This Lap DOGGR Don't Hunt

Governor Jerry Brown makes himself out to be a Knight in Shining Armor battling Big Oil over climate change. So why is he using public funds to search for oil on his own private land?
 
The Associated Press has uncovered that Governor Brown directed his then-newly appointed State Oil & Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen at California’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR for short) to find out what was buried on the 2,700-acre ranch his family has owned for a century.
 
It's illegal for public officials to take advantage of state resources for personal gain. When asked, the Governor's office claimed that it’s the agency’s job to survey property for the public, and the Governor has the same right to public records as anyone else. Maybe, but an investigation into possible misuse of public funds appears to be in order.
 
If the governor's request wasn't anything special, then they must do it for anyone. We created this action so the public can ask DOGGR to check out their land, just like it did for the Governor. Click here to send an email to Steve Bohlen asking for your private property oil, gas and mineral survey.
 
Trouble is, oil industry experts say that they have never heard of DOGGR mapping land for private individuals, let alone for politicians. The few examples the governor's office provided don't sound like they rise to the same level.
 
Then there's the lawsuit filed by the R. Rex Parris law firm, representing farmers in a RICO lawsuit filed against the Governor’s Office, regulators, and oil companies. In a recently amended complaint, the lawsuit claims Brown acted like he knew that asking state regulators to work on his private behalf wasn’t exactly Kosher. 
 
The suit alleges that Brown diverted state resources to create a map of his personal holdings, “then threatened his newly appointed State Oil & Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen with termination after Bohlen emailed the commissioned document directly to Brown.” 
 
The Governor's oil and gas regulators are tamed enough that no one at DOGGR appears to have raised an eyebrow at his request. 
 
In 2011, he fired two key regulators—Derek Chernow, Acting Director at the Department of Conservation, and DOGGR supervisor Elena Miller—for daring to repeatedly warn him that oil drilling would harm the state’s groundwater. 
 
Chernow later testified he was fired because Occidental Petroleum was pressuring Brown to speed up permits for underground injection wells. Turns out that DOGGR allowed Big Oil to drill thousands of oilfield wastewater disposal wells into federally protected aquifers, effectively ruining that water.
 
The RICO lawsuit, which alleges that Jerry acted to save the oil industry money, cites more than $1 million in oil company contributions in support of Brown’s campaign for a state income tax hike within months of the firings of Chernow and Miller.
 
The oil and gas industry is the biggest corporate lobby in Sacramento. Maybe that’s why Jerry didn’t get down and arm twist moderate Democrats who eviscerated his climate change bill at the 11th hour, knocking out the provision to slash oil use in half.
 
In fact, right after signing the bill, Jerry threw Big Oil a nice bone. He appointed Bill Bartling, a Republican from Bakersfield, to be area district deputy at DOGGR. He’s the right guy for any future mapping of property to see if it’s ripe for oil and gas exploration. He’s a geologist and geophysicist with expertise in exploration, technical computing, software engineering, and borehole imaging that worked at Occidental Petroleum and Chevron. 
 
Averting climate change is a laudable goal, and it gets Brown nice coverage when he hobnobs about it with the Pope. But then there is the here and now to think about. And right now, Jerry looks like he’s thinking what’s good for the oil industry is good for California. It would have been a bonus if greenhouse gas emitting riches turned up on his land too. 

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