Saturday, February 28, 2009

America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, take 17

America's Red Rock Wilderness Act is about to take center stage again. SUWA provides several links and general information about the act, which has been floating around for some time now. It has been nurtured by several fierce and tenacious political advocates, and of course many unknown people just like you and me.

The current administration, far more friendly to our lands than the last joke (uh, I mean administration), shows convincing signs of being very receptive to the passage of this act. As the SUWA page says, "The 111th Congress represents a real opportunity to gather the support and momentum needed to hold congressional hearings and ultimately pass America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act." That is a refreshing thought that certainly causes hope to beat wildly in my chest.

Wilderness At the Edge: A Citizen Proposal to Protect Utah's Canyons and Deserts was published years ago in an attempt to represent enormous concerned citizen effort to raise awareness--and save the red rock lands they loved. The message got through to some people in power, and those people still champion the need to protect and preserve these lands.
Take a moment. Contact your representatives (see this link for information on how to do that) and share your voice with them. Remember: if the people we chose to represent us do not hear our voices, they can't fight for what we want.


Robin Road said...

Student is charged with obstructing Utah land auction
He says his false bids on oil and gas parcels were acts of civil disobedience against the exploitation of public sites. The two felony charges carry up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
Associated Press
April 2, 2009

Salt Lake City -- A college student was charged with two federal felonies Wednesday for what he contends were acts of civil disobedience -- making false bids to run up auction prices on oil and gas parcels on public land near Utah's national parks.

At the Dec. 19 lease sale, Tim DeChristopher grabbed a bidder's paddle, drove up prices and won 22,000 acres of land for $1.79 million, an amount he later said he didn't have the means or intention to pay.

DeChristopher "repeatedly said he intended to disrupt the lease-bidding process," U.S. Atty. Brett Tolman said in announcing the charges. "Today's indictment is our answer to his decision."

A grand jury charged DeChristopher with one count of interfering with a federal auction and one count of making false representations at an auction, Tolman said. The penalty could range from no punishment to a combined sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.

DeChristopher, 27, a University of Utah economics student, will be issued a summons to appear in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. No arraignment date has been set.

He isn't affiliated with any major environmental group but has said that he infiltrated the auction as a protest. He made no apologies Wednesday for obstructing the lease of land in Utah's red-rock country.

"This auction was a fraud against the American people and a threat to our future," DeChristopher said. "My motivation to act came against the exploitation of public lands, the lack of a transparent and participatory government and the imminent danger of climate change."

One of his lawyers, Patrick Shea, said prosecutors hinted weeks ago that the case could be settled with a misdemeanor plea bargain instead of a felony punishable by prison time.

"Nobody was hurt. No property was destroyed," Shea said.

The auction was already being challenged by environmental groups, who won a court stay on the sale of some parcels. Weeks later, new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rescinded 77 of the leases, saying they were too close to national parks and never should have gone up for sale under the Bush administration.

The defense contends that DeChristopher caused no financial harm to the government or legitimate bidders, but at least one bidder disputes that.

"We are angry," said Daniel Gunnell, managing partner of Twilight Resources of Orem, Utah, who said he lost parcels when Salazar rescinded them and paid extra for other parcels when DeChristopher ran up bids.

"Tim DeChristopher is a guy who walked in the auction without a penny and cost our company $600,000," Gunnell said.

Julie Trevelyan said...

Thanks for the link, Chris. Sure makes one wonder, no? Once again, it's all about money versus what really matters. So one man stands up for what he and thousands, if not millions, of others believe in, a big company takes a financial hit, and the man might be punished with jail time?

Boggles the mind. It will be very interesting to keep an eye on this case...sadly enough. I'm still rooting for Tim DeChristopher!

Robin Road said...

Its amazing to think that he might be facing jail time.

The following quote, "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rescinded 77 of the leases, saying they were too close to national parks and never should have gone up for sale under the Bush administration."

Does this mean that the Bush administration was illegally putting these lands up for sale? I already know the answer to that one! But lets imprison a young guy trying to "do the right thing" and ignore those in political offices who indiscriminately ruin our lands while they have cocktails in high rise opulent suites....

Oi...What a way to start off the day....Sad