- Founder and President of the Rainforest Action Network
- Believes that the Bush Administration may have deliberately allowed the attacks of 9/11 to occur
Randall (Randy) Hayes is the President of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which he founded in 1985. "I'm somewhat of a lightning rod,” Hayes says. “I get called a radical a lot. Webster's definition of radical is 'a root.' Radicals get to the root of the problem. From that perspective, I'm proud of that label.”
Hayes was born in West Virginia in 1950 and was raised in central Florida. After attending Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he met Beat Generation poet Gary Snyder and became enamored of the remnants of the Beat culture, Hayes lived on a Hopi Indian reservation near Flagstaff, Arizona. While there, he founded a group called “Friends of the Hopi” which sought to outlaw coal mining on tribal land.
In 1973 Hayes enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he earned a degree in environmental planning. His Master's thesis was a documentary film titled The Four Corners: A National Sacrifice Area?, which examined how coal and uranium mining on the Colorado plateau was allegedly harming the region's American Indian population.
Hayes is an outspoken hater of capitalism, which he calls "an absurd economic system [that is] rapidly destroying nature." He has said that RAN’s efforts are aimed at "those in the industrial North who have their foot on the throat of the rainforest."
In 2002 Hayes joined such prominent environmentalists as Carl Pope, Denis Hayes, Fred Krupp, Mark Van Putten, Kathleen Rogers, and Brent Blackwelder in signing a letter urging President George W. Bush to attend the September 2002 Johannesburg, South Africa Earth Summit. The letter asked Bush to support a number of initiatives, including: “reduc[ing] United States emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants,” and “increas[ing] U.S. assistance to developing countries to protect their environments and the global environment.” Moreover, the letter blamed globalization and capitalism for environmental degradation and social strife around the world, stating:
“While actions to reduce barriers to trade and investments have stimulated economic growth, there are deep concerns about the uneven distribution of these economic gains among and within countries, the growing pressure on natural resources, and increasing pollution. The failure to address these tensions provides the impetus for unrest, social conflict and violence.”
In October 2004, Hayes joined such prominent activists as the Marxist anti-war speaker Stan Goff and Progressive Caucus member Cynthia McKinney in signing the 911 Truth Statement, "which called for immediate public attention to unanswered questions suggesting that people within the current [George W. Bush] administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."
Early in the 2004 presidential campaign, Hayes supported the candidacy of Progressive Caucus member Dennis Kucinich, stating: "Economic policy turns out to be the most important environmental policy. Kucinich is the only presidential candidate calling for the elimination of the World Trade Organization. That alone would do more to support nature's needs than any other environmental action."
Also in 2004, Hayes was hired by Oakland, California Mayor Jerry Brown to head that city's Office of Sustainability. "I really do believe we can build a new army for the Earth and do it from city government,” Hayes said. “You'll never really save the rain forest until you build a sustainable society in the industrial North.”
Hayes formerly served on the Board of Governors of the International Forum on Globalization, which provides “analyses and critiques on the cultural, social, political, and environmental impacts of economic globalization.”
Today Hayes is a Board member of the Turning Point Project, a coalition of more than 100 nonprofit organizations including Greenpeace, the Earth Island Institute, and Friends of the Earth. He is also an Advisory Board Member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an eco-terrorist group founded by Paul Watson. Hayes has been arrested eighteen times for participation in civil disobedience.
Hayes is married to Lauren Klein Hayes, an environmental and social justice activist who has worked for the Threshold Foundation.
Between 2004 and 2008, Hayes made several campaign contributions to political candidates, all of them Democrats. These included John Kerry, Barack Obama, Donna Edwards, and John Tester. He also donated money to the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party, and to ActBlue, whose mission is to "enabl[e] anyone — individuals, local groups, and national organizations — to fundraise for the Democratic candidates of their choice."