That’s the mess that stopped Amtrak’s Coastal Starlight train, and we had to take a bus around it, from Redding down to Sacramento (that leg is up and running again, but now Costal Starlight between San Luis Obispo and LA is down).  Climate change and extreme weather is the theme of the month, particularly during this “vacation” which is turning into a “Climate Change Tour.”

Yesterday’s storm fortunately was focused on southern California, so the Oroville dam area didn’t get hit as hard as was thought earlier:

Deadly storm slams Southern California –

But this Oroville dam safety issue is nothing new:

Releasing water at Oroville Dam a lingering problem

How Did the Oroville Dam Crisis Get So Dire? – The Atlantic

Oroville Dam Disaster Is a Wake-Up Call for Infrastructure Investment

Sacramento Bee –Check out this interactive 3D model of Oroville Dam

For years there has been ongoing safety analysis and scrutiny, yet here we are now. ???  In crisis… many people evacuated, over 180,000 in many cities and surrounding areas:

Look up FERC Docket P-2100 for more info, much is about Thermalito, but much is about Oroville.  It’s about 50/50.  The “good stuff” is CEII, which means that regular folks can’t look.

CEII Generally (FERC)

FERC: CEII – Designation of Incoming Dam Safety Documents

I’d heard there was a 2005 safety report in the relicensing docket, but can’t find a public copy.  Here’s an example of what I found most interesting in the Oroville docket… BUT WAIT… it’s CEII, so we have no way of knowing what’s at issue:

Doc Date/
Filed Date
Description Class/
Files Size
Document Components
P-2100-000 Department of Water Resources under P-2100 submits Ninth Part 12D Independent Consultant’s Safety Inspection Report and Supporting Technical Information Document for Oroville Dam.
Availability: CEII
Report/Form /
Part 12 Consultant Safety Inspection Reports
 PDF     8758K
 PDF     30388K
 PDF     36417K
 PDF     33640K
 PDF     3773K
 PDF     48602K
 PDF     43905K
 PDF     49545K
 PDF     45365K
 PDF     42240K
 PDF     40681K
More Files – See List.


Document Components
P-2100-000 Department of Water Resources submits CEII Potential Failure Mode Analysis Report for Oroville Dam under P-2100.
Availability: Public
Report/Form /
Other Dam Safety Report
 PDF     128K
 FERC Generated PDF     128K


Document Components
P-2100-000 Department of Water Resources submits CEII Potential Failure Mode Analysis Report for Oroville Dam under P-2100.
Availability: CEII
Report/Form /
Other Dam Safety Report
 PDF     153K
 PDF     3056K
 PDF     48629K
 PDF     45437K
 FERC Generated PDF     96911K


P-2100-000 Update to Service List for Pierce Atwood LLP Under P-2100.
Availability: Public
Pleading/Motion /
Procedural Motion
 PDF     166K
 FERC Generated PDF     166K


Looking forward to catching up with Ted Nace soon in San Francisco.  He’s author of Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy — get your copy HERE.

Alan Muller and I had the good fortune of meeting him through our “no coal” work and the “No New Coal Plants” list that was instrumental in stopping so many coal gasification plants across the U.S., including Minnesota’s Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project (see also the NRG coal gasification plant proposed for Delaware.  He wrote this Orion article about that coal gasification fight (a couple things are off — hey, Ted, it’s an ORANGE crate!!):

Orion-Stopping Coal in its Tracks – Ted Nace – JanFeb 2008

And from that, he also also wrote:

Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal

Check these out, you can find them reasonably priced at  Support your independent bookseller!

UPDATE: Corps grants easement to Dakota Access LLC

You may have read tRump’s Memorandum pushing the Army Corps of Engineers to ram through the Dakota Access pipeline:

Trump_Memorandum Dakota Access

From the Stanley Gazette:

Breaking News: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ready to Grant Easement for DAPL

And from the DC District Federal Court, here are the filings:

Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline – Memorandum – Document No. 207-02032

The Army rolled, and here are the documents stating intent to issue the DAPL easement across Lake Oahe, and the Notice of Termination of the Environmental Impact Statement:

ACoE_Notice Regarding Recently Issued Documents

Ex_1_Notice to Congress

Ex_2_Compliance with Presidential Memorandum

Ex_3_To Federal Register_Notice of Termination

How is this anything but “arbitrary and capricious” action on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers?

