At the Power Shift protest in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington DC, climate activist Tim DeChristopher explained why he’s put his liberty on the line to fight the fossil fuel industry. In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, he discussed how extractive corporations like BP and Massey Energy — both powerful members of the Chamber — are destroying our nation and corrupting our politics, committing crimes and killing Americans without consequence:
No corporations have been prosecuted for killing 29 people in West Virginia in the Big Branch mining disaster last year. No corporations have been prosecuted for killing 11 people and destroying an entire ecosystem in the Gulf last year. Those are the big crimes that we need to be fighting.
In March, DeChristopher was found guilty for disrupting a Bush administration oil lease auction, in a trial even the judge admitted was flawed. As bidder 70, DeChristopher competed with oil companies for the tracts of pristine Utah wilderness, winning $1.7 million worth of bids in an auction held during the waning days of the Bush-Cheney administration. The auction, which included land within site of Arches National Park, was found later to have been in violation of federal law and withdrawn by the Obama administration. DeChristopher was not allowed to explain that — or his concerns about the destruction of our planet’s atmosphere from fossil fuel pollution — at his trial.
DeChristopher’s sentencing hearing is set for June 23.