Ex-California Oil Official Says Newsom Administration Pressured Him to Illegally Withhold Drilling Permits

A California whistleblower is scheduled to go on the court next week to defend his lawsuit alleging that the Newsom administration compelled him to illegally revoke drilling permits during his tenure as director in the oil regulatory department of California.

Uduak-Joe Ntuk who was the former head of California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) and filed in September a lawsuit alleging the division was forced to stop issuing new well drilling permissions “without statutory authority or regulations.” Ntuk asserts that he filed a lawsuit to the California State Department on January 4th, 2023 and that 9 days later, Ntuk was “forced and coerced to resign.”

The whistleblower lawsuit is expected to be brought to court on April 1st. National Review has learned.

Ntuk states that he has pushed back against the order to enforce the law that governs drilling for wells which was to be put off in the event of verification of an upcoming referendum scheduled for November 2024.

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The suit claims that he was advised to enforce S.B. 1137, which would ban new wells from being dug within 3200 feet of schools, homes and others “sensitive” locations. As Newsom signed the law into law on 16 September 2022, the oil industry gathered the necessary signatures in order to present the bill before voters.

Environmental activists have reportedly held private talks with state officials to voice their concerns about the increase in permits granted by CalGEM for oil-field activities within the buffer zones outlined in the law, and to demand that the state reduce the number of permits granted in the zones that are affected Ntuk claims that it had been “directed by the office of the governor to keep working on S.B. 1137, even after becoming eligible as a ballot item for November 20, 2024.”

It is said that the Ntuk “felt that he did not have the legal nor constitutional authority” to stop the drilling of oil wells across the state in the lawsuit which goes on claim that he was instructed to utilize the referendum’s verification procedure as a reason to not issue permits.

Ntuk an ex- Chevron engineer who Newsom named to head this agency for 2019. The state is accused of wrongful termination, in violation of the labor code of the state and a violation of California’s Whistleblower Protection Act, retaliation and failure to stop the retaliation of employees as well as “constructive termination.”

CalGEM didn’t respond to an inquiry to comment.

An attorney representing Ntuk claims that it doesn’t matter if Ntuk was in the position of having discretion to refuse permits, arguing that the issue to be addressed is whether he felt that he was being asked to violate the law.

“What matters is what he reasonably believed,” attorney Jamon Hicks stated in September. “If he has a reasonable belief, and he complains about that, he is protected as a whistleblower.”

Although Ntuk had publicly announced his resignation in the month of January 2023 saying that he would be taking a step back to spend time with the family he has, Hicks said Ntuk only said this because worried about being “blacklisted if he did not abide by what he was instructed to do.”

If this is the case, it isn’t the only instance of the Left trying to force climate change on Americans.

“The accusations here track exactly with the all-out campaign by Governor Newsom and his buddies like President Biden to impose progressive lifestyle choices on everyday consumers by any means possible,” O. H. Skinner of the Alliance for Consumers tells National Review. “When they’re not imposing progressive lifestyle choices through the law, they’re trying to block popular gas-powered automobiles as well as other products by cutting off unpopular energy sources.

“Whether it’s through public-nuisance lawsuits or the type of underhanded pressure alleged here, the result is the same: wipe away things people use and try to force everyone to live a progressive lifestyle, regardless of what consumers themselves actually want,” the man said.

The National Review previously reported, Colorado is embroiled in a lengthy effort for six years to force energy companies conform to its climate goals with the help of an open-lawsuit. The public-nuisance litigation used to focus predominantly on conflicts between neighbors, the Left has seized on the practice as a means which could be used nationwide to evade regular legislative processes by seeking court decisions on a variety of subjects, from the effects of climate change to the rights of gun owners.

Public-nuisance claims assert that a lawful act interferes in unreasonably with the rights of the public. In cases involving climate change local governments argue they are not interference with “the right to use and enjoy public property, spaces, parks, ecosystems, and the environment; the right to public health, safety, emergency management, comfort and well-being,” among other things.

The Colorado municipalities seek a monetary judgement to help finance health-care programs in general, to lessen the burden of climate change and in order to “green-fit” cities, streets along with public transportation.

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to ExxonMobil and Suncor in the year past in the year it ruled that it would not consider a case brought against them from Boulder’s City of Boulder. The two companies sought to transfer the matter from state to federal court.

Skinner stated that activists have lost a number environmental nuisance lawsuits that ended up in Federal courts “in the main because courts in federal court have stated “Look, you’re trying to resolve a transnational issue that requires treaties between countries and greenhouse gases across the globe.’

“That implicates questions of federal law because it covers the entirety of the nation and frankly reaches outside of the nation,” he added and added that an issue should be addressed by the policy of Congress rather as opposed to an individual state or federal court that is asked to determine whether a single firm is the cause of the “worldwide phenomenon.”

Meanwhile, just this week the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 to approve a controversial rule requiring large, publicly traded companies to disclose climate-change-related information to investors. The new regulation, which is currently being challenged in court, will require companies to report the short and long-term physical climate risk that is associated to their assets starting in 2025.

But in the larger environmental policy push however, the Biden administration is believed to be thinking of reducing its harsh limits on tailpipe emissions. This would effectively forced automakers into switching from gas-powered vehicles to electric cars.

In response to the pressure of the unions and automakers, the administration is mulling changing its policy to give manufacturers more time expand the sales of electric vehicles. In the new plan the government is considering a dramatic increase in sales wouldn’t be needed until after 2030, according to sources in that the New York Times.