Monday, September 15, 2014

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

This week may be the last that Congress is in session before the November 4 mid-term elections. And if some Congressional leaders are to be believed, even afterward not much is going to happen legislatively before a new Congress is seated in 2015. After Congress returns in mid-November, there will really only be one key item for its members to attend to in 2014: averting a federal government shutdown after December 11: the expiration date of the proposed stop-gap Continuing Resolution that the House released last Tuesday.  Following a last-minute White House request on Wednesday to include authority to take action against the Islamic State in the bill, Congressional work on the government funding measure was delayed until this week, further condensing the tight time frame lawmakers already faced.  Although the current two-week session (scheduled to end this week) may be extended into the week of September 22, that seems to be an unlikely option at this point.

Below are the Mississippi River Basin-related Capitol Hill happenings currently on tap for the week 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 be updated as warranted.

Tuesday
Wednesday
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on "The Administration’s Climate Plan: Failure by Design;" 10:00 AM, room 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources legislative hearing on two bills, including H.R. 5066, the  “Data Preservation Act of 2014,” that would reauthorize a USGS program that: archives geological, geophysical, and engineering data, maps, well logs, and samples, provides a national catalog of archived materials, and provides technical and financial assistance to State geological surveys and relevant Department of the Interior bureaus for archived materials; 2:00 PM, room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
Thursday
Friday

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~


"Lame duck" tango move
Last Week, This Week and the Remainder of the Year
Last week, in a nod to a look back to 1984 climate news, we learned that "Ignorance is Strength," and that sometimes a political advert is really just a Jeep commercial in disguise.

