Articles by Ellen Knickmeyer

Associated Press

Bad Design, Poor Construction Blamed for California Dam Damage

Bad design and construction of the tallest U.S. dam a half-century ago and inadequate state and federal oversight since then led to a disastrous spillway collapse in February, an independent national team of dam safety experts said this week as …

Managers Made Errors in Handling California Dam Crisis

Late in the afternoon of Feb. 12, Sheriff Kory Honea was at the emergency operations center for the tallest dam in America when he overheard someone say something that stopped him in his tracks: “This is not good.” Over six …

Experts Warn of ‘Significant Risk’ from California Dam

California is not just fighting nature as it attempts to repair the nation’s tallest dam, badly damaged last month by surging storm waters. It’s also racing the clock. Safety experts say there is no time for delay in a state …

Flood Concerns Dismissed by Dam Managers California 12 Years Ago

Environmental activists and local government officials warned more than a decade ago about the risk of catastrophic flooding below a major Northern California dam – the very scenario that threatened to unfold over the weekend, prompting evacuation orders for nearly …

Young Victim’s Family Brings First Suit in Deadly California Fire

The parents of a 20-year-old college student who died in the arms of her boyfriend in Oakland’s deadly warehouse fire filed the first lawsuit Friday in the disaster, blaming the building’s owner, chief tenant and others. The lawsuit, filed in …

Colleagues of Oakland Artists’ Colony Founder Paint Caustic Portrait

The founder of a ramshackle Oakland artists’ colony where dozens of people burned to death saw himself as a kind of guru and loved to surround himself with followers but showed chilling disregard for their well-being, according to relatives, neighbors …

Tourism Decline in California’s Scenic Big Sur Sparked by Wildfire

Lodge managers and cafe owners along California’s dramatic Big Sur coast were looking at a summer of jittery guests and cancelled bookings after fire officials warned that crews will likely be battling a wildfire raging in steep, forested ridges just …

California Governor Wants to Expand Efforts on Climate Change

California Gov. Jerry Brown has launched a campaign to extend some of the most ambitious climate-change programs in the country and ensure his environmental legacy when he leaves office in two years. The centerpiece of the push is a cap-and-trade …

Massive Northern California Wildfire Destroys 400 Homes and Businesses

Two fast-burning wildfires overtook several Northern California towns, killing at least one person and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and sending thousands of residents fleeing highways lined with buildings, guardrails and cars still in flames. The California Department of …

California Regulator: Utility Too Big to be Safe

Repeated natural-gas accidents – including a 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people – suggest that California’s largest power utility could be too big to operate safely, the state’s top utility regulator says. California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker …