Why is California Gov Jerry Brown going all drill-baby-drill?

  • Published on January 3rd, 2012

oil rig off the coast of santa barbara  Some rights reserved by Willem van BergenIn a move that reeks of political cronyism and nepotism and demonstrates the inordinate power of the oil industry in California, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Secretary of State Debra Bowens’s husband, Mark Nechodom, to Chair California’s Department of Conservation on December 28.

Nechodom, 56, replaces Derek Chernow, the acting director of the Department who Brown fired in a major environmental scandal last month. Brown fired Chernow and Elena Miller, who oversaw oil drilling operations in California, amidst claims by the oil industry and their political allies that the two officials weren’t granting permits quickly and easily enough.

Nechodom, of Sacramento, has served as senior advisor to the undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2010. From 2008 to 2010, he was acting director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Markets and senior climate policy advisor for the U.S. Forest Service from 2006 to 2008. He was a senior scientist and policy advisor at the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station from 1998 to 2006.

He received his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $136,156. Nechodom is a Democrat.

Nechodom has apparently been appointed by Brown to streamline the permitting process to the benefit of the oil and gas industry – and to the detriment of fish, wildlife, the environment and the people of California. This is yet one more example of how Brown, in the service of the Wall Street 1 percent, is a disaster for the environment and the 99 percent of Californians.

“Democratic state Sen. Michael Rubio and Republicans Rep. Kevin McCarthy, state Sen. Jean Fuller and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove engaged the governor personally over a permitting backlog they say has stalled local job growth,” according to the http://www.bakersfield.com/news/business/economy/x1967163512/Kern-lawmakers-industry-pressured-governor-to-oust-states-top-oil-regulators)

“That’s not something you just ignore,” Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association told the Californian.

“She and others said it was no coincidence that Elena Miller’s ouster Thursday as state oil and gas supervisor came just a week after the top executives at Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Denver’s Berry Petroleum Co. said they faced slowdowns in getting permits from California regulators — a reference to Miller’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources,” according to the Californian.

It is also no coincidence that Reheis-Boyd, who put pressure on Brown to fire the two officials for actually doing their job, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the fake “marine protected areas” that went into effect on the Southern California Coast on January 1. The MLPA Initiative, in an classic case of corporate greenwashing, was funded by a private corporation, the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

While the corporate media and Wall Street and Walmart-funded NGOs are gushing about the alleged “marine parks” and “Yosemites of the Sea” that will go into effect on January 1, they refuse to acknowledge the key leadership role that Reheis-Boyd played in the creation of these questionable “marine protected areas” that fail to actually protect the ocean.

Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives on the task force made sure that the “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all other human impacts on the ocean than fishing and diving.

Reheis-Boyd, a strange “marine guardian” indeed, praised Brown’s firing of Mark Nechodom’s predecessor as Chair of California’s Conservation Department in Bloomberg News (http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-05/california-oil-producers-cheer-firing-of-top-state-regulators).

“Oil companies are ‘extremely happy’ about the governor’s decision, Catherine H. Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, a Sacramento-based trade group, said yesterday in a telephone interview,” reported Bloomberg News. ‘They have been extremely frustrated dealing with an agency that in the past had a wonderful working relationship with industry.'”

You can bet that Reheis-Boyd and other ocean industrialists, along with their corporate “environmental” NGO allies, will be also very happy that about the questionable “marine protected areas” that will kick fishermen off the water but do nothing to provide true, comprehensive protection for Southern California marine waters starting New Year’s Day.

Jerry Brown and his Resources Secretary John Laird are not just continuing Schwarzenegger’s abysmal legacy by fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral canal and implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. They are in fact surpassing Schwarzenegger in some areas, including authorizing the record export of water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta this year and presiding over the record “salvage” of over 11 million fish, including 9 million Sacramento splittail, at the Delta death pumps this year.

For more background, see: Halfway marine protection measure launched in California


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(Image of oil rig off the coast of Santa Barbara AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike some rights reserved by Willem van Bergen)

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.
  • Seems right for M&A activities, people will acquire Producer wells, in producing areas!
    My bet is Corcoran sits on Top of huge resources! No body wants to go there .

    64% of all shale/sands gas in CAL. Interesting!
    Just don’t reinject the waste water. Treat Pools, or figure it out!

    One well in Siberia, N. Russia, out of 183+ in that area, is producing 1M barrels / day, inside the Arctic Cir.
    With Arc i Tech tures; and pipelines going S. to Iran & Gulf, East to Central Asia/China, West to Turkey, etc.

    Even SandRidge in W. KS. around Ashland, and N. OK. in the Miss. Basin and shallow Gulf can do 1M barrels of oil / 3 or 4 days soon now!

    Continental Resources wants a huge, producer area soon in The San Joaquin Basin of Central California USA!
    Even the Chinese; and Australians are putting up huge stakeholders right now in the Mid-USA shale oil & gas; and up in CAN. About $1.1+ T in 2 very different deals now.
    The California type wealthy need to invests in Central Cal. San Joaquin Basin with out getting ripped off in future Royalties of Landownerships…

    The N.D. Unemployment rate is 3% ; and S. Cal. needs lots of Super Mkts. too.

    NV. and NM will assist with their own wells there, also.

    Offshore Santa Barbara has so much gas that we all need much stronger technologies @ xom…

    Get Busy CAL.! Sell some artwork to Wynn, and/or MONA in Tanzania! Don’t Gamble it
    away neither.

    NW GA. is a great place to invest in bargain Homes, land, and Businesses out side of Marietta, and NW of ATL. 4+ hrs. to the Port of Sav, and Islands;. and 6+ hrs. to very, nice beaches South…

    REF: bloomb; and self browsings!

  • We will never stop doing this type of business let’s just get that out of our minds. The Governor is simply trying to please everyone and this is another example of the cross over between dems and republicans. Let’s face the fact that the oil industry reins supreme and eventually all land will be sitting with an oil rig on it. We just happen to get hit with this sooner than later. We can’t blame Brown he is taking advantage of the situation keeping the economy in mind. Eventually we all have to remember the powers that be will have their day, their way. We need to decide how to react to this. If Brown were a Republican none of us would be surprised.