Hearings - Testimony
 
Full Committee
Oversight on Eco-terrorism specifically examining the Earth Liberation Front (“ELF”) and the Animal Liberation Front (“ALF”)
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
 
Mr. Bradley Campbell
Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

I would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the problems of ecoterrorism and other threats to domestic security.

These are subjects that Governor Richard J. Codey and every New Jersey resident regard with urgent concern. Our residents live in the shadow of the attacks of September 11, 2001, which claimed the lives of 674 New Jerseyans and transformed our northern waterfront into an evacuation zone. New Jersey also was the launching site for the first major bio-terror attacks on United States soil resulting in fatalities, when a still-unknown terrorist mailed anthrax-laden letters that severely contaminated the United States Postal Service facility in Hamilton, New Jersey.

New Jersey’s very strengths create particular vulnerability to acts of domestic terrorism. Our chemical, petroleum and other industrial plants that support the economy of the Nation are clustered around well- developed transportation infrastructure linking the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan regions. The Port of New Jersey and New York is the entry point for more than 4 million cargo containers and 55 million tons of bulk cargo valued at over $100 billion. New Jersey is home to Newark Liberty International Airport – one of the busiest airports in the country serving more than 30 million passengers annually. New Jersey is well- known as the center of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and other life science industries targeted by violent and extreme animal rights activists. All of these infrastructure sites and more are potential targets for terrorists, and all lie in the most densely populated state in the Union.

I shall begin with a brief overview of New Jersey’s domestic security preparedness activities, and then turn to the specific types of ecoterrorism that concern us.

Overview of New Jersey’s Domestic Security Preparedness Effort

New Jersey’s unique vulnerabilities have made us a leader among states in initiating and implementing measures to counter potential terrorist operatives, to reduce the risk of attack at critical infrastructure facilities, and to reduce the potential impacts to public health and safety if any such attacks should occur in the future. New Jersey undertakes these efforts through our Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force (DSPTF or Task Force), chaired by Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, and our Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), directed by Sidney Caspersen.

As Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), I serve as the DSPTF’s lead for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology, chemical, nuclear, petroleum, wastewater, and dam safety sectors of our critical infrastructure. I share responsibility for the water sector as well in cooperation with our Board of Public Utilities. Through the DSPTF and the OCT, I also participate in New Jersey’s preparedness and response effort for other sectors. Notably, the sectors within DEP’s oversight are among the sectors in which ecoterror has been of greatest concern, and the sectors in which credible threats of other forms of terrorism have most often been identified in New Jersey.

The DSPTF has undertaken a comprehensive program to reduce terror risk, to ensure preparedness at critical infrastructure facilities, and to test the efficacy of both public agencies and the private sector in responding to acts of terrorism. Every DSPTF agency and every sector of our critical infrastructure has developed, thorough a public-private collaboration, a series of “Best Practices” for domestic security. Each set of Best Practices has been reviewed and approved by the Task Force and the Governor. Every DSPTF agency and every sector of our critical infrastructure has also participated in appropriate exercises to test the strengths and limits of terror detection and response capability, most recently in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s regional “Top Officials” (“TOPOFF”) exercise in April, 2005, which simulated a massive bioterror attack resulting in thousands of deaths throughout New Jersey.

Another worthy program initiated by DHS and carried forward by the New Jersey OCT in conjunction with State and local law enforcement partners is the “Buffer Zone Protection Program,” which addresses protective measures outside a facility’s perimeter. Sixteen of the most high consequence facilities in New Jersey have completed “Buffer Zone Protection Plans.” A program of similar scope and intensity focused on protective measures inside a facility’s perimeter is what New Jersey hopes this Committee and Congress will undertake.

New Jersey’s current challenge is to ensure full implementation of security “Best Practices” across all sectors, consistent with Governor Codey’s policy of “Zero Tolerance” for noncompliance, and to identify those additional regulatory and other measures that are appropriate to contend with emerging threats and challenges. Throughout this process, DEP is working with OCT, our State Police, our Attorney General’s Office and private companies within our sectors to reduce or eliminate specific threats that we have identified on a case-by-case basis.