Next week could be the last that Congress is in session before the November 4 mid-term elections. And if some Congressional leaders are to be believed, even afterward, during the lame duck session, not much is going to happen before a new Congress is seated in January. After Congress returns in mid-November, there will really only be one key item for its members to attend to in 2014: averting a federal government shutdown after December 11: the expiration date of the proposed stop-gap Continuing Resolution that the House released on Tuesday.  Following a last-minute White House request to include authority to take action against the Islamic State in the bill, Congressional work on the government funding measure was put off until next week. That delay further condenses the tight time frame lawmakers already faced, and the current two-week session (scheduled to end next week) may be extended into the week of September 29, as Congress struggles to reconcile the Obama Administration request for additional military spending with varying opinions regarding increased intervention in the Middle-Eastern conflict.  Here is a link to the fairly thin list of Mississippi River Basin-related Capitol Hill happenings currently on tap for next week.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
"Waters of the United States Rule"
  • House easily passes H.R. 5078 (bill: http://ow.ly/Bk6Te) - Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (262-152 roll call vote breakdown: http://ow.ly/Bk6KH) articles on bill passage: http://ow.ly/Bk846 and http://ow.ly/Bk8BQ
  • Thirteen of the 35 Democrats voting for bill blocking Waters of the U.S. rule are House
    Getty Images
    Agriculture Committee members http://ow.ly/Bki6d
  • Obama Administration strongly opposes, threatens veto of House bill blocking regulations, guidance to clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction http://ow.ly/Bh1W6 (story here: http://ow.ly/BhgFo)
  • PGA of America, National Club Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association fight Waters of the U.S. proposal http://ow.ly/Bk9fw
  • USEPA releases seven-page series of questions and answers explaining controversial Waters of the U.S. Rule http://j.mp/1xzAhBM
  • EPA official: Obama administration moving ahead with finalizing waters of the U.S. rule; won't be protecting new kinds of water bodies http://ow.ly/B9AND
Other Water Quality News
  • New USGS study spanning two decades: pesticides in many U.S. streams continue to occur at levels of concern for aquatic life - striking decline in dangers to humans  http://ow.ly/BnWFj
  • USEPA Region 7 Administrator delivers keynote address on “Bridging Troubled Waters - the Outlook for Water Quality and Agriculture”  http://ow.ly/Bktrb
  • Federal judge dismisses environmental group's lawsuit seeking to establish logging road runoff as industrial source of water pollution http://ow.ly/Bkd3e
  • Cargill rejects calls to move or close Arkansas hog farm over Buffalo River pollution concerns http://ow.ly/BhhO9
  • Heavy chlorination, extensive sampling follow in wake of of amoeba discovery in portion of St. John the Baptist Parish water system http://ow.ly/BdXyQ
  • Companion Senate and House  bills would direct EPA to release an interim health advisory for microcystin in drinking water http://ow.ly/BlhgG
  • EPA announces $140,000 settlement with mining company for Clean Water Act violations in Allegheny River Watershed http://ow.ly/Bn7GS
  • House Republicans say the Interior Department's Inspector General is withholding information re: mountaintop removal mining stream buffer zone rule http://j.mp/1CX28fm
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Environmental groups blast Ohio EPA over its plans to streamline wetland permits http://ow.ly/BfenK
  • Several Missouri streams and rivers at or near flood stages http://ow.ly/Bq77a
  • Number of Mississippi River barges arriving in Winona, Minnesota in August was higher than seen in over a decade http://ow.ly/Bhpdo
  • Army Corps' forecast  calls for higher fall releases from Missouri River reservoirs to enable sufficient 2015 system capacity http://ow.ly/Bhtd7
  • University of Iowa adds a second green roof (600 square feet) on campus; more green roofs planned http://ow.ly/Bhu6f
  • American Rivers op-ed in Quad-City Times: "Mississippi River has room to improve" http://ow.ly/Bk3bp
  • Pueblo Chieftain Editorial: For the "greater good" "Fountain Creek needs effective flood control desperately" (i.e., dam or dams) http://ow.ly/BkuHt (Arkansas River Basin)
  • In wake of near-record Iowa River flooding this year, levee district near Wapello, Iowa pushes to improve infrastructure http://ow.ly/BkvCV
  • Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District officials concerned about potential catastrophic floods unless conditions change http://ow.ly/BndNZ
  • Army Corps and Upper Minnesota River Watershed District sign agreement for Marsh Lake ecosystem restoration project http://ow.ly/BndAM
  • Clarksville, Indiana officials reach out to Army Corps for help with erosion along Ohio River http://ow.ly/Bne5j
  • Legislative task force meeting to streamline diversion canal project that would reroute Comite River water to Mississippi River http://ow.ly/BnfdA
  • Indiana Corn Growers, Soybean Alliance host Ohio River Lock Tour http://ow.ly/Bq6tb
  • Cost estimate for four Tulsa-area low-head dams on Arkansas River goes up by $80 million http://ow.ly/Bq6MM
Agriculture -
  • USDA providing $328M in conservation funding to help landowners protect, restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) http://ow.ly/BfyuP (also see this AP article: http://ow.ly/Bh0Cw)
  • EPA Region 7 Administrator to Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director: EPA not a 'threat' to agricultural producers http://ow.ly/Bog5D
  • Corn has been king for almost a decade with help from Congress.  That era is set to end. http://ow.ly/BdOLu
  • USEPA is working to update herbicide labels, but says that herbicide makers need to help farmers fight resistant weeds http://ow.ly/BogX5
  • Flooding that began in late June will lead to millions of dollars in lost crop value for Arkansas farmers http://ow.ly/BdR5q
  • Pesticide drift from conventional farms is a persistent problem for organic and small farms http://ow.ly/BdWnF (Iowa case study)
  • High-tech seeds that produce big crops also create an unhealthy landscape for bees (Minnesota case study) http://ow.ly/BdWGN
  • In shadow of oil boom, North Dakota farmers fight contamination, offer test case of long-term wastewater spill effects http://ow.ly/BdX2p
  • Farm state senators sound alarm about delayed crop shipments, ruined crops at Senate committee hearing http://ow.ly/Bn8Tr
  • No crash in U.S. farm land prices seen despite tumbling grain prices http://ow.ly/Bh1iN
  • Government Accountability Office: federal government could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually by reducing crop insurance premium subsidies http://ow.ly/Bkdtp
  • Group spends $10.7m for two farms in Louisiana; one in Nebraska, totalling 2,130 acres, aiming to benefit from farm rents as well as market appreciation http://ow.ly/Bq4Nb
June-August Precipitation as a Percent of Average
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984 http://ow.ly/BgUUk (WMO report:  http://ow.ly/Bk5Yc)
  • Top United Nations official: climate summit later this month will be "major turning point" in climate change fight http://j.mp/1s50QdA
  • US weekly drought update: improvements seen in Nebraska, Kansas, northern Wisconsin, western Kentucky and adjacent Tennessee http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Long-term weather forecasters downgrade likelihood of a strong El Niño developing this fall http://ow.ly/BkjH7
  • Western Governors' Association announces launch of new initiative to prepare for, respond to drought impacts http://ow.ly/BpYIA
