Young Activist Faces 10 Years in Prison After Trying to Save Public Lands From Oil and Gas Companies

From Alternet:

Tim DeChristopher has been indicted on felony charges for bidding in a BLM auction on land he did not have the money to pay for. His trial is set to begin soon.

By Tina Gerhardt

February 9, 2011

On Friday, December 19, 2008, Tim DeChristopher participated in a public auction. As the Bush administration moved to auction off 77 parcels of federal land totaling 150,000 acres for oil and gas drilling, DeChristopher, a student at the University of Utah at the time, bid $1.7 million for 14 parcels totaling 22,000 acres of land, although he did not have the funds to pay for it.

A federal grand jury indicted him at the behest of the Bureau of Land Management, which was selling the land. He was arrested that day and charged in April 2009 with two counts of felony: 1) making a false statement to the federal government; and 2) violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act, which establishes a competitive bidding process for oil and gas leases.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $75,000 fine. His legal defense team is Patrick Shea and Ronald J. Yengrich. His trial is currently set for Monday, February 28, 2011.

Last year, Dr. James Hansen, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Robert Redford and Terry T. Williams wrote an open letter that was widely circulated in support of TimDeChristopher’s “creative protest against runaway energy policy.”

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Tim DeChristopher and ask him about his upcoming trial.

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