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Trump to roll back Obama’s climate, water rules through executive action

By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson February 20 at 6:43 PM

President Trump is preparing executive orders aimed at curtailing Obama-era policies on climate and water pollution, according to individuals briefed on the measures.

While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production and economic activity even when those activities collide with some environmental safeguards. Individuals familiar with the proposals asked for anonymity to describe them in advance of their announcement, which could come as soon as this week.

One executive order — which the Trump administration will couch as reducing U.S. dependence on other countries for energy — will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric utilities. It also instructs the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing.

A second order will instruct the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revamp a 2015 rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, that applies to 60 percent of the water bodies in the country. That regulation was issued under the 1972 Clean Water Act, which gives the federal government authority over not only major water bodies but also the wetlands, rivers and streams that feed into them. It affects development as well as some farming operations on the grounds that these activities could pollute the smaller or intermittent bodies of water that flow into major ones.

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How an Interoffice Spat Erupted Into a Climate-Change Furor



A coal mound in Kentucky. A blog post by a former federal climate scientist fed disagreement over the existence of climate change.


Luke Sharrett/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, on an obscure climate-change blog, a retired government scientist named John Bates blasted his former boss on an esoteric point having to do with archiving temperature data.

It was little more than lingering workplace bad blood, said Dr. Bates’s former co-workers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Bates had felt he deserved his boss’s job at NOAA, they said, not the demotion he received.

“He’s retaliating. It’s like grade school,” said Glenn Rutledge, a former physical scientist at NOAA who worked with Dr. Bates.

But in what seems like a remarkable example of office politics gone horribly wrong, within days the accusations were amplified and sensationalized — in the pages of the British tabloid The Mail on Sunday — inciting a global furor among climate-change deniers.

The Mail claimed that Dr. Bates had revealed fraud in important research by NOAA that supports the widely held belief that climate change is real. “How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data,” the article’s headline said.

The scientific community swiftly shot down the accusations, and affirmed the accuracy of the research. And Dr. Bates himself later stated in an interview with a business news site that he had not meant to suggest that his former boss had played fast and loose with temperature data. “The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data,” Dr. Bates said.

Still, Dr. Bates has emerged as a hero to some conservative media outlets and politicians, and among climate-change deniers on Facebook and Twitter.

The Texas congressman and longtime climate skeptic Lamar Smith posted a link to a summary of the claims multiple times on Twitter. The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which Mr. Smith heads, took up the controversy at a hearing.

NOAA itself is now bringing in independent investigators to review Dr. Bates’s claims. “NOAA takes seriously any accusations that its policies and procedures have not been followed,” a spokesman, Scott Smullen, said in a statement.



Dr. John Bates, a retired government scientist, at his home in Arden, N.C. His criticism of a former boss on an esoteric point about archiving temperature data resulted in a furor among climate-change deniers.


Chris Bott

Dr. Bates did not respond to repeated requests for comment nor to detailed questions about the incident and his former co-workers’ characterizations.

Interviews with six of his former colleagues at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, including two former bosses, painted a picture of a room filled with brilliant scientists, and — like many workplaces — its fair share of mundane professional spats and jealousies.

Dr. Bates was demoted from a managerial role in 2012 under Thomas Karl — the lead author of the study Dr. Bates has questioned — after complaints over Dr. Bates’s professional conduct, according to the former colleagues and supervisors. He also became frustrated that his efforts to enforce strict procedures in the archiving of climate data were not getting as much attention as he had hoped.

“He was often heard saying that he, not Karl, should be running the center,” said Marjorie McGuirk, former chief of staff at the data center.

At the heart of the furor is a study led by Dr. Karl, the former director of NOAA’s data center. The NOAA center handles the nation’s trove of climate and weather data. Dr. Karl’s study had refuted earlier work suggesting that global warming had slowed earlier in this century.

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California’s Biggest Security Threat? Climate Change, Says Former Adviser

By Sarah Craig

FEBRUARY 20, 2017

Charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, cybersecurity and terrorism are topics that have recently dominated the national security conversation.

