Posts Tagged brett tolman

Tim DeChristopher Arraignment, Rally & Jail?: Undoing The Bush Years

From Orwellian executive orders, stem-cell research, torture, abstinence education to compromised federal appointments, broken countries, armies, educational and economic systems, the undoing will take years (short list).

Interior Secretary Salazar undid the illegal BLM auction at which Tim DeChristopher did his brilliant act of civil disobedience. Regrettably, US Attorney Brett Tolman, a Bush (Hatch) appointment, has decided to prosecute Tim on two felony charges, up to 10 years in prison.

I write today ask you for two things:

We were ecstatic when another American Hero, James Hansen called to offer his support at Tim’s arraignment (another reason to recommend this post and urge more media).

  • Please recommend this post at DailyKos (must be existing diarist) in hopes of getting some national media attention on this travesty of justice motivated by the Oil Lobby and right-wing politics.

We simply cannot let Tim go to jail for THAT!

You will recall Tim DeChristopher is the University of Utah student who disrupted a last minute, illegal oil and gas lease give-away auction of pristine public land in Utah last December. Timeline here.

Never mind that the auction was declared illegal Never mind that no one has ever been prosecuted for not paying for BLM leases awarded at auction. Never mind that we raised the money to pay the leases and the BLM rejected it and is now demanding Tim pay an $81,000 fine.

Never mind that US Attorney Brett Tolman is on his way out and simply trying to establish his anti-environmental bonafides (like this guy) in order to run against Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT).

With all the political under currents at play, it’s impossible to predict the outcome. We know Matheson has submitted candidate names for replacement US Attorneys. We also know that an unnamed oil lobbyist knew about the indictment before Tim’s lawyer did.

We as citizens of this planet understand that Tim’s actions symbolize something much larger than a dysfunctional government auction but a corrupted system catering to old dirty energy. This fossil fuel pathway is the same one that will lead us over the climate tipping point if we do not ALL peacefully object to its destructive course. Our collective future is at stake, we must stand in solidarity with Tim to advocate for the world we want to see our children grow up in today or face the largest regret in human history tomorrow. Thank you ALL (and a special thanks to Michael Raysses for his great and ‘rescued diary‘ –Anatomy of a Clusterfuck)


…and of course JohnnyRook RIP

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Anatomy of a Clusterfuck

©2009 by Michael Raysses – printed 4.24.2009

I love bombast. And the apotheosis of my ardor is never more exquisitely achieved than when said affectation incorporates the perfect balance of sound and cadence, while laced with a patina of profanity. Though it would arguably be easy to view bombast as a writing style unto itself, sometimes one can achieve rank bombasticity in a single utterance. And no word reaches the soaring heights I am describing better than the king of all such expressions—ladies and gentlemen, tendered for your approval, the timeless classic—clusterfuck.

For the uninitiated, perhaps a quick definition is in order:

clusterfuck (plural clusterfucks)

  1. (vulgar) A chaotic mess that might be compared to group sex, in which participants are so intertwined and intermingled that they might penetrate each other rather than their intended target. Its more precise usage describes a particular kind of Catch-22, in which multiple complicated problems mutually interfere with each other’s solution. The looser usage, referring to any chaotic situation, probably prevails.

It bears mentioning that any clusterfuck is subject to the Law of Governmental Presence, which states that any garden variety clusterfuck is prone to inflate to epic proportion when conducted within eight nautical miles of any governmental agency, body, or representative. Given that the word probably traces its etymology to the military that almost stands to reason.

Lest there be any confusion, the term is oftentimes misunderstood. To prevent needless uncertainty as to when you’ve encountered a clusterfuck, let’s look at some related concepts.

For instance, a clusterfuck isn’t necessarily a disaster, although a series of ever-expanding clusterfucks can most definitely engender disaster (See Bush, George W.) A clusterfuck also isn’t the same as a shit storm, which is really nothing more than a small bunch of clusterfucks on their way to becoming a disaster. (For further clarification, see TARP. No, not the large sheet of waterproof material. The other one, the one with the bailout.)

