Student May Face Fed Charges for Fake Drilling Bids

Activist infiltrated auction, won 22,000 acres of federal land at auction in protest
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jan 12, 2009 4:40 AM CST

(Newser) – A Utah college activist may face federal charges and jail for making bids he can't afford on scenic tracts in a federal drilling auction last month, the Washington Post reports. Economics student Tim DeChristopher wielded his red auction paddle 13 times to snag $1.8 million in property before federal agents led him from the room. The  Bush administration auctions have continued unabated despite fiery protests from environmentalists.

"If worse came to worse, I'd go to jail," DeChristopher explained. "But I didn't want to live with seeing all the disastrous effects of climate change." An internet site has raised $45,000 to help DeChristopher put a hold on the 22,000 acres. The US Attorney's Office has not elaborated on possible charges. But DeChristopher's lawyer—who headed the land auctioning bureau under President Clinton—is trying to sway prosecutors to view his actions as political, not criminal.