Activist Who Disrupted Utah Gas Auction Gains Wider Recognition

By Beacon Staff

The civil disobedience disruption and subsequent arrest of Tim DeChristopher at a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in Utah continues to send shock-waves through the closely linked but diametrically opposed worlds of natural resource development and environmental activism. At a Dec. 19 BLM auction, DeChristopher held up his paddle to run up bids on certain tracts, and finished the auction with promises to pay the federal government some $1.8 million for leases on 22,000 acres in southeast Utah. Today, DeChristopher’s story is among the most popular on the WashingtonPost.com. The U.S. Attorney in Utah is currently seeking unspecified charges against him. A local attorney who headed headed the BLM during the Clinton administration is trying to get federal authorities to view DeChristopher’s bidding as a political, not criminal act. He offered an explanation for his actions in a post on LeftintheWest.com. Hailed as a hero in the environmental community, DeChristopher has partially explained his actions as being borne out of frustration with the usual methods employed by environmental activists to stymie or halt mining and drilling in scenic areas. He has actually amassed enough money in donations for the down payment on the leases.

His approach is likely to be mimicked by other environmentalists, depending on how effective it proves to be. And you can bet that the natural resource development community will be taking note at subsequent auctions to figure out how to prevent another such disruption. There will definitely be more on this story as it progresses.

From LeftintheWest:

I have been an environmentalist for most of my life. I have marched, held signs, written letters and spoken to my Congressman. I have built trails and removed invasive species in National Parks. I have educated friends on climate change and donated to a dozen different groups. Countless others have done all these same things for decades in defense of our wilderness and a livable future.

It hasn’t worked. Even with a new administration, we are not on track for a livable future. This has been made clear by James Hanson, Bill McKibben, Al Gore and many others. The legitimate pathways to power have not provided us with the ability to defend the survival of our civilization. Yesterday I decided that the crisis facing us requires more critical action than has been taken in the past. When faced with the opportunity to seriously disrupt the auction of some of our most beautiful lands in Utah to oil and gas developers, I could not ethically turn my back on that opportunity. By making bids for land that was supposed to be protected for the interests of all Americans, I tried to resist the Bush administration’s attempt to defraud the American people.

Read the rest at LeftintheWest.