On December 19 Utah resident Tim DeChristopher took creative and effective action to disrupt an auction that was selling off oil and gas leases on hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in Utah. As around 100 concerned citizens rallied outside opposing the opening up of wilderness areas to the oil and gas industry, Tim entered the auction and started bidding. Time and again he outbid the speculators, and when he failed to outbid them he managed to drive the price way up. According to local news reports he “caused chaos” in the auction room, costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and prevented 22,500 acres of land from being developed for fossil fuel extraction (at least for the time being). Tim’s actions were extremely effective at throwing a wrench in the works of the oil and gas industry and he is to be applauded.
Unfortunately federal agents were not as sympathetic and detained Tim for a couple of hours. He may be facing federal charges in which case he will need our support. You can follow the link below to donate to his legal defense.
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. (editors note. It is never a good idea to talk to federal agents or any police. Always ask to speak to a lawyer before answering questions from police)
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.