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Brown fires regulator who took hard line on Big Oil

Monday, January 30, 2012

imageAnd now for the ugly side of political pragmatism. The LA Times says that after Derek Chernow, a top state conservation official, refused to relax rules on underground injection, a risky method of oil extraction that the oil industry favors, Gov. Jerry Brown had him fired in December. Here’s an excerpt:

A week after Chernow wrote his memo, Brown had him fired, along with a deputy, Elena Miller. The governor appointed replacements who agreed to stop subjecting every injection project to a top-to-bottom review before issuing a permit.

Brown's decision to side with energy interests over his regulators reflects the economic and political pressures on the governor during his return engagement in Sacramento. The economy is still sluggish in the wake of a deep recession, and unemployment remains high.

Although Brown has fought offshore drilling and sued oil companies throughout his career, making him a favorite of environmentalists, he now talks of tossing cumbersome regulations to revive the economy. The oil industry, in particular, employs tens of thousands of Californians, many of them in Kern County, where the jobless rate is 14.5%.


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