Friday, January 30, 2015

What We Learned This Week - "Civilized" is in the Eye of the Beholder

Over 100 U.S. House members believe that the Obama administration is practicing "regulatory overreach" with its proposed clean water act rule, and proposed a bill to stop that.  The Senate Agriculture Chairman pledged to work with the President to resolve farmers' concerns about that proposed rule. The Des Moines Register editorial board believes that a Des Moines Water Works lawsuit would be a "civilized approach" to resolving a public health threat.  That opinion isn't universally held.  The U.S. Senate passed a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline - a bill that is highly unlikely to become law, assuming the House passes the Senate version. Seventy-two dams were removed across the U.S. last year, including nine in the Mississippi River Basin.  A Federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. EPA in an agribusiness information privacy case; a ruling quickly appealed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council. The cost projections for new farm bill risk management programs are higher than anticipated; and Minnesota's Rep. Collin Peterson expects criticism of those high costs to follow.  A new study predicts a rise in the frequency of climate change-induced extreme weather events.  Minnesota's statehouse Republicans are eager to scale back environmental regulations that they say hinder economic growth. The U.S. Senate fell one vote shy of permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The World Resources Institute reports that the world cannot both meet its future food needs and produce bioenergy.  The Electric Power Research Institute was recognized with a "water prize" for its Ohio River Basin water quality trading project.  And last but not least, there are officially over 70 kinds of cheese, but there's no such thing as "nacho cheese."

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
Next Week

The U.S. House and Senate are both scheduled to begin their work weeks on Groundhogs Day, with the House planning for four days, and the Senate five days of activity. The week will start off with a scheduled Monday release of the Obama administration's fiscal year 2016 budget proposal (which will be found at this White House OMB page after its release).  The President has already said that his proposal will peg government spending at seven percent ($74 billion) over caps agreed to in a bipartisan "sequestration," deficit-reduction agreement reached three years ago.  That hint of what the budget will entail has already drawn fire from Republicans, and its release will kick off a series of House and Senate hearings, including a House Ways and Means Committee hearing already scheduled for next week.  You can find all of the Capitol Hill activities currently scheduled next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources on this web page.

The budget proposal announcement is just the opening move in a series of maneuvers that has become an annual Washington ritual, symbolic in recent years of the partisanship that has characterized Washington, DC relationships. We will post an analysis of the Administration's proposal with respect to Mississippi River Basin natural resources in this blog site once details become available.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Over 100 U.S. House members cosponsor "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act" (H.R. 594) http://ow.ly/IcVl2
  • Regulatory reform and the Obama Administration's proposed clean water jurisdiction rule will be top issues for Senate Agriculture Committee http://ow.ly/I96fp
  • Senate Agriculture Chair Roberts pledges to work with Obama administration to resolve farmers' concerns about proposed clean water rule http://ow.ly/IcPEr
  • Federal appeals court: Clean Water Act shields coal mining company from liability for selenium releases (Kentucky case) news article: http://ow.ly/I2sVs ruling: http://ow.ly/I2seW
  • West Virginia federal court judge rules that Consol Energy subsidiary is liable for elevated levels of conductivity in regulated waterway http://ow.ly/I94zY
  • Des Moines Register editorial board: Des Moines Water Works lawsuit would be a "civilized
    Des Moines, Iowa
    approach" to resolving a public health threat http://ow.ly/HWH0J
  • Des Moines Water Works lawsuit reopens debate over how best to manage nutrient flow from U.S. farms into streams http://ow.ly/IcJfP
  • Wisconsin’s frac sand industry is big business and big trouble for the state’s waterways http://ow.ly/HWeVI
  • Thousands of Greenbrier County (WV) residents, businesses without water after a diesel spill contaminates Greenbrier River http://ow.ly/HWBga and http://ow.ly/HWCEN
  • Pipeline source of oil spilled into Montana's Yellowstone River lies exposed on riverbed, not buried at 8 feet http://ow.ly/HYlam
  • EPA reduces estimate for amount of oil spilled into Yellowstone River from pipeline from 40,000 to 30,000 gallons http://ow.ly/I2vWv
  • Yellowstone River shovelnose sturgeon and emerald shiners to be tested for exposure to oil from January 17 spill http://ow.ly/I1cfr
  • Major North Dakota brine pipeline spill's contamination reaches Missouri River; wildlife and