But according to Richard Clarke, it’s climate change that poses an imminent threat to our nation’s shores.

Clarke is the former U.S. national security adviser who gained notoriety after criticizing the George W.  Bush administration for the war in Iraq, saying Bush is guilty of war crimes.

He was in San Francisco last week for the 2017 RSA Conference — the world’s leading conference on cybersecurity — but he had rising seas on his mind.

“Californians and anyone living on the coast need to be worried about sea level rise, which can happen much faster than we anticipated,” he said.

Clarke is concerned about chaos that will occur not just in California, but around the globe from rising seas that could displace millions of people.

He noted that the drought in Syria contributed to that country’s refugee crisis, and pointed to the situation as an example of how a changing climate can lead to political instability.

“If sea level rise happens to the extent it could… when you have millions of people who are on the move… that usually results, as we’ve seen in the Syrian refugee crisis, in political disruption and security problems.”


Former U.S. National Security Adviser Richard Clarke. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Clarke also stressed that the United States’ federal budget will be hit hard.

“You are going to be spending huge amounts of money on flood control and reconstruction of infrastructure,” he said.

“So much so, that you won’t continue to have money to continue to afford a large defense establishment like we have now.”

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The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States




A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse.

Credit  via Georgia Power

This was supposed to be America’s nuclear century.

The Three Mile Island meltdown was two generations ago. Since then, engineers had developed innovative designs to avoid the kinds of failures that devastated Fukushima in Japan. The United States government was earmarking billions of dollars for a new atomic age, in part to help tame a warming global climate.

But a remarkable confluence of events is bringing that to an end, capped in recent days by Toshiba’s decision to take a $6 billion loss and pull Westinghouse, its American nuclear power subsidiary, out of the construction business.

The reasons are wide-ranging. Against expectations, demand for electricity has slowed. Natural-gas prices have tumbled, eroding nuclear power’s economic rationale. Alternative-energy sources like wind and solar power have come into their own.

And, perhaps most significantly, attempts to square two often-conflicting forces — the desire for greater safety, and the need to contain costs — while bringing to life complex new designs have blocked or delayed nearly all of the projects planned in the United States.

“You can make it go fast, and you can make it be cheap — but not if you adhere to the standard of care that we do,” said Mark Cooper of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, referring to the United States regulatory body, which is considered one of the most meticulous in the world. “Nuclear safety always undermines nuclear economics. Inherently, it’s a technology whose time never comes.”

In the process, the United States could lose considerable influence over standards governing safety and waste management, nuclear experts say. And the world may show less willingness to move toward potentially safer designs.

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TransCanada refiles Keystone XL application in Nebraska, the next anti-pipeline battleground

Native groups say they'll mobilize against the Keystone XL like they did with the Dakota Access pipeline. But Nebraska landowners are at the forefront of legal challenges.


Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News/AP/File | Caption

  1. David Iaconangelo
    Staff | @diaconangelo

FEBRUARY 18, 2017 —Oil developer TransCanada has refiled its application to route the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska, the company said on Thursday, putting back on track a project rejected by then-President Barack Obama, that President Trump has promised to revive.

The application may open up a new front in efforts to block the massive pipelines that have become conspicuous symbols of fossil-fuel clout. So far, though, the first line of opposition seems likely to come through the courts, even as indigenous groups vow to mount the same sort of protests that won a temporary stoppage of the Dakota Access pipeline, a sister project.

Bold Nebraska, an opposition group, is planning a multi-pronged approach. It will launch a letter-writing campaign aimed at persuading the Nebraska Public Service Commission, an elected panel with four Republicans and one Democrat, to reject the pipeline.

Bold Nebraska says any oil spills could pollute the Ogallala Aquifer, a water source that is vital to several midwestern states, in addition to other environmental damage. But it will mount its legal challenge on eminent-domain grounds, headed by a group of some 82 landowners who refuse to let the pipeline run through their property.

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Pueblo commits to 100 percent renewable energy

Three Colorado cities now share similar goal


February 17, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Pueblo City Council set a goal this week to become fully powered by renewable energy by 2035, joining two other Colorado cities with similar commitments.

