WaPo reports that an environmental activist is under arrest after successfully bidding $1.8 million dollars he didn't have on 22,000 acres of federal land at a federal auction:
Instead of joining his protester friends on the snowy sidewalk outside the Bureau of Land Management office in Salt Lake City, Tim DeChristopher took a seat inside. In a room milling with oil and gas men who knew one another by sight, he was the unknown in a red parka, registering as a bidder in an auction for the rights to drill on 149,000 acres of federal land. DeChristopher was handed a red paddle bearing the number 70.
Half an hour later, he was raising it.
"I leaned forward to one of my colleagues and said, 'This guy behind us is just running up the prices,' " said David Terry, a Salt Lake City oil-land man who routinely attends the BLM auctions. "And my friend said, 'Yeah, he's going to get stuck with a tract.' "
The University of Utah economics student got stuck with 13. Promising the federal government $1.8 million he does not have, DeChristopher emerged holding leases on 22,000 acres in the scenic southeast corner of Utah.
He might have gone home with more had federal agents not led him out of the room after he secured the rights to a dozen parcels in a row, finally just holding his paddle over his head, even between offers. The U.S. attorney is considering charges that a spokeswoman declined to specify.
There are many potential reactions to this, but my reaction is that, instead of beefing up its security, BLM needs to rethink the rules of its auctions, perhaps employing a little game theory. For example, maybe BLM should hire DeChristopher to show up and bid at all its auctions, because the government is obviously leasing federal lands for less than the market will bear.