Friday, March 6, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

This Week and Next
Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
It was a relatively quiet week in the Mississippi Basin and Washington, DC from a water perspective; except for the snow, sleet and ice in the region and in Washington that slowed things down a bit.  There were more veto threats from the White House; this time over GOP bills aimed at the EPA rulemaking process, while the Senate failed to override the President's recent XL pipeline veto.  And there was the usual spate of lawsuits, introduced bills and funding announcements.  On the legislative front, it appears that more is happening on the state level than the national.

Next week may not be much busier, at least on Capitol Hill.  The House is recessed for the week, and while the Senate is in session from Tuesday onward, no hearings or floor activities of River-relevance have been scheduled thus far.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • March 2015 Congressional Budget Office report: Public spending on transportation and water projects since 1956 http://1.usa.gov/1FP0Anl
  • Op-ed: U.S. has a huge deficit of infrastructure investment, and it shows (including water infrastructure) http://ow.ly/JOyKn
  • Army Corps of Engineers upgrades Arkansas River navigation from a moderate-use to a high-use system http://ow.ly/JRLJh
Agriculture -
  • USDA statistics confirm Illinois had 'historic' corn and soybean yields in 2014 http://ow.ly/JOIdX
  • Bipartisan Senate "Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act" introduced Monday seeks to curb animal antibiotics use http://ow.ly/JRO08 (link to bill: http://ow.ly/JRO6H)
  • Some warn new federal tank car rules risk disrupting the movement of grain and other agricultural products http://ow.ly/JRPC7
  • Why Midwestern farmers want to break the Cuba embargo http://ow.ly/JUO72
  • After five years of increases, average farmland values in Nebraska dropped three percent over the past year http://ow.ly/JXD07
Click to enlarge
Climate and Weather -
  • US drought update: dryness improvements in Kentucky; extreme drought expands in north-central Oklahoma http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center drought outlook for March; drought persistence anticipated for Oklahoma, Kansas http://ow.ly/q3yAx
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Natural Resources Defense Council sues U.S. EPA over "Roundup" herbicide threat to monarch butterflies http://ow.ly/JOCgB (story http://ow.ly/JOCwp)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service announces nearly $46 million in grants for wildlife agencies in all 50 states http://ow.ly/K0nFi
In the States-
  • Minnesota Gov. Dayton's proposal calling for vegetative buffer strips along the state's
    States in the news this week
     waterbodies to be discussed at Farm Forum http://ow.ly/JUNQC
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) budget proposal would cut renewable, bio-energy research http://ow.ly/JPRqB
  • Wisconsin DNR considers selling state parks naming rights http://ow.ly/JYh7F
  • Illinois State General Assembly bill would establish Home and Business Flood Protection and Loan Program Fund; bill: http://ow.ly/K0mil (story: http://ow.ly/K0mNi)
  • Missouri state bill would modify "waters of the state" definition, removing currently-included "waters of the United States" http://ow.ly/JSJBZ
  • Colorado state bill would promote water conservation in the land use planning process http://ow.ly/JSHWV (Senate version of bill)
  • Colorado adopts rule designed to prevent spills from new, existing oil, natural gas drilling operations in floodplains http://ow.ly/JSTKQ
  • DEP-DCNR: Pennsylvania Governor's proposed budget invests in energy development, conservation, recreational resources http://ow.ly/JXEUe
In the Cities -
  • Municipal "Green Streets" pilot project in West Union, Iowa wins best development award
    http://ow.ly/JODuL
  • Op-ed: St. Louis city leaders have a persistent lack of vision about what the riverfront could be http://ow.ly/JRGXc
  • Memphis Riverfront Development Corporation officials hope to soon see Mississippi River water taxis http://ow.ly/JRMa7
  • Minneapolis downtown ranked as second best in US in part due to location on the Mississippi River, near many lakes http://ow.ly/JRMra (also see: http://ow.ly/JRMXC)
  • Maps: The nation’s fastest-growing big cities are in the South and the West http://ow.ly/JYhBj
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana Gov. Jindal's proposed $20.6 million Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority budget cut won't affect ongoing projects http://ow.ly/JPQSD
  • Louisiana levee authority votes to continue appeal of decision to throw out a lawsuit against oil, gas and pipeline companies over coastal wetland damage http://ow.ly/JSUdv
Resource Development -
  • Senate fails to override President Obama’s veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline http://ow.ly/JXzCl
Federal Budget -
  • Republicans in the House and Senate plan to release separate budget blueprints this month http://ow.ly/JXVHx
  • House votes to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September, providing $25 million for FEMA predisaster mitigation fund http://ow.ly/JUHrK story here: http://ow.ly/JUIjW
  • House Agriculture Committee leaders ask Budget Committee Chairman to leave reauthorized farm bill programs alone http://ow.ly/JRHMt
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)
  • "Iowa Ag Summit" - elected officials publicly discuss agricultural issues; March 7, 8:30 a.m. Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, IA http://ow.ly/JOuTZ
  • Mississippi River Forum: “How Futures Research Might Lead Us to a More Resilient Mississippi River” March 13, 8 AM, Minneapolis http://ow.ly/JV6NA
  • National Ground Water Association Groundwater Summit; March 16-18, San Antonio, Texas http://ow.ly/JSt49
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council Webinar Series: Ohio River Nutrient Trading Program; March 17, 3 PM ET http://ow.ly/JSojk (registration required)
  • USEPA Webinar: Water Quality Modeling: Basics and Beyond; the role of modeling in water quality investigations; March 26, 1 PM EDT http://ow.ly/JUMFk (registration required)
  • National Ground Water Association Upper Great Plains Groundwater Conference; September 22-23, Cheyenne, Wyoming http://ow.ly/JSsGy
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency February 27, Watershed Network News ow.ly/JJ5oJ
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment February 26 e-newsletter ow.ly/JJ4sG
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's March 3, TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/JZ4MV
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Industrial Stormwater Program, March 2015 Newsletter http://ow.ly/JPeS7
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Waterfront Bulletin for March 2015 http://ow.ly/JV60O
  • The Horinko Group's "Sustainabulletin" quarterly newsletter looks at water and wastewater public–private partnerships http://ow.ly/JUNhr
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Feedlot Update - March 4 http://ow.ly/JVoNO
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council March 5 Watershed News http://ow.ly/K0mZb
Other news-
  • White House threatens to veto two House bills aimed at changing how EPA uses science in rulemaking http://ow.ly/JUJTJ
  • Center for American Progress: "States of Change" - 10 big demographic trends that are transforming America http://ow.ly/JOwYu
  • Watershed Conservation Resource Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas, seeks to fill Watershed Specialist position; deadline March 9 http://ow.ly/JPkUr
  • Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana seeks to fill Science/Technical Director position (March 31 deadline) http://ow.ly/JUYtS
  • U.S. EPA's staff workforce shrinks to its lowest level since the late1980s http://ow.ly/JRJim
Politics and People-
  • Curtis Taylor, head of West Virginia Division of Natural Resources wildlife section, retires suddenly http://ow.ly/JVYhW
  • President Obama resubmits his nomination of Suzette Kimball to lead the U.S. Geological Survey http://ow.ly/JJICK
Your Moment of Zen -
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For - UPADATED