  • Nearly an inch of snow at Rapid City, ND. The earliest recorded snowfall going back to 1888. http://ow.ly/BpYZb
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Audubon Society study: 314 North American bird species at risk from climate change; many facing extinction http://ow.ly/BgV9M
  • On heels of Audubon report on birds at risk (see above), U.S. government report finds some of country's birds species in moderate to steep decline http://ow.ly/Bk55R
  • Gov. Steve Bullock releases Montana sage grouse conservation strategy: "Montana Sage
    dusky gopher frog
    Grouse Habitat Conservation Program" http://ow.ly/BkaWu
  • US FWS accepting public comment until Nov. 10 on newly-released draft recovery plan for endangered dusky gopher frog http://ow.ly/Bner1
  • House Natural Resources Committee holds hearing on six bills "aimed at updating and improving the Endangered Species Act" http://ow.ly/BkiMn
  • House passes bill to reauthorize Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp http://ow.ly/BgX9x (fundraising postal stamp-previously passed by Senate)
  • Minnesota lake first in US to use product that utilizes dead bacterial cells to kill zebra mussels (Hennepin County) http://ow.ly/BhhaF
  • Officials confirm that zebra mussels have been found in another lake in the western Twin Cities (MN) area http://ow.ly/Bq7mP
  • Industry officials blast proposed Fish and Wildlife Service protections for bat species and Endangered Species Act at House field hearing http://ow.ly/Bhl1c
In the Cities -
  • City leaders nationwide are preparing for climate change without using the term, avoiding politics and partisanship http://ow.ly/Bknil
  • Memphis, Tennessee region is poised to make a huge leap forward in developing a regional greenway and trail system http://ow.ly/BkOZv
  • Orleans Parish Sewerage & Water Board: New Orleans drinking water odor coming from algae growing in the Mississippi River http://ow.ly/BnfCZ
In the States-
  • Recount vote results on Missouri "right to farm" constitutional amendment expected to be announced next Monday http://ow.ly/BnmKm
  • Projected shortfall for the next two-year Wisconsin state budget ending in mid-2017 nearly $1.8 billion http://ow.ly/BhsPq
  • Daily Iowan Editorial: Iowa needs to strengthen environmental standards http://ow.ly/BndjJ
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • NPR: For Lack Of Mississippi Silt, The Gulf Is Losing Coastal Land http://ow.ly/Be7Ye
  • First in a series of Reuters articles examines the phenomenon of rising seas, and its effects on the United States http://ow.ly/B8Q9W
  • Mother Jones: Gulf coast ecosystems were supposed to rebound after the BP oil spill. They haven't. http://ow.ly/BktYe
  • Federal magistrate judge: agreement between BP and land trust doesn't require BP to remove all oil from Gulf Coast waterfront property http://ow.ly/BhiBE
Forestry -
  • Forest Service Chief defends proposed USFS groundwater directive before skeptical House Agriculture subcommittee ow.ly/Bn82V
Resource Development -
  • Minnesota to take its time studying crude oil pipeline alternatives to route near Mississippi River headwaters http://ow.ly/Bq3Se
  • Yale and Penn State studies exploring gas drilling health and water issues paint very different potential impact pictures http://ow.ly/Bnm3u
  • With plans for a new crude oil pipeline on the table, review indicates that Iowa's pipeline safety record has been "spotty" http://ow.ly/BdVYE
  • EPA regulation setting required volumes of ethanol, biodiesel in fuel (Renewable Fuel Standard) sent to White House OMB for review http://ow.ly/Bn60H
Federal Budget -
  • House GOP offers stopgap federal funding bill to run government through Dec. 11; also reshapes future budget landscape - article: http://ow.ly/Bk3Yh; Appropriations Committee release and links: http://ow.ly/Bk4dP
  • House Republican leaders delay vote on a stopgap spending bill until next week http://ow.ly/Bn9W8
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here each week can be viewed in the on-line calendar, located above and to the right (and here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Farm Foundation Forum: Water quality, agriculture and Waters of the United States; Sept. 17; 9-11 AM, Washington, DC http://ow.ly/BkeoM
  • Precision Agriculture Forum, September 18, 4:30 – 5:30 PM (with reception to follow) Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, DC ow.ly/BdZxS
  • National Academies meeting: Reinvesting in Inland Waterways: What Policy Makers Need to Know; Sept 18-19, Washington, DC http://ow.ly/B8XAD (closed to the public; closed session summary posted after the meeting)
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council Webinar: "Continuous Monitoring for Nutrients: State of the Technology and State of the Science" Sept 24, 1 PM ET http://ow.ly/Bn6Pl
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 256 - Tennessee Williams Festival, Oct 3-4 in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi http://ow.ly/BdQka
  • Fall Seed Harvest, Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes, October 4, 9 AM CT http://ow.ly/BpVQ5
  • Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium, November 14-15, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, East Alton, Illinois http://ow.ly/Bfdz3
  • National Working Waterfronts & Waterways Symposium; Tampa, FL on November 16-19, 2015 http://ow.ly/B9l49
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays e-newsletter for September 10 http://ow.ly/BlvR5
  • University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute and Sea Grant Institute "Aquatic Sciences Chronicle" 2014, Vol. 3 http://ow.ly/BnHwz
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Waterfront Bulletin for September 2014 http://ow.ly/BoexQ
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's September 11 Watershed News http://ow.ly/BpXte
Other news-
  • Federal Railroad Administration proposes new rules requiring train operators to secure hazardous materials transported by rail http://j.mp/1BnDEu7
  • Interior Secretary: 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill prompted reorganization of Department of Interior with eye toward safety http://ow.ly/BhyG2
  • Stillwater, MN (St. Croix River) http://ow.ly/BhuVx, Parkville, MO (Missouri River) http://ow.ly/BhvFa, Franklin, TN (Harpeth River) http://ow.ly/Bhwgu, Oxford, MS (Yazoo River Basin) http://ow.ly/BhxeL named to top 20 “Best Towns for Fall Colors” in US
Politics and People-
  • Republicans are putting together an agenda for the first 100 days of 2015 in case they win control of the Senate http://ow.ly/Bq2xp
  • Mississippi Supreme Court will hear Senate candidate Chris McDaniel's legal challenge of his Republican primary defeat http://ow.ly/Bk3BE
  • Democrat Chad Taylor asks state Supreme Court to remove him from the Kansas U.S. Senate ballot http://ow.ly/Bk4LE
  • Nebraska Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann is stepping down from his post and out of the race for re-election http://ow.ly/BkoPq
  • Minnesota Council that recommends how to spend $100 million on game, fish, wildlife habitat selects new executive director http://ow.ly/Bof3e
  • Lawmakers are privately saying that the post-election, lame-duck work session will be completely uneventful http://ow.ly/Bk4v0
  • Gallup poll: 14% of Americans approve of how Congress is handling its job http://ow.ly/BheqS
  • Over 220 administration political appointees await Senate confirmation, including several Environmental Protection Agency political leaders http://ow.ly/BhfSV
  • 50 richest members of the U.S. Congress: All are white, women comprise 18 percent, 20 Democrats and 30 Republicans http://ow.ly/BebMo
  • Sunlight Foundation: "Women make up more than half the U.S. population, less than one fourth of U.S. House witnesses" http://bit.ly/1qGmaWb
Your Moment of Zen -
Two common kingfishers fight over a perch (Photo credit: Shams ul haq Qari)