Supporters of the move, announced Monday, say it will have positive environmental and economical impacts on a city that is already increasing its sources of renewable energy. They also say it raises the bar for cities across the state and nation

“We’re right at the forefront, and it’s better to lead than to follow,” Pueblo city councilman Larry Atencio said.

The city has a history in mining and steel production, but leaders have been focusing on renewables in recent years, Atencio said. Pueblo is home to a plant for Denmark-based Vestas, one of the world’s largest wind turbine makers. Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District is planning to build a $12 million hydroelectric generation facility at Pueblo Dam that will be capable of producing 7.5 megawatts. The city also has community solar gardens.

The resolution states the city plans to reduce the demand for electricity through energy-efficient public infrastructure, businesses, residences and appliances. The city aims to involve and educate citizens about renewable energy, and will work to ensure low-income residents reap the benefits.

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The Buzz

17 FEB 2017

With a carbon tax gaining favor among some Republicans at the national level and having a slim possibility in California, the Air Resources Board, which has been pushing its carbon cap-and-trade program, hit the pause button this week. It put off updating its roadmap for reaching a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 amid controversy over strategy.

The debacle at Oroville Dam not only released huge amounts of water to reduce flood threats to downstream towns. It also shut down an 800 MW hydropower plant and forced disconnection of state and utility power lines. The Department of Water Resources on Thursday began removing debris causing high back flow at the base of the dam in order to allow the Hyatt plant to restart and to begin contributing again to controlling reservoir levels.

At the Southern end of California, Sempra Energy lobbied hard and successfully thwarted community choice in San Diego County.

This week’s JUICE calls for state energy regulators to stop babying private utilities.

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Undercurrents: San Diego Community Choice Prospects Dim

15  FEB 2017

San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors Feb. 15 balked at ordering a community choice aggregation feasibility study. They rejected a recommendation to spend $200,000 on the evaluation after hearing objections from Sempra Energy Services.

The lobbying arm of Sempra argued that subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric can provide “a default utility portfolio at the same level” as any choice program while providing comparable “benefits.”

“Our region continues to have some of the highest energy costs in the nation,” said Board Chair Dianne Jacob in motioning to approve the study. However, Jacob couldn’t get a second for her motion.

Frank Urtasun, Sempra Services vice president, said that before going forward with a choice program the county should perform a return on investment analysis of a range of alternatives for meeting its future energy needs, including a utility portfolio.

“Unfortunately,” he said, the county “would pursue a community aggregation feasibility study without studying the feasibility of any other available alternative.”

Many of those who testified to the board disagreed.

Forming a choice program would unleash “real market forces” in power procurement for the county, as opposed to maintaining a utility monopoly, said Mark Hughes, member.

Some even urged the county to simply issue a request for offers for power needed to form a choice program and to dispense with a feasibility study altogether since community aggregation has been proven to work in other areas of the state.

The feasibility study was one measure among several clean energy measures presented to the board this week that were outlined in a Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan. The board approved many, but turned down several plan recommendations, including funding a microgrid study and forming a regional energy network.

The supervisors did agree to have county staff report on community choice aggregation developments around the state in 12 months.

Community choice has been under discussion at the county level since 2013. Several cities in the county, including San Diego, also have been examining forming choice programs, though progress has been slow.

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Not just Oroville: More Northern California infrastructure that needs fixes

By Katie Dowd, San Francisco Chronicle Updated 4:00 am, Monday, February 20, 2017

  1. pastedGraphic.pdf

Photo: Robin Scheswohl, Photo Courtesy Of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The largest reservoir in Santa Clara County is one of 678 California dams considered to be 'high hazard' according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. That doesn't mean it's going to burst any moment; it means that if it does experience a failure, it would put many lives at risk. An analysis in 2008 found that a major earthquake could break the dam, causing water to flood into Morgan Hill and San Jose.

The Oroville Dam crisis reminded many Californians of something we only associate with earthquakes: Our crumbling state infrastructure.