    drinking water supplies not affected http://ow.ly/HYm78
  • Environmental Protection Agency approves Minnesota's amendments to State Water Quality Standards addressing eutrophication of rivers and streams http://ow.ly/I1v1A
  • "Nutrient Roadmap Primer: The Future of Nutrient Removal and Recovery," now available from Water Environment Federation http://ow.ly/I2Bcy
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Department of Energy releases update to modeling tool evaluating water consumption associated with fuel production http://ow.ly/HWilo
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) decries "closed-door, multiagency efforts" to update flood risk
    American Rivers' Dam Removal Map (1936-2014)
    standards for federal investments http://ow.ly/I0NVz
  • Four flood-prone Missouri River properties purchased to make room for a now-scrapped North Dakota levee to be auctioned off http://ow.ly/I12Os
  • What makes Baton Rouge's drinking water so good? And is the region at risk of losing it? http://ow.ly/I13vv
  • EPA awards $1 million in National Wetland Program Development Grant funds to six projects designed to bolster state and tribal capacity to protect and restore wetlands http://ow.ly/I350W
  • American Rivers' report: 72 dams were removed across the U.S. last year, including (in the Mississippi River Basin) 5 in Iowa, 2 in Illinois, and 2 in Tennessee http://ow.ly/I4Ws3 (related story below)
  • National Geographic News: Movement to take down thousands of dams goes mainstream http://ow.ly/I9iI2
Agriculture -
  • Federal judge rules in favor of EPA in agribusiness information privacy case: ruling: http://ow.ly/I9cqI article: http://ow.ly/I9cDi (related story below)
  • American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council appeal court CAFO privacy ruling http://ow.ly/IcPnd
  • USDA issues Conservation Innovation Grants Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Announcement for Program Funding; Pre-proposal deadline February 24 http://ow.ly/HXNMc (USDA CIG funding press release: http://ow.ly/HXUu2)
  • Drop in North Dakota dairy farm numbers leads to scrutiny of state law allowing only family members to form farming corporations http://ow.ly/HWxKt
  • Minnesota Rep. Peterson (ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee) expects criticism of high farm bill costs http://ow.ly/HWFKy
  • Unmanned drones could play key roles in food supply: "Herding cattle. Counting fish. Taking an animal's temperature. Applying pesticides" http://ow.ly/I0To3
  • Neighbors worry about Sonstegard Foods plans to open six-million-chicken facility in South
    Dakota near Vermillion River http://ow.ly/I11Cq
  • Nebraska tries to attract out-of-state dairy farmers with promises of abundant land, plentiful water and feed, agriculture-friendly rules http://ow.ly/I14hv
  • USDA workshops being held to help organizations submit Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grant applications http://ow.ly/I2qDY
  • USDA Farm Service Agency: non-irrigated "pivot corners" now eligible for Conservation Reserve Program habitat creation http://ow.ly/I2up2
  • USDA kicks off "Organic Survey" to gather detailed data on U.S. organic agriculture production http://ow.ly/I2IYF
  • Drone to be used for Clark State Community College's precision agriculture program (west-central Ohio) http://ow.ly/I4ZCx
  • EPA loosens restrictions on, sets permissible level of sulfoxaflor: pesticide used for agricultural purposes http://ow.ly/I4SgZ
Climate and Weather -
  • U.S. Midwest's climate future: Missouri like Arizona, Chicago like Texas http://ow.ly/HWfCv 
  • US weekly drought update: improvements along Louisiana Gulf Coast; another dry and warm week over the Midwest and High Plains http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for February (will be published on Friday at 3 PM Eastern time) http://ow.ly/q3yAx
  • New study based on climate modeling predicts rise in frequency of extreme weather events http://ow.ly/I1qJz
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Petition seeks habitat protection by FWS for Ohio River Basin's freshwater clubshell mussel, and 8 eastern species http://ow.ly/HWjEe (see figure to the right →)
  • Minnesota’s battle against aquatic invasive species is going local http://ow.ly/HXTZ6
  • Bald eagles return to Iowa again as they migrate south http://ow.ly/HY9pq
  • Congressional Republicans aim to revamp key Endangered Species Act requirements http://ow.ly/I0MPa
  • Coalition asks Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify nearly all U.S. gray wolves as threatened http://ow.ly/I4YaT
In the Cities -
  • Baton Rouge, La., Polk County, Iowa and Cincinnati, Ohio among 22 communnities to receive EPA technical assistance to pursue sustainable development strategies http://ow.ly/I1KZm
In the States-
  • Former Missouri Department of Natural Resources employee: DNR lacks "political appetite" to enforce state laws http://ow.ly/I2xDh
  • Two Missouri bills introduced to eliminate, decrease Conservation Sales and Use Tax that funds state conservation http://ow.ly/I9awI and http://ow.ly/I9aCF
