When it comes to governing California and its many state agencies, I believe consistency must be a common thread on how each agency and its department heads are treated.
On Friday, the Desert Sun published an article that alleged a handful of oil and gas regulators owned stock and small minor private investment positions in refining, oil production, oil and gas service companies and pipeline companies, and as a result, they were alleged to be in a direct conflict of interest with their positions.
Gov. Newsom ordered the firing of the department head based on what appears to be that single news report, and it doesn’t appear that any investigation was even initiated.
I am angry because it’s clear this action was taken because the governor and his supporters dislike a specific industry, one that is vital to our local and state economy.
What was not investigated was how many of the companies these regulators invested in even do business in California or are even impacted by their oversight.
The governor and his environmental extremist friends are not fans of the energy industry and they are doing everything they can to kill this major California job creator. It’s really a matter of trying to force a San Francisco way of life on the rest of California.
Oil is a necessity and our state’s need for it is not changing anytime soon. The oil and gas industry’s presence in California provides 368,000 jobs and more than $24 billion in tax revenues to the state.
Further, oil producers within the state keep the cost of fuel lower than if California were to buy oil produced outside the state. It’s only higher in California because of the taxes attached to a gallon of gas.
The governor is within his authority to make changes to a state agency, but it shouldn’t be done as a knee-jerk response to a radical environmentalist group’s unsubstantiated hit job. These drastic actions should have been done only after a full investigation to ensure the changes are justified. As it stands, the dismissal seems to be an action taken to appease the extremist environmental groups whose hatred of the oil industry is well documented.
If the governor is serious about conflicts of interest and potential corruption, he ought to start with the California high-speed rail system, which will go down as the biggest failure and waste of taxpayer dollars in the history of the state.
Consider the most recent news report in the Los Angeles Times in May that outlined the continued problems with the High-Speed Rail Authority. The article pointed out that it will cost a “stunning $20.4 billion” to build a 171-mile segment between Merced and Bakersfield. The cost will be at least $120 million a mile and is $15 billion over what has already been spent.
Despite years of investigation revealed by media and other agencies throughout the state, no one has been removed from the High-Speed Rail Authority and business continues as usual.
And don’t get me started on the DMV. In addition to many other significant issues, DMV officials admitted mishandling the information of 23,000 drivers and double-registering as many as 77,000 people as part of the agency’s Motor Voter Program. Department heads weren’t fired based on the stories that were published.
If the governor is going to be consistent, we should look forward to major changes at these other agencies. If not, it’s just proof that the governor was duped into a well-coordinated witch-hunt by a group of extremist environmentalists who would like to eliminate all cars, buses, oil and farming in California.
Sen. Shannon Grove represents California’s 16th Senate District and is the currently Senate Republican Leader.