SANTA MONICA, CA, Dec. 28, 2016 – Consumer Watchdog today condemned Governor Jerry Brown’s appointment of Cliff Rechtschaeffen to the scandal-plagued Public Utilities Commission given Rechtschaeffen’s role in carrying out the demands of the oil industry in the firing of two tough wellhead regulators at the Department of Conservation and Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) in 2011.
Legal declarations show Rechtschaeffen fired Conservation Chief Derek Chernow and DOGGR head Elena Miller when the two refused to loosen oil drilling standards in the state at the request of Occidental Petroleum, which subsequently contributed $500,000 to Brown’s ballot measure campaign for Proposition 30. Another PUC Appointee of Brown’s, Liane Randolph, a former Chevron lawyer, was also involved in the firing when she served as Brown’s appointee to the Natural Resources Agency. (Read more about Rechtschaeffen’s involvement on pages 4 & 5 of Derek Chernow’s legal declaration: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/chernow_declaration_with_exhibits.pdf Or on page 16 of Consumer Watchdog’s report “Brown’s Dirty Hands”: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands)
“Governor Brown has just turned the keys of the Public Utilities Commission over to another oil industry loyalist who did the industry’s wet work in firing tough oil well regulators in 2011, resulting in the loosening of well standards and a half million in contributions from Occidental Petroleum to the Governor’s causes,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog.
“Cliff Rechtschaeffen has proven himself to be a lapdog for the oil industry. Ironically, he joins Liane Randolph, a former Chevron lawyer and another Brown appointee, on the Public Utilities Commission after both participated in one of the ugliest episodes of oil industry influence during the Brown Administration, the gutting of oil well safety for oil industry cash. This appointment should cast a huge shadow over Governor Brown’s environmental legacy given Rechtschaeffen’s role in one of the biggest ethical scandals during the Brown era.”