Last week, unbeknownst to most of the American public and under-reported by the mainstream media, a group of eco-terrorists cut gates and other controlled locks to break into facilities and manually shutdown pipeline valves in four states.

These coordinated and illegal attacks put not only employees onsite at risk, but also the lives of the people and properties in the surrounding areas. The very environment these extremists claimed they were trying to protect could have been devastated.

The fact that these acts occurred without incident is a testament to the incredible competence and professionalism of the engineers and health and safety teams working for the companies that were targeted.

It also demonstrated the effectiveness of the well-crafted regulatory and safety measures that have been established by state and federal agencies to protect our environment and keep communities safe.

Comparing the calm, responsible actions taken by the trained professionals working for targeted companies with the dangerous recklessness displayed by the environmental extremists who carried out these attacks provides a window into the current, increasingly vitriolic debate over pipelines.

Pipelines provide the most environmentally safe and efficient mode of transporting oil and gas, yet they are under increasingly shrill and dangerous attacks from environmental extremists and opportunistic Hollywood celebrities looking to promote themselves in some odd form of environmental morality.

Yet these attacks offer no solution for how Americans will light and warm their homes, produce and power essential products, harvest food, manufacture clothes and meet their most basic daily needs.

The riots in North Dakota, the four-state coordinated attack and the destruction of property by deliberately setting fires in Iowa show a troubling escalation of violence and lawlessness within this community of “activists.” Given that these actions could have serious consequences for public safety, our environment and our economy, we are left wondering: Where is the media outrage against these saboteurs?

The actions by these environmental extremists could have had serious consequences, and the targeting of critical infrastructure for destruction or industrial sabotage is a lot closer to a terrorist attack than a peaceful demonstration of people who want a clean, safe environment — which is all of us. However, these acts of terrorism targeting our infrastructure seem to be viewed by some environmentalists as acceptable.

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Delivering testimony on domestic terrorism, the Section Chief of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, James Jarboe, said that the FBI defines eco-terrorism as “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”

There is no doubt as to what these acts were, and it would be in the best interest of local agencies, police departments and federal law enforcement to investigate these organizations to gain a greater understanding about who aided and funded these individuals, what other targets they may have identified, and to see if any foreign sponsors were involved.

These coordinated eco-terrorist attacks could have been catastrophic. These groups are shifting from peaceful to increasingly violent protests — and it must stop. We all want a clean, safe environment. We need a conversation about how we draw on conservation and efficiency while growing our economy, meeting our essential energy needs and ensuring our nation’s security, but violence and the destruction of property benefits no one.

Pitting the environment against energy development does not further the conversation, especially at the expense of sensible energy development, environmental protection or the economy and offering no other solutions or compromises — while committing crimes or bullying – is illogical.

Consumer Energy Alliance supports an all-of-the-above energy policy that safeguards our environment, benefits consumers, and grows our economy. When discussions turn violent, no one wins and ultimately all families and small businesses lose.

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The actions of the last few weeks are truly disturbing. We all deserve better.

David Holt is president of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA). Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

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