  • Interactive 2015 states' Legislatures' session map http://ow.ly/HY9Yr and legislative calendars table http://ow.ly/HYa3W
  • Minnesota's House GOP is eager to scale back environmental regulations that they say hinder economic growth http://ow.ly/I19YL
  • Minnesota Governor's proposal prompts lively discussions on vegetative buffer strips along streams http://ow.ly/I99dC
  • Ohio appeals court rules that Oxford Mining Co. is authorized to operate in protected wetlands in east-central Ohio http://ow.ly/HQgqj
  • Ohio House committee holds public meeting "to discuss water quality, nutrient management, and the important role Ohio farmers play in protecting our aquifers" http://ow.ly/I93cQ and http://ow.ly/I93eD
  • Newly-introduced Indiana state legislation would mandate a Wabash, White, and Ohio Rivers aquifer study http://ow.ly/HYgCm
  • Montana lawmakers introduce state bills targeting landowners who illegally block access to public land http://ow.ly/HYmCz (House Bill 304 http://ow.ly/HYmTq and House Bill 286 http://ow.ly/HYmZm)
  • Wisconsin Natural Resources Board votes to conduct a "strategic analysis" of the frac sand mining industry http://ow.ly/IcLtm
  • Pennsylvania Governor Wolf to sign moratorium on new gas drilling leases in state parks, forests http://ow.ly/IcMcB
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • New FEMA elevations causing some Iberia Parish (Tete Bayou, Louisiana) residents to buy flood insurance http://ow.ly/I4YRt
Forestry -
  • Report examines the efficacy of Forest Stewardship Council standards for conserving bat habitat in Minnesota http://ow.ly/I0OUS
Resource Development -
  • World Resources Institute: world cannot meet future food needs and produce bioenergy at the same time http://ow.ly/IcL3h
  • Senate on Thursday passed by a vote of 62 to 36 legislation to approve TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL oil pipeline http://ow.ly/IcNxl
Federal Budget -
  • Congressional Budget Office annual budget outlook: federal deficit will begin to rise in 2017 and expand with an aging population http://ow.ly/I0S2Y
  • CBO report: Falling crop prices are raising cost projections for new farm bill risk management programs http://ow.ly/IcTtR
  • Obama fiscal year 2016 proposed budget will “fully reverse” sequester cuts to the domestic budget http://ow.ly/I8X85 and http://ow.ly/IcNWc (budget to be released February 2)
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)
Click to enlarge
  • Great Mississippi River Photo Shoot; February 1 http://ow.ly/I0QjV (details to the right →)
  • March 6 Capitol Hill briefing will highlight USGS report on groundwater quality across the nation http://ow.ly/I1XcP
  • 10th Annual Regional Stormwater Seminar: new developments in stormwater practices and permit policies; April 17; Atlanta (southeast region includes TN, KY, MS) http://ow.ly/I1d8r
  • Mississippi River Research Consortium solicits platform, poster papers for its 47th Annual Meeting, April 22-24 http://ow.ly/I9f2o
  • Penn State Extension Green Infrastructure Webinar Series: free events 2-3 times monthly into June (with more to follow) http://ow.ly/HPt8a (link to flyer: http://ow.ly/HPtGx)
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • U.S. Water Alliance gives U.S. Water Prize to Electric Power Research Institute for its Ohio River Basin water quality trading project http://ow.ly/I2z6m
  • Four Mississippi River Basin areas receive USDA rural development loans for small businesses in poor, underserved areas http://ow.ly/HPpnt
  • Job: University of Montana Department of Society and Conservation in the College of Forestry and Conservation seeks Assistant Professor of Water Policy http://ow.ly/HQiBX
  • Safe Food Act of 2015 introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would establish Food Safety Administration http://ow.ly/I90XR (link to bill: http://ow.ly/I9gQG)
  • Petroleum spills may promote the release of naturally-occuring arsenic to groundwater http://ow.ly/IcImC
  • Senate comes up one vote shy of permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund http://ow.ly/IcJTX
Politics and People-
  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chair Agriculture Committee, announces new Subcommittee assignments for 114th Congress http://ow.ly/I95Q1
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair Conaway (TX-11) announces subcommittee assignments http://ow.ly/I9e7U
  • Senate Appropriations Committee announces full roster of its 12 subcommittees http://ow.ly/IcOa7 (Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to chair Agriculture Subcommitee)
  • Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) announces she will seek re-election this year, sidestepping other state races http://ow.ly/I0Ma2
  • New Pew Research Center poll: Republicans dislike U.S. EPA even more than they did a year ago; Democratic support up; article: http://ow.ly/HQeMT and EPA table: http://ow.ly/HQeuh
  • Despite progress, U.S. still lags many nations in women leaders, including national legislators http://ow.ly/HWVZ4
Your Moment of Zen -
Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For