The best way to appreciate a clusterfuck is to examine one. Here’s a great case in point: last December, the Bush administration conducted the functional equivalent of a fire sale of leases for oil and gas exploration in the southern and eastern parts of the state of Utah. Above and beyond the speed at which the auction was set up, a rate which didn’t allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s that are federally mandated in situations just like this, the scope of the sale was exceptionally broad. Buckling to pressure from a raft of environmental groups, the BLM reduced its initial offering and agreed to auction off only 150,000 acres of land.

Despite this magnanimous concession, the proposed sale was pilloried as a direct threat to certain pristine areas of the state. Areas that abutted national parks and red rock desert. Plots of land that could arguably be labeled sui generis. (Nothing screams ‘bombast’ quite like a well placed Latin phrase, does it?)

On the day of the auction, a 27 year-old economics student named Tim DeChristopher attended a protest march of the BLM sale. Sensing resigned despair in his fellow protesters, in a fit of anti-authoritarian brio DeChristopher decided to infiltrate the auction as a means of disrupting what he viewed to be not only a fraudulent sale, but one that would irretrievably damage national natural treasures.

Surprisingly for DeChristopher, gaining access to the proceedings proved to be relatively easy. Consistent with general clusterfuck theory, the BLM was in such a hurry to conduct this auction they neglected to enforce the standard security measures typically required. Tim showed his driver’s license, filled out a small form, was given a bidder’s paddle, and escorted in. (Personally, I can’t believe they didn’t make him at least demonstrate the Vulcan death grip or something.)

Once inside, Tim witnessed the auction process and soon was actually driving up the cost on parcels of land merely by waving his bidder’s paddle. But because his mission was to save the land, not just cost the cadre of oil and gas interests more money to have a shot at drilling and exploration, he decided to bring his ‘A’ game—Tim was in it to win it, as they say.

Which is exactly what he did. Tim proceeded to win 13 bids, totaling 22,000 acres, at a cost of $1.8 million. Then he was detained by the authorities because even they have limits as to how much they can and will contribute to a clusterfuck. (According to Tim, once apprehended, the officer who treated him most brusquely was a mall cop who worked in the building where the BLM office is housed, which only deepens my appreciation for the verisimilitude of that Paul Blart movie.)

Public support sprung up for Tim faster than an oil speculator at a hastily prepared sale of oil and gas leases. Within a very short time, he was able to raise $100,000 through his website,, to cover the cost of the initial payment to the BLM for the leases in question, as well as for what was sure to involve legal defense costs.

Then on February 4th, in a move that to the casual observer appears to run contrary to the concept of the clusterfuck, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar invalidated the oil and gas leases that had been auctioned off, which for all intents and purposes could arguably be construed as the government’s admission of “my bad.”

But keep your eye on the bouncing ball, folks, because part of what defines a clusterfuck is the momentary appearance that sanity has taken hold, which is exactly what happened here. The leases in question were voided. A single person with more heart than all the people in the auction that day felled the Goliath that is the oil and gas industry not with a slingshot and stone but instead with a bidder’s paddle and a flick of his wrist. Nothing was destroyed, defiled, or otherwise desecrated. Unless of course you count the derailed locomotive of greed embodied by the oil and gas industries that were there expecting uncontested whacks at the piñata placed so generously before them by the Bush administration.

So where, pray tell, is the clusterfuck?

In what has to be an example of the worst April Fool’s joke imaginable, on April 1, Tim was indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah for two counts of vi4olating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Act. (A lesser charge of wearing a flannel shirt to a government auction was considered but dropped.)

Let’s pause for a moment to review, shall we? The government conducts a highly questionable sale of oil and gas leases that it ultimately voids, yet later they decide to criminally prosecute the man who provided them the opportunity to reconsider and correct their reckless conduct by wielding a bidder’s paddle? (Paging a Mr. Kafka, Mr. Franz Kafla!)

