According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by staff writers Julie Tamaki, Jia-Rui Chong and Mitchell Landsberg, vandals struck four car dealerships and several individual car owners in the San Gabriel Valley early Aug. 22, setting fire to one Chevrolet dealership and destroying or defacing dozens of Hummers and other SUVs, many painted with the word "polluter." According to the article, the Earth Liberation Front, a loose association of militant environmentalists, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which it said were intended to "take the profit motive" away from those responsible for pollution. The article also said that the ELF additionally claimed responsibility recently for a $50-million arson fire that destroyed an apartment construction site in San Diego. The paper said the targeted vehicles were apparently chosen for their poor fuel efficiency. The paper said the most serious attack was on the Clippinger Chevrolet dealership in West Covina, which sustained an estimated $1 million in damage after two fires were set in the car lot and one in a warehouse where service parts were kept. The areas of the lot that were set ablaze contained new cars, mostly H2 Hummers. According to the paper, in Duarte, vandals painted tags and slogans — "polluter," "I {heart} pollution," and "elf," the acronym of the Earth Liberation Front — on 30 sport utility vehicles at a Mitsubishi dealership and 20 vehicles at the Ford Advantage Lincoln Mercury dealership across the street, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Harry Drucker. Nine SUVs were similarly vandalized in Arcadia at the Rusnak Mercedes-Benz dealership, authorities said. The article added that four privately owned vehicles were targeted as well . The paper says the vandalism marked the latest manifestation of a growing divide between SUV owners and environmentalists. Critics of SUVs point to evidence that the popularity of the vehicles, and the government's reluctance to hold them to stricter emissions standards, has set back efforts to clean up the nation's air. According to the article, The ELF — which is not so much an organization as a name used by radicals who commit acts under its banner — believes in taking direct action, criminal if necessary, to protect the environment, said Bron Taylor, a professor of religion and ethics at the University of Florida who has studied the radical environmental movement. Launched in Britain in 1992, the group claims to have inflicted more than $100 million damage in North America over the last six years to "entities who profit from the destruction of life and the planet," says the paper. The ELF's Web site claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday, says the paper. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are jointly investigating the incident, along with West Covina police.