Letter to the Editor by Liza Tucker
July 18, 2019
The governor’s dismissal of the state’s top oil regulator was no rush to judgment, but a reasoned response to oil investments that regulators disclosed themselves (“Grove: Governor’s rush to judgment to fire top gas and oil regulator will hurt California’s economy,” July 14).
Gov. Newsom’s action is welcome for those who believe that, in order to put public health and safety first, oil industry regulators must be independent of the oil industry. When they are not, their superiors must answer for it.
Seven regulators managing the oil and gas well approval and inspection process reported investments worth potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in the oil and gas industries they regulate.
One of those regulators, the third in command at the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, disclosed holding up to $100,000 in ExxonMobil stock.
AERA Energy, partially owned by affiliates of ExxonMobil, was awarded more new well permits than any other company in 2019. AERA also received 75 percent of the approved fracking permits this year, part of a marked uptick in new permits compared to 2018.
It’s no surprise that Sen. Grove would pander to the oil industry. Campaign finance records show she collected more than $245,000 in oil industry contributions since her 2010 election. The Republican Party she is a member of took $8.1 million from oil and gas interests in that time.
Grove accuses Gov. Newsom of appeasing environmental extremists. Rubberstamping oil permits at the expense of safety is the real extremism.
Liza Tucker, Los Angeles