Why Did Jerry Brown Use State Regulators to Look for Oil on Williams, CA Family Ranch?

Oil & Gas Drilling Map of Jerry Brown's Family Ranch and Oil Drilling 15 Miles Easy

Oil & Gas Drilling Map of Jerry Brown's Family Ranch and Oil Drilling 15 Miles

According to state records, Governor Jerry Brown instructed oil and gas regulators to conduct research and provide information regarding the mining and oil drilling history, as well as the potential for future oil and gas activities, at his family's ranch in Colusa County. In response to the governor's request, senior staff members at the regulatory agency worked over a two-day period to produce a comprehensive 51-page report and geological assessment of the property. Additionally, they created a personalized satellite-imaged map outlining the geological features and oil and gas drilling possibilities in the vicinity of the ranch.

The map, titled "Oil and Gas Potential In West Colusa County" and labeled "JB_Ranch" in reference to the Brown family land, was provided to the governor along with the research findings. Ultimately, the regulators concluded that the likelihood of any commercial drilling or mining at the 2,700-acre property was very low. Governor Brown, who claimed to own a 27 percent stake in the ranch, expressed interest in understanding its history and geology rather than pursuing oil and gas extraction, according to his spokesperson.

The research conducted by state regulators and the emails exchanged among senior officials were obtained through the state's open records law by The Associated Press. The use of public resources for personal purposes is prohibited by state law, regardless of the individual's intentions. Critics, such as Hollin Kretzmann from the Center for Biological Diversity, argued that the governor effectively utilized state workers as his own private oil prospecting team. However, both Brown's aides and state oil regulators defended the work as a legitimate and lawful use of public resources, similar to what would be provided to the general public.

The AP requested examples of similar oil and gas research done by state workers for private individuals rather than for public purposes. The governor's office provided three examples, including research conducted for the city of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, a non-governmental organization. The third example consisted of drilling records provided to an unidentified private property owner, indicating that future drilling in the area was unlikely.

Oil industry professionals interviewed by the AP stated that they were not aware of any instances where state regulators conducted similar research, analysis, and mapping for private individuals. Evaluating the oil and gas potential of private properties is not typically within the scope of the regulatory agency's responsibilities. While historical oil field records are accessible to the public, obtaining comprehensive assessments and reports like the ones provided to Governor Brown is uncommon.

According to the spokesperson for the oil and gas agency, state officials have the same access to public records as any member of the public under state law.