What We Learned This Week - "Ignorance is Strength"

The U.S. House easily passed a bill designed to prevent the Obama Administration from implementing a proposed rule to redefine the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Thirty-five Democrats broke party ranks to support the measure. The U.S. EPA released a seven-page series of questions and answers explaining the controversial rule, while golfing organizations weighed in against the proposal. A new USGS study spanning two decades found that pesticides in many U.S. streams continue to be at levels of concern for aquatic life, but there was a significant decline in the human health threat from those pesticides. A House committee held a hearing on six GOP-sponsored bills "aimed at updating and improving the Endangered Species Act." Bird species are among those endangered: the National Audubon Society reported that 314 North American bird species are at risk - many from climate change.  And soon thereafter, the U.S. government described a watch list of 233 endangered bird species; many in moderate to steep decline due to habitat loss.  Corn, however, is not among the list of endangered species, having been king of Midwest crops for nearly a decade. But that era is set to end, in part because of changes in the latest farm bill.  Quite a few high-profile farm bill opponents in Congress have fallen on tough political times this election cycle. Greenhouse gas levels rose in 2013 at fastest rate since 1984; a surge that surprised scientists and raised fears of accelerated planet warming rates to come.  The 50 richest members of the U.S. Congress are all white, 92 percent male, and include 20 Democrats and 30 Republicans. Women are also under-represented on U.S. House hearing witness lists. Some lawmakers are privately saying that the post-election, lame-duck work session will live up to its designation.  Which is perhaps one reason why a Gallup poll found that just 14 percent of Americans approve of how Congress is handling its job.   And last but not least, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf released a campaign ad that looked suspiciously like a Jeep commercial.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

The U.S. House and Senate return this week from an August hiatus to begin a short September work session before breaking again during the run-up to November's mid-term election.  Including the week of September 22 off, the House is scheduled to be in session through Thursday, October 2, although members will very likely forego that last week, and exit town after the upcoming two-week stint.  On the near-term agenda for Congress will be a stop-gap Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government funded beyond the September 30 end to the current fiscal year. Look for a bipartisan push for a clean (rider-free) measure that will fund the government at least into December.  The House may take up the short-term spending bill as early as this Thursday.

The House Rules Committee will meet today (Monday) to clear the way for full House consideration of H.R. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014."  H.R. 5078 is a bill that would limit the ability of the administration to implement rules, policy or guidance redefining the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy named House consideration of that bill one of many Republican September legislative priorities.

Below are the other House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the 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 be updated as warranted.

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Up Next
Next week, the U.S. House and Senate return from an August hiatus to begin a short September performance before breaking again during the run-up to November's mid-term election.  The House is scheduled to be in session through Thursday, October 2, and the Senate will likely follow suit.  On the agenda for Congress during that period will be a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government funded beyond the September 30 end of the current fiscal year.  Look for a bipartisan push for a clean (rider-free) measure that will fund the government at least into December. Here is a link to the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources (As for the week gone by, we've distilled all of the news into this one-paragraph summary: "What We Learned This Week").

