News Release

Environmentalist Faces 10 Years for Bids to Stop Drilling


AP reports today: “Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher knew what he was doing when he made $1.8 million in false oil and gas drilling bids at a federal auction. He knew he couldn’t possibly pay for them. And he knew he could end up behind bars.

“But he did it for the cause. On Thursday, a federal jury convicted him on two felony counts of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $750,000 at his June 23 sentencing. …

“A University of Utah economics student at the time of the bids, DeChristopher offered to cover the bill with an Internet fundraising campaign, but the government refused to accept any of the money.

“DeChristopher testified during the trial that he didn’t intend to actually bid on the leases but decided during the auction that he wanted to delay the sale so the new Obama administration could reconsider the move.

“A federal judge later blocked many of the leases from being issued.

“Fellow environmentalists and supporters have made DeChristopher a folk hero of the movement, insisting he was standing up to a federal agency that violated environmental laws by holding the auction in the first place.”

TIM DeCHRISTOPHER, via Flora Bernard
DeChristopher is available for a limited number of interviews. In an interview this morning with Democracy Now, he states that he was not allowed to tell the jury that he was able to raise the money for the bids or that the government ultimately blocked most of the leases.

He made a statement after the verdict: “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.” Video

Jarvis is web editor of YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization whose coverage includes grassroots responses to global climate disruption. She interviewed DeChristopher about the potential impact of civil disobedience for environmental activism. During the trial, the YES! interview was cited by the prosecution.

The interview with Jarvis is available here: Part 1, Part 2

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167