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California Regulators Miller, Chernow Replaced by Governor

California Governor Jerry Brown fired Derek Chernow, acting director of the California Department of Conservation, and Elena Miller, oil and gas supervisor at the department’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, said Richard Stapler, spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency.

“The governor chose to go in a different direction,” Stapler said in a telephone interview. Chernow and Miller, who were dismissed yesterday, were appointees and “served at the pleasure of the governor,” he said.

Chernow will be replaced by Cliff Rechtschaffen, a senior energy adviser in the governor’s office, Stapler said. A replacement for Miller has yet to be named, he said.

The Western States Petroleum Association had expressed frustration at the slow pace of state approval for new oil drilling permits from Miller’s division.

Miller and Chernow could not be immediately reached for comment.

California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has granted 14 permits essential to new drilling projects as of September of this year out of 199 applications received, compared with 27 out of 100 in 2010 and 37 out of 52 the year before that, state figures show.

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