1888 Blizzard
Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.  The week will start out with the scheduled Monday release of the Obama administration's fiscal year 2016 budget proposal (which will be found at this White House OMB page after its release).  An outline of what that budget will entail has already drawn fire from Republicans, and its release will kick off a series of House and Senate hearings on the proposal, including a House Ways and Means Committee hearing already scheduled for Tuesday (see below)

Links are provided below to 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
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee-House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee joint hearing on the "Impacts of the Proposed Waters of the United States Rule on State and Local Governments;" 10:00 AM, room 210 HVC (House Visitors Center of the U.S. Capitol)
Thursday
  • House Energy and Commerce: Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy hearing on H.R. 212 the Drinking Water Protection Act" "to provide for the assessment and management of the risk of cyanotoxins in drinking water;" 10:00 AM, room 2123 Russell House Office Building.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Updated: Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

The U.S. House will be in session Monday through Wednesday, this week, while the Senate is scheduled for a full work week, when that chamber most likely finish its consideration of S.1, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline (and any offered amendments). Pipeline proponents say that 63 senators will support the bill; more than the 60 needed for a filibuster-proof majority.

Below are the House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources. Links are provided to the relevant hearing and meeting 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 Appropriations Committee organizational meeting; 9:15 AM, room 2359 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Natural Resources Committee organizational meeting; 9:45 AM, room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
  • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee organizational meeting; 4:00 PM,  President's Room (S-216) of the U.S. Capitol. (UPDATED LOCATION)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Capitol Hill Briefing Will Highlight USGS Report on Nationwide Groundwater Quality

Friday, March 6, 2015
10:00 to 11:30 AM
Capitol Visitors Center Congressional Meeting Room North

The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program will present a public and Congressional briefing on findings from its ongoing evaluation of water quality in the principal aquifers of the United States on March 6, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. The briefing is cosponsored by the Northeast-Midwest Institute and Water Environment Federation.

