Official in Jerry Brown Oil Scandal Resigns

Steve Bohlen (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

As California Gov. Jerry Brown participates in the Paris climate change conference, the state official who played a key role in the ongoing oil scandal surrounding Brown’s office has resigned, the Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

Dr. Steve Bohlen, State Oil and Gas Supervisor and head of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), had served since June 2, 2014. He will remain an unpaid adviser, he told the Bee, saying the department is “really starting to fix things” and has “turned a corner.”

Nine days after he took office, Bohlen was asked by Brown to prepare information about oil and gas potential on the governor’s private land. Within two days, state officials had prepared a report for the governor (which reported no significant fossil fuel potential).

Brown’s office has insisted that he merely used services available to any California resident, and was interested in the land’s history and geological properties. The Associated Press, however, has stuck to its original investigative reporting.

The scandal emerged as the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of Kern County farmers against the state, alleging that Brown had an impermissible conflict of interest when he rushed through  permitting process that allowed oil companies to inject wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) into the ground.

Patricia Oliver of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm, representing the plaintiffs,  has alleged in court filings that “Brown diverted state resources to create a map of his oil holdings and then threatened with termination Defendant Steve Bohlen (the newly appointed State Oil & Gas Supervisor) after he emailed that document to Brown.”

Jennie Catalano, a mapping specialist for the California Department of Conservation, has emerged as a whistleblower, claiming that she was threatened with retaliation for refusing to conduct research on Brown’s private land.

State Republican leaders are calling for a full investigation into the oil scandal: “If the facts are as the AP has found, then there will be a prosecution and probably a hefty fine at the least,” Republican California Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (Bakersfield) told Breitbart News.

The scandal has also clouded Brown’s trip to Paris, where he is trying to showcase California’s leadership on climate change.