And then in a move that redefines craptacular, on April 3, the BLM levied an $81,000 fine against Tim. Mind you, this is the same BLM that refused Tim’s payment of $45,000 dollars on the fraudulent bids he made because those payments were offered “too late.”

Right about now you’re asking yourself “what’s that smell?” It’s not teen spirit, and it’s not napalm in the morning—it’s a Clusterfuck, with a capital C. Said Clusterfuck will reach its surreal denouement on April 28 when Tim is arraigned.

Now it’s safe to say that we as a nation have become used to diminished expectations. Even with the election of a man who is actually qualified to run the country, we know better than to expect much that even remotely approaches positive from our government and its agencies. But what we can’t condone is when our government is guilty of what in its best light looks like malfeasance, especially when they are given a chance to grant themselves a reprieve by a citizen who has the balls, heart, and spirit to act consonant with his moral compass, a device conspicuously not consulted in the government’s decision making process.

I have given up expecting bureaucracies like the BLM to actually do that which they are created to, which in this case is manage federal energy sources in an environmentally sound way. (My italics.) What galls me most deeply is the wholesale lack of respect for resources present in this case. (Um, I don’t know whose italics those are.) And by resources, the untapped oil and gas that lies beneath the ground in Utah aren’t all I am referring to. I am talking about the very real, immeasurable and invaluable human resource of people like Tim DeChistopher! (OK, that’s definitely my exclamation point.)

If we are ever going to extricate ourselves from the wringer we have wedged ourselves into, we need people like Tim DeChristopher—inventive, committed, and

compassionate—not in jail, his contributions to society neutralized, while sapping limited resources by being incarcerated—but in the vanguard of the vital democracy we remember ourselves to be.

It’s been said that two wrongs don’t make a right. This case proves an exception to that rule. The BLM failed in its responsibility to adhere to federally imposed environmental guidelines before holding the auction. Tim, by his own admission, represented himself to be a qualified bidder, which he wasn’t. When the Department of the Interior voided the sale, the two negatives perpetrated by both parties multiplied to create a positive—the lands in question are safe for the time being. The decision to prosecute Tim is the perfect final touch for those who like a little closure with their clusterfuck. That Brett Tolman, the U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting this case, wants to participate in some perverse act of reverse-alchemy by spinning political straw out of environmental gold is regrettable. The real focus is on what we do to support Tim in this scenario.

Tim told me that what moved him to act as he did was the realization that he could actually handle serving time to save the imperiled lands. What he couldn’t live with was waking up ten years down the road, seeing those lands ransacked by the oil and gas industries, and live with the knowledge that he had the chance to do something about it and didn’t.

Well, we have a chance to endorse Tim right here, right now. Go to Make a donation, write your representative. And if that leaves you feeling like you want to do more, then go to and really throw your oars in the water. To do anything less is beyond wrong—it’s clusterfucked.

Michael Raysses is a writer/actor/National Public Radio commentator living in Los Angeles. E-mail him at For information on Tim DeChristopher, go to Tim will be arraigned on Tuesday April 28, at 11:am in Salt Lake City. He faces up to ten years in Prison. Former Director of NASA Dr. James Hansen will testify on Tim’s behalf.

© April 24, 2009 Michael Raysses

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Tim DeChristopher Indictment 04.01.2009 (PDF)

Tim DeChristopher Indictment 04.01.2009 (PDF)

Tim DeChristopher Indictment

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BREAKING! Tim DeChristopher Indicted! Show Trial Ahead

Tim DeChristopher INDICTED! US Attorney Brett Tolman (Utah) has leveled formal charges. Tim’s response

This will be a political show trial at taxpayer expense.

Please join to support Tim’s brave action.  If you are a DKOS diarist, please go there and recommend this post.

 A grand jury indicted Tim DeChristopher this afternoon. He’s charged with two counts of violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Act. 

Democracy Now: University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher explains how he “bought” 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from drilling. The sale had been strongly opposed by many environmental groups. Stephen Bloch of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said: “This is the fire sale, the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry.”

