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Senate Subcommittee Actions Show Support for Community Safety at Lake Oroville Facilities

Friday, May 25, 2018/Categories: News and Announcements

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2018
Media Contact: Callie Lutz, 530.552.3320

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Butte County is pleased to announce that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill on Thursday, May 24, 2018, which includes specific language regarding the Lake Oroville Project Facilities.     

Specifically, the bill directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to brief committees in both the House and Senate on FERC’s response to the independent study done of the spillways involved in the 2017 incident at the Oroville Dam.  In addition, the bill directs FERC to require the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to request that the U.S. Society on Dams nominate independent consultants to prepare an additional risk analysis during the 2019 safety review.   

In April, Butte County Supervisors Steve Lambert and Bill Connelly traveled to Washington, D.C., for the County’s annual federal legislative advocacy trip and met with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.   

“It’s important that we take a better look at dam safety across the country. Everyone said the Oroville Dam was safe, but it clearly wasn’t. I worry that the technical and engineering assumptions that everyone agreed on 50 years ago when these dams were built may no longer be accurate – exactly as we saw when Oroville’s spillway failed. Our bill directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to both take a closer look specifically at Oroville, as well as to apply the lessons of Oroville to dam safety reviews nationwide,” Senator Feinstein stated.   

“When we met with Senator Feinstein, we had a thorough and thoughtful discussion with her regarding the local impacts of the Lake Oroville facilities,” said Lambert. “Butte County sincerely thanks Senator Feinstein for her support in holding FERC and DWR accountable for public safety issues related to the facilities.”   

The bill goes on to encourage FERC to “prioritize meaningful opportunities for public engagement and coordination with State and local governments” during the re-licensing process and that the process should “remain transparent and consistent, and ensure the health, safety, and security of the environment and each affected community.”   

The bill now awaits consideration on the floor of the Senate and final reconciliation with the U.S. House of Representatives.   

“This is a step forward in providing a stronger local voice in the FERC process and spotlighting the safety of our communities as a priority,” said Lambert. 

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