Saturday, December 27, 2008

If you want to beat them, join them

Here's an inspirational story.

One Man’s Bid to Aid the Environment

Tim DeChristopher is an economics student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He had just finished his last final exam before winter break. One of the exam questions was: If the oil and gas companies are the only ones that bid on public lands, are the true costs of oil and gas exploitation reflected in the prices paid?

DeChristopher was inspired. He finished the exam, threw on his red parka and went off to the Bureau of Land Management land auction that the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance called "the Bush administration's last great gift to the oil and gas industry." Instead of joining the protest outside, he registered as a bidder, then bought 22,000 acres of public land. That is, he successfully bid on the public properties, located near the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument, and other pristine areas. The price tag: more than $1.7 million.

He told me: "Once I started buying up every parcel, they understood pretty clearly what was going on ... they stopped the auction, and some federal agents came in and took me out. I guess there was a lot of chaos, and they didn't really know how to proceed at that point."
His actions appear to have held off the sell off of these pristine wilderness lands.
His disruption of the auction has temporarily blocked the Bush-enabled land grab by the oil and gas industries. If DeChristopher can come up with $45,000 by Dec. 29, he can make the first payment on the land, possibly avoiding any claim of fraud. If the BLM opts to re-auction the land, it can't happen until after the Obama administration takes over.
There's now a campaign in place by to try and raise the needed funds and to cover any legal expenses that may be incurred.

Here's a blog post from DeChristopher dated Boxing Day.
The tremendous outpouring of support which I have received in response to disrupting the BLM’s oil sale has been overwhelming for me. I can only assume that the thanks many of you have offered is not thanks for doing what you won’t, but thanks for awakening your own sense of efficacy. My actions were just the striking of the match head. The purpose of a match is not to light the world by its own flame, but to ignite the tinder and kindling which keeps the fire going. If my act is to be relevant, it must ignite the tinder of grassroots uprising which will burn the fires of change around the world.

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