Why don’t environmentalists just buy the land they want to protect? Because it’s against the rules

Regulation and litigation rule the day, but sometimes cash should be king.

By Shawn Regan | Reason

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An environmentalist walks into a federal auction and buys up the drilling rights to thousands of acres of public lands. But instead of developing the leases, he decides to keep the oil and gas in the ground, because to him the landscape is more valuable conserved than developed.

Funny, right?

Anyone who follows environmental politics knows that environmentalists have a reputation for being more likely to lobby, litigate, or regulate than to simply pay for what they want to protect. Yet when Tim DeChristopher went to protest an energy lease auction by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2008, he tried the more direct approach. DeChristopher walked into the lease sale in Salt Lake City and ended up outbidding developers for more than 22,000 acres of drilling rights on public lands near Moab, Utah. His reward for winning: a prison sentence.

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