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Climate Activist Vows Fossil-Fuel Resistance

Linh Do
Via Flickr Creative Commons
Tim DeChristopher is reemerging as the face of climate change activism after serving 21 months in federal prison for disrupting a Utah oil and gas lease sale.

Critics of the Obama administration’s climate change policies gathered Tuesday in Washington, D.C., across the street from the White House. 

One of them was Tim DeChristopher, who says it's time to take a harder line.

The climate activist stepped up to the podium to deliver a message from fellow critics around the country. He says the Obama administration should stop allowing industry to extract oil and gas from public lands. Instead fossil fuels should be left in the ground because of the climate crisis.

“I pretty much gave notice today that the days of un-resisted fossil fuel development are over,” he said in a telephone interview with KUER. “From this point on, every point in the process of fossil fuel development will be resisted by this growing movement around the country.”

DeChristopher served 21 months in federal prison for what he calls an act of civil disobedience -- bidding on oil and gas leases on public land in Utah’s redrock country to thwart drilling. He’s on probation through April, but he’s just launched a new support organization for activists called the Climate Disobedience Center.

Lauren Wood, a Utah river guide and member of Peaceful Uprising, also spoke to the gathering Tuesday. She says decision makers fail to see that drilling on public lands already threatens invaluable resources like Colorado River water.

“This issue of keeping fossil fuels in the ground isn’t about some abstract far, distant, climate-change-related issue,” she said. “But we’re actually seeing those effects on the drainage right here and now.”

Wood and DeChristopher planned to deliver a letter outlining their concerns to the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Interior Department. It’s signed by 400 environmental groups and activists.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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