By now you may have heard about my new hero, Tim DeChristopher: the University of Utah (my undergrad university!) student who threw a spanner into the works at the recent Bureau of Land Mismanagement oil and mineral lease auction for parcels surrounding Arches and Canyonlands national parks.
If you haven’t, here’s more or less what happened:
The BLM, under Bush’s direction on his way out the door, was holding an auction December 19th in Salt Lake City, trying to sell off chunks of our pristine national wilderness to people in the non-renewable fuel industries. This has made a lot of people very unhappy, myself included.
It seems my new hero decided to do more than protest in front of the building where the auctions were being held. In a brilliant bit of monkeywrenching, he entered the building and registered as an auction participant, then proceeded to bid on many of the parcels being auctioned off, driving up the prices of the leases and even winning a few of the auctions.
Of course, Mr. DeChristopher (which is very fun to say out loud – try it and see) has no money to pay for these parcels, and has been arrested for his actions. He may be charged with criminal fraud, earning himself a few years in jail.
He has said that if his actions are successful in saving that pristine wilderness, he’s willing to serve the time.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the auctions is tangled up in some legal maneuvering connected to Mr. DeChristopher’s court case.
According to Rachel Maddow, there’s supposed to be some sort of court hearing to resolve the whole mess on January 19th. It’s probably not a coincidence that that’s the day before Obama and his crew take over in D.C.
Still, I have high hopes for this. See, I’ve had my own experience before a Republican-appointed judge in the Federal District Court in Salt Lake City. And he ruled the right way (i.e., in favor of my friends and I in our civil rights-related case), rather than the way that would have been popular with local (read: Republican) leaders.
So there’s still a chance that that pristine wilderness will remain pristine, at least for a few more years.
And in the mean time, Hayduke Lives!