Steven Bohlen, the head of California’s troubled oil and gas regulatory agency - and the man at the center of a recent controversy over Governor Brown’s request to have the agency provide records on family land in Colusa – has resigned. David Siders, Sacramento Bee:
“In a resignation letter Monday obtained by The Sacramento Bee, Bohlen, supervisor of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, said he plans to return to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he previously worked….
“Bohlen was at the center of a flap this fall over a disclosure that Brown had asked his appointee to review records on minerals and oil drilling on land his family owns in Colusa County. Bohlen said he was ‘baffled’ by the controversy.”
A proposed initiative would triple the taxes on cigarettes and raise more than $1 billion annually, according to an analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. John Howard has the story in Capitol Weekly:
“The Legislative Analyst’s Office reported Monday that the proposal to add $2 in taxes to a pack of cigarettes would increase the per-pack taxes to $2.87, which would increase the total cost to nearly $9 per pack. The current average retail cost of a pack of cigarettes is nearly $6….
“The proposed initiative initiative, which if approved would take effect in April 2017, is supported by the California Medical Association, the California Lung Association, the Service Employees International Union and hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, among others.”
A recent study found that some of California’s school textbooks teach that climate change may or may not be real, and that the cause is up for debate. Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio:
“Stanford and Southern Methodist University researchers analyzed the language in four sixth grade science textbooks from major publishers. All were published in 2008 and adopted for use in California.
“The authors found that the books contain language that frames climate change as possibly happening and that humans may or may not be causing it. Fewer than three percent of scientists refute climate change. But when attributing information to scientists, the textbooks used verbs like “believe”, “think”, or “propose.” Rarely were scientists said to be drawing conclusions from evidence or data.
“’What’s happening is that if you just leave it as the general ‘some scientists agree’ teachers will have to interpret what does the ‘some’ mean, it could be 60 percent, 40 percent, so it’s up to the teacher, it’s up to the student to interpret that,’ says Diego Román, with Southern Methodist University and co-author of the study.”
Wondering if Tom Steyer is going to run for governor in 2018? If he’ll fund an initiative to put an oil severance tax on the ballot? How much he’ll spend on 2016 efforts thoughout the country? Not a lot of answers, but Anne Mulkern asks all the right questions in her loooong E & E News piece on the climate activist billionaire.
“Pressed on whether he's considering running for California governor, Steyer said that ‘the truth of the matter is, I have no idea. I am completely focused on what I just said to you through 2016.’
“He said he can't make a decision on what comes next until he sees how the next general election turns out.
"’I'm going to feel pretty darn differently depending on who's president,’ Steyer said. He added, ‘How would you feel about a President Trump? Would it change your trajectory? It would change mine.’”
Karen Hanretty, communications director at Californians for Energy Independence (CEI), says he’s leaving his options open.
"’If he's not thinking about tomorrow, he would just come out and say, “I'm not running for governor.” But he's not saying that,’ she said. ‘They all say, “We'll have to wait and see,” right up to the moment when they file their papers.’"
After decades of rollercoaster finances and a devastating recession, voters approved Prop 2, which created a reserve fund to pay down debt and put money aside for lean times. Dan Weintraub says the plan is working. From Capitol Weekly:
“By the end of this budget year, the rainy day fund is expected to hold more than $5 billion. That balance will likely grow to more than $7 billion next year. And if the economy grows as expected, the state will still have billions more to spend on new programs or keep in short-term reserves.
“At some point, the good times will end again. That’s never pleasant. But this time, the state will have repaid billions in debt and built a prudent reserve as a cushion to reduce the need for service cuts and tax increases.
“So while it’s always easy to criticize the state’s political and governmental dysfunction, we should acknowledge this example of bipartisan cooperation among political leaders and the voters to do something smart.
“With any luck, it will save us all a lot of pain the next time the state’s tax revenue roller coaster hits its peak and starts back down again.”
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