Bidder 70: Tim DeChristopher’s Peaceful Uprising
"Bidder 70" tells the story of Tim DeChristopher and his stunning act of civil disobedience in a time of global climate chaos. On December 19, 2008, DeChristopher, as Bidder #70, derailed the Bush administration's last minute, widely disputed federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Oil and Gas lease auction, acting to safeguard thousands of acres of Utah land. Bidding $1.7 million, Tim won 22,000 acres of land with no intention to pay or drill. For his disruption of the auction, DeChristopher was indicted on two federal charges. Tim's civil disobedience has drawn national attention to America's energy policy and criticism to the BLM's management of public lands. Refusing to compromise his principles and rejecting numerous plea offers by the prosecution, Tim is willing to sacrifice his own future to bring this vitally important issue to global attention. Bidder 70 is Tim's story: his actions, his trial and his possible prison sentence.* It is also the story of the scientists, activists, writers, and movements that influence and support his actions.
Recognizing that environmental conditions are inextricably linked to the realization of essential human rights—including the rights to life and health—Human Rights Watch documents and exposes the human rights implications of environmental degradation. Human Rights Watch has succeeded in bringing environment-related human rights violations to light, and has pressed decision-makers to amend abusive policies and practices. Human Rights Watch also monitors and documents repressive measures that governments take to address the social and economic consequences of environmental abuse, including brutal tactics they employ in resource-rich countries to quash local community protests against companies accused of environmental degradation.
Since the release of Bidder 70, DeChristopher served two years in federal prison, and was released on April 21, 2013, the eve of Earth Day. He's already been busy speaking to comrades and supporters, and DeChristopher sat down with Alexander Zaitchik of Rolling Stone magazine on Earth Day to talk about his time served and the future of the climate movement.
Looking ahead at the climate movement, DeChristopher said:
I certainly think the climate movement is going to get more aggressive. There's been a tremendous amount of movement in the past few years. And with changes like the Sierra Club completely overhauling the way they were operating [in terms of civil disobedience] – that's a massive shift, and I think those changes will continue. And I think there will also be more kind of bottom-up actions in the future. More things like the tar sands blockade in Texas, things that are not necessarily done by big organizations saying, "This is what you need to do and this is how you're going to do it." The grassroots side of the movement is really stepping up in a big way, and that's been the big shift since 2009. The grassroots side is no longer willing to limit themselves to the directions given by the big green groups and the Washington-centric side of the movement. The big green groups failed horribly in 2009 with the Waxman-Markey bill. Up until that time, they kind of kept everyone in check by saying, "We know how change happens, we know how to do things in Washington. This is what's politically feasible." And they fell on their face. Now a lot of folks are saying, "Well, we tried it your way. Now we're going to do it our way."
Read the rest of the interview at Rolling Stone.