It's not just The Big One that has the power to wreak havoc on our roads, dams, bridges and transit, though. As this winter has proven, extended periods of heavy rains can do it too. In addition to the erosion at Oroville Dam which prompted the evacuation of 200,000 people, rains have worsened our already awful roads.

Even before Oroville, the state was putting forward a major proposal to fix the state's aging infrastructure. Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown revealed the details of a $100 billion infrastructure proposal to President Trump, asking for upgrades to roads, levees, veterans services, ports and more. The proposal is a catch-up wish list; the state's already in a $136 billion backlog of road repairs, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

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Why California’s eroding coast is a problem – and what the government can do

El Niño brought unprecedentedly powerful waves to the Pacific Coast in 2015-2016, while droughts starved beaches of sediment, according to a new study.


Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register/AP | Caption

  1. David Iaconangelo
    Staff | @diaconangelo

FEBRUARY 15, 2017 —Last winter’s El Niño storms ate away an unprecedented amount of the West Coast’s beaches – which might provide a glimpse of the future.

A new study published this week in the journal Nature Communications finds that unusually powerful waves during the 2015-2016 El Niño season, combined with a lack of new sediment flushed down onto beaches, thanks to drought-starved coastal rivers, eroded 76 percent more sand than normal from 29 beaches in California, Washington, and Oregon.

"It looks like climate change will bring us more El Niño events, possibly twice as many, at twice the frequency as in the past," said David Hubbard, a co-author of the study and a University of California Santa Barbara marine ecologist, in a statement. "So this is a taste of what's coming."

Waves generated by storms across the North Pacific, added Patrick Barnard, a lead author and coastal scientist with the US Geological Survey, were "among the largest ever recorded."

"Further, the lack of rainfall means the coastal rivers produced very little sand to fill in what was lost from the beaches, so recovery has been slow," he said in a statement.

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Stuff that matters FLINT LIVES MATTER



Reuters / Kevin Lamarque

Racism was a big factor in the Flint water crisis, a new report explains. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission — a governor-appointed board established in 1963 to investigate and prevent discrimination — released a 138-page report on the Flint situation on Friday, and it’s damning.

Based on a year-long study, the report details how government failed Flint’s black residents for decades. Implicit bias and systemic racism ingrained in housing, education, infrastructure, and emergency management all perpetuated discrimination and eventually led to toxic lead levels in Flint’s water. The commission writes, “fixing the problems that originated in Flint’s latest chapter will address the tumor but not the cancer.”

Central to the report are recommendations for preventing Flint-style disasters in the future. They range from the simple — listen to residents more and relocate meetings to affected communities — to the challenging — adopt a new statewide environmental justice plan and restructure Michigan’s emergency manager law.

Though the report documents racism, it says those seeking to file claims over civil rights violations “will face an uphill climb” because racism and discrimination often harm people of color obliquely, within the law.

Its conclusion is pointed. “That the problem is systemic doesn’t mean there is nobody to blame,” the commission writes. “We are all to blame.”

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Filed under: Water Comments Off

Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

Leer en español


Climate change is threatening to push a crowded capital toward a breaking point.


FEB. 17, 2017

MEXICO CITY — On bad days, you can smell the stench from a mile away, drifting over a nowhere sprawl of highways and office parks.

When the Grand Canal was completed, at the end of the 1800s, it was Mexico City’s Brooklyn Bridge, a major feat of engineering and a symbol of civic pride: 29 miles long, with the ability to move tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater per second. It promised to solve the flooding and sewage problems that had plagued the city for centuries.

Only it didn’t, pretty much from the start. The canal was based on gravity. And Mexico City, a mile and a half above sea level, was sinking, collapsing in on itself.

It still is, faster and faster, and the canal is just one victim of what has become a vicious cycle. Always short of water, Mexico City keeps drilling deeper for more, weakening the ancient clay lake beds on which the Aztecs first built much of the city, causing it to crumble even further.




Extent of underlying ancient lake sediments





National Palace



Colored areas show how quickly the ground sank from October 2014 to May 2015

Grand Canal

Source: Subsidence rate data from Dr. Andy Sowter at Geomatic Ventures Limited.

