Auburn Dam Authority Change

As reported by the Auburn Journal.

The complete article.

Plug pulled on Auburn dam vestige

American River Authority votes to disband joint-powers panel

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist

Formed 36 years ago to jumpstart a stalled Auburn dam effort, the American River Authority is no more.

Members of the authority representing local-government and water interests in Placer, El Dorado and San Joaquin counties voted unanimously in favor of dissolution of the joint-powers authority.

The vote came two years after the authority board voted to strip out the Auburn dam mission from its founding documents.

Without an Auburn dam to champion — and partially pull the strings to partially fund — members took the next step and voted not to continue the authority. Without the Auburn dam as a focus, the organization would have been left with a mission statement to support local water efforts that are already being tackled in several other arenas by similar groups.

The authority has been meeting once a year for several years and making no other major decisions other than to choose a chairman and adopt a budget paying for basic expenditures revolving around the yearly meeting.

At Monday’s meeting, Placer County Water Agency Director Robert Dugan made the motion to sink the authority.

“I’ve been a proud supporter of the dam,” Dugan said. “But California is a very different place today.”

Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said that the City of Auburn, Placer County Water Agency and Placer County have all taken positions in recent years supporting a recreation-based focus on the American River ahead of an Auburn dam.

The dam drive was effectively silenced in 2006 by a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report estimating the dam’s cost at $12 billion. Two years later, the state rescinded the project’s water rights. The dam’s authorization by Congress in 1965 has never been rescinded but a lack of resolve by both the state and federal government on funding the project has led to a project shutdown since the late 1970s.

Efforts in the 1980s and 1990s to restart the project were also plagued by earthquake safety concerns.

The authority has provided a funding body to pay a local share of dam costs through bonds, while also setting up another sounding board to encourage the federal government to restart the project as a flood-control facility. But even that flood-control mission has become outdated, with the flood-prone Sacramento area finding other ways, including levee height increases, to take the Auburn dam out of the discussion.

Retrieved June 30, 2018 from

Posted in Shasta Auburn Dam

Central Park, Our Model for Parkway

There is a lot to recommend the modeling though at first glance nothing is the same between an urban park in a city of millions and a suburban park spread out over many jurisdictions.

But the Parkway is as central to our suburban community—Sacramento is about 98% suburban—as Central Park is to urban New York.

Both have multiple struggles and a new book by the woman most responsible for bringing Central Park back from some of its worst struggles, is well worth reading.

This review from City Journal is superb.

An excerpt.

If Central Park is meant to serve as the “lungs” of New York, then by the 1970s the city was suffering from serious lung disease. Anyone hoping to experience the park as a refuge from urban pressures was out of luck. Inside the park, as throughout New York City, graffiti and crime abounded, suggesting pervasive government neglect. Finally, the private sector stepped in, in the form of the Central Park Conservancy. In her new memoir, Saving Central Park, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, who founded the Conservancy and led it for 15 years, recounts how her organization spearheaded the revival.

Nowadays in New York, it’s commonplace to tap the private sector to advance public ends. Examples include charter schools, business-improvement districts, and social-service providers, such as the Doe Fund. We still debate the merits of privatization, but Rogers argues that the concept was far more controversial in an earlier era. Municipal unions were determined to protect their jobs, and city leaders balked at ceding power, out of a mix of self-interest and the reflexive belief that only public employees should do the public’s work. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan believed that the most sensible solution for Central Park’s woes was for the National Park Service to take it over.

By entering into a partnership with Rogers’s Conservancy, though, the city realized many benefits, beginning with heaps of money for public services. The Conservancy provided big donors with confidence that their contributions would be well spent. As it advanced from success to success in restoring the park, the Conservancy gained the trust of the city’s elite and attracted more and bigger gifts.

What did the bad old days look like for Central Park? “The shattered luminaries on more than half the lampposts signaled that the park was unsafe at night. Litter thrown into rusty fifty-five-gallon oil drums that were randomly strewn across the landscape gave the impression that Central Park lay in a third-world country,” Rogers writes. An estimated 50,000 square feet of graffiti had to be removed from bedrock outcroppings, architectural features, and statuary. The once-lush Sheep Meadow had been ground down into a dustbowl. The Harlem Meer was a “silted, algae-coated bed of mud.”