Also on the House Menu: Waters of the United States Rule
Earlier in the week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy named House consideration of of H.R. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014," as one of several Republican September legislative priorities.  The House Rules Committee will meet on Monday to clear the way for full House consideration of the bill, which would limit the Obama administration's ability to implement rules, policy or guidance redefining the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 
Water Quality -
  • U.S. EPA Inspector General report: EPA approach to shrinking Gulf of Mexico dead zone
    State shares of the total nutrient mass to the Gulf of Mexico
    (Source: USGS) Click to Enlarge
    has some major flaws; article: http://ow.ly/B4Q1C  (Link to full report: http://ow.ly/B4QCN and "Report at a Glance" http://ow.ly/B4QG9) (related article:  EPA Inspector General  calls for EPA to do more on Gulf of Mexico dead zone http://ow.ly/B5erN)
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy issues memo to House Republicans outlining September's legislative priorities http://ow.ly/B7PSP - including "H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act"
  • Pennsylvania has released a list of drinking-water wells contaminated by oil and gas drilling http://ow.ly/AYQb4
  • Study detects high groundwater arsenic levels in wells across Barnett Shale Gas area (Trinity River Basin) http://ow.ly/AZ4bY
  • Oil and gas company to restore streams, wetlands at 15 West Virginia sites damaged by dredge or fill operations http://ow.ly/B20mt
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District says it created about 850 acres of wetlands in 2014 in Louisiana through the beneficial use of Mississippi River dredge materials  http://ow.ly/B6bqk
  • Coal, petroleum coke debris found in Mississippi River dredge materials piped to Plaquemines marsh restoration projects http://ow.ly/B29w2
  • USEPA opposes key Army Corps proposed coal ash landfill wetland permit, saying it would destroy 16.5 miles of high-quality streams http://ow.ly/AYUol (Kentucky)
  • Thirty Mile Canal project designed to help endangered species through the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program http://ow.ly/AZeX1
  • Missouri Valley, Iowa residents forced to evacuate because of a levee breach along the Boyer River http://ow.ly/AZfWi
  • Wet August led to higher Missouri River stages; Army Corps increases water releases from Oahe Dam http://ow.ly/B83qm
  • State Rep. Ed Schieffer (Missouri) advocates for "fair and equitable Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan" before the Mississippi River Commission http://ow.ly/AZher
  • Report: Water shortages could limit shale development across globe http://ow.ly/B01y4
  • Des Moines to install flashboards on Des Moines River's Center Street dam to increase water levels, enhance recreation http://ow.ly/B2j5r
  • Several southern Illinois levee and drainage districts propose tax hike to raise funds to reline levee drainage pipes http://ow.ly/B2nXP
  • Army Corps awards contracts for two projects to repair damages to shallow water habitat caused by 2011 Missouri River flood http://ow.ly/B2oOU
  • Environmental experts kick off World Water Week conference by chastising United Nations for ignoring rainfall management needs http://ow.ly/B4YQg
Agriculture -
  • Prospects of a bin-busting crop have driven corn prices to their lowest levels in four years http://ow.ly/AYOKw
  • INFORUM National Farmers Union Letter to Editor: Rail Delays in the Dakotas Staggering, Unacceptable http://ow.ly/B1SGF
  • Kellogg, its leading corn supplier, and The Nature Conservancy seek to advance Midwest Corn Belt agricultural conservation management http://ow.ly/B2pzq
Climate and Weather -
  • Georgetown Climate Center report: Federal natural disaster policies hinder state efforts at climate adaptation http://ow.ly/B85mb
  • US drought update: improvements in drought and dry areas in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for September: drought improvement expected in the central Plains http://ow.ly/q3yAx
  • Meteorologists don't see climate conditions to indicate that Old Farmers' Almanac "record breaking winter" is coming http://ow.ly/AYHRF
  • Researchers say that Earth cannot sustain humanity's growing demand for meat and dairy products http://ow.ly/AYS6Q
  • 2050 "weather report" released by UN last Sunday to highlight urgency of its September 23 NYC climate change summit http://ow.ly/B58kr (video)
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Environmental groups file petitions with three federal courts seeking to overturn final USEPA cooling water intake rule http://ow.ly/B22iV
  • Monday was the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the last known passenger pigeon . . . an article of warning: ow.ly/AW5Km
  • Bald eagles continue to expand in Kentucky, extending steady increase in breeding pairs during the last decade http://ow.ly/AYSUO
  • Missouri River sandbars in South Dakota and Nebraska to be cleared of plants so least terns and piping plovers can build nests http://ow.ly/AZgoV
  • Asian carp barrier back up on Lake Decatur dam (Illinois River Basin) http://ow.ly/AZFkj
  • Pennsylvania invites project applications for State Wildlife Grants to address high-priority Ohio River Basin conservation needs http://ow.ly/B2mEP (including freshwater mussel conservation)
  • Canadian beekeepers file class-action lawsuit against neonicotinoid makers http://ow.ly/B66QJ
  • FWS suggests threatened bull trout could recover without population target http://ow.ly/B67n1 (range partly in Missouri River Basin headwaters); lawsuit possible http://ow.ly/B682V
In the Cities -
  • Video: Impervious Surface Reduction/Green Alley phase of Dubuque, Iowa's Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project http://ow.ly/AYV5P
  • Water Environment Federation chose this Chattanooga, TN video as 1 of 4 winners of 2014 StormTV Project competition http://ow.ly/AYWlE (WEF video awards press announcement here: http://ow.ly/AYWOb)
  • Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans aims to turn environmental weaknesses into economic strengths http://ow.ly/AZ35b
In the States-
  • Kentucky Issues New General Permits for Coal Mine Water Pollution http://ow.ly/B5dy4  (see related article, immediately below)
  • Environmental groups are suing Kentucky over key provision of state's new coal-mining, water quality protection rule http://ow.ly/B5cMQ
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • BP found grossly negligent in Deepwater Horizon disaster; Transocean, Halliburton were each negligent http://ow.ly/B69Qs - ruling could add billions more in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken already
  • Several chronic disasters unfolding around Gulf of Mexico compete with the Deepwater Horizon event http://ow.ly/B83R5
  • Halliburton settles majority of lawsuits filed against it for Gulf of Mexico 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for about $1.1 billion http://ow.ly/AZbG1
  • BP asks federal judge to remove Patrick Juneau as administrator of damage claims from its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill http://ow.ly/B2ag7
Resource Development -
  • First of three commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants comes online in Iowa;
    uses corncobs, leaves and husks to produce ethanol http://ow.ly/B28Gr
  • West Virginia DNR seeks bids from drillers to use fracking to extract natural gas and oil from state-owned land beneath Ohio River http://ow.ly/AZiod
  • Major oil pipeline that would carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois faces fight from activists in Iowa http://ow.ly/AZE6J
Federal Budget -
  • 16 hunting, fishing, conservation organizations call on Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund http://ow.ly/B22Yq
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • U of Mn-hosted event: "Trapped by History: the Past and Future of the Upper Mississippi River" 7:00 pm CT, September 9 http://ow.ly/B21L5
  • Event to mark 25th anniversary of state legislation creating Lower Wisconsin State Riverway; Sept. 14, Spring Green, WI http://ow.ly/B2kOW
  • October 2-7 seminars and float: "Timeless Journey Down the River Searching for a Home" http://ow.ly/AYKyy (in the Lower Mississippi River Dispatch)
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
  • "Vital Statistics on Congress" August 2014 update – Joint Effort from Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute http://ow.ly/B259E
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Industrial Stormwater News: September 2014 http://ow.ly/AZHu3
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers August 2014 "News and Views" (PDF file) http://ow.ly/AYKbH
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's River Connections for August 2014 http://ow.ly/AYL2T
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's September 3 "TUWaterWays" e-newsletter http://ow.ly/B4ULf
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Feedlot Update - Sept. 3, 2014 http://ow.ly/B4UV3
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's September 4 Watershed News http://ow.ly/B7O1z
Politics and People-
  • House Oversight, Senate EPW Committees' GOP members launch investigation into NRDC relationship with U.S. EPA http://ow.ly/B23DI (related E&E article: http://ow.ly/B24dn)
  • 365 incumbents in the 435-member House;18 of 28 senators on a glide path to a November re-election and another term http://ow.ly/AYDyH
  • U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La-5) held the most August recess town hall meetings (23) of all of his Congressional peers http://ow.ly/B7ZVR
  • Iowa's US Senate race is worth an extra dash of attention because of ideological distance between the two candidates: Bruce Braley, a Democratic House member, and Joni Ernst, a Republican state senator http://ow.ly/AYXKG
  • Chad Taylor, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas withdraws from race against Pat Roberts, three-term Republican incumbent; move would boost the prospects of independent candidate Greg Orman http://ow.ly/B4FWp (see subsequent article below)
  • Kansas Secretary of State denies Democrat Chad Taylor’s request to be removed from Kansas U.S. Senate ballot http://ow.ly/B7Omp boosting the vulnerable Pat Roberts' (R) reelection prospects
  • Mississippi judge dismisses state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) legal challenge seeking to overturn Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) June primary win http://ow.ly/AYF4d
  • Roll Call refreshes its rankings of the top 10 most vulnerable senators, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) rises to the top http://ow.ly/AZ1Ez
  • Women who serve in office continue to be underrepresented at all levels of U.S. government — 20% of U.S. senators are women, as are 18% of House members; at the state level, only 10% of governors and 24% of state legislators are women http://ow.ly/B2cO7
Your Moment of Zen -
のせ猫 x カエルと猫 "cat and frog" (via NPR)

