Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Asian Carp Species Caught by Minnesota DNR Contractor Upstream of Previous Sightings

Mississippi River Lock and Dam System
(click to enlarge)
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) has announced that its contractors netted two adult invasive (or non-native) Asian carp in Pool 2 of the Mississippi River in the Cottage Grove, Minnesota area on July 17. One of the carp was a Bighead carp weighing about 40 pounds. The second was a Silver carp that weighed about 20 pounds.    Because of the ability of Asian carp and many other non-native fish to compete with and displace native species, invasive fish are a significant threat to native biodiversity and the economy in the Mississippi River watershed.  The River's Pool 2 is formed upstream of the Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam 2 at Mississippi River mile 815.2 near Hastings, Minnesota (see map to the right).  The pool extends upstream to the Ford Dam, and includes the backwater lakes of Baldwin Lake, River Lake, Spring Lake, Mooers Lake and Grey Cloud Slough.

Prior to last week's catch, Bighead carp had not been detected above the mouth of the St. Croix River near Prescott, Wisconsin; and Silver carp had not been detected above Pool 5A near Winona, Wisconsin.  Pool 5A is formed by Lock and Dam 5A, located near Fountain City, Wisconsin and Goodview, Minnesota around Mississippi River mile 728.5.

Large numbers of several species of non-native, Asian carp have been progressively making their way upstream in the Mississippi River Basin for decades, since their release in the 1970s into the Lower Mississippi River from fish farming operations. Since then, Bighead, Silver and Grass carp (and less extensively Black carp) have been captured throughout much of the Mississippi River watershed from Louisiana to South Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio. Populations of both species are well-established in the Mississippi River and its tributaries downstream of Pool 16, formed by Lock and Dam 16, near Muscatine, Iowa (around river mile 457.2).

The MN DNR plans to continue its Asian carp sampling effort this week in an attempt to determine if additional and smaller carp are in the upper reaches of Pool 2.

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for this week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.  Links are provided to the relevant committee web pages, and, where appropriate, to pieces of legislation. Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and these should be, as well (follow the appropriate link).  All times are Eastern.  This page will updated as warranted.



Wednesday:
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy hearing on Modernizing the Business of Environmental Regulation and Protection; 10:00 AM, room 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs hearing on several bills, including: H.R. 3409, To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to require that any expansion of a national wildlife refuge must be expressly authorized by statute. “the National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Limitation Act;” H.R. 5026, To prohibit closing or repurposing any propagation fish hatchery or aquatic species propagation program of the Department of the Interior unless such action is expressly authorized by an Act of Congress, and for other purposes. “the Fish Hatchery Protection Act;” and H.R. 5069, To amend the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act to increase in the price of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps to fund the acquisition of conservation easements for migratory birds, and for other purposes. “the Federal Duck Stamp Act;”  10:00 AM, room 1334 Longworth House Office Building.
  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing: “Insuring our Future: Building a Flood Insurance Program We Can Live With, Grow With, and Prosper With;”  2:30 PM, room SD-138 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. 
  • Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Executive Session to consider several bills, including S. 2094, Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, regarding the regulation of discharges incidental to normal ship operations in navigable waterways; 2:30 PM, room 253 Russell Senate Office Building.
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks hearing on several bills, including S. 2392, to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate certain segments of East Rosebud Creek in Carbon County, Montana, as components of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System; and S. 1641, to establish the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area; 2:30 PM, room TBD.
Thursday:

