SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office says he was interested in the geology of his family ranch when he asked state oil regulators to research and map the makeup and drilling history of the land.
Brown spokesman Gareth Lacy said Thursday that the governor was not seeking information for oil and gas drilling when Brown asked the state’s oil and gas agency to evaluate Brown’s personal property near the town of Williams.
Lacy was responding to a report by The Associated Press that describes Brown directing state oil workers in a request that generated 51 pages of research, evaluation and mapping focused on the ranch.
State records obtained by the AP describe Brown asking state workers to assess the area’s “potential for future oil and gas activity.”
State workers also prepared a map at the governor’s request, labeled “oil and gas potential,” that showed the oil and gas drilling history and geology of the area.
An environmental group though is accusing Brown of using state workers as his “own private oil prospecting team.”
The Center for Biological Diversity made the claim Thursday in response to the AP report.
State oil regulators maintain Brown’s use of state workers for his private request is legal.
Staff attorney Hollin Kretzmann of the Center for Biological Diversity noted that the same regulators have acknowledged falling short on enforcing federal laws to prevent oilfield contamination.
Kretzmann calls Brown’s use of the state regulators outrageous.
California law bars elected officials from using public resources for personal purposes. California’s Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources Division says the work it did on Brown’s ranch drew on public records and insists it was legal.
But state oil industry professionals say they cannot recall seeing state oil and gas regulators assess and map anyone’s personal property like that before.