Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 2:27 am | Fog/Mist 52º

 
 
 
 

Letter to the Editor: Gov. Brown’s Corruption and Betrayal

Los Angeles Times, March 11: “After … recent embarrassing revelations about the [Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resource's] history of lackluster regulation ... during a testy two-hour oversight hearing … lawmakers questioned how they could trust agency officials to follow through [on promises of a 'top-down overhaul'], characterizing longstanding agency practices as corrupt and inept.”

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, “said that just reading background material to prepare for Tuesday's hearing caused her blood pressure to soar.”

“The state has been taking broadsides from the U.S. EPA, the state EPA and local water boards, all focusing on the troubled Underground Injection Control program, which is supposed to monitor the production water into below-ground wells.”

Of course since the disastrous revelations resulting from the testing and studies required by SB4, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Das Williams, we know that for decades Gov. Jerry Brown's government has, in violation of federal and state law, permitted hundreds of disposal wells, containing toxic materials including the carcinogen benzene, to be drilled through underground water tables that provide clean water for communities' drinking and agricultural use.

His government has also illegally allowed toxic materials to be stored in pits (often unlined) that have no required state permits to exist.

Now we learn that the DOGGR benefited from a 2010 budget increase intended to help it properly monitor the state's oil/gas practices which it is required to do. But — no kidding! — the agency, it now turns out, has not fulfilled, except in 2010, that law's specification that it submit annual reports detailing “the results of its reform efforts.”

This is not science fiction. Obvious to all, except perhaps those whose integrity is in serious question:

The Wizard of Oz, behind the screen, pulling all the strings, is the governor of California, who fired the DOGGR director and deputy director in 2011, because they would not flout environmental law by issuing oil/gas permits absent the degree of scrutiny those laws required; an act purposely resulting in the proliferation of unconventional oil/gas drilling in the state; an act followed by the studious inattention of his agencies to monitor, control or prevent the currently-revealed environmental atrocities.

This acclaimed “progressive” governor, the author of this corrupt betrayal of citizen trust, is the coward who, in the face of massive disclosure of his failure to faithfully execute the law, sits in silence, explaining nothing, justifying nothing, hoping that his party supporters will see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil — about him.

But wait! Surely his chosen DOGGR director will give us hope for future government integrity? Surely he will at least show us how the governor intends to proceed with honor from here?

“Bohlen was also asked why the state agency said it will continue to allow, in some circumstances, additional injection wells in aquifers the EPA considers to be off limits.

“Bohlen responded by saying that [DOGGR] officials believed those aquifers would probably become approved for injections in the future.

“'But isn't it violating federal law now?'” Sen. Ben Allen asked. "… Bohlen did not respond.”

QED

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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