Friday Must Reads: Brown Finally Speaks Up About Big Oil; Ex-Regulator Accuses Governor of Pushing to Violate Environmental Laws


Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown decided to finally come off the sidelines and push for the passage of his climate change proposal in the face of fierce opposition by the oil and gas industry, the LA Times$ reports. As we noted this week, Brown has been largely absent in the debate over his plan to slash gasoline usage by 50 percent by 2030 in the state, while oil and gas interests have spent millions trying to defeat it. The legislation, SB 350, which Brown termed earlier this year as “absolutely necessary” in the fight against climate change, must still pass the Assembly.

2. The governor emerged at the same time as a former top regulator made explosive charges, accusing Brown of pushing to violate environmental laws in order to expedite oil industry permits in 2011, the AP reports (h/t Rough & Tumble). The regulator, Derek Chernow, whom Brown fired in November of that year, said in a sworn statement that the governor terminated him after he refused Brown’s order to override key environmental laws designed to protect underground drinking water. A Brown spokesperson denied the allegation, but the governor bragged after terminating Chernow about how he had fired him and another regulator for not speeding up oil permits. A lawsuit filed against Brown alleges that he granted favors to oil companies in return for large donations that they made to two tax measures he sponsored.

3. The state fined thirty oil companies for failing to file required reports about how much water they have been using, the LA Times$ reports. The state’s own regulators in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources also missed the reporting deadline.

4. Governor Brown is pushing for a $65-a-year fee on motorists and higher gas taxes in order to finance repairs of roads, bridges, and highways in California, the Chron reports. However, it’s unclear whether Brown will be able attract Republican votes for his plan, which needs two-thirds approval in both houses of the legislature.

5. Ron Davis, director of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, praised Oakland police for making progress in reducing use-of-force cases, the Chron reports. The number of instances in which Oakland cops have used force has plunged dramatically in the past few years.

6. Three Santa Clara County jail guards have been arrested on suspicion of murder in the beating death of a mentally ill inmate, the Mercury News$ reports.

7. The US Department of Justice has agreed to not use cellphone surveillance devices, known as Stingrays, without a warrant, the AP reports (via the Chron$). The DOJ’s directive, however, does not apply to local law enforcement agencies.

8. UC Berkeley has launched a new initiative to attract more African-American students to the campus, the Trib$ reports. Black students have often reported feeling unwelcome at Cal. The initiative also includes a plan to raise $20 million for scholarships for Black students.

9. Bay Area Congressmember Mike Honda continues to be dogged by an ethics scandal involving his staffers blurring the lines between official Congressional work and campaigning, the Bay Area News Group$ reports.

10. And veteran US Senator Dianne Feinstein, a political moderate, is indicating that she plans to run for a fifth, six-year term, the Chron reports.