Friday, July 18, 2014

What We Learned This Week - There Be Dragons in Kansas


A Federal appeals court upheld USEPA initiatives aimed at reducing water pollution from mountaintop removal mining, but several coal-state lawmakers didn't appreciate the ruling.  In other court water news, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld Iowa's water quality regulations.  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy hopes to unmuddle the misunderstandings and misstatements surrounding the Administration's proposed waters of the United State rule.  There be dragons in Kansas.   And there be men in North Dakota: Thanks to vast amounts of Bakken shale oil, North Dakota has the greatest concentration of men (51%) of any state besides Alaska.  The New Madrid Seismic Zone in the Mississippi River valley may not be as hot of an earthquake hot-spot as some think.   Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is running for re-election this year, and 100 of his fellow Republicans just endorsed his Democratic challenger. The Louisiana U.S. Senate race contains one fewer Republican contestant than at the beginning of the week. The odds of a strong El Nino, which would disrupt weather worldwide, are increasingly unlikely, while the odds that the planet is warming seem to be increasing.  U.S. House Republicans continue to push through fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills, but none will be going anywhere fast, as the Democratically-controlled Senate has yet to pass one.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has apparently backtracked on an earlier commitment to put spending bills on Senate floor this summer.  Speaking of partisanship, nurture may not be as powerful as nature when it comes to partisanship. And there may not much hope of that changing in the next generation: Millennials' political views are, at best, in a stage of constant metamorphosis and, at worst, "totally incoherent."  The turnouts of both fish and anglers were strong for Illinois River Asian carp bowfishing tournament. In the short-term, the bowfishers won, but don't count the carp out yet.  And last but not least, "happy 100th birthday" to the Congressional Research Service, which marked its centennial on Wednesday (the Legislative Reference Service was established in the Library of Congress in 1914).

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Ecosystem Restoration Conference to Include Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Coast Focus
The biennial Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration (CEER) will be held this year in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 28 through August 1, and will include a particular focus on ecosystem restoration in the Mississippi River Basin and the Louisiana coast. CEER is a joint effort of the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration and the Society for Ecological Restoration. To register to attend CEER 2014 visit this page.  For more details about the Conference and its agenda, see the CEER web site.

House Committee Advances Bills Restricting U.S. EPA Clean Water Activities
On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced three pieces of legislation during a Committee mark-up session. The bills would limit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ability to apply Clean Water Act protections to surface waters under various situations, and would impact the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule, mountaintop removal mining waste disposal into streams, and the EPA's ability to veto certain Army Corps of Engineers permits. For more details on the bills and their intended impacts, read this summary.

