Terry Tempest Williams on Tim’s Potential Sentence

I appreciated reading Bill McKibben’s op-ed, “Tim DeChristopher and the Feds.”  It was an important piece of journalism written by an outside voice with an inside knowledge of the severity of climate change and where we find ourselves in relationship to a fossil fuels. That one student, Tim DeChristopher, challenged the cozy relationship between industry and government is something we should all be proud of as both Utahns and Americans.

Lands were being sold for $2.00 and $4.00 an acre adjacent to Arches National Park for oil exploration. DeChristopher’s  act of civil disobedience woke us up to what corruption looks like between the oil and gas industry and the Utah BLM office. Who benefits?  Certainly not the American people.  Certainly not, future generations. To think that a young man in an act of conscience might spend ten years, five years, one year in a federal prison for raising a paddle in an already illegal sale of oil and gas leases,  compared to  the CEO of BP or the financial wizards on Wall Street who have pocketed millions of dollars at our expense who will never  step into a court of law to even get their hands slapped, let alone go to jail, is an assault on democracy.

Tim DeChristopher broke the law knowingly. He is willing to face the consequences, but  let those consequences be thoughtfully rendered by the court when delivered by Judge Benson tomorrow. Let DeChristopher’s sentence not be a vindictive act but a restorative act, a sentence that might include substantive conversation and action between Tim and the BLM that includes community service and work on the land.

And may Judge Benson not fall prey to the pressures of industry to make an example  of this brave individual who stood up to  the residual oil and gas cronyism of the Bush-Cheney administration.  This kind of politics on the bench will only further fuel the political divide that is destroying our nation.  The only example to be made is a creative sentence for a creative individual who has moved the conversation forward, “How shall we live?” Our public lands are our public commons, crucial to ecological integrity and our cultural imagination in the midst of climate change.

Terry Tempest WilliamsTerry Tempest Williams Castle Valley, Utah.