Gov. Jerry Brown has fired Derek Chernow, acting director of the California Department of Conservation, and Elena Miller, the chief overseer of oil drilling operations in California, amid conflict between the agency and oil producers on regulatory matters.
Clifford Rechtschaffen, a senior adviser to Brown on energy, environmental and agricultural issues, was named acting director, California Natural Resources Agency spokesman Richard Stapler said this morning.
Sen. Michael Rubio, D-East Bakersfield, issued a statement praising the decision. His office said the permit approval process for oil drilling in Kern County had become "overly bureaucratic" under Miller's leadership.
The ouster was first reported by The Bakersfield Californian. The newspaper wrote:
"A lawyer regarded as an outsider unfamiliar with the technical side of the oil industry by some, Miller introduced lengthier scrutiny to underground injection projects, according to Californian reports. DOGGR has also been hesitant to allow high-pressure steam injection projects in the aftermath of a Chevron employee's June death in a oil field sinkhole. DOGGR representatives also said Miller was concerned that injections can pollute water sources and cause oil and fluids to leak to the surface."