Next Week in Congress
There are quite a few hearings scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin's water resources, including hearings on flood insurance affordability, U.S. EPA regulations, FEMA's disaster response ability, and several pieces of legislation.  You can see an overview of the week ahead here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • EPA: 'I'm going to get this right,' McCarthy says of muddled water rule http://ow.ly/z8gVT
  • NRDC and the American Farm Bureau debate debating the Obama administration's controversial Waters of the U.S. proposal http://ow.ly/zdDtn
  • American Farm Bureau Federation proposed clean water rule analysis http://ow.ly/zhkZL targets EPA acting water administrator blog post http://ow.ly/zhl3g
  • National Farmers Union asks for more clarity on several issues in Administration's proposed Waters of the U.S. rule http://ow.ly/zhrOo
  • Federal appeals court upholds USEPA initiatives aimed at reducing water pollution from mountaintop removal mining http://ow.ly/z8g6R (see related article, below)
  • Coal-state lawmakers plan legislative response to appeals court ruling upholding Obama administration initiatives  http://ow.ly/z8Xat
  • Estimated 1M gallons of saltwater leak from ND pipeline; unknown amount entered Lake Sakakawea tributary (Missouri River reservoir) http://ow.ly/z8HEh
  • In fertile Missouri floodplain, farmers scratch their heads over EPA Clean Water Act proposal (Greenwire) ow.ly/zgG7a
  • Mississippi River red oak bottomlands accrue significant amounts of nitrogen flowing downstream ow.ly/zg871
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • EPA releases new Flood Resilience Checklist tool to help communities prepare for, deal with and recover from floods http://ow.ly/z81mp
  • Federal Register notice: America's Marine Highway Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Public Comment Period (includes Mississippi River Basin)http://ow.ly/z9738
  • Middle Mississippi River floodwaters receding, but it will be some time before River is fully within its banks http://ow.ly/zaT96
  • Upper Mississippi River reopened to recreational vessel traffic http://ow.ly/zaTCF locks reopen after being closed http://ow.ly/zaTNt
  • Flood potential can be inferred as much as 5–11 months in advance using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment  twin satellites http://ow.ly/zaXbz
  • St. Francis Levee Board votes unanimously to open up access to the Mississippi River levees in Arkansas for use as trails http://ow.ly/zdABf
Agriculture -
  • Jonathan Coppess and Barrett Kirwan (University of Illinois) Policy Matters blog - “Exploring Environmental Regulation of Agriculture” http://ow.ly/zj2Bv
  • House lawmakers rip USDA on farm bill progress http://ow.ly/z7QvM
  • Missouri and Illinois farmers have encountered half a dozen different "superweed" species immune to glyphosate http://ow.ly/z8d1S
  • Social Media, Online Resources Help a Minnesota Rancher Succeed ow.ly/zgDMy
  • 'Peak soil' threatens global food security http://ow.ly/zj4cW (corn, other monocultures, lower soil fertility) http://ow.ly/zj4k8
Climate and Weather -
Click to enlarge
  • American Meteorological Society's 2013 State of the Climate report (24th edition) released Thursday shows a warming planet http://ow.ly/zhcv6
  • NOAA: first 6 months of 2014 coldest since 1993 in southern Mississippi River Valley, western Great Lake states http://ow.ly/zei14
  • US drought update: dryness expands into Tennesee and Ohio River valleys; drought eases somewhat in Plains and Missouri River valley http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Kansas "won’t be as affected by climate change as some states;" but effect on agriculture "too close to call" http://ow.ly/z8QkV
  • Odds of a strong El Nino, which would have disrupted weather worldwide, are increasingly unlikely http://ow.ly/zaGG7
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Kansas to develop lesser prairie chicken program in hopes of getting federal government to back off listing species as threatened http://ow.ly/z8ci3 and http://ow.ly/z8cBw
  • Turnout "strong" for Illinois River Asian carp bowfishing tournament http://ow.ly/zaVKS (Ed. note: angler turnout and carp turnout)
  • Parties moving toward consensus on short-term measures to mitigate Asian carp movement from Mississippi basin to Great Lakes http://ow.ly/zbmiz
  • U.S. appeals court upholds dismissal of lawsuit seeking barriers to keep Mississippi basin Asian carp out of Great Lakes http://ow.ly/zbmY7
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists seek alternatives to cranberry pollination by honeybees http://ow.ly/zb1UC
  • Fish and Wildlife Service releases new policy providing incentives to voluntarily conserve species soon to be at risk of extinction http://ow.ly/ziV35
In the Cities -
  • Stewards of the Earth: Chattanooga churches going green as part of their faith
    Mississippi River at New Orleans
    http://ow.ly/z8dOQ
  • Iowa City City Council discusses Iowa River restoration and future flood mitigation plans http://ow.ly/zaVto
  • EPA awards $60,000 to New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board to implement a Green Infrastructure Monitoring Project http://ow.ly/zhmv4
  • EPA $52K+ grant will help train public to monitor, track 8 urban wetland restoration projects near Lake Pontchartrain (New Orleans) http://ow.ly/zhobJ
  • EPA and Groundwork New Orleans increase stormwater resilience in New Orleans by conducting neighborhood workshops http://ow.ly/zj38T
In the States-
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Massive Louisiana coastal wetland restoration project is getting its funding from a private equity firm http://ow.ly/z8duH