Animal Rights/Environmental Terrorism

For New Jersey, animal rights/environmental terrorism, which I will loosely refer to as “ecoterrorism” is considered a significant threat. In our experience, the threat cleaves into two very different strains. The first strain consists of those groups with an ostensibly ecological ideology or agenda that are prepared to use acts or threats of violence to trumpet their message or interfere with legitimate industrial, commercial, or scientific enterprises. I shall refer to this strain as “ideological ecoterrorism.” The second strain consists of those groups who may use ecological harm – such as the sudden and catastrophic release of explosive, toxic, or other material -- to expose the public on a scale that will create massive injuries and death and long term injury to the State’s natural resources. I shall refer to this strain as “impact ecoterrorism.”

1. Ideological Ecoterrorism

As the home to many pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and other major firms concerned with the life sciences, New Jersey is particularly sensitive and attractive to the groups most likely to use threats or acts of terror to advance putatively “environmental” or “animal protection” causes.

I use the terms “environmental” and “animal protection” guardedly, recognizing that there are mainstream environmental and animal welfare organizations that have contributed thoughtful advocacy to our domestic security preparedness effort or more broadly to environmental and wildlife policy. Thoughtful organizations participating in the public process of developing and implementing public policy should not suffer the stigma or suspicion that legitimately attaches to extreme and violent groups.

New Jersey, primarily through the efforts of OCT, has worked with the DHS in closely monitoring groups advocating or promoting acts of violence or ecoterror, including any activities and potential threats associated with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), or similar organizations. In New Jersey’s experience, the more significant threat has come from those groups espousing an extreme animal-rights agenda.

These groups have had a particular focus on the pharmaceutical industry, which is one of the largest business sectors in New Jersey. The pharmaceutical industry contributes almost $30 billion annually to the state’s economy and employs more than 62,000 people. Fully 75 percent of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies maintain some presence in New Jersey.

Ideological animal enterprise terrorist groups have in fact targeted our pharmaceutical facilities. Franklin Township is home to one of Huntingdon Life Sciences’ (HLS) three worldwide animal research laboratories. This company and its employees, who provide contractual work for other chemical and pharmaceutical companies, have been the subject of repeated harassment for more than four years by members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), an organization considered an animal enterprise terrorist group by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

SHAC is just one of several single-issue environmental or animal rights groups active in the region, which include ELF and ALF. Our OCT has noted increasing signs of convergence among these groups. ELF, ALF, and SHAC share certain goals and have overlapping agendas. These groups employ similar leaderless resistance models and employ similar tactics.

Notably, traditional law enforcement approaches, coupled with the vigilance of our OCT, have been sufficient to deal with the threats New Jersey has seen to date. The methods of these groups are more akin to those of traditional felons than they are to those of the international terrorist communities. Their intentions generally have been limited to interference with particular facilities, companies, or individuals. To date, we have seen no evidence of intent to wreak mass destruction or mass casualties in communities surrounding these facilities. While the acts and threats of these groups may be criminal and serious in many cases, both the threat and the potential impacts appear within the capability of traditional law enforcement.

The success of traditional law enforcement tools has been demonstrated by the federal grand jury indictment of seven of SHAC’s leaders a year ago. I am grateful to United States Attorney Christopher Christie for his aggressive pursuit of these criminals. To offer a more personal example of the use of traditional law enforcement tools against ideological ecoterrorists, New Jersey’s Attorney General Peter Harvey has successfully secured a civil protective order against an animal rights extremist who had threatened my home and my family.

Moreover, the measures New Jersey has undertaken to protect its communities against more threatening terrorist groups will significantly reduce potential risks of harm from ideological animal rights/environmental terrorists. For example, our work to ensure appropriate site security and target hardening measures at sectors within DEP’s oversight, and OCT’s buffer zone protection program, will help to reduce the vulnerability of all of our facilities to these acts of single-issue terrorism in the future.

2. “Impact Ecoterrorism”

Traditional law enforcement tools are not adequate to prevent and respond to “impact ecoterrorism,” in which the materials, processes, or resources of industrial or utility facilities may be used by terrorist to create injuries, death, or environmental damage on a massive scale. In preventing and responding to this form of terrorism, both federal and state measures are needed. Governor Codey and the DSPTF are particularly concerned with terror risks associated with chemical, petroleum and nuclear facilities.

In New Jersey, there are nearly 100 chemical facilities that are considered critical infrastructure sites, as well as 22 petroleum facilities, and four nuclear power plants. South Jersey alone has four refining and chemical plants each of which could expose a million or more people to highly toxic chemicals in a worst-case chemical release.

