Target: Tim DeChristopher, independent environmental activist
Goal: Thank Tim DeChristopher for standing up to Washington and big businesses to protect the environment
Tim DeChristopher served two years in prison for interrupting a Bush administration auction of petroleum exploration and development rights in the state of Utah. The auction’s organizers were selling the rights to previously untouched public lands.
In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management held an auction to lease public lands for private enterprise. DeChristopher attended the auction and, through his bids, won over 22,000 acres of land rights, costing nearly $2 million. DeChristopher did not have the funds to pay for such a bid, but he refused to let the land be used for any exploitative purposes. By disrupting the bidding, he essentially succeeded in protecting the areas surrounding Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. DeChristopher then succeeded in actually raising the funds to pay for the land, but it was too late. He was prosecuted for his actions in July of 2011 and sentenced to two years in a federal prison. DeChristopher was forced to serve his full sentence, despite the fact that the Obama administration made the auction illegitimate two months after it took place.
Through his action, DeChristopher has shown that a single individual is capable of enacting social change where only major national environmental groups have previously succeeded. In an interview with social justice news source Democracy Now!, DeChristopher said those groups, although well-intentioned, are part of what he calls the “Washington bubble.” They must temper their social activism in order to get aid from those politicians in power. While this type of action on the part of major non-profit organizations is essential, DeChristopher has encouraged individual environmentalists to act independently for what they believe in.
To celebrate his recent release, DeChristopher’s activism group, Peaceful Uprising, will screen a documentary film about him called “Bidder 70.” Afterward, a “Q and A” with DeChristopher will be streamed live over the internet. Thank Tim DeChristopher for his bravery as an independent environmental activist.
Dear Mr. DeChristopher,
By bidding for public land at a US Bureau of Land Management auction in 2008, you not only diverted oil and gas tycoons from their purpose of exploitation, but you also brought attention to the environmental state of affairs in this county.
Now, upon your release, the citizens of the United States face another major battle with oil exploitation of our public lands. We need courageous independent activists like yourself to take the lead in fighting for the Earth. Thank you for giving them the courage to do so.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes via Flickr