As you may or may not recall, on election day, the BLM announced that they would sell new oil and gas leases (Drill Baby Drill) for land parcels totaling 360,000 acres here in Utah. Many of these parcels surround such notable places as Arches National Park and Canyonlands and historic Nine-Mile Canyon.
While some on this site said "good- the mormons deserve it" many here and elsewhere saw it as an important issue and with law suits, petitions, statements from the Obama administration to be, and the help of the irate National Park Service, the BLM withdrew many of the more contested parcels and yesterday, ONLY 149,000 acres of land belonging to you, me, and Edward Abbey went up for auction.
And a lone man may go to jail for disrupting the sale of key parcels that are closest to some of our national treasures. And I for one, say, "thank you" to Tim DeChristopher.
Civil disobedience lives. Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, went to the pre-auction protest, and then registered to participate in the auction. And he won! 10 parcels, totaling 1.8 million dollars. Dollars that he doesn't have. He also apparently drove up the price, by $500,000, of many other parcels as well.
While the OND last night mentioned the story OND, i wanted to diary it also, because the outcome of this lone act will be to stall the whole process. Maybe even till after a key date in American history: January 21, 2009.
From the Salt Lake Trib we have this
a University of Utah student just as surely monkey-wrenched a federal oil- and gas-lease sale Friday, ensuring that thousands of acres near two southern Utah national parks won't be opened to drilling anytime soon.
Tim DeChristopher, 27, faces possible federal charges after winning bids totaling about $1.8 million on more than 10 lease parcels that he admits he has neither the intention nor the money to buy -- and he's not sorry.
"I decided I could be much more effective by an act of civil disobedience," he said during an impromptu streetside news conference during an afternoon blizzard. "There comes a time to take a stand."
And take a stand Tim did! He now may face federal charges for disrupting the sale. By the time things had been figured out, many of the "legitimate" rapers and drillers of our public land had left the auction. Therefore, the BLM did not put those parcels back on the block and determined that the 10 parcels Tim won, that are apparently surrounding Arches and Canyonlands, would not go out for auction until the next scheduled auction in February.
BLM official Terry Catlin said the agency didn't want to reopen the bidding on the parcels DeChristopher snagged unless all interested parties were able to compete for the leases. That means the parcels won't be available again until at least February -- after Obama takes office -- during the next scheduled auction.
So of course, that is after the inauguration (YAY OBAMA!) and John Podesta has said of this issue that Obama says NO
"They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they're going to try to do right as they - walking out the door. I think that's a mistake," Podesta said.
So we don't yet know the fate of Tim DeChristopher, but I will follow this story closely and if it seems he needs help, I for one will see what I can do.
Here is also a link to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance website, where full details of the parcels available and other info on actions to take can be found. SUWA
So next time my family goes camping near Arches and Canyonlands, I will stop for a moment, listen to the silence, and thank Tim again for what he has done for me, my family, and cryptobiotic soil.
I wish I could now stick in a whole lot of cool photos, but i just haven't gotten that far in my diary writing skills. I'm hoping commenters will help me out in this regard. And as a disclaimer, I did several searches and could find no other diaries about Tim. I will delete if so asked!