What We Learned This Week - "Martha My Dear"

Martha
The U.S. EPA's approach of working with states to reduce nutrient pollution and shrink the Gulf of Mexico dead zone has some major flaws. Kentucky issued new rules for coal mine water pollution; environmental groups plan to sue the state over one of its provisions. Fracking has impacted groundwater quality in Pennsylvania  and in Texas' Trinity River Basin, but West Virginia is betting it won't be much of a problem there; specifically beneath the Ohio River. Environmental groups filed petitions with three federal courts seeking to overturn the recently-issued final U.S. EPA cooling water intake rule. Monday was the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, thought to be the last passenger pigeon.  One of the House GOP September legislative priorities is to limit the Obama administration's ability to redefine the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act.  A federal judge found BP to have been grossly negligent in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster; a ruling that could add billions of dollars more in fines to the over $42 billion in charges taken already.  A "must-use" for policy and political junkies: the updated, on-line, interactive "Vital Statistics on Congress."   One vital statistic: women who serve in office continue to be underrepresented at all levels of government in the U.S.   In a move that will boost the precarious re-election chances of fellow-Republican Pat Roberts, the Kansas Secretary of State denied Democrat Chad Taylor’s request to be removed from Kansas' U.S. Senate ballot.   And last but not least, 84 percent of U.S. House incumbents and 64 percent of Senate incumbents on a glide path to an easy November re-election, largely - in the House - because of redistricting.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News - Friday Edition

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Report Suggests Collaborative Strategies to Reduce Mississippi River Basin Nutrient Pollution
Photo credit: University of Iowa
A U.S. Water Alliance report released last Friday highlights the collaborative strategies that might be undertaken by various Mississippi River Basin stakeholders to reduce nutrient pollution. The 28-page report, "Coming Together to Protect Mississippi River Watersheds: Agriculture and Water Sector Collaboration for Nutrient Progress," is the outcome of a year-long series of conversations among River Basin agriculture, wastewater and drinking water leaders, with the participation of environmental, academic and scientific, business, local, state and Federal agency representatives. It recommends that nutrient loading to the waters of the Basin be reduced by expanding effective watershed-based cooperative leadership and decision-making; developing and implementing market nutrient-reduction mechanisms; improving decision- and market-supporting data, monitoring and modeling; and developing "Watershed Protection Utilities" (institutions focused on cost-effective nutrient-reduction results). The report focuses on nutrient pollution that this summer contributed to a Gulf of Mexico "dead" or hypoxic zone measuring 5,052 square miles, impacting an aquatic ecosystem that supports valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries (you can link to addition articles on the report, below, under "Water Quality").

The Week in Brief
For those of you wishing to avoid the dreaded details, here is our one-paragraph synopsis of the week just past: "What We Learned This Week - 'And It Was Just Right.'"

