Jerry Brown Says Wanted Oil Info for ‘Glass Case’

Jerry Brown at museum (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Governor Jerry Brown insists that his request for the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to ascertain whether his 2,700-acre ranch lay atop an oil pool was motivated by a desire to obtain information about his ranch that he could store in a “glass case.”

Speaking with San Jose Mercury News environment writer Paul Rogers, Brown protested that that the maps he requested were a simple matter of public record. He stated:

That data was coerced from my forebears. They had to file it with DOGGR. Then there are bureaucrats who say, “that’s not your information. We hold it. You can’t have it.” Public records belong to the people of California, and public officials are people. And that material, it’s like a library. That’s there for the benefit of future generations. It ought to be looked at, it ought to be used. What I asked for, anybody else can ask for and will get. And contrary to what has been written, the same exact information is available. It is not a secret to be held in the hands of same employee or bureaucrat. It is there to be used, to be seen.

Brown neglected to mention that his request of Steve Bohlen, the former head of DOGGR, to know “geology, past oil and gas activity, potential for future oil and gas activity in the vicinity of his long-time family ranch,” specifically used the word “potential,” suggesting a desire for utilizing the resources.

Brown spokesman Gareth Lacy protested that Brown was not interested in “drilling for oil and gas,” but would not answer AP’s query as to the use of the word “potential.”

Two days after Brown’s request, a 51-page historical summary and geological assessment, as well as a personalized satellite-imaged geological and oil and gas drilling map for the ranch, was created.

California law bans elected officials from utilizing public resources for personal purposes.

Asked by Rogers if he planned to drill for oil on that property, Brown responded:

No. We’ve already drilled for oil in 1900, 1923, and never found any. You want to get deeds. I’ve got original deeds to the property. Some of them go back to 1865 when Abraham Lincoln was president. Is that secret? No, that’s public record. If you dig a trench, you call up the municipal utility and say “Where are the power lines” and they give you a map. It’s public record belonging to the public and anything to the contrary does a disservice for what we’re trying to do for the people.

Rogers pressed, “But just to clarify, you didn’t have any plans to look for oil? Why did you need the maps then?”

Brown said he is “putting it all in a glass case”:

Because, I need the maps. I have a woman, and we’re doing the geology, we’re doing the fauna, the flora, the vegetation, the oak trees. We’ve got to know what’s out there. And I’m putting it all in a glass case. You can come and see it someday, including the drilling reports and the deeds from the time of Abraham Lincoln. You can see all that. And I’m very interested in recapturing the history of my forebearers. And I would encourage other people to do that. But be clear: No one went out to the property; no one did any prospecting. It was just a retrieval of public data that was taken from my great-grandfather and others and kept in the repository of the state. So certainly that should be available to you and everybody else. That whole story there was just, you can read it for yourself. Steve (Steve Bohlen, former head of DOGGR) said it took about an hour. These are Google maps. Let’s get real here.

Brown’s father, Governor Pat Brown, has been featured in an exhibit with a “glass case” at California State Archives and the California State Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento (see above).

On November 30, Bohlen resigned as head of his agency. Brown’s office asserted that he had only been on loan from his work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory research center for the last 17 months. Bohlen admitted that Brown had instructed him in June 2014 to keep personal work done for Brown out of email.