enforcement the tools they need to adequately combat radical animal rights extremists’ who commit violent acts against innocent people because they work with animals,” Senator Inhofe said. “This bill is an important step in the effort to combat animal rights extremists’ increasingly violent tactics. We can no longer tolerate criminally based activism regardless of the cause it allegedly advances. This is terrorism and must be stopped.”
Senator Feinstein Statement:
“Passage of this act helps put an end to the deplorable actions of animal rights extremists and helps to ensure that eco-terrorists do not impede important medical progress in California and across the country,” Senator Feinstein said. “We need the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act to fight the evolving tactics used by animal rights extremists, including the latest trend of targeting any business and associate working with animal research facilities.”
Additional California Background
Senator Feinstein said that eco-terrorism has impacted universities and research facilities across California. Between 2001 and 2005, faculty and staff at the University of California San Francisco engaged in animal research, or care of animals used in research, were targeted by a number of activists groups. Among other incidents, faculty and staff received threatening phone calls and messages, late night visits to their homes, death threats, and in one instance, a burning effigy was left on a researcher’s doorstep. The University has been forced to spend more than $2.5 million to increase security at its research facilities.
In June 2006, extremist activists acting in the name of animal rights attempted to firebomb the home of a UCLA primate researcher. The home where they placed their bomb actually belonged to a 70-year-old neighbor of the scientist. However, the device did not ignite. But it did lead another prominent UCLA researcher to quit in fear.
In August 2003, two bombs were placed at the Emeryville offices of Chiron Corporation, a pharmaceutical company in the Bay area that employs 4,400 employees as our nation's 2nd largest manufacturer of flu vaccines.
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
The Act gives needed protection to scientists, medical researchers, ranchers, farmers, and any other industry involving animals by expanding current law to address violent tactics used by animal rights extremists to frighten law abiding citizens away from their work.
Prohibiting the animal rights extremists’ violent tactics will ensure that important animal enterprises, like biomedical industries, stay in California for example, rather than go to India or China.
The Act gives law enforcement the tools they need to adequately combat radical animal rights extremists who commit violent acts against innocent people because they work with animals.
- The Act has express first amendment protections.
- The Act has a staggered penalty structure to meet varying levels of violent offenses.
- The Act carries a penalty of life imprisonment for the death of an individual resulting from animal rights extremists’ dangerous tactics.