As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Power Of One Man

This activist Tim DeChristopher, who bidded up parcels of land sought by oil and gas interests for drilling is really a hero. I guess the Bureau of Land Management was all upset because an auction broke out at their nice little auction.

The process was thrown into chaos and the bidding halted for a time before the auction was closed, with 116 parcels totaling 148,598 acres having sold for $7.2 million plus fees.

"He's tainted the entire auction," said Kent Hoffman, deputy state director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Utah.

Hoffman said buyers will have 10 days to reconsider and withdraw their bids if they think they paid too much.

Huh? Paid TOO MUCH? If a buyer is paying millions of dollars for oil-rich land, they obviously think it's worth it. What DeChristopher did was prove that the BLM was giving away federal land, basically owned by the taxpayers, to noncompetitive interests at obscenely low rates, and that the bidders would clearly pay more if forced. I thought these capitalists believed in the free market?

Now, DeChristopher did win some auctions, about 22,500 acres' worth, and he fully intends not to pay. Then again, this is hardly different from the oil companies who buy up these lands with no intention of using them, just to pad their stock price. The oil companies get enough tax breaks to cancel out their below-market payments for the land, and it merely becomes an asset in their list of oil reserves. It's the same thing.

Selma Sierra, who heads the BLM in Utah, said only 6 percent of lease parcels would ever see drilling because of the "costly and speculative" nature of the business. The federal government also typically imposes environmental safeguards on drilling parcels, Sierra said.

In other words, "Drill here, drill now" is a fiction. Thanks to this BLM official for making it so clear.

Considering how rapidly we're experiencing the effects of climate change, and considering how long this oil company racket has lasted without anyone inside or outside the government stepping up, I'd call this perfectly justified. Not only should the government drop charges against DeChristopher, they should thank him for resetting the market. And activists can learn a lot from the creativity of this guy.

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