On Dec. 19, 2008, a 27-year-old man named Tim DeChristopher, troubled by American energy policy and its contribution to global warming, broke the law.
He did so by attending a federal auction in Utah, where energy developers were bidding on parcels of Utah wildland that the Bush administration had made available for oil and gas development. DeChristopher bid aggressively, driving up the price of some parcels and winning 14 of his own -- some 22,000 acres in all -- to the tune of $1.8 million. He had no means to pay.
"I understand that prison is a very horrible place," DeChristopher told me last fall, when I had a chance to sit down with him for a lengthy interview. "But I've been scared for my future for a long time. (Read more...)