Background
The USGS Office of Groundwater has identified 62 principal aquifers in the U.S. (please see this NAWQA web site for further background). About one-third of those principal aquifers have been the historical focus of water-quality assessments at a regional scale by NAWQA. On January 21, NAWQA released, "Water Quality in Principal Aquifers of the United States," a compendium summarizing groundwater quality trends based upon regional- and national-scale assessments conducted in principal aquifers between 1991 and 2010.  The briefing will highlight nationwide and regional findings from that comprehensive report.

Nationally, NAWQA found that groundwater from 22 percent of sampled wells contained at least one chemical constituent at a concentration greater than a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level or other human-health benchmark (see figure to the right). Nitrate was the only human-sourced constituent from that exceeded its human-health benchmark in more than one percent of wells.

Speakers for this briefing include:
  • Moderator Patrick Leahy, Executive Director, American Geological Institute
  • Barbara Mahler, Ph.D., Scientist for the NAWQA Program 
Following Dr. Mahler's presentation, time will be provided for questions from and discussion with the audience.

The briefing is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to cbarbour@usgs.gov if you plan on attending.

Established in 1991 by Congress, the NAWQA program mission is to produce surface and ground water quality information for Federal and state resource managers.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~

USGS Releases Report on Water Quality in Principal United States Aquifers
On Wednesday, the United States Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment Program released a summary of findings from its ongoing evaluation of water quality in the principal aquifers of the United States.  Entitled "Water Quality in Principal Aquifers of the United States," the compendium summarizes groundwater quality trends based upon regional- and national-scale assessments between 1991 and 2010, and includes several notable findings for aquifers supplying irrigation water and drinking water within the Mississippi River Basin.  To see more regarding the report and its River Basin-specific findings, see here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • February 4 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee joint hearing is scheduled with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on "Impacts of the Proposed Waters of the United States Rule on State and Local Governments" http://ow.ly/HIkTj (hearing web page: http://ow.ly/HKUCi)
  • EPA faced with analyzing nearly 800,000 public comments as it finalizes waters of the United States rule early this year http://ow.ly/HCUJf
  • Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) plan to reintroduce bill to limit U.S. EPA's permit veto power under Clean Water Act http://ow.ly/HKQvF
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack: ‘holistic’ conservation approach to curbing fertilizer runoff will work quicker than litigation http://ow.ly/HCTMD
  • Des Moines utility’s water contamination lawsuit plans may have broad ramifications for state and U.S. farmers http://ow.ly/HCSLj
  • Iowa agriculture secretary thinks ripple effects of potential Des Moines Water Works lawsuit would extend far beyond farmers http://ow.ly/HOC95
  • Watershed Management Authority to develop plan to clean up Walnut Creek: tributary of the Raccoon River (Iowa) http://ow.ly/HOUJ7
  • Traces of a major (50,000-gallon) oil spill along the Yellowstone River detected in public water supplies http://ow.ly/HCBVr and http://ow.ly/HCvwl
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials attempt to gather baseline data on effects of Yellowstone River oil spill http://ow.ly/HKWZm
  • Montana Governor declares state of emergency after Yellowstone River oil spill http://ow.ly/HIbhd
  • Montana city gets OK to drink water after 40,000-gallon oil spill into Yellowstone River http://ow.ly/HP3tW
  • West Virginia company, Lexycon, cited for similar spill containment environmental violations as Freedom Industries http://ow.ly/HCHI8
  • Report: West Virginia drinking water sources at risk of contamination from more than 20,000 aboveground storage tanks http://ow.ly/HCKiI
  • Online interactive site outlines history that lead up to West Virginia spill and water crisis of 2014 http://ow.ly/HP5LI
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks comments on Sauk River Watershed restoration and protection report http://ow.ly/HCT8r
