Brown Stacks CPUC With Confidant Who Did Wet Work For Oil Industry In Firing Tough Oil Well Regulators

Governor Jerry Brown appointed Cliff Rechtschaffen as a Commissioner to the scandal-plagued Public Utilities Commission, along with another current Brown staffer, Martha Guzman Aceves. This gives Brown power for the next six years over the PUC, even though he will be leaving office in two.
 
It's a deeply troubling appointment given Rechtschaffen's role in carrying out the demands of the oil industry in the firing of two tough wellhead regulators at the Department of Conservation and Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) in 2011.  
 
Legal declarations show Rechtschaffen fired Conservation Chief Derek Chernow and DOGGR head Elena Miller when the two refused to loosen oil drilling standards in the state at the request of Occidental Petroleum, which subsequently contributed $500,000 to Brown’s ballot measure campaign for Proposition 30.  Another PUC Appointee of Brown’s, Liane Randolph, a former Chevron lawyer, was also involved in the firing when she served as Brown’s appointee to the Natural Resources Agency. (Read more about Rechtschaffen's involvement on pages 4 & 5 of Derek Chernow's legal declaration: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/chernow_declaration_with_exhibits.pdf Or on page 16 of Consumer Watchdog's report "Brown's Dirty Hands": http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands)

Governor Brown has turned the keys of the Public Utilities Commission over to another oil industry loyalist who did the industry’s wet work in firing tough oil well regulators in 2011, resulting in the loosening of well standards and a half million in contributions from Occidental Petroleum to the Governor’s causes.

Rechtschaffen has proven himself to be a lapdog for the oil industry. Ironically, he joins Liane Randolph, a former Chevron lawyer and another Brown appointee, on the Public Utilities Commission after both participated in one of the ugliest episodes of oil industry influence during the Brown Administration, the gutting of oil well safety for oil industry cash. 

This appointment should cast a huge shadow over Governor Brown’s environmental legacy given Rechtschaffen’s role in one of the biggest ethical scandals during the Brown era.  We'll see if the California Senate, who must confirm Rechtschaffen, has the will to stand up to the Governor and the oil industry its leaders often decry. At very least, there should be full outing of the entire Occidential pay-for-fewer-drilling rules scandal.
 

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