New Jersey’s DSPTF has worked collaboratively with our critical infrastructure sectors to develop and implement “Best Practices” that will reduce risk and enhance preparedness at these types of facilities. Private sector leadership has been critical to this effort, including the example set by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the New Jersey Chemistry Council leadership to develop the Security Code of ACC’s “Responsible Care” program. This and similar efforts have provided the critical building blocks of New Jersey’s preparedness effort, and the DSPTF is implementing Governor Codey’s policy of “zero tolerance” for noncompliance with these measures.

But these measures alone are merely a starting point. Our knowledge of both the threat and the appropriate response is evolving daily. As we implement the “Best Practices” and work with facilities on site-by-site review of security vulnerabilities, we also are beginning a public process to review what additional regulatory measures may be appropriate to harden potential targets, to reduce risk to surrounding communities, and to involve workers and communities in the process.

While New Jersey is doing its part, we renew our call for federal standards and protections that will reinforce our work and ensure a level playing field for firms operating in New Jersey.

New Jersey is particularly concerned with the issue of chemical plant security. We share the concerns of President Bush’s former security adviser, Richard Falkenrath, who has said that the complete lack of government oversight makes potential targets out of thousands of chemical plants, and who has called chemical plant security “the single greatest danger of potential terrorist attack in our country today.”

Recognizing this danger, the New Jersey strongly supports the Chemical Security Act, introduced in the last Congress by Senator Jon Corzine and unanimously reported out of this committee on July 25, 2002. We strongly support federal measures to require major chemical and petroleum facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments subject to federal and state agency review; to require review of inherently safer technology that may improve plant safety; and to provide safe access to sensitive chemical facility security information. These requirements should, at a minimum, apply to the more than 15,000 facilities that are subject to the EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) requirements.

New Jersey also supports efforts to impose stricter federal standards and protections in the nuclear power generation sector, another potential target for impact ecoterrorism. As the committee is aware, state action at these facilities is limited by the exclusive jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). While the NRC has been cooperative with DEP, New Jersey is concerned that the “design basis threat” that the NRC uses to evaluate terror threats is woefully inadequate. New Jersey strongly support federal legislation, such as last session’s S.1043, that would direct the NRC and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assess security vulnerabilities at nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities; to make recommendations for reducing security risks, taking into account specified threats including attacks comparable to 9/11; and to conduct a rulemaking to upgrade security requirements for nuclear facilities. In this Congress, New Jersey supports passage of S. 864, the Nuclear Safety and Security Act of 2005, even as we would like to see the more rigorous requirements of S.1043 retained in the newer legislation.

In addition, New Jersey supports legislation that would increase federal oversight of domestic security preparedness at facilities in other sectors. For example, according to the EPA, there are more than 16,000 wastewater treatment facilities nationwide with approximately 1,600 located near large metropolitan areas. Many of these facilities use chlorine to disinfect the water. Chlorine is a poisonous, greenish-yellow gas that is fatal in large concentrations. It can also burn the eyes, lungs, and skin. When released, it quickly turns to gas, stays close to the ground, and spreads rapidly. In New Jersey, only one wastewater treatment plant still uses enough chlorine (more than 1,000 pounds annually) to be regulated by our TCPA rules. However, we estimate that more than 12 million pounds of chlorine is stored at TCPA facilities around the state. Given the prevalence of this potentially lethal chemical, New Jersey strongly supports federal legislation, such as S.779 from the last Congressional session, that would authorize funds for wastewater utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and required wastewater facilities to conduct and submit vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans to the government. As a February 2005 General Accounting Office (GAO) report concluded, any legislation overseeing improvements in wastewater treatment security should also emphasize replacing gaseous chemicals used in wastewater treatment with less hazardous alternatives; improving local, state, and regional efforts to coordinate responses in advance of a terrorist threat; and completing vulnerability assessments for individual wastewater systems.

