Three days after Tim's spontaneous and genuis decision disrupt the land auction, Rachel Maddow almost had Tim on, but then instead, interviewed Trip Nolen whose EarthJustice has been fighting the same deal in court. Trip has nothing good to say about civil disobedience, or what Tim did.
In response to the interview, a OneUtah author asks: "Is Tim making the big Washington-based enviro groups nervous?"
Maddow: This young man from the UofU deciding essentially to sabotage the auction, I know that has not been the tactic that your law firm has chosen to fight this sort of thing ... . What do you make of his tactics, of his actions.
Noppen: ...We think that there is a remedy for this in the courts. I do understand that civil disobedience has had a place in history at times when the law won't work. We actually think in this case the Bush administration is violating the law and the court will remedy it and so we're in court to stop it.
It was generous of Trip Nolen to concede that there is 'a place for civil disobedience...when the law won't work,' unfortunately, Earthjustice, NRDC and all the lawyers in the world represent at best, a few symbolic successes against the wholesale violation of environmental law, the destruction of habitat, and the poisoning of our air and water by industry.
And unfortunately, the cases they do choose, are just the ones with the highest likelyhood of drawing media attention and ones for which they can raise lots of money.
If Noppen means it when he says, "there is a place for civil disobedience when the law doesn't work" then I would say every day and every place is a 'place' for civil disobedience. Lets be honest, in this case, EarthJustice (Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) was not successful in stopping the lease of tens of thousands of acres.
Though the expensive attempt produced some marginal wins on technical grounds, but virtually no affect on preventing Bush from giving away a huge chunk of 'The Farm' to his best buddies. May Tim's 'tactics' be found in the mainstream of 'tactics' to save our lives.
So, SHOULD the enviro groups be nervous that one guy acting alone with no budget, in one afternoon, saved more land from government subsidized than they might in any given month? Heck ya!
5 CommentsAdd Comment
Julianne Waters wrote:
I was saddened by the response that Earth Justice gave to what can only be referred to as pure civil disobedience. To Poo-Poo it the way they did, only proves what I believe, the Big Greens are too big for their pants and have forgotten their roots. Tim DeChristopher is Everyman, standing up for All of us. We must continue what has been started and not let the fanfare about this go away!December 23, 2008 | 7:10 pm
Richard Warnick wrote:
At this point, it appears that Tim saved 22,000 acres of wildlands from oil and gas leasing-- possibly for the foreseeable future, assuming that the BLM won't be allowed to auction them again after Barack Obama takes office January 20. I wonder how that compares to the track record of EarthJustice or any other group in Utah this year.December 31, 2008 | 10:23 pm
Brian Foley wrote:
OK, two things. First - of course groups like Earth Justice don't approve of direct action as they are staffed with opportunistic, career minded lawyers rather than fervent, earnest & pragmatic souls such as Tim D. who care about the planet more than the government. At least it sounds that way in this case. Second - Mr. Lyon, according to the above, you misquote Van Noppen out of context then make an assumption from that misquote. (changing "civil disobedience has had a place in history at times when the law won't work" to "there is a place for civil disobedience when the law doesn't work"). Sloppy. Just plain sloppy. Be that as it may, I'm going to donate $50 (which is more than I can afford) right now to help buy that land. Thank you Tim for doing what you did - you ROCK!January 3, 2009 | 9:38 pm
peter sanders wrote:
People, The essence of our legal system is one's intent. If someone commits an act of civil disobedience in response to a government act of questionable authority, namely, the auctioning of public lands for private use, then that act must be weighed against the intent of the government. If Tim DeChristopher is found to be guilty of 'disruption' of this leasing of public lands it will be that much more likely for the Justice Dept. to indict the government officials who held the sale in the first place. The efforts of people (like Tim) to reign in the carbon stream being emitted by most of us is an attempt to assess the true cost of petroleum. Let us all get together and buy that land and make it a National Reserve without roads in Tim's honor. Pete Sanders Olympia, WashingtonApril 4, 2009 | 8:45 pm
margaret meadows wrote:
Tim's story demonstrates that civil disobedience can be an effective tool in the environmental movement, one that environmental organizations should be willing to use more often. Perhaps groups like Earth Justice think reactions like Tim's look too extremist. They want to make their message more palatable to the general public and rally support for their goals, thus the focus on legal action (the safe route.) Unfortunately, environmental groups can be tied up in litigation against oil companies (or any other polluting industry for that matter) for years, and in the meantime nothing new gets done in the way of environmental conservation and restoration. Does it really make sense to sacrifice effectiveness for public opinion? Whatever people may think of his actions, the fact is that Tim achieved more in one day than a whole slew of environmental lawyers achieved in months. And whether or not people agree with his approach, its controversial nature means it's gotten more media attention and has more people talking about issues of environmental protection. Activists like Tim serve to raise awareness, spark public debate, and show us that one person can make a difference.May 3, 2009 | 11:42 am