Gov. Jerry Brown wants to "calibrate" environmental rules
An early environmental leader as California's governor nearly four decades ago, Jerry Brown is now easing restrictions for oil companies and talking about overhauling the state's landmark environmental law to boost the economy.
As detailed in The Times, that strain of pragmatism has run throughout Brown's current governorship — and flummoxed many allies — and nowhere is it more apparent than on the issue of the environment.
The actions come as the state forges ahead with an ambitious program to combat global warming by penalizing major polluters and moves to meet a requirement that California get a third of its power from renewable energy sources.
Brown's spokesman, Gil Duran, compared the approach to that of President Obama, who has touted what he calls an "all of the above" energy strategy.
"You have to pursue renewable energy — and California is leading the way — but you also have to have balance and common sense," Duran said.
A key flashpoint this year will be new regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a controversial drilling process that could help unlock billions of barrels of oil buried deep in California shale.
Although recently drafted rules would require energy companies to disclose for the first time what chemicals they pump underground to break apart rock and release crude, the proposed regulations would also allow firms to claim trade secrets and withhold information they consider proprietary.
After the November election, Brown said streamlining the state's regulations would be a top priority for 2013.
"We are going to calibrate our regulations," Brown said, "to ensure that they encourage jobs as well as protect other aspects of public interest such as environment, health and good working conditions."
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown at a news conference. Credit: Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times