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • State of the World’s Rivers: Mississippi River Basin among world's top 10 "priority basins for remediation" due to fragmentation, poor water quality http://ow.ly/AM1FS
  • U.S. Water Alliance report highlights collaborative agriculture, water, wastewater strategies to reduce Mississippi River Basin nutrient pollution http://ow.ly/AGtYt  and  http://ow.ly/AGuXx
  • No solutions in sight for Gulf of Mexico dead zone http://ow.ly/AOHSA
  • EPA region 7 administrator discusses nutrient pollution in Iowa waters during Farm Progress Show talk http://ow.ly/AOIlp
  • EPA writes "Mapping the Truth" blog to correct "myths and misunderstandings" about Waters of the United States rule http://ow.ly/AQZKb (related article here: http://ow.ly/AQZSV)
  • Farm groups use mapping technology in latest effort to block EPA from finalizing new
    Iowa map from National Pork Producers Council
    meant to show waters that could be subject to 
    new Clean Water Act rule (Photo credit: NPPC).
    Clean Water Act regulations http://ow.ly/AOyeq
  • House Science Space and Technology Committee posts EPA waters and wetlands maps to its website http://ow.ly/AOAkv
  • EPA says maps released by House committee are not connected to rule clarifying Clean Water Act regulatory authority http://ow.ly/AOAMC
  • House committee asks EPA to release information about 2013 agency contract to create states' waters and wetlands maps http://ow.ly/AOzLm
  • West Virginia plans to sample Elk and Kanawha rivers this week to see if January’s chemical leak affected fish health http://ow.ly/AGmA1
  • Deadly Naegleria fowleri amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana http://ow.ly/ARimC
  • Monitoring of Ohio River continues after last week's Duke Energy plant oil spill http://ow.ly/AJhgJ; spill was larger than first reported http://ow.ly/AJhqd
  • ExxonMobil Pipeline Company agrees to pay a civil penalty related to 2012 crude oil spill from pipeline near Torbert, Louisiana http://ow.ly/ALQoJ
  • Tyson Foods could lose $millions in government contracts if found guilty in EPA criminal probe of Missouri wastewater release http://ow.ly/AJv1F
  • National Environmental Education Foundation launches algal bloom photo conference to help document U.S. algal blooms http://ow.ly/ALOX2
  • Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization is updating its Watershed Management Plan; seeks public comment http://ow.ly/AM3nH
  • EPA awards $9,165,000 to Arkansas Natural Resources Commission for wastewater system improvement projects http://ow.ly/AR0Ui
  • EPA awards $100,000 to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality for water quality management planning http://ow.ly/AOwVx
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • University of Iowa's $25.7 million flood mitigation construction continues on schedule (Iowa River) http://ow.ly/AJi63
  • Indiana University research: "Goldilocks plant growth" may make river deltas resilient to environmental factors that threaten their existence http://ow.ly/AJjtj
  • Army Corps of Engineers installs new concrete stabilization mats on Mississippi River bank (New Orleans area) http://ow.ly/AJkW6
  • Greenup County, Ky. residents may be barred from buying federal flood insurance because local officials haven't met program requirements http://ow.ly/AJosh
  • Missouri River might help alleviate grain railroad backups, but infrastructure spending, water allocation changes may be needed first http://ow.ly/ALTf2 (see related story under "Resource Development," below)
  • H.R. 5189, Energy and Water Research Integration Act, would advance understanding of, research in energy-water nexus http://ow.ly/AMoJu
  • New Alliance for Water Efficiency campaign encourages rate reform to promote water conservation http://ow.ly/AR2ct
  • Report: Large-scale dams are likely having a detrimental impact on water quality and biodiversity around the world http://ow.ly/ARhMa
Agriculture -
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy editorial: "Right to farm" - Corporate wolves dressed as local sheep http://ow.ly/AR2B7
  • U.S. corn and soybean crops are likely to top records this year, reflecting favorable growing season weather http://ow.ly/AGhNR
  • Even though crop prices are falling, costs to grow next year’s crops is not; will push many U.S. farmers into the red http://ow.ly/AQZkt
  • The August 21 USDA Conservation Compliance for Specialty Crop Producers webinar is archived here: http://ow.ly/AGsR5
  • Corn grit weed blaster tested in Minnesota farm fields showing promise as an alternative to herbicides http://ow.ly/AGAWE
  • Commodity prices have taken a noticeable dip this past year; farmland values will not necessarily follow, however http://ow.ly/AHw9B
  • "Policy Matters" - Evaluating Use of Conservation Policies for Pollinators http://ow.ly/AQZ5a
Climate and Weather -
  • U.N. draft report cites “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" of climate change http://ow.ly/ALPhX
  • Shorter winters in Rockies could limit supplies for downstream users (i.e., Missouri River Basin) http://ow.ly/AR1SV
  • Obama administration working on global non-binding climate accord to “name and shame” countries into reducing carbon emissions http://ow.ly/AM5Tc
  • Washington Post editorial: "The country’s sinking climate debate" http://ow.ly/AGjb6
  • NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook report through November 30: drought alleviation in Plains expected http://ow.ly/ALPO7
  • Weekly U.S. drought update: Midwest dryness retreats, except in Missouri, where it expands; drought persists in Oklahoma and Kansas http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for September (will be published on Friday, August 29) http://ow.ly/q3yAx
