Grist Blames Climate for Oroville Dam

Grist Blames ‘Ridiculous’ Climate Change for Oroville Dam

By Julia A. Seymour

Climate alarmists always want to have it both ways on weather: blaming drought, floods, storms, and more on manmade global warming.

They also often exploit the news of a disaster, which is precisely what the left-wing environmental journalism site Grist did on Feb. 16, when it reacted to the flooding in Northern California and a near dam failure in Oroville.

“The dam truth: Climate change means more Lake Orovilles,” Grist exclaimed in the headline.

Almost 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate the area downstream for Lake Oroville and the Oroville Dam, after flooding damaged the primary spillway and authorities feared dangerous levels of erosion of the emergency spillway. And the reason the dam nearly failed was manmade — but not the way Grist claimed.

The Mercury News reported on Feb. 12, that several eco-groups filed a federal motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2005, urging the emergency spillway be reinforced with concrete to prevent erosion. The regulatory agency took the word of various county and state agencies that reinforcement was unnecessary, and rejected the motion.

The newspaper found that the flows which caused severe erosion and threatened the emergency spillway were 6,000 to 12,000 cubic feet per second — or “less than 5 percent of the rate that FERC said was safe.”

So the near disaster of Oroville was a government failure, not the result of a climate apocalypse.

Even though Grist wrote its hyperbolic piece four days after The Mercury News report and even complained about “decrepit infrastructure” but there was no mention that regulators failed or that they were warned about the threat of erosion.

Instead, Grist proclaimed, “California’s climate has always been extreme (even before humans got seriously involved), but what’s happening right now is just ridiculous. We are witnessing the effects of climate change play out, in real time.”

After pinning the “near-disaster” on climate change in the headline and much of the story, even Grist quietly acknowledged their argument is theory saying “exactly how atmospheric rivers will change depends on greenhouse gas emissions and science that’s still being worked out.” (Emphasis added)

Grist also turned to a statement by the acting director of the California Department of Water Resources Bill Croyle who said, “I’m not sure anything went wrong” and “This was a new, never-happened-before event.”

In its attempts to blame climate change entirely, Grist failed to point out that Croyle’s agency was one of many government entities which convinced FERC not to require concrete reinforcement of the emergency spillway.

Grist has received millions from The Schmidt Family Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Ford Foundation and others. Media outlets often turn to Grist for information, despite its blatant climate bias.