Rogers makes clear that ideas and norms, not just budget cuts, were responsible for the park’s decline. The “Central Park á Go-Go” philosophy of Thomas Hoving, parks head under Mayor John Lindsay, made the site a default location for rock concerts, protests, and “happenings.” Central Park became whatever anyone wanted it to be—a personal canvas for self-expression. Apparently, what many New Yorkers felt like expressing back then was disdain for beautiful public art and architecture. It was one thing, in 1970s New York, to tag the side of a subway car or an abandoned building; it took a special malice, a passion for desecration, to destroy the Bethesda Terrace’s balustrade finials and smash up and spray graffiti on its ornate stairway side panels.

Rogers’s memoir doesn’t discuss Broken Windows policing, but her philosophy of park management is founded on the same premises. Ordinary citizens are driven out of public spaces if they feel unsafe in them. Cities can bring people back by reducing public disorder, thus creating a virtuous circle whereby bourgeois standards of order gradually dominate and informally restrain unruly behavior, without the need to call police all the time. The effort requires stressing small details: replacing broken slats on benches, picking up litter, making sure comfort stations have toilet paper, and removing graffiti as soon as it appears.

Restoring Central Park required negotiating not only the tension between the private and public sectors but also between the competing visions of Frederick Law Olmsted and Robert Moses. Olmsted, along with his colleague Calvert Vaux, designed the original “Greensward” plan for the park; Moses was city parks commissioner from 1934 to 1960.

To generalize a bit, Olmsted designed the park to be something people experienced, whereas Moses saw it as something to be used. Today’s New Yorkers regard Olmstead with reverence and Moses as a vindictive despot. But, as far as Central Park goes, Olmsted was the elitist and Moses the populist. Moses promoted a “radical new recreational agenda,” for children in particular—ballfields, playgrounds—and his aesthetic tended toward the whimsical. Reading about Moses’s many popular schemes for the park helps explain why he was able to maintain power for so long. Certain forms of recreation, such as ice skating, were part of the original plan for Central Park, but Olmsted made sure that they didn’t interfere with the overall “scenic experience” of rolling vistas and “rus in urbe.” Even statuary was generally anathema to Olmsted’s way of looking at things. He once opposed a plan by the distinguished architect Richard Morris Hunt to install a series of ornate gates, seeing the monumentality of the Beaux Art aesthetic as at odds with the pastoral Greensward Plan.

Retrieved June 30, 2018 from

Posted in Parks

California’s Global Warming Campaign Useless?

According to Investor’s Business Daily it’s worse than useless.

An excerpt.

Climate Change: For more than a decade, California has won high praise from environmentalists for its stringent greenhouse gas restrictions. But a new report shows that despite the enormous costs of this effort, the state is doing a worse job at cutting CO2 emissions than the rest of the country, while badly hurting its working families.

Back in 2007, California became the first state to cap CO2 emissions when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32, which mandated the state cut greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. Schwarzenegger called it “a bold new era of environmental protection.”

Not to be outdone, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last year requiring the state to cut emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

So, what happened? From 2007 to 2015, California managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 9%. But the rest of the country cut them by more than 10%, according to a new report from the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University in Orange, California.

On a per capita basis, 41 states outperformed California on CO2 cuts over those same years.

Here’s another way to look at it. Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have about the same combined population as California. But these states saw emission reductions five times as great as California. (To be fair, California started from a lower base.)

Even that is exaggerating California’s achievement. The study notes that because the state has become so inhospitable to manufacturing and energy production, it now imports more energy than any other state in the nation and relies heavily on imported goods.

In fact, California imports 66% of its crude oil, 91% of its natural gas, and 88% of the ethanol is uses from other states and countries. California alone accounts for almost a quarter of U.S. oil imports from the Persian Gulf and from Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in 2015, it imported about $408 billion in products from other nations, or 16% of the state’s GDP.

In other words, California is exporting its energy production and manufacturing base to other, more carbon-intensive states and countries, while patting itself on the back for its own CO2 reductions.

Retrieved June 29, 2018 from

Posted in Environmentalism, Government

Removing Obsolete Dams Helps Salmon

Great story from News Deeply.

An excerpt.

After chasing salmon along the southern Oregon coast for 48 years, commercial fisher Duncan MacLean has developed a strong sense of who’s who at the end of his hook. This year, he says, most of the Chinook salmon he’s catching are likely from the Rogue River, where the state of Oregon and conservation groups have worked for years on one of the nation’s largest dam removal programs.

“From everything we normally see, I would think that they are Rogue fish,” MacLean said. “If you were to go back over history and look at the way the fishery resource acts, this is a good time for them to be showing up.”