 This is about politics. US Attorney Brett Tolman (Jason Chavetz look-alike)  is Orrin Hatch’s ‘boy.’  I think we may assume Tolman has given up any hope to being retained by Obama’s Justice Department and is gunning for Jim Matheson’s (D-UT) seat or the new 4th District seat.

Utah Now (full story): He’s the 27-year-old college student and environmental activist who disrupted a public land auction last month by bidding up several parcels intended for oil and gas development. Join us as we take a closer look at what some are calling a case of modern-day monkey wrenching.

Please donate to Tim’s Legal Defense

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Closing the barn doors after the horses are gone

You have to give him credit for trying. Utah State Rep Mike Noel of Kanab managed to get his bill through which would punish land lease bidders who have no intention of buying those leases. This, of course, is directed at the action of our local hero, Tim DeChristopher, whose spontaneous idea managed to disrupt a fraudulent auction (the lease sales from which were later canceled by the Obama administration).

The thing is this: it’s been done. No-one would attempt to do it again because clearly the parties involved will now be very alert to any such possibility. It couldn’t happen twice. It really was the perfect protest, at the right time and done in the best possible, peaceful way. I’d call it a work of art in the civil disobedience arena, and one that cannot be duplicated.

So why do we need Rep. Noel’s bill? I guess because it always makes people feel better when they prevent something that really upset and frustrated them from happening again in the future – even if there’s no possibility of that event.

Tim DeChristopher is still the champion!

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Leases Canceled and Oil Companies Lie

archesCliff posted yesterday the breaking news that Obama’s new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had nullified the BLM’s illegal sale of leases to drill for gas and oil near Utah’s national parks.

The response from the oil industry was predictable:

But Kathleen Sgamma, director of government affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, a nonprofit association that represents independent natural gas and oil producers in the Intermountain West, said her group had “grave concerns” over the direction the new administration was taking.

“This is going to make it more difficult to develop the natural gas resources we need for our nation’s energy security,” she said. [emphasis added]

So what about this?

Drillers cutting back in Utah’s biggest gas field

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The frenzied pace of drilling in Utah’s biggest gas field, the Uinta Basin, has seen a big decline with falling petroleum prices and tight bank credit.

The number of rigs at work statewide is down to 23, half of the number as last August, according to figures the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining plans to release Wednesday.

Also, the number of gas wells completed in January was 63, down from 84 for the same month last year.

Most of Utah’s drilling activity takes place near Vernal in the Uinta Basin, where one player, Colorado-based Gasco Energy, says it called off an expensive experiment to do horizontal drilling, which can dramatically boost production.

Gasco cited declining prices for Rocky Mountain natural gas, which is hard to pipe out of the region.

You bet the oil companies want to tie up these leases, whether they develop them or not. Look at the thousands of leases for off-shore drilling they now own but have never developed. And still, they want more of those too. And they want to rip up the delicate Utah landscape for oilshale as well!

The oil companies are not interested in our security so much as their own profits. With oil prices so low, there will be no new development. The oil companies try to make themselves look like patriots in this debacle. Let’s not be deceived. It’s only about money.

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Why I Disrupted A Fraudulent Auction

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.

At this point it appears that I was successful in my attempts to disrupt this fraudulent auction. The federal officials who took me into custody said that I cost the oil companies in the room hundreds of thousands of dollars and prevented 22,500 acres of land from being sold for fossil fuel development. I had a very open conversation with the federal agents about my motivations and values. They were friendly, respectful, and somewhat sympathetic. Tim DeChristopher

What I did no doubt puts me at significant risk, including prison. But my future was already at significant risk. As we get closer and closer to the point of too late, we have less and less to lose from resisting. Accepting the true depth of the climate crisis is extremely scary, but the purpose of fear is to motivate us to action. Many of us have sat around countless times saying how much we needed someone to do something. If I am not willing to take a stand for my generation, then who will? This year I have come to terms with the idea that I might be my own best hope to defend my future. Hopefully all of us will realize that we are the ones we have been waiting for.

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