If nationalists in Iraqi have Muntadar al-Zeidi, environmentalists in the United States have found Tim DeChristopher, 27. DeChristopher didn’t throw hiking boots recently to stop the controversial Bush lease-off of public lands for drilling. He used a bidding paddle. DeChristopher went to the bidding and intentionally drove up prices and actually bought 10 parcels for $1.8 million to protect thousands of acres of land near Utah’s national parks. The only problem is that he is short $1.8 million. Oil and gas people are now calling for his prosecution and rebidding to get the public lands at a steal at a new U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction. Being a “nuisance bidder” could now result in jail time.
Environmentalists like Robert Redford have been fighting to halt the Bush Administration’s effort to open up these lands to the extraction industries.
DeChristopher stated “I decided I could be much more effective by an act of civil disobedience. There comes a time to take a stand.” The Bush Administration has been working diligently to undermine environmental laws in the final days in office ranging from relieving power plants of the duty to remove carbon dioxide to gutting the endangered species act to giving away federal land to “drill, baby, drill.” DeChristopher’s action has made him a hero to environmentalists around the world, but it may land him in jail.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction covered 149,000 acres of public land in scenic southern and eastern Utah . DeChristopher joined protesters outside when a truly cunning idea came to him: why not go inside and bid? Obviously, Congress had failed to stop this practice despite democrats being in power. Obama just appointed as pro-extraction industry senator to be the next Interior Secretary. DeChristopher decided it was up to him.
Joining DeChristopher was a name who registered as Kent Boardman, of Salt Lake City,
His sacrifice, however, may put pressure on the Obama Administration to stop the lease off in February. He did so as bidder no. 70.
After DeChristopher’s arrest, BLM’s state deputy director for lands and minerals happily announced that they had caught a bogus bidder and that he was “on the hook to pay.” A woman working for the oil and gas industry screamed “Good, make them pay.” Well, at least someone will pay up — it certainly will not be these companies that move into pristine areas and extract a huge amount of valuable resources for a relatively tiny fee. They do, however, pay considerable contributions to Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
Some industry officials are calling for an investigation of environmental groups under a conspiracy theory, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) which was at the event and a SUWA officials are fingered by an industry type for speaking with DeChristopher. (They deny any coordination).
There is likely to be an investigation into fraud, conspiracy to defraud and other such charges. They would have to be submitted to a grand jury, but it is possible for the Bush Administration to get an indictment under the wire before January 20th.
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