Below are the U.S. 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.

The House Rules Committee is set to meet on Tuesday to determine the amendment process for floor consideration of H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act. and H.R. 1029, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, both of which aim to change the role science plays in EPA rule-making.  The Rule Committee meeting would pave the way for subsequent consideration of the bills by the full House as early as Wednesday. The House passed similar bills in 2014, but not the Senate.

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
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies budget hearing - United States Forest Service; 1:00 PM, room B-308 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies budget hearing - Department of Agriculture Marketing and Regulatory Programs; 2:00 PM, room 2362-A Rayburn House Office Building.
Wednesday
  • House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, "Rebuilding the Chemical Safety Board: Finding a Solution to the CSB's Governance and Management Challenges;" 9:00 AM, room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building (the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents, including those that impact waterways).
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing "examining the President’s budget request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;" 9:30 AM, room 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • Senate Appropriations Interior Subcommittee hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2016 funding request and budget justification for the U.S. Department of the Interior; 10:00 AM, Room 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Thursday
  • House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing on "Examining the Department of the Interior's Spending Priorities and the President's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal;" 9:00 AM, room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
  • POSTPONED House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies budget hearing - National Park Service; 9:00 AM, room B-308 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • POSTPONED House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing "to 
  • review the definition of 'waters of the United States' proposed rule and its impact on rural America;" 9:15 AM, room 1300 Longworth House Office Building.
  • POSTPONED House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies budget hearing - Department of Agriculture Research Agencies; 10:00 AM, room 2362-A Rayburn House Office Building.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

This Week and Next
The House will vote today (Friday) on a one-page funding bill to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (including the Federal Emergency Management Administration), pushing off a possible shutdown for three weeks.  Elsewhere this week, the House passed a bill requiring the EPA to develop a plan for managing the health risks related to cyanotoxins, there were calls for an environmental impact assessment concerning new rail infrastructure being built to handle increased Bakken oil train traffic in the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District announced plans to revise its Mississippi River Master Plan, 55,000 gallons of ethanol were unaccounted for from a freight train spill along the Mississippi River, a court found that Nebraska recklessly gambled with water that wasn’t legally Nebraska’s, nearly 400 organizations told Congressional appropriators not to meddle with farm bill programs, and six men started paddling upstream on the Mississippi toward the Arctic Ocean.   Links to these and more can be found below, or digested into a one-paragraph summary, "What We Learned This Week - 'Let me count the ways.'"

