Under Governor Gavin Newsom oil and gas regulators increased state permit approvals for hydraulic fracturing. This increase has now come under fire for allegations regarding the involvement of senior government officials in the oil industry.
According to data released by Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance, regulators have issued permits for hydraulic fracturing twice as much this year as 2018.
Moreover, from Jan 1 to June 3, there was a 35 percent increase in the number of permits given for the drilling of new wells. Of the 2,365 well permits granted within those months, division officials owned stocks in 45 percent of the oil companies that benefited from the permits.
Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance also discovered that seven other agency employees owned stocks in the oil industry. It has not been confirmed whether ex-oil and gas regulator Ken Harris personally owned shares in the oil companies.
A division deputy director disclosed owning a stock valued at nearly $100,000 for ExxonMobil, the parent company of AERA Energy, which had received more drilling permits in California than any other company this year.
Newsom’s chief of staff, Ann O’Leary, has requested further investigation of the employees at the agency and their involvements with the stocks of the oil companies they regulate.