'Green' Crime Pays Dividends

Environmentalists celebrate lawlessness as heroics.

Activist Tim DeChristopher


The arrogance of the environmental movement was on full display in Salt Lake City this week, as radical environmentalist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $10,000 for sabotaging an oil and gas lease auction. In 2007, DeChristopher was awarded leases that would have allowed him to explore for gas and oil on 22,500 acres of public land in Utah after paying up on successful bids totaling $1.8 million for drilling rights.

At the time DeChristopher, a former wilderness guide, was 27-years-old and didn’t have anything close to $1.8 million in actual assets. His goal, as he cheerfully admits, was to disrupt the auction in the name of saving the planet from climate catastrophe.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said in an interview with Yes! magazine. “In a general way I'd actually been preparing for this for a long time, building up the general commitment to take this level of risk, to be ready when the time came. I knew I would probably go to jail for it, but my mindset was: It’s worth it to keep this oil in the ground.”

Radical environmentalists have rallied to DeChristopher’s side, declaring that he is a hero who has merely been engaged in the time-honored practice of civil disobedience in order to do harm to the corporate beast that – in their fevered imaginations – threatens existence itself. But, even if one subscribes to the dubious notion that the earth’s climate is so incredibly sensitive that a few parts per million of carbon dioxide can throw it dangerously out of whack, DeChristopher’s actions are hardly heroic or noble; they are rather pointless and childish.

Reducing domestic production of oil and natural gas - DeChristopher’s utlimate goal – doesn’t do anything to change demand, here or anywhere else on planet earth. By sabotaging one action, he didn’t reduce fossil fuel use in the United States an iota. Instead, he just ensured that we use a bit less of our own fuel and pay a bit more to buy it from some other nation. But this young man is clearly part of the petulant, neo-revolutionary crowd that is increasingly exerting itself through green tyranny.

“We’re missing out on the fact that even if 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population really get the issue of climate change, that’s 30 or 40 million people,” he said. “That’s more than enough to bring the fossil fuel industry to its knees. We think we have no power when in fact we have more than enough power. Right now, we have a big enough movement to win this battle; we just need to start acting like it.”

DeChristopher envisions an America in which millions of committed radical activists “bring the fossil fuel industry to its knees” by shutting down mines and coal-fired power plants by the score. The economic ruin and consequent, unparalleled human misery that would be sure to follow doesn’t even begin to enter into the equation for such zealots.

Ironically, the United States has been spectacularly successful at reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade. According to USEPA data, net greenhouse gas emissions are down about 15% over the last ten years. Some of that reduction is surely do to with the economic downturn of course, but a greater part is attributable to the vast number of greenhouse gas reduction programs that have been implemented on the state, regional and federal levels. The fact is, that while arrogant activists like DeChristopher are certain they are the only ones who understand the grave threat that global warming supposedly represents, they’re not even remotely clued in enough to understand that the United States has been making massive reductions in the gases they demonize and we will continue to make such deep reductions far into the future.

But then, however much the United States reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it doesn’t really matter as far as global concentrations of those gases are concerned. For all the millions of tons that we have reduced, China and India are pumping out millions of tons more. It’s more than ironic that the long, slow death of cheap coal-fired power in this nation hardly portends the death of the domestic coal-mining industry itself. China is happy to pay premium prices for American coal in order to feed the increasingly monstrous appetite of its coal-fired power plants.

Tim DeChristopher is thus just the latest poster-boy for the spectacular, almost unbelievable narcissism that represents the modern American environmental activist. He and his supporters are convinced that he is nobly marching off to jail because he had the courage to stand up and make a difference. But, outside of feeding the insatiable martyr complex that characterizes so many of the Left’s causes today, he hasn’t actually produced a single tangible result. This wasn’t a case of courageous civil disobedience in the grand tradition of Rosa Parks; this was rather just another example of mindless, angry, self-centered grandstanding, of the sort you’d expect from Rosie O’Donnell. The Left ought to be embarrassed, if they were capable of being embarrassed at all.