It is a cycle made worse by climate change. More heat and drought mean more evaporation and yet more demand for water, adding pressure to tap distant reservoirs at staggering costs or further drain underground aquifers and hasten the city’s collapse.

In the immense neighborhood of Iztapalapa — where nearly two million people live, many of them unable to count on water from their taps — a teenager was swallowed up where a crack in the brittle ground split open a street. Sidewalks resemble broken china, and 15 elementary schools have crumbled or caved in.

Much is being written about climate change and the impact of rising seas on waterfront populations. But coasts are not the only places affected. Mexico City — high in the mountains, in the center of the country — is a glaring example. The world has a lot invested in crowded capitals like this one, with vast numbers of people, huge economies and the stability of a hemisphere at risk.

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China Suspends All Coal Imports From North Korea





Coal laborers in 2013 in the North Korean town of Sinuiju, which is close to the Chinese city of Dandong.


Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SEOUL, South Korea — China said on Saturday that it was suspending all imports of coal from North Korea as part of its effort to enact United Nations Security Council sanctions aimed at stopping the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile program.

The ban takes effect on Sunday and will last until the end of the year, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a brief statement posted on its website on Saturday. Chinese trade and aid have long been a vital economic crutch for North Korea, and the decision strips North Korea of one of its most important sources of foreign currency.

Coal has accounted for 34 percent to 40 percent of North Korean exports in the past several years, and almost all of it was shipped to China, according to South Korean government estimates.

The ban comes six days after the North Korean test of a ballistic missile that the Security Council condemned as a violation of its resolutions that prohibited the country from developing and testing ballistic missile technology.

In the test, North Korea claimed that it had successfully launched a new type of nuclear-capable missile. It said its intermediate-range Pukguksong-2 missile used a solid-fuel technology that American experts say will make it harder to detect missile attacks from the North.

In the resolution it adopted in November in response to the North’s fifth and most powerful nuclear test, the Security Council said that North Korea should not be allowed to export more than 7.5 million metric tons of coal a year or bring in more than $400 million in coal sales, whichever limit is met first. It was unclear whether that cap has already been reached for this year.

Officials of the United States and its allies, including President Trump, have suggested that China, North Korea’s principal economic patron, should be more aggressive in enforcing sanctions. But while it does not approve of the North’s weapons program, China has also been seen as reluctant to inflict crippling pain on North Korea, for fear that it might destabilize its Communist neighbor.

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Fires, floods, earthquakes add up to plenty of California disaster declarations

FEBRUARY 17, 2017 12:01 AM


Workman to save valuable equipment from the path of the rampaging Feather River at Oroville in December 1964 after heavy rains led to widespread flooding. The U.S. government declared federal disasters in 31 counties. There have been 250 federal disaster declarations in the state since 1950, the second-most of any state. Bee File


This year’s heavy rains and the ongoing crisis at Oroville Dam recently prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to do what he and his predecessors have done many times before: ask for federal help.

Once approved, presidential declarations – the most common is a major disaster – open the door to assistance from a range of federal programs, such as money to fix roads or help with living expenses for people thrown out of work.

California knows the programs well.

The state has had 250 federal declarations since 1953, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency data. Fires, floods and earthquakes top the list of disasters that have afflicted California, which has also confronted drought, tsunamis and a hurricane. Only Texas, with 254 federal declarations of 10 varieties, has had more. Oklahoma (167), Washington (132) and Florida (122) fill out the top five.


The rate of disaster declarations has grown significantly over the years. California, which averaged well under two federal declarations a year from 1953 through 1999, has had 182 since 2000, the most of any state.

Almost all of them – 168 – involved fires, including the deadly wildfires in Southern California in 2003 and 2007, the Angora Fire in 2007 near South Lake Tahoe, and the Rim Fire near Yosemite in 2013, the third-largest wildfire in California history.

Underlining the state’s latest requests is the occasionally heated political rhetoric between Donald Trump’s White House and Democratic leaders in California, which Trump lost by almost 4.3 million votes. Some Trump supporters suggested on social media this week that Washington ignore California’s request (it’s well beside the point, but Trump carried Oroville with 54.8 percent of the vote.)

