February 18th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
This is a story I think I’ve touched on in the past on here and surely one I will be covering continuously in the next month or so. It also inspires a ton of ideas in my head for where the environmental and climate action movement should be headed and where I think this blog, Planetsave, should go.
For now, though, let’s start with a little background:
Tim DeCristopher Disrupts Oil & Gas Leasing Process
Tim DeChristopher decided to disrupt “fraud against the American people and a threat to (his) future” in innovative peaceful direct action back in December of 2008.
“In December 2008, the Bush administration granted the oil and gas industry one last unethical auction in Utah, scurrying to lease out parcels of pristine red rock public lands for drilling and exploration,” Greenpeace writes.
“Exercising his inherent right to protest, Tim who was then a local college student, walked in the building, registered as bidder 70 and went up against Big Oil and friends. He soon outbid them—winning 14 parcels in a row and racking up over $1.7 million worth of land! When asked to step aside by security, Tim made it very clear that he was there to stop the auction and was promptly escorted out.”
Within a couple months, the then-new Obama administration determined that the auction was illegitimate because it was conducted improperly.
Tim DeChristopher Charged with Two Counts of Felony
DeChristopher was not let off the hook, though. He was indicted on two counts of felony and could face up to 10 years in prison.
“The charges include violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform act and misrepresenting his intentions upon registering to bid, since he had no intent to either pay or drill.”
DeChristopher intended to plead not guilty under defense of “necessity,” contending that he took these steps to stop runaway climate change that threatens the lives of millions and is not being adequately addressed. Greenpeace activists in the UK got off the hook from the jury after shutting down a coal-fired power plant in 2008 based on this legal strategy. Leading climate scientist James Hansen and other experts testified on behalf of those activists in that case.
However, this is the U.S. — this option has been denied, and “the jury has been stripped of its right to hear all of the relevant, scientific facts in order to draw their own independent conclusion.”
The oil and gas companies are still not being penalized but Tim DeChristopher might be.
Tim DeChristopher & Peaceful Uprising Looking for Our Support
Peaceful Uprising, a collective Tim co-founded, invites you to attend a mass convergence in Salt Lake City it is organizing for an Empowerment Summit (February 25-27th, 2011) and then requests you stand in solidarity with Tim during his trial (which starts on February 28th, 2011). If you can make it, that is one great way to show your support for Tim and engaged in needed direct action around the topic of climate change.
If you can’t make it, here are some other ideas from Greenpeace:
— hosting a solidarity action locally,
— donating to their valiant efforts, or
— doing all of the above.
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