Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is facing withering criticism for concentrating too much on California’s high speed rail projects and immigration and not enough on maintaining a weakened Oroville Dam.
Republicans are thrashing the California Democrat amid reports that state officials have for years ignored calls to maintain the massive 50-year-old dam.
“What’s Governor Brown doing?” former Republican state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly asked Monday on social media. “The same thing he’s been doing for decades — obstructing progress.”
Brown has been so busy focusing on pet projects like defying Trump’s temporary immigration ban that he has neglected to fund improvements to the dam, Donnnelly wrote.
“Governor Brown is now going hat-in-hand to beg the Trump administration for emergency funds,” he added, referring to Brown’s decision to ask the Trump administration for federal funds for cleanup.
Engineers are concerned cracks in the dam could eventually collapse the retaining wall if storms worsen in the area.
Officials, meanwhile, said Monday that the goal is to reduce Lake Oroville’s water level by 50 feet in preparation for the next round of storms, which are expected to slam California later this week.
Conservatives have been quick to criticize Brown for prioritizing high-speed rail and services for illegal immigrants over more important infrastructure issues: Oroville Dam, for example. The cost of fixing the spillway costs $200 million.
“California Governor Jerry Brown spends $25 billion per year to support illegal immigrants/I wonder how much Governor Brown spent to maintain the Oroville Dam?” Charlie Kirk, founder of student group Turning Point USA, wrote on social media on Monday.
The Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the U.S. at 770 feet — environmental groups say maintenance on the project is not a high priority. Many activists were for many years convinced that California would see semi-permanent droughts as a result of global warming.
The Federal Energy Regulation Commission rejected requests from activists for the state to make $100 million improvements to the dam. The improvements would include shoring up the dam with concrete barriers.
Brown did not include the improvements in his $100 billion wish list of projects prepared in December — the month storms began pelting the state — for Trump’s call for $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements, CNBC reported.
The governor did include in the list a $100 billion high-speed rail. Republicans consider high-speed rail projects a symbol of out-of-control government spending. Analysts consider such projects more of a burden than a boon for taxpayers.
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