Who knew that any Californian could go to the state agency in charge of oil and gas and receive copies of historical documents on their land’s mineral deposits — at least, to the extent that such documents actually exist?
Gov. Jerry Brown evidently did. Less than two weeks after installing Steve Bohlen as chief of California’s embattled Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources in 2014, Brown called to direct him and his staff to provide a report on the mineral history and potential of the Brown family ranch in Colusa County, the Associated Press reported. As it turned out, there’s little in the way of oil or other valuable resources on the land. And to be clear, it’s not as though the agency went out to the property and conducted a geological survey. Its report was mainly cobbled together from historical documents in its files, largely memos dating back decades.
According to documents provided by the governor’s office, the oil and gas agency did the same sort of report this year for one other private landowner, who owned mineral rights to a plot of land and wondered whether any drilling was likely in his area (the answer was no), as well as for an environmental group asking about a particular watershed and a Los Angeles building and safety official.
All members of the public should be treated equally in these regards. That’s something for the governor to keep in mind the next time he’s tempted to ask an appointee to help out on a family matter.