  • Nearly three million gallons of saltwater generated by oil drilling have leaked from North Dakota pipeline http://ow.ly/HKW1T
  • Unknown chemical sheen in Ohio River possibly from a leaking barge http://ow.ly/HOIlu
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will fight plan to deliver Missouri River water to western Kansas through an aqueduct http://ow.ly/HORrN
Click to enlarge
Agriculture -
  • Two maps reveal how U.S. agriculture actually works: lucrative food crops per state and food vs. animal feed crops per state http://ow.ly/HCEgE
  • House Agriculture Committee sets its agenda for 2015 in organizational meeting http://ow.ly/HOMpm
  • An EPA farm advisory committee met this week to discuss soil health, and soil impact on air and water quality http://ow.ly/HGH0P and http://ow.ly/HGGNg
  • Growing farm-to-table movement has yet to provide Louisiana farmers with the financial backing they’d like http://ow.ly/HGQf1
  • U.S. farmland values are in a downward correction mode http://ow.ly/HOBJv
  • Iowa Farmers Union wants U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase penalties for careless pesticide applicators http://ow.ly/HIa6T
  • Dwight Koops, president of Kansas-based Crop Quest: Five Agriculture Trends Worth Watching http://ow.ly/HKRt1
  • USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service releases its Congressional District Rankings from the 2012 Census http://ow.ly/HOMY4
Climate and Weather -
  • New climate change study: rising temperatures could sharply reduce Midwest agriculture production and reshape U.S. agriculture industry http://ow.ly/HOLgR
  • US drought update: dryness continues in central OK, southern and eastern KS, into MO; moderate drought expands in southwestern TN, northeast AR, and  adjacent MO http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NOAA and NASA: 2014 Earth's warmest year on record for both land, ocean surface http://ow.ly/Hs7Gk
  • Risk of an El Nino event in the coming months drops after indicators ease http://ow.ly/HGQO1
  • Senate votes 98-1 that “climate change is real and is not a hoax” (Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R) voted “no”) http://ow.ly/HKERJ
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Genetic testing confirms two larval (endangered) pallid sturgeon found in Missouri River near St. Louis, heartening researchers http://ow.ly/HIlDZ
  • Asian carp DNA detected in the Chicago River not a huge worry for Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials http://ow.ly/HOT7S
In the Cities -
  • EPA launches center to help communities improve wastewater, drinking water and stormwater systems http://ow.ly/HCMQh
  • Urban Institute interactive tool maps population change out to 2030 down to local "commuting zones" http://ow.ly/HKKKv
  • Iowa Public Radio: "Exploring Mississippi River Towns" http://ow.ly/HOV3j
In the States-
  • Minnesota Governor Dayton to propose bill requiring state waterways be buffered with grass or other cover strips http://ow.ly/Hs5Ou
  • Arkansas bill would authorize establishment and regulation of water quality trading programs http://ow.ly/HKLvo (bill: http://ow.ly/HKLyL)
  • Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission state funding draining away; result of decline in licenses for flotation devices http://ow.ly/HOTGy
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • EPA Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative releases storm surge inundation map http://ow.ly/HKMIS
  • Louisiana coastal scientists release findings on best location for additional lower Mississippi River sediment diversions http://ow.ly/HOUcc
Resource Development -
  • Nebraska farmers, ranchers sue over constitutionality of state law allowing governor to pick Keystone XL oil pipeline route http://ow.ly/HCGrt
  • State Department informs eight agencies they have until Feb. 2 to comment on Keystone XL pipeline and the national interest http://ow.ly/HCLCO
  • U.S.  Senate on Tuesday began what is expected to be a weeks-long debate on the Keystone XL pipeline project http://ow.ly/HGK65
  • Senate's marathon Keystone debate ends for the week in anger after midnight early Friday morning http://ow.ly/HOyPA
  • Proposed "Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015" would remove corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) http://ow.ly/HCNJ7
  • Declining northern long-eared bat may put proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline in jeopardy http://ow.ly/HEens (Minnesota)
  • House approves controversial bill to fast-track federal natural gas pipeline approval despite White House veto threat http://ow.ly/HKNIa (bill: http://ow.ly/HKNCG)
