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Senate OKs bill increasing penalties for eco-terrorism

The Senate voted 19-7 Thursday to pass a bill increasing criminal penalties for so-called eco-terrorism.

HB206 makes it a more serious offense to sabotage or engage in terrorist acts against the timber, mining and livestock industries, including mink farms.The bill would not apply to actions taken as part of a labor protest.

Sen. Robert Steiner, D-Salt Lake City, questioned the need for the bill since criminal laws are already in place to punish eco-terrorists.

"This kind of law offends me in that we single out three industries for a particular treatment and I don't think we need it," Steiner said in initial debate on the bill Wednesday.

Sen. Robert Montgomery, R-North Ogden, said the three industries were identified because eco-terrorism has been occurring in these areas, particularly against animal breeders.

Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, said acts against the lumber and livestock industries have been perpetrated in Utah, but that no mining activities have yet been targeted.