Next week the full House may consider  H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act. and H.R. 1029, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, both of which aim to change the role science plays in EPA rule-making.  The House passed similar bills in 2014.  Next week will also see several River Basin-related Capitol Hill committee hearings, many of the fiscal variety. One notable exception will be a Thursday, House Agriculture Committee hearing "to review the definition of 'waters of the United States' proposed rule and its impact on rural America." You can read the entire list of River-related Hill happenings here.  

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • EPA's proposed clean water rule resisted by some Arkansas counties, agricultural groups,
    congressional members http://ow.ly/JwXx8
  • 36,000 gallons of oil-water mixture recovered from containment trenches since last week's West Virginia oil train derailment http://ow.ly/JzPSE (photo,  right)
  • Poll: Most Iowans support Des Moines Water Works water pollution lawsuit http://ow.ly/JIPfd
  • ORSANCO 2013 Toxic Release Inventory Analysis report: ninety-two percent of reported Ohio River releases were nitrate compounds http://ow.ly/JGG1E (Story: http://ow.ly/JGGkg)
  • EPA weighs in on Harpeth River, city of Franklin, Tennessee wastewater pollution federal court case  http://ow.ly/JzTcy
  • Groups ask to intervene in Kentucky enforcement action, citing insufficient fines imposed against coal company for multiple water quality reporting violations http://ow.ly/JB4mg
  • Doing a little to curb Mississippi River fertilizer pollution could go long way to breathing life back into the Gulf http://ow.ly/JBb4u
  • H.R. 212-bill requiring U.S. EPA to develop a strategic plan for protecting drinking water from cyanotoxins-passes House 375-37 http://ow.ly/JD3O0
  • House Appropriations Chair Rogers (R-KY-5) criticizes Interior Department plan to protect waterways from coal mining http://ow.ly/JFTE3
  • Exploring New Ways of Measuring Water Quality Project Success http://ow.ly/JFUHf
  • Officials still dealing with aftermath of freight train derailment that spilled ethanol into Mississippi River (Iowa) http://ow.ly/JGifj
  • 21-month prison sentence imposed for man who conspired to falsify coal industry water pollution tests at West Virginia mining operations http://ow.ly/JGjWa
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
    Mississippi River Lock and Dam 7
  • Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District proposes to revise its Mississippi River Master Plan; seeks public input http://ow.ly/JwVMs
  • Eight months in, the extent of "reform" as a result of 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act is unclear http://ow.ly/JoZh9
  • NPR Morning Edition: Army Corps St. John Levee New Madrid Floodway project pits farmland against flood threat http://ow.ly/JzL8d
  • Resources for the Future: Understanding Flood Risk Decisionmaking: Implications for Flood Risk Communication Program Design http://ow.ly/JxfgX
  • Illinois River Valley hopes for a share of Housing and Urban Development $1 billion flood resiliency money http://ow.ly/JzCOP
  • FEMA hurricane disaster recovery funds to Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes (Louisiana) will fund repairs, measures to protect against future damage http://ow.ly/JzHta
  • Ducks Unlimited to restore 680-acre Platte River property wetlands habitat http://ow.ly/JzJ2C
  • Supreme Court rules Nebraska must pay Kansas in interstate Republican River battle http://ow.ly/JB2t8 (ruling: http://ow.ly/JB21b)
  • It will take longer, cost more than originally estimated to rebuild the Arkansas River levee through Pueblo, Colorado http://ow.ly/JGHfS
  • Army Corps of Engineers updates public on status of repairs to Illinois River's Marseilles dam and nearby riverfront levee http://ow.ly/JGJHB
  • USDA to invest $84 million to help communities in 13 states recover from natural disasters, including 2013 flooding in Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado; 2014 flooding in Tennessee http://ow.ly/JGZh3 (list of projects: http://ow.ly/JGZuA)
Agriculture -
  • USDA opens public comment period for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program interim final rule http://ow.ly/JGK8k (link to Federal Register notice to be officially published tomorrow: http://ow.ly/JGKyd)
  • Senate Agriculture Committee members on Tuesday reviewed the implementation of the Farm Bill after one year http://ow.ly/JD31C (related article below)
  • Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Stabenow is concerned over cuts to USDA
    conservation programs; USDA Secretary says they are due to a shrinking staff http://ow.ly/JD8hk
  • 392 agriculture, nutrition, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy, trade, labor, equipment manufactures and crop insurance sector organizations urge