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The Two Environmental Faces of California Governor Jerry Brown

The Two Environmental Faces of California Governor Jerry Brown


When it comes to the environment, California Governor Jerry Brown has two faces. There’s the Jerry Brown that says all the things that environmentalists want to hear as evidenced in his January 18 State of the State speech. During the speech, Brown listed environmental concerns among the state’s priorities. Those environmental concerns included building renewable energy and reducing pollution and greenhouse gases. Brown said in his speech that fossil fuels “create ever rising costs to our economy and to our health.”

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) applauded Brown for his State of the State speech in a statement. “The Governor recognized that a healthy environment is an essential tool to re-energize California’s economy,” the statement said. “Investing in homegrown clean energy sources, including energy efficiency is what California does best, and the Governor is right on in singling out these areas in his agenda for economic growth in the year ahead.”

The NRDC is right to applaud Brown for a great speech, but too bad it was only a speech. Meet the other environmental face of Brown. Less than two weeks after the speech, a Los Angeles Times article revealed that a top state regulator and his deputy were removed by Brown last year after “ignoring pressure from Governor Jerry Brown to relax rules for companies seeking to tap California’s oil.” In October, Brown asked officials to develop a permitting shortcut for firms that want to use underground injection, what the article calls a “risky method of oil extraction common in California.” Underground injection, according to the article, uses steam, water and chemicals to flush out depleted oil wells, according to the article.

The Department of Conservation head Derek Chernow wrote a memo against relaxing the rules on underground injection, stating that it would violate environmental laws. Chernow was fired a week after writing the memo, and a replacement was appointed who agreed to allow shortcuts.

California is the most populous state in the union, and there is an old political saying, “As California goes, so goes the nation.” Governor Brown sets a bad example for other governors by speaking of environmental concerns on one side of his mouth, while asking officials to create shortcuts for a method of oil extraction known to cause pollution and damage the environment.


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Photo credit: Flickr user, jurvetson

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8:02PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

A politician two-faced?? Aaah - no way!

6:11PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

all politicians are two-faced, no surprise

6:10PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

all politicians are two-faced, no surprise

11:06AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

I worry about Jerry. Like both Reagan and Charlton Heston, he started out far to the left but has drifted far to the right in recent years. I've come to suspect that this is an early symptom of Alzheimer's.

10:45AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

I used to listen to him on the radio. He warned us about Nafta. Back in the days he was on target and for the people. He is better than Arnold, but why should we have to settle for less? Keep the pressure on him. We have lots of sunny days here, solar power (in Calif) at least, makes sense.

8:54AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

I had the privilege of sitting at the same table with then Governor Jerry Brown, next to his body guard; I did not hear a word he said then, and do not hear him now - only watch him read nothing more than a linen teleprompter. Yes, he is charismatic; no, he is not totally in the know (like the back-of-his-hand know and more like palm notes of Palin fame). Convincing me as a former CA constituent is null but hopeful. I must chalk this speech up to that of a shy and relatively soft-spoken man I once observed.

5:50AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Maybe Jerry Brown can be persuaded to invest some of the state of California's money in solar power and/or improvements to their electric grid including storage so they can make better use of solar power.

5:49AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Like all politians their opinion is the same as the group he is talking to. It is all about the votes and staying in office.

5:37AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Anybody who drives cars with internal combustion engine should stop complaining and do something to get an inexpensive electric car so that extracting oil in an environmentally unsafe manner is not necessary.

The guys who were fired should sue if they believe that they had been fired because they tried to protect environment.

4:12AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Check this out, now Jerry Brown wants to change the rules for Animal Shelter. He wants to cut the Euthenasia from six days to three ! Citizens of California need to take a stand ! Albeit, Arnold changed his mind last minute about this when he was in office, now we have a Democrat and he wants to do this ? California citizens, be aware....

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