Xcel’s 2016 Earnings Call was this morning.  Look at the above chart, pay close attention to the numbers I’ve highlighted in yellow.  2016 4th Quarter sales growth is down 0.6%.  Yearly sales decrease is -0.3%.  Here’s the rest of the Earnings Call Presentation:

1001219517_Presentation_Year End 2016

Remember CapX 2020, based on projections of annual increases of 2.49%.  Remember Commerce’s Steve Rakow who introduced the most bizarre chart ever in an effort to prop up need for CapX 2020, one without identifying the X axis or Y axis and just a sine wave trending sharply upward?  Yea, this one…

Hasn’t worked out that way, has it… the 2016 10-K isn’t filed yet, so there’s only 2015 to go on, though looking at their 10-Q for summer, I expect it’s flat at best.

So with sales down, I presume it’ll be flat peak demand?  It’s not disclosed in the 3rd Quarter 10-Q.  Xcel, we’ll be looking for that this month in your 10-K filing!

As we know, tRump signed a “Memorandum” (note, it is NOT an “Executive Order”) to ram through DAPL.  Here’s the cut and paste of the Memorandum, also here at the White House Memoranda page:

Trump_Memorandum Dakota Access

One part I’m particularly concerned with is the second paragraph, where the Army Corps is ordered to consider rescinding or modifying the denial of the permit, and whether to withdraw the Notice of Intent and request for Scoping Comments for the Environmental Impact Statement:

(ii) consider, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, whether to rescind or modify the memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works dated December 4, 2016 (Proposed Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing at Lake Oahe, North Dakota), and whether to withdraw the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection with Dakota Access, LLC’s Request for an Easement to Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota, dated January 18, 2017, and published at 82 Fed. Reg. 5543;

Really.  That’s tRumpspeak for “Issue the Permit, Who Needs an EIS!”  So methinks it’s VERY important to get a lot of detailed scoping comments in ASAP!

What are Scoping Comments?  It’s kind of a term of art, they are comments laying out what you think should be covered in the Environmental Impact Statement.  It’s a “broadening” exercise, one where you bring up all the things that could be, should be, relevant and investigated, disclosed, analyzed, in the Environmental Impact Statement.  Form letters and postcards won’t cut it, this requires a little time and thought, and because you can email them, it’s pretty easy.  Just be specific about what issues should be considered.  Because they’re looking for “alternative routes” I wouldn’t give them any, because if they put it anywhere, it’s a problem, so I’d recommend instead saying that moving the pipeline doesn’t lessen the odds of rupture, failure, corrosion, and that the pipeline is too much of a rupture waiting to happen to route anywhere!

Here’s the Notice:

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement

pdf of Notice: 017-00937_Federal Register – Notice EIS

Scoping comments are due by February 20, 2017.  By mail, and they ask that you include your name, return address, and “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing” on the first page of your written comments:

Gib Owen

Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

108 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0108

By email to – use Subject: NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing

They say they want comments about these issues:

(1) Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River;

(2) Potential risks and impacts of an oil spill, and potential impacts to Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water intakes, and the Tribe’s water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights; and

(3) Information on the extent and location of the Tribe’s treaty rights in Lake Oahe.

… BUT… don’t limit your input — get creative, be specific, really think about impacts, about connected actions, about the entire length of this pipeline, about each of the bodies of water, the archeological features, protected wildlife areas, homes right next to the line, aquifers with so many wells drawing their water supply, nearby transmission lines which are known to corrode pipelines if too close.  In the Notice, they specifically state, “The range of issues, alternatives, and potential impacts may be expanded based on comments received in response to this notice and at public scoping meetings.”  So now it’s our job to be very, very specific about the broad range of issues to be included in the Environmental Impact Statement.