  • Group challenges proposed Forest Service plan prohibiting oil and gas wells atop federal lands in northeast Colorado's Pawnee National Grasslands, seeking stronger protections http://ow.ly/HKOiP
Federal Budget -
  • Republicans are weighing a "plan B" on immigration that will provide Homeland Security (and FEMA) funding past Feb. 27 http://ow.ly/HI7eo
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: "Tools to Fund Agricultural Research"  Jan. 28, 9:00 AM, Washington, DC http://ow.ly/HKFEU
  • Webinar: "Green Infrastructure and Flood Resiliency-Land Use Management as an Adaptation Strategy in the Built Environment" January 29, noon ET http://ow.ly/HKHCc
  • EPA Webcast: Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Watershed Assessment in USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project, Feb. 5, 1 PM ET http://ow.ly/HKSeQ
  • American Water Resources Association Climate Change Adaptation Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 15-17 http://ow.ly/HKIgz
  • Floatzilla 2015 - August 15; Davenport, Iowa (Quad Cities area) on the Mississippi River http://ow.ly/HOX15
  • Webinar: Integrating Oceans into the Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network; Elsa Haubold (USFWS); Feb. 12, 1 PM ET http://ow.ly/HGI6u
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Job announcement: The Nature Conservancy’s Missouri Chapter seeks a “Watershed Restoration Specialist” http://ow.ly/HE72M
  • Job: Tennessee TNC Chapter seeks to hire Program Director for its new Tennessee-Cumberland Rivers Program http://ow.ly/HGOQs
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center has 21 internship openings for this summer http://ow.ly/HGPnO (Alton, Illinois)
  • Congressional Republicans hope that seldom-used Congressional Review Act can help in attack on federal regulations http://ow.ly/HDalu
  • Center for American Progress: The Government Should Begin to Measure America’s Powerful Outdoor Economy http://ow.ly/HI0wO
  • Citing nuclear proliferation, climate change, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sets doomsday clock to three minutes to midnight http://ow.ly/HOzvh
  • GOP reintroduces controversial REINS Act to block major rules from the Obama administration http://bit.ly/1CVugxW
Politics and People-
  • Former Kentucky senator and Democratic whip, Wendell Ford, died early Thursday http://ow.ly/HOJps
  • New Senate Appropriations energy and environmental subcommittee chairs named for 114th Congress http://ow.ly/HGLhc, including Senators Moran of Kansas (Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration); Alexander of Tennessee (Energy and Water Development)
  • House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Peterson names 19 Democrats to serve on Committee for the 114th Congress http://ow.ly/HKN4a
  • Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) new Ranking Member of the Appropriations subcommittee on Interior and Environment http://ow.ly/HKPEP (other Democratic subcommittee assignments also listed)
Your Moment of Zen -
Photograph: Sandra Bartocha/Guardian 2010 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

What We Learned This Week - "Big Block of Cheese Day"

Iowa's agriculture secretary and many others are watching a potential Des Moines Water Works water pollution lawsuit very closely.  U.S. Senators Vitter and Manchin plan to reintroduce a bill to limit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's permit veto power of projects under Clean Water Act. A newly-introduced Arkansas bill would authorize the establishment and regulation of water quality trading programs.  Authors of a new climate change report suggest that rising temperatures could sharply cut Midwest agriculture production.  All but one U.S. Senator voted that “climate change is real and is not a hoax”, although the majority voted that the change is not caused by human activity.  The White House celebrated virtual "Big Block of Cheese Day." Oil from a large spill along the Yellowstone River was detected in public water supplies may impact fish and wildlife. Nearly three million gallons of brine wastewater have leaked from North Dakota pipeline.  Researchers were buoyed by the finding of two endangered, larval pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River near St. Louis. Republicans reintroduced the highly controversial REINS Act to give them the ability to block major Obama administration regulations.  The USGS reports that groundwater from 22 percent of wells sampled nationally contained at least one chemical at a concentration greater than a U.S. EPA Maximum Contaminant Level or other human-health benchmark.  And last but not least, the Baby Boom is over; it's the “Millennial” generation's time to rule.