Added federal safeguards in these areas would complement New Jersey’s tradition of strict rules to ensure safety at major chemical and petroleum facilities and to protect surrounding communities. Almost 20 years ago, the state adopted the Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA) statute after the Bhopal tragedy in India. TCPA rules require detailed “risk management plans” and “off-site consequences analysis” to be performed for all chemical sites that manage extraordinarily hazardous substances. In the wake of the September 11 tragedy, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure safety at these facilities. On August 5, 2003, New Jersey became the first state to regulate reactive hazard substances when present at a facility above a specified threshold, Reactive hazard substances are those that can explode when inadvertently exposed to air or water or when mixed with certain other chemicals.

New Jersey also requires facilities subject to TCPA regulations to evaluate their risk reduction options every five years to ensure the options reflect the most up-to-date, practicable technologies available for minimizing the risk of catastrophic accidental releases, and to implement this technology if cost-effective. Facilities must evaluate their new processes to ensure they incorporate, where feasible and cost-effective, inherently safer technologies that minimize or eliminate the threat of chemical releases by using safer chemicals, reducing chemical inventories, and improving equipment maintenance and design.

In addition to our TCPA program, DEP also regulates facilities through its Discharge Prevention, Containment and Countermeasure (DPCC) program. The DPCC program is basically an above-ground storage tank program that regulates facilities that store either 20,000 gallons of hazardous substances or 200,000 gallons of petroleum products and hazardous substances. Each facility is required to prepare a DPCC Plan and a Discharge Cleanup and Removal Plan (DCR). The DCR plan is the emergency response plan for the facility in the event of a discharge. DEP must review and approve of these plans.

The primary focus of both the DPCC and TCPA programs has been to ensure that the hazardous substances used by these facilities are not accidentally discharged into the State’s environment. These programs are proving to be useful tools in domestic security preparedness, and will inform any additional regulatory requirements we develop at the state level. But we remain persuaded that both security and interstate fairness would be advanced significantly, and with far less economic impact, if state measures were coupled with a federal framework of regulatory protections. New Jersey is prepared to work with all members of the committee to achieve appropriate legislation to establish that framework.

Homeland Security Funding

In responding to the threats of both single-issue, or ideological ecoterrorists, and impact ecoterrorists, funding is critical. Governor Codey has repeatedly pointed out that current homeland security funding formulas seriously undervalue actual intelligence about the presence of potential and known terror targets.

For all of the types of terrorists discussed today, New Jersey presents a greater array of pharmaceutical, chemical and petrochemical targets, in much closer proximity to population centers, than many other states. The same is true in states like California and Louisiana, especially when compared to states like Wyoming or Nebraska.

New Jersey’s federal homeland security funds overall decreased by more than 36 percent in Fiscal Year 2005. We estimate that the federal budget will translate to $4.35 per capita in homeland security funding for New Jersey versus $25.45 per capita in Wyoming. Moreover, the current federal budget cuts Federal Urban Area Security Initiative funding to Jersey City by more than 60 percent and to Newark by nearly 20 percent; this despite the fact that Newark faced a Terror Level of Orange last year after it was learned that terror groups might be plotting to bomb major financial targets in Newark.

Greater homeland security funding is needed more than ever as we also try to be mindful of other sectors that might also be targets of terror groups. In his 2005 State of the State address, Acting Governor Codey launched an unprecedented effort to make New Jersey’s students safer by introducing a statewide school security checklist, law-enforcement visits to schools and training of teachers and staff to prepare for possible terror attacks on schools. This initiative was prompted by concerns last fall when information about two New Jersey elementary schools, one in Monmouth County and one in Gloucester County, was found on a computer disk in Iraq. This was at the same time that terrorists seized a middle school in Russia and killed more than 300 children and other hostages. As a result, the New Jersey State Police are helping our schools pinpoint widespread security weaknesses that should be remedied. The need for this initiative, while not falling under the jurisdiction of this Committee, is yet one more demonstration of why New Jersey and all states need greater financial and regulatory support from the federal government to address all fronts in the fight to improve homeland security.

Conclusion

New Jersey considers both single-issue, or ideological ecoterrorism, and impact ecoterrorism to be serious risks to the safety and health of our communities. New Jersey’s experience has been that traditional law enforcement tools, coupled with domestic security preparedness measures implemented to date, appear commensurate with the threat of single-issue or ideological ecoterror groups. With regard to “impact ecoterrorism,” New Jersey urges Congress to enact additional regulatory safeguards and protections, and to revise federal funding formulas to respond to available intelligence concerning the nature of the relevant threats.

 

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