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) proposes bill amendment to define state waters 9 miles south into Gulf of Mexico http://ow.ly/zaSHm
  • Final plan now available for third phase of Early Restoration following the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill http://ow.ly/zbHuX
  • Business-led coalition forms to advance sustainable restoration efforts in Louisiana wetlands, rivers, deltas and coastline http://ow.ly/zbINw
  • EPA awards $60K to Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to protect, restore New Orleans’ south shore lake front ow.ly/zh8Hy
Forestry -
  • Louisville, Kentucky receives $400K USDA grant to increase nature-based recreational opportunities in Jefferson Memorial Forest http://ow.ly/yAUHr
  • USDA awards funds to promote development of rural wood to energy projects http://ow.ly/zdGHw; 5 Mississippi River Basin states to benefit ow.ly/zdGyD
Resource Development -
  • Expansion of hydropower in United States limited by economics and policy, not a lack of physical capacity http://ow.ly/z8Y18
  • Updated summary of selected USGS products on possible impacts of energy development on water resources ow.ly/zg8px
Federal Budget -
  • House last week passed its sixth fiscal 2015 appropriations bill (energy and water); Senate has yet to pass one http://ow.ly/z8bCb
  • Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) backtracks on his commitment to put spending bills on Senate floor this summer http://ow.ly/z8Lrz
  • House Appropriations Committee moves FY 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill on to full House http://ow.ly/zbWAO (along a party line vote of 29-19)
  • House Republican appropriators pass riders aimed at EPA regulations following Interior and Environment bill mark-up http://ow.ly/zdC0l
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • NRCS to host Midwest and Plains listening sessions in July to gather input on proposed technical changes to wetland determinations http://ow.ly/ziVOE
  • EPA to hold July 22, Chicago listening session on Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA) loan pilot program http://ow.ly/zbSBx (signed into law earlier this year as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act)
  • July 28-August 1 Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration to Include Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Coast focus http://ow.ly/zblgq
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association schedules August 5-6 Upper Basin meetings in East Peoria, Illinois; details ow.ly/z7Rv5
  • Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium; National Great Rivers Research and Education Center; East Alton, Illinois, Nov. 14-15 http://ow.ly/z86yB
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Link to July 8 and 16 Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's "TUWaterWays" e-newsletters: ow.ly/z7ONR
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for July 2014 http://ow.ly/z7Td0
  • The Wetlands Initiative’s "World of Wetlands" July newsletter http://ow.ly/z80nq
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin farm land ow.ly/z8RTt
  • Summer edition of the Army Corps of Engineers' "Our Mississippi" magazine http://ow.ly/zaMcY
  • American Farmland Trust July issue of E-news http://ow.ly/ziVg6
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Feedlot Update - July 17, 2014 http://ow.ly/zj22Y
Other news-
  • Bipartisan sportsmen's bill becomes another election-year casualty http://ow.ly/z7UP4 (also see: http://ow.ly/z7YMg)
  • Coalition of Ohio farm, industry, government, environmental groups to roll out poll this week to assess important water issues http://ow.ly/z8G10 and http://ow.ly/z8G31
  • A four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River at Stillwater, MN will ease transportation woes, but environmental impact concerns remain http://ow.ly/z8NkW
  • JOB: University of Wisconsin Aquatic Sciences Center seeks an assistant director for research and student engagement http://ow.ly/ziW6Q
  • New USGS earthquake hazard assessment map: New Madrid Seismic Zone in Mississippi River valley remains a "bone of contention" http://ow.ly/zj1Ek
Politics and People-
  • A 'do-nothing Congress'? - current session of Congress is on track to pass historically fewer laws of substance http://ow.ly/z89qM
  • State Rep. Paul Hollis, a Republican bidding for Louisiana’s competitive U.S. Senate seat, withdraws candidacy http://ow.ly/z8KIS
  • Which federal agencies have gained and lost the most employees since the start of the Obama administration? http://ow.ly/z8OMN
  • Union representing EPA employees responds to Administrator McCarthy's support for faster firing ability http://ow.ly/zbRVW
  • Over 100 Republican politicians, former elected officials endorse Paul Davis, Democratic challenger to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) http://ow.ly/zdA03
  • Bob Perciasepe, U.S. EPA's longest-serving Deputy Administrator, will leave his post next month ow.ly/zha2a
  • State Sen. Chris McDaniel will challenge the Mississippi GOP Senate primary runoff results “within the next ten days” ow.ly/zgCNO
  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) will likely run for chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress ow.ly/zg8Pg
Last Word -
It is critical that the House and Senate act on the Interior bill and put the brakes on the EPA’s regulatory approach that is intent on expanding the federal government’s reach and harming our economy.” – Rep. Ken Calvert (R-California) speaking on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which includes an amendment (or "rider") that would restrict the government's ability to implement a proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

