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LaMalfa: Suspend Environmental Restrictions To Speed Up Dam Repair

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is pushing the president to smooth the way for major repairs being done at Oroville Dam. The two heavily damaged spillways need many millions of dollars of work, and moving around many tons of rock and dirt is sure to step on mother nature’s toes. LaMalfa is encouraging the suspension of some environmental regulations. Apparently the National Marine Fisheries Service urged that spillway closures for inspection and repair be done only at night to minimize disturbances to the fish. LaMalfa says that such restrictions would endanger workers and drastically delay completion of the massive project. The dam’s emergency spillway was used last month for the first time since the dam’s construction in 1968. It quickly proved to be a seriously defective design as the torrent of water began undermining the hillside and threatening a disastrous breach that could send a 30 foot wall of water down the valley. That prompted an evacuation of about 180,000 people.  The president declared a major disaster, freeing up FEMA resources. Emergency repairs are well underway but the damage is so extensive that LaMalfa says the work needs to be expedited to be complete before next Winter’s rainy season. He says the easiest way to ensure that is to suspend the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  He’s sent a letter to the White House with that request.