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If the Government Shuts Down, Don't Worry: Federal Coal Auctions Will Go On

The Bureau of Land Management has assured coal barons that public land will be available to buy and plunder, government shutdown or no.

Last month, the Obama administration announced a massive expansion of coal mining in Wyoming, offering leases on four enormous tracts, totaling around 7,441 acres, of public land and containing an estimated 758 million tons of coal. The leases are supposed to be auctioned off over the next few months.

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Video: Bidder 70 Guilty, Watch His Rousing Speech from the Courthouse Steps Tim DeChristopher, Bidder 70, Found Guilty

Looking at ten years in federal prison for blocking bogus oil lease auctions, Tim DeChristopher gives a rousing speech on the steps of the courthouse.

Tim DeChristopher, aka Bidder 70 (intro here, all our past coverage here), the brave, inspiring young climate leader, was found guilty yesterday afternoon. Facing possibly ten years in federal prison, DeChristopher stopped and gave a rousing speech on the steps of the courthouse.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cae5Pr7CHgk

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Updated: Bidder 70: "The Path We're On Is Scarier Than Prison" Tim DeChristopher Trial: Bidder 70 Says "The Path We're On Is Scarier Than Prison"

Tim DeChristopher's trial is underway in Salt Lake City. Watch this great interview with a true climate hero.

[Updated with links to DeChristopher's testimony below.]

We've been following the story of Tim DeChristopher, aka Bidder 70, since he first disrupted a multi-million dollar Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction by simply walked in and bidding. His trial is currently underway in Salt Lake City. In my interview with him last year, DeChristopher brought up the Gandhian concept of "being the carbon tax."

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The Climate-crusading Highest Bidder

In late 2008, a multi-million dollar Bureau of Land Management land auction–one that was set to turn over hundreds of thousands of acres of...

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Help Tim DeChristopher

When Tim DeChristopher posed as a bidder in a federal land auction he saved thousands of untouched acres around Arches National Park. He also...

When Tim DeChristopher posed as a bidder in a federal land auction he saved thousands of untouched acres around Arches National Park. He also committed fraud, though, and his trial will start in March. Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and Terry Tempest Williams are organizing a "peaceful uprising" to coincide with Tim's trial in Salt Lake City. They see it as a potential turning point.

Here's their statement in full:
The epic fight to ward off global warming and transform the energy system that is at the core of our planet's economy takes many forms: huge global days of action, giant international conferences like the one that just failed in Copenhagen, small gestures in the homes of countless people.

But there are a few signal moments, and one comes next month, when the federal government puts Tim DeChristopher on trial in Salt Lake City. Tim-"Bidder 70"– pulled off one of the most creative protests against our runaway energy policy in years: he bid for the oil and gas leases on several parcels of federal land even though he had no money to pay for them, thus upending the auction. The government calls that "violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act" and thinks he should spend ten years in jail for the crime; we call it a noble act, a profound gesture made on behalf of all of us and of the future.

Tim's action drew national attention to the fact that the Bush Administration spent its dying days in office handing out a last round of favors to the oil and gas industry. After investigating irregularities in the auction, the Obama Administration took many of the leases off the table, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar criticizing the process as "a headlong rush." And yet that same Administration is choosing to prosecute the young man who blew the whistle on this corrupt process.

We cannot let this stand. When Tim disrupted the auction, he did so in the fine tradition of non-violent civil disobedience that changed so many unjust laws in this country's past. Tim's upcoming trial is an occasion to raise the alarm once more about the peril our planet faces. The situation is still fluid-the trial date has just been set, and local supporters are making plans for how to mark the three-day proceedings. But they are asking people around the country to flood into Salt Lake City in mid-March. If you come, there will be ample opportunity for both legal protest and civil disobedience. For example:

* Outside the courthouse, there will be a mock trial, with experts like NASA's Jim Hansen providing the facts that should be heard inside the chambers. We don't want Tim on trial-we want global warming on the stand.

*Demonstrators will be using the time-honored tactics of civil disobedience to make their voices heard outside the courthouse in an effort to prevent "business as usual"-it's business as usual that's wrecking the earth.

*There will be evening concerts and gatherings, including a "mini-summit" to share ideas on how the climate movement should proceed in the years ahead. This is a people's movement that draws power from around the globe; for a few days its headquarters will be Salt Lake City.

You can get the most up-to-date news at climatetrial.com, including schedules for non-violence training, and information about legal representation. If you're coming, bring not only your passion but also your creativity-we need lots of art and music to help make the point that we won't sit idly by while the government tries to scare the environmental movement into meek cooperation. This kind of trial is nothing but intimidation-and the best answers to intimidation are joy and resolve. That's what we'll need in Utah.

We know it's short notice. Some of us won't be able to make it to Utah because we have other commitments or are limiting travel, and if you're in the same situation, climatetrial.com will also have details of solidarity actions in other parts of the country. If you can contribute money to help make the week's events possible, click here. But more than your money we need your body, your brains, and your heart. In a landscape of little water, where redrock canyons rise upward like praying hands, we can offer our solidarity to the wild: wild lands and wild hearts. Tim DeChristopher deserves and needs our physical and spiritual support in the name of a just and vibrant community.

Thank you for standing with us,

Naomi Klein,

Bill McKibben,

Terry Tempest Williams

Dr. James Hansen

Apparently, Tim's legal team is going to try the "necessity defense," showing that he "acted to prevent an imminent harm greater than that caused by the protest." The defense is typically a long shot, but did work in the United Kingdom with the "Kingsnorth Six." More about the Tim's interesting legal strategy here.

Image from Deseret News.

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