Several years back an economics major from the University of Utah bid on (and won) $1.8 million worth of oil and gas leases. However, he had no intention of ever paying for them. This was Tim DeChristopher’s way of protesting the gas and oil usage in favor of a more energy efficient and sustainable option. According to the Peaceful Uprising website, shortly after it was discovered that DeChristopher was not going to pay for the leases, “they were cancelled by Interior Secretary Salazar. The revoked parcels were subsequently broken up into three categories: parcels appropriate for future auction since they are surrounded by existing oil development, those never appropriate for future auction, because of their wilderness value, and those requiring further consideration to determine the appropriateness of drilling.
After being evaluated by Secretary Salazar, only 29 of the 116 parcels up for auction went through. Most of them were permanently dismissed; a handful of the parcels warranted further evaluation.”
This result is also due to the work of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance who had been raising red flags and working on lawsuits against the selling of the leases at the same time as DeChristopher.
DeChristopher was charged with two felonies related to the disruption of the auction. He was tried and found guilty on March 3rd, 2011.
However, even in the face of jail, he leaves the public with an inspiring message. The message focused on the importance of supporting each other and not allowing anyone to feel as though they are facing challenges alone. DeChristopher described his experience during the trial: ” Everything that went on inside that building tried to convince me that I was alone, and that I was weak. Inside that building, they tried to convince me that I was a little finger out there on my own that could easily be broken. All of you out here were the reminder, for all of us, that I wasn’t just a finger all alone in there, but that i was connected to a hand, with many fingers, that can unite as one fist, and that fist cannot be broken by the power that they have in there.”
Sustainble1000 has been following the trial throughout and was able to get an interview with DeChristopher. This has been a very important trial for protesters everywhere. While the result was not ideal, it is true, as DeChristopher stated after his verdict, that “We know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know that now that’s reality, but that’s just the job I have to do. That’s the role that I face, and many before me have gone to jail for justice. If we’re going to keep our vision, many after me will have to join me as well. Nobody ever told us that this battle would be easy. Nobody ever told us that we wouldn’t have to make sacrifices. We knew that when we started this fight.”
Just because this trial has been decided, we hope that protesters and the people of the world do not forget to fight for what they believe. And in fighting will find companions who will stand beside them in the face of challenge and work until what is right has been done.