Jerry Brown, Oil Baron, Blasts ‘Highly Destructive’ Oil

Jerry Brown (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

California governor Jerry Brown, who owes much of his personal fortune to oil, blasted the oil industry Monday, saying it provides a “highly destructive” product.

Oil companies “have a product that is highly destructive, while highly valuable at the same time. And we’re trying to work out the right policies,” he told an environment conference at Lake Tahoe, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brown has taken a leading role in the national debate over climate change, proposing drastic cuts to the state’s emissions, backing a new plan to curb the state’s use of gasoline, and championing the cap-and-trade program bequeathed to him by his predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger.

At the same time, he has resisted pressure to end hydraulic fracturing in the Golden State.

As Laer Pearce wrote in the Washington Timesn in 2010, the Brown family has enriched itself through oil investments: “Mr. Brown has a lot of money–how much exactly is not public–and unhappily for his environmentalist and global-warming-alarmist supporters, it’s oil money.” Pearce added that Brown once imposed environmental regulations that benefited his family’s oil interests in the state.

Chriss Street of Breitbart News has argued that Brown protects fracking “because the industry pays over $20 billion in state and local taxes,” and the state depends on that money to pay state workers and balance the state budget.

Oil revenues are even more important in a volatile stock market, since the state also depends heavily on capital gains taxes to bring in revenue for its lavish spending programs.