Trump didn’t brush off California. He declared a major disaster for last month’s heavy rains and an emergency declaration to help efforts at Oroville Dam.

$118.7 billion Total FEMA grants since 2005 for fire, preparedness, mitigation, individual assistance, and public assistance in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Since 2005, California has received $6.3 billion in FEMA grants for fire, preparedness, mitigation, individual assistance, and public assistance, according to agency records. Only three states have received more – Louisiana New York and Texas.


Louisiana has received $26 billion in FEMA grants from 22 disaster declarations involving hurricanes (Katrina, Ike, Rita, Gustav and Isaac), floods, severe storms and one coastal storm. Hurricane Katrina resulted in more than $13.4 billion in public assistance grants and another $5.3 billion in individual assistance, according to FEMA records.

New York has received nearly $23 billion, including almost $14 billion as a result of Superstorm Sandy, which hammered the Eastern Seaboard in October 2012 and triggered a storm surge that flooded subway tunnels and caused billions of dollars in damage.

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Officials Working To Restart Oroville Dam Power Plant

Thursday, February 16, 2017 | Sacramento, CA |

UPDATE 3:37 p.m.: Officials at Lake Oroville say they're now working to restart the Hyatt Power Plant near the base of the dam.

The plant has been shut down since last week, when debris from the eroding main spillway washed into the diversion pond, creating a blockage.

Water backed up the channel toward the plant, creating dangerous operating conditions.

Bill Croyle is Acting Director of the Department of Water Resources.

"That plant is important for us to make available," says Croyle. "So, we need to move more of that material out of the way at the bottom of that slope, drop the water level in front of that plant so we can get into normal operation water conditions on the downstream side, and that allows us to add another way to get water out of the reservoir."

Croyle also says it will take a while to remove the debris field.

The flow of water coming down the main spillway was reduced today, in order to give workers more access to the area.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Incident command leaders at Lake Oroville say work crews are making good progress on repairs on the emergency spillway to prevent further erosion.

The next goal is to address an area of debris that's blocking a portion of the diversion pool at the base of the main spillway.

The Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle says the conditions at the lake have changed a lot since Sunday and need to be put into perspective.

"The reservoir has been up at much higher than these levels before. You know, we're kind of at normal flood operations here, except for we have a damaged spillway."

Croyle says outflow on the main spillway was reduced Thursday from 100,000 to 80,000 cubic feet per second, and will hold there for the time being.

UPDATE 1 p.m.:


Posted by California Department of Water Resources

Posted by California Department of Water Resources

(AP) - California officials are slowing the release of water from a lake behind the nation's tallest dam so crews can remove debris from the bottom of the structure's damaged spillway.

State Department of Water Resources officials said Thursday that removing debris protects Oroville Dam's power plant and will allow for it eventually to be restarted.

Officials had been releasing 100,000 cubic feet of water, or enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool, each second from the lake since Sunday, when the sheriff ordered an immediate evacuation. They didn't say how much water is now being released.

Department acting Director Bill Croyle said Wednesday that water managers would start dialing back the flow now that the lake has been reduced and can absorb runoff from storms expected over the next several days.

UPDATE 11 a.m.: The State Department of Water Resources says flows through the Oroville Dam spillway have been reduced to 95,000 cubic feet per second Thursday.

The reduction, from 100,000 cfs, took place so that crews can remove debris from a diversion pool at the bottom of the spillway.

Officials say the outflow will still allow for the reduction of reservoir levels.

Original Post: Nearly 100 workers are part of a 24-hour crew assigned to the emergency Oroville Dam spillway repair project.

Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle says those workers are placing 1,200 tons of material in the emergency spillway, per hour.

"This community has seen an awful lot of trucks go through, lot of helicopters flying around, and that's an important part of our proactive contingency plans to protect the emergency spillway, should we need to use it again," says Croyle.

Coyle, however, says the likelihood of it being used anytime soon is waning. Water runoff flowing into Lake Oroville has decreased significantly over the past week, and upcoming storm systems do not pose an immediate threat.

-Randol White / Capital Public Radio

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