Trial begins in Utah oil-gas lease auction case

A trial is getting under way in Utah for a man charged with thwarting a federal oil-and-gas lease auction in 2008 to focus attention on climate change.

About 400 environmental activists marched through the streets of Salt Lake City on Monday to support Tim DeChristopher before jury selection begins in U.S. District Court.

DeChristopher has pleaded not guilty to felony counts of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

DeChristopher won $1.7 million in leases but could not pay. He has said disrupting the auction was an act of civil disobedience.

Supporters sporting orange sashes as a symbol of solidarity sang protest songs and chanted as they marched toward the federal courthouse.