Mississippi Gopher Frog
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Alliant Energy under mandate to develop fish passage on Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac dam; Asian carp raising issues http://ow.ly/ALZ3u
  • Judge upholds FWS designation of 6,477 acres of private Mississippi and Louisiana land as frog's critical habitat http://ow.ly/AHnG5
  • Researchers find about half as many mussels as in the past during August 2014 Iowa River survey http://ow.ly/AOK6w
  • Vanishing  greater sage grouse ignites debate over endangered species rules http://ow.ly/AGjOS
  • Environmental groups call for federal protection for monarch butterfly, at risk from rise of genetically modified crops http://ow.ly/ALQYM
  • Illinois expands its state wildlife code to protect black bears, gray wolves and cougars http://ow.ly/ALRh2
In the Cities -
Concept drawing of Tulsa’s new gathering place
  • Chlorination of ammonia-laden Des Moines and Raccoon rivers' waters may have contributed to trihalomethanes in Ankeny, Iowa drinking water http://ow.ly/AJnDc
  • Groundbreaking planned for "A Gathering Place of Tulsa," a "world class" 100-acre waterfront park along Arkansas River http://ow.ly/AM4rd
  • Old coal-mining towns in Tennessee are taking sometimes desperate measures to improve their economies http://ow.ly/AOxtU
In the States-
  • Iowa farm groups launch initiative to accelerate pace and scale of water-quality improvements across state http://ow.ly/AJgY2
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requests comments on Tiered Aquatic Life Uses addition being considered for state water quality standards http://ow.ly/AGD0Q
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • "Losing Ground" - this is what Coastal Louisiana stands to lose in the next 50 years
    Coastal Louisiana Land Loss Analysis (source: propublica.org)
    http://ow.ly/AR0mA
  • River Diversions And The Fate Of Louisiana's Coast http://ow.ly/AJgDL
  • Water Institute of the Gulf-focused primarily on Louisiana coastal research-looks to expand scope beyond state borders http://ow.ly/AJiKn
  • EPA awards $485,000 to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for testing water quality along state’s Gulf Coast http://ow.ly/AOws5
Resource Development -
  • Environmental Protection Agency sends final Renewable Fuel Standard to the Office of Management and Budget, triggering a broader review of proposed cut http://ow.ly/AGjyo
  • Arkansas emergency officials' records: Up to 33 Bakken oil trains pass through Arkansas weekly http://ow.ly/AGBvK
  • New York Times: Grain piles up, waiting for a ride, as trains move bumper crop of North Dakota oil http://ow.ly/AJbcN
Federal Budget -
  • Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raises its projection for this fiscal year's federal deficit to $506 billion http://ow.ly/AMfYS
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Free webinar series (September 4 and 11): Tips to engage non-operator landowners in natural resource conservation http://ow.ly/ALRSd
  • Webinar: Is a Water Quality Trading Program Right for Your Facility? September 11, 1-2 PM ET ow.ly/AMlx6
  • U.S. Geological Survey announces Sept. 17-18 Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science meeting http://ow.ly/AR187
  • International Water Conference; November 16-20, San Antonio, Texas http://ow.ly/AR1Ce
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's August 28 Watershed News http://ow.ly/AR0bk
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No. 254, August 25 - "Search for the Healthy City" http://ow.ly/AHrhY
  • Green Lands Blue Waters Update, highlighting the advancement of Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land ow.ly/AMhjA
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's August 27 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/AOxOe
Other news-
  • Memo to West Virginia's leaders: Not all industry hates EPA http://ow.ly/ARj68
  • Obama hits the gas on regulatory initiatives, including EPA climate and water rules http://ow.ly/AGlCm
Politics and People-
  • New York Times’ Upshot model now increases Republicans’ odds of winning control of
    Click to enlarge
    U.S. Senate to 64 percent http://ow.ly/AJrcA
  • Scott Walker - Mary Burke, Wisconsin Governor's race outcome could shape U.S. political scene for years to come http://ow.ly/AM8ax
  • Command of Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division transfering from Peter DeLuca to Michael Wehr effective August 29 http://ow.ly/AJpV2
  • Following days of outcome uncertainty, Republican nominee to represent Wisconsin’s 6th District is state Sen. Glenn Grothman http://ow.ly/AGkht
  • Incumbent Rep. Scott DesJarlais officially wins GOP Tennessee 4th District primary, beating state Sen. Jim Tracy by 38 votes http://ow.ly/AHg8k
  • Former Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell (R) wins Okla. GOP primary runoff; expected to succeed Senate nominee James Lankford in the House http://ow.ly/ALNV9
  • 7Rivers Alliance (Upper Mississippi Valley) announces hiring of Lisa Herr as its new executive director http://ow.ly/AM2Wm
  • House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson announces new House Agriculture Committee Minority staff http://ow.ly/AHp4Q
  • There aren’t many Plains States' competitive political races, but here are five to watch in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas http://ow.ly/AGkxj
  • The top five "races to watch" in the Midwest are in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin http://ow.ly/AGwZ2
Your Moment of Zen -
In north Omaha, Nebraska, art briefly brings condemned homes to life - public art created by Watie White 
and placed in the windows of condemned houses tell the stories of those who lived there. 
Photo credit: Watie White.