House Committee Advances Bills Restricting U.S. EPA Clean Water Activities

On Wednesday, July 16, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced three pieces of legislation during a Committee mark-up session.  The bills would limit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ability to apply Clean Water Act protections to surface waters under various situations. On a voice vote, the Committee passed H.R. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014."  That bill would prohibit the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from "developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering, or enforcing" a proposed rule that attempts to clarify those streams and wetlands that are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act (known as the "Waters of the U.S." rule).

The Committee also approved H.R. 5077, the "Coal Jobs Protection Act of 2014" (by a vote of 28-24) - a bill that would prevent the EPA from enforcing an existing 2011 guidance on mountaintop-removal mining and streamline permitting, and defining the term "fill material" to include mining debris (that otherwise could be used to fill federally-regulated streams).  And the Committee passed H.R. 4854, the "Regulatory Certainty Act of 2014" (on a 33-22 vote), which would restrict the EPA's ability to veto Clean Water Act Section 404 Army Corps of Engineers dredge-and-fill permits to that time period within the actual Army Corps' permitting process, not before or after permitting.

While the bills may see House floor activity and passage in the near future, there is little chance that any would gain traction in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ecosystem Restoration Conference to Include Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Coast Focus

The biennial Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration (CEER) will be held this year in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 28 through August 1, and will include a particular focus on ecosystem restoration in the Mississippi River Basin and the Louisiana coast. CEER is a joint effort of the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), which are collaborating to produce the conference covering restoration topics relevant to private sector, government, and non-profit restoration constituents throughout the country. While the conference program focuses on the U.S., attendees and presenters will represent restoration projects and research occurring worldwide. 

Mississippi River Basin- and Louisiana coastal-related conference topics will include "The Mississippi River - A Strategic Resource," "Rivers, Streams, and Lakes Ecosystem Restoration," and "Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration." 

Blog contributor Mark Gorman, a member of the CEER 2014 Program Committee, and a pro-tem officer for the newly-formed Large Scale Ecosystem Restoration Section of SER, and Colin Wellenkamp, Director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, will be in attendance at the CEER 2014 event, as will many other River Basin stakeholders.

To register to attend CEER 2014 visit this page.

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

Library of Congress
Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for this week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources. Links are provided to the relevant committee web pages, and, as appropriate, to pieces of legislation. Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live and these should be, as well (follow the appropriate committee hearing link). All times are Eastern. This page will be updated as warranted.

Tuesday
Wednesday
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee markup of several bills, including H.R. 5078 – "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014" and H.R. 4854 -  "Regulatory Certainty Act of 2014: to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify when the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to prohibit the specification of a defined area or deny or restrict the use of a defined area for specification as a disposal site under section 404" of the act; 10:00 AM, room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Budget Committee hearing on the Long-Term Budget Outlook; 10:00 AM, room 210 Cannon House Office Building.
  • House Natural Resources Committee markup of several bills, including H.R. 916 (sponsored by Ron Kind (D-WI))  "to improve Federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection, and use of Federal real property;" 10:00 AM, room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
  • House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing on Port of Entry Infrastructure: How Does the Federal Government Prioritize Investments?  10:00 AM, room 311 Cannon House Office Building.
  • House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Oversight and Subcommittee on Environment joint hearing on EPA's Integrated Risk Information System; 2:00 PM, room 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing to consider several bills, including S. 1153, Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act; S. 1175, Infrastructure Facilitation and Habitat Conservation Act; H.R. 1300, to amend the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 to reauthorize the volunteer programs and community partnerships for the benefit of national wildlife refuges; S. 2225, Smart Water Resource Management Conservation and Efficiency Act; S. 2530, to prohibit the importation or exportation of mussels of certain genus; and S. 2560, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Protection Act; 2:00 PM, EPW Hearing Room - 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Thursday