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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Anti-Logging Protesters: 'We Are Not Terrorists'

Jay Plater

Some environmental groups say they're being unfairly targeted by legislation working its way through the Oregon capitol. A pair of measures take aim at protesters who get in the way of tree harvesting operations on state-owned forest land.

One bill would make it easier for timber companies to sue protesters. Another would increase criminal penalties for people who block logging operations.

Or, as Republican representative Wayne Krieger put it on the House floor, "The bill addresses environmental terrorism."

But anti-logging groups say that’s a dramatic exaggeration of what they say is non-violent civil disobedience. Things like climbing up a tree that's about to be cut down. Or lying in front of logging trucks.

Environmental attorney Brenna Bell says that’s not terrorism. "I find it incredible disrespectful for everyone who's actually a victim of terrorism."

Bell says she doesn't condone protest techniques that put loggers at risk of injury, and that’s already against the law.

Krieger defends his use of the word terrorism. He says logging protests have caused deep economic hardship for timber families.

Both measures passed the Oregon House and await action in the Senate.

On the Web:

HB 2595: Crime of interference - Oregon Legislature 
HB 2596: Cause of action - Oregon Legislature