Tag Archive: Tim DeChristopher

Apr 22 2013

Earth Day 2013: Bidder #70

Today is Earth Day and the fight to protect our environment continues with a focus on global climate change, stopping fracking and the KeystoneXL pipeline that will carry the dirtiest oil on earth across the US. One of the heroes of the fight against the oil industries’ zeal to drill for oil on public lands, is environmental activist Tim DeChristopher has been released from custody after serving 21 months in federal prison.

DeChristopher was arrested after an attempt to buy more than 22,000 acres of land in a 2008 oil and gas lease auction. His act of civil disobedience (done while he was still enrolled at the University of Utah) led to charges of making false statements and violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. He was sentenced to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The auction was later negated and leases revoked after the Obama administration found that the land should have never even gone up for sale.

His trial lasted for over two years and his lawyers weren’t allowed to use a defense that his actions were a lesser evil than allowing for oil and gas development and environmental harm. [..]

A documentary about his trial, “Bidder 70,” will be screened around the country on Monday in celebration of Earth Day. DeChristopher will make his first public appearance at a screening and Q-and-A in Salt Lake City, which will be streamed over the Internet at 9 p.m. EDT on April 22.

Tim was interviewed today by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now

In a Democracy Now! exclusive on Earth Day, climate change activist Tim DeChristopher joins us for his first interview since being released from federal custody after serving 21 months in detention. DeChristopher was convicted of interfering with a 2008 public auction when he disrupted the Bush administration’s last-minute move to sell off oil and gas exploitation rights in Utah. He posed as a bidder and won drilling lease rights to 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from oil and gas extraction. The auction itself was later overturned and declared illegal, a fact that DeChristopher’s defense attorneys were prevented from telling the jury. His case is the subject of the documentary, “Bidder 70,” which will screen all over the country today to mark his release and Earth Day. The founder of the climate justice group Peaceful Uprising, Tim DeChristopher joins us to discuss his ordeal, his newfound freedom, and his plans to continue his activism in the climate justice movement.

Transcript can be read here.

Jul 27 2011

Eco-Activist Bidder #70 Gets 2 Years In Jail

US eco-activist jailed for two years

Campaigners denounce sentence of ‘hero’ Tim DeChristopher for disrupting oil and gas industry auction as excessive

Tim DeChristopher was immediately ordered into custody, and fined $10,000. He had been facing a potential sentence of up to 10 years and a $750,000 fine.

snip

As Bidder No 70, DeChristopher disrupted what was seen as a last giveaway to the oil and gas industry by the Bush administration by bidding $1.8m (£1.1m) he did not have for the right to drill in remote areas of Utah. He was convicted of defrauding the government last March.

In a phone conversation with The Guardian, a day ahead of sentencing, he said he was expecting jail time: “I do think I will serve some time in prison. That is what I think will be the next chapter in my life.”

DeChristopher’s lawyers had argued that his actions in December 2008 were a one-off, and that the judge should show leniency. They argued DeChristopher had not intended to cause harm.

However, Judge Dee Benson said DeChristopher’s political beliefs did not excuse his actions.

Is this justice? Chris in Paris at AMERICAblog thinks this sentence raises questions about the fairness of criminal justice system considering the slap on the wrist the Wall St., Haliburton, and the oil and gas industries have received. DeChristopher, in an opinion article at Common Dreams, asks not for mercy but that we stand with him to protect the environment and our right to challenge the government through non-violent protest.

I’m not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me.  If you side with Mr Huber (the prosecuting US Attorney) and believe that your role is to discourage citizens from holding their government accountable, then you should follow his recommendations and lock me away.  I certainly don’t want that.  I have no desire to go to prison, and any assertion that I want to be even a temporary martyr is false.  I want you to join me in standing up for the right and responsibility of citizens to challenge their government.  I want you to join me in valuing this country’s rich history of nonviolent civil disobedience.  If you share those values but think my tactics are mistaken, you have the power to redirect them.  You can sentence me to a wide range of community service efforts that would point my commitment to a healthy and just world down a different path.  You can have me work with troubled teens, as I spent most of my career doing.  You can have me help disadvantaged communities or even just pull weeds for the BLM.  You can steer that commitment if you agree with it, but you can’t kill it.  This is not going away.   At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like.  In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like.  With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow.  The choice you are making today is what side are you on.