If he is right, MacLean is seeing the ultimate reward from all that restoration work: Wild salmon surging back in the Rogue.

All the data are not in yet, and may not be for several years. But Daniel Van Dyke, East Rogue District fishery biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said early indications confirm MacLean’s assessment.

The results may hold important lessons for other Western rivers. That’s particularly true on the Klamath River in California, a hydrologically similar watershed where three dams are targeted for removal.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if commercial fishermen are catching a lot of Rogue Chinook right now,” Van Dyke said. “There are individual signs that are really looking encouraging, and I suspect are tied to the dam removal project.”

Dams started coming down on the Rogue in 2008, and the work continues to this day. In 10 years, eight dams have been removed or modified for fish passage on the Rogue and its tributaries at a cost of about $20 million, said Jim McCarthy, Southern Oregon program manager at WaterWatch of Oregon, an environmental group that has played a large role in the process. The work has restored 157 miles of free-flowing river.

Most of the dams were relatively small barriers built for water diversions and had fallen into disrepair. The most recent, Beeson-Robison Dam, came down in 2017 on Wagner Creek.

Although the dam removals began 10 years ago, the full benefit to salmon populations has only been measurable over the last two years. That’s because salmon have such long life cycles – usually three or four years spent in the ocean before returning to spawn in freshwater. This means the adult salmon being caught in the ocean now are the young of the first adults to spawn successfully in the free-flowing Rogue.

Van Dyke said it may take 20 years of data gathering before the dam removals can be declared a success for fish populations. But already some data paint a promising picture.

For instance, the Rogue’s fall Chinook salmon population has roughly doubled in each of the last three years, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the interstate agency that sets salmon fishing quotas. Even more telling is that this period was a roller-coaster ride in terms of environmental conditions, including one of the most severe droughts in history followed by one of the strongest El Niño weather patterns.

This year, the population of Rogue Chinook in the ocean is estimated at 462,800 fish. That’s only about 20 percent less than the estimate for the Columbia River, a much larger but heavily dammed river.

Retrieved June 26, 2018 from

Posted in Environmentalism, Shasta Auburn Dam

California, Beyond the Political Hype

This new report, excerpted in New Geography, is very revealing.

The excerpt.

This is an excerpt of a new report, California, Greenhouse Gas Regulation, and Climate Change, from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy. The report is authored by David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez, and edited by Joel Kotkin. Read the full report (pdf) here.

California has adopted the most extensive climate change policies, laws and regulations in the United States, and the state’s climate leaders are routinely heralded for taking bold and generally unilateral action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within California’s borders to combat climate change. Although California can also claim to be the fifth largest economy in the world if it were a separate nation, the state’s actual GHG emissions account for less than 1% of the world’s anthropogenic GHG emissions. Given the state’s minuscule share of global GHG emissions, Governor Brown has often proclaimed that California’s GHG reductions will be “meaningless” unless other states and countries can be persuaded to follow California’s example.

This paper examines California’s GHG reductions between 2007 (when the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) took effect), to 2017, when the California Air Resources Board adopted the most recent “Scoping Plan” prescribing existing and proposed new GHG reduction mandates (Scoping Plan) that CARB deems required to achieve the state’s legislated mandate of reducing GHG 40% below the state’s 1990 GHG emission inventory by 2030, and the unlegislated Executive Orders issued by the current and prior governor directing the state to achieve an 80% reduction in GHG by 2050.

This paper also examines the performance of California’s economy as experienced by California residents, which presents a substantially different story than the aggregated statewide data used by CARB to conclude the state is enjoying a successful boom. In fact, California has the nation’s highest poverty rate, and by far the largest number of Americans living in poverty: about 8 million Californians, and more than 2 million children, live below the federal poverty level. California also has the nation’s highest homeless rate, and again by far the largest number of homeless Americans, including more than a quarter of a million families, children, and adults. California’s largest city, Los Angeles, counted more than 50,000 homeless individuals in 2017. California has a low unemployment rate, but extraordinarily high costs for basic necessities, including housing, electricity and transportation. For decades, California has also declined to authorize new housing construction, and experts as well as political candidates now concede that California now has a shortfall of about 3 million homes.

Retrieved June 26, 2018 from

Posted in Politics

Homelessness in San Francisco

This story from NBC News Bay Area is sad, toxic and fixable, and unfortunately much of the same is happening in Sacramento, though perhaps not as toxic to children as few families live in the downtown grid compared to San Francisco.

An excerpt.

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of downtown San Francisco in search of trash, needles, and feces. The investigation revealed trash littered across every block. The survey also found blocks dotted with needles and blocks sullied with piles of feces….

How dirty is San Francisco? An NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces throughout downtown San Francisco. The Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of the city – the more than 20-mile stretch includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and major hotel chains. The area – bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue – is also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.

As the Investigative Unit photographed nearly a dozen hypodermic needles scattered across one block, a group of preschool students happened to walk by on their way to an afternoon field trip to city hall.

“We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash,” said teacher Adelita Orellana. “Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.”

In light of the dangerous conditions, part of Orellana’s responsibilities now include teaching young children how to avoid the contamination.

‘There’s Poop in There’

“The floor is dirty,” said A’Nylah Reed, a 3-year-old student at the preschool, who irately explained having to navigate dirty conditions on her walks to school.

“There is poop in there,” she exclaimed. “That makes me angry.”

Kim Davenport, A’nyla’s mother, often walks her daughter to the Compass preschool on Leavenworth Street in San Francisco. She said she often has to pull her daughter out of the way in order to keep her from stepping on needles and human waste. “I just had to do that this morning!”

The Investigate Unit spent three days assessing conditions on the streets of downtown San Francisco and discovered trash on each of the 153 blocks surveyed. While some streets were littered with items as small as a candy wrapper, the vast majority of trash found included large heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk. The investigation also found 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown.

Retrieved June 25, 2018 from

Posted in Homelessness

Global Warming Predictions, 30 Years Out

Very revealing story from the paper of record, the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

James E. Hansen wiped sweat from his brow. Outside it was a record-high 98 degrees on June 23, 1988, as the NASA scientist testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during a prolonged heat wave, which he decided to cast as a climate event of cosmic significance. He expressed to the senators his “high degree of confidence” in “a cause-and-effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming.”

With that testimony and an accompanying paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Mr. Hansen lit the bonfire of the greenhouse vanities, igniting a world-wide debate that continues today about the energy structure of the entire planet. President Obama’s environmental policies were predicated on similar models of rapid, high-cost warming. But the 30th anniversary of Mr. Hansen’s predictions affords an opportunity to see how well his forecasts have done—and to reconsider environmental policy accordingly.

Mr. Hansen’s testimony described three possible scenarios for the future of carbon dioxide emissions. He called Scenario A “business as usual,” as it maintained the accelerating emissions growth typical of the 1970s and ’80s. This scenario predicted the earth would warm 1 degree Celsius by 2018. Scenario B set emissions lower, rising at the same rate today as in 1988. Mr. Hansen called this outcome the “most plausible,” and predicted it would lead to about 0.7 degree of warming by this year. He added a final projection, Scenario C, which he deemed highly unlikely: constant emissions beginning in 2000. In that forecast, temperatures would rise a few tenths of a degree before flatlining after 2000.

Thirty years of data have been collected since Mr. Hansen outlined his scenarios—enough to determine which was closest to reality. And the winner is Scenario C. Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16. Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect. But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong. Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago.

What about Mr. Hansen’s other claims? Outside the warming models, his only explicit claim in the testimony was that the late ’80s and ’90s would see “greater than average warming in the southeast U.S. and the Midwest.” No such spike has been measured in these regions.

As observed temperatures diverged over the years from his predictions, Mr. Hansen doubled down. In a 2007 case on auto emissions, he stated in his deposition that most of Greenland’s ice would soon melt, raising sea levels 23 feet over the course of 100 years. Subsequent research published in Nature magazine on the history of Greenland’s ice cap demonstrated this to be impossible. Much of Greenland’s surface melts every summer, meaning rapid melting might reasonably be expected to occur in a dramatically warming world. But not in the one we live in. The Nature study found only modest ice loss after 6,000 years of much warmer temperatures than human activity could ever sustain.

Several more of Mr. Hansen’s predictions can now be judged by history. Have hurricanes gotten stronger, as Mr. Hansen predicted in a 2016 study? No. Satellite data from 1970 onward shows no evidence of this in relation to global surface temperature. Have storms caused increasing amounts of damage in the U.S.? Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show no such increase in damage, measured as a percentage of gross domestic product. How about stronger tornadoes? The opposite may be true, as NOAA data offers some evidence of a decline. The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious.

The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models—and the U.N.’s—is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases. Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures. The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.

These corrected climate predictions raise a crucial question: Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?

Retrieved June 23, 2018


Posted in Environmentalism