With a plot that would have done old Ed Abbey proud, a college student managed single-handedly to disrupt the BLM oil and gas lease auction sufficiently to prevent some parcels from being sold at all, and running up the prices for others.
An act of civil disobedience without any destruction being done. Clever and well-executed.
Tim DeChristopher, 27, faces possible federal charges after winning bids totaling about $1.8 million on more than 10 lease parcels that he admits he has neither the intention nor the money to buy — and he’s not sorry.
“I decided I could be much more effective by an act of civil disobedience,” he said during an impromptu streetside news conference during an afternoon blizzard. “There comes a time to take a stand.”
The Sugar House resident — questioned and released after disrupting a U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction of 149,000 acres of public land in scenic southern and eastern Utah — said he came to the BLM’s state office in Salt Lake City to join about 200 other activists in a peaceful protest outside the building Friday morning. But then he registered with the BLM as representing himself and went to the auction room.
There, he thought about the times he has marched, fired off letters to his congressmen, signed petitions and supported environmental organizations — all to no avail.
“What the environmental movement has been doing for the past 20 years hasn’t worked,” DeChristopher said. “It’s time for a conflict. There’s a lot at stake.” [snip]
BLM official Terry Catlin said the agency didn’t want to reopen the bidding on the parcels DeChristopher snagged unless all interested parties were able to compete for the leases. That means the parcels won’t be available again until at least February — after Obama takes office — during the next scheduled auction.
DeChristopher, who acknowledged upping other bids by about $500,000, said he would be willing to go to jail to defend his generation’s prospects in light of global climate disruption and other environmental threats.
“If that’s what it takes,” he said.