Gov. Brown Fires Oil, Energy Regulators
Brown dismissed Elena Miller, the top official at the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, and Derek Chernow, Miller’s boss and director of the California Department of Conservation.
Officials were cautious to suggest any political motive to Brown’s decision. Richard Stapler, a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Agency, said that both Miller and Chernow “served at the pleasure of the governor” and that Brown had “chosen to go a different way.”
Yet Brown’s decision came amid disagreements between regulators and industry players. The Bakersfield Californian reports that Miller had been reluctant to issue permits for “crucial oil operations” in the state and was seen by some as an “outsider unfamiliar with the technical side of the oil industry.”
Oil companies hailed the news. Western States Petroleum Assn. President Catherine Rehies-Boyd praised the governor’s decision and characterized past relations between the state and the oil industry as unproductive. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:
“It’s been very frustrating and very discouraging,” Reheis-Boyd said. “There was no interest in talking, no interest in solving and no interest in granting permits. …It’s hard to solve a problem when someone won’t tell you what the problem is.”
Cliff Rechtschaffen, a senior advisor to the governor on environment issues and a former law professor at Golden Gate University, will take over for Chernow at the Department of Conservation. Stapler said that the decision on whether or not to change the nature of oil regulation “certainly will be up to the acting director.”
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