In a brazen affront to the Bush administration's continuing assaults on the environment which seem to escalate in intensity as the administration goes into the final throes of death, a few weeks ago Tim DeChristopher in an act of administrative civil disobedience courageously disrupted the auction of some of the West's spectacularly pristine federally-owned lands in Utah for oil and gas exploration. These leases, which had been in the works for several years, were only recently sent to the responsible BLM official's for immediate action. Sound familiar?
Former BLM (U.S. Bureau of Land Management) head Pat Shea is spearheading Tim's defense. Part one was to raise the intial $45,000 payment on the leases Tim won at the auction. Friday Mr. DeChristopher announced this goal has now been met. The government may or may not accept the payment. As the prosecutor has yet to file charges, it uncertain how aggressive the government will be in prosecuting their case against him. According to Mr. Shea, the prosecution is wrestling with two options; this between the hawks, those who would like to seek the maximum sentence and attempt to make an example of Mr. DeChristopher (with the strong support of the established energy interests), and the doves, (especially the BLM) who are somewhat sympathetic to Tim's position and would prefer to see his sentence in the form of community service, assisting with EIS studies (Environmental Impact Statements) for example.
Noticeably lacking has been any show of support for Tim from established environmental organizations. Tim observed, "how much big enviros are uncomfortable with grass roots and do not support it. Their position is to let the professionals handle this (they being the professionals). A key part of their model is for us to allow them to lead and when all of us do these actions it seems to threaten them". In fact some such as the Sierra Club, actively oppose grass roots actions and protest.
For several years now, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with traditional environmental organizations such as The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, Oxfam, and The Natural Resources Defense Council to name a few of the more prominent ones. The entire environmental movement has come under increasing fire for what many see as a broad based failure to provide greater changes in human activity which is known to have negative consequences for the global environment and life support systems of the planet. Deforestation, chemical pollution in the world's oceans, biological diversity, species extinction, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at ever more alarming rates with increasingly serious impacts, all of which are detrimental to life on Earth as we know it. While the threats to the Earth's ecosystem accelerate and feedback mechanisms and climate forcing mechanisms kick in far sooner than even worse-case scenarios forecast even twelve months ago, very little has been accomplished to stabilize much less reverse anthropogenic causes of environmental degradation. Established environmental groups and NGOs while working with both the government and private sectors have made some significant achievements yet they have proven themselves to be unable to bring about the large scale pivotal sea changes in government, industry, and culture necessary to effectively address these issues and it is global warming which has become the signal event. Consequently, the debate has shifted from which organization to support to how to achieve real change in a system which has proven so effective at protecting vested interests and neutralizing opposition.
Al Gore, James Hansen, Pat Shea, and numerous others have all issued the call for vastly increased peaceful civil disobedience to force real change in government and corporate environmental policy. Mr. DeChristopher is the most recent to answer the call and has inspired people across the globe by his courage and tenacity. To voice your support for Tim DeChristopher or assist with his legal defense go to Bidder70.org .
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