California governor orders firing of oil, gas regulator

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom is firing California's top oil and gas regulator over an increase in state permits for hydraulic fracturing and allegations of conflict of interest among senior officials.

Newsom's chief of staff asked the state's natural resources secretary to fire Ken Harris on Thursday.

Ann O'Leary's request came hours after advocacy groups Consumer Watchdog and and FracTracker Allliance released a report showing officials working in the division of oil and gas own stock in companies they are responsible for regulating. It also showed the department has drastically increased fracking permits.

Harris has led the state's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources in 2015.

O'Leary says Newsom was unaware of the increase in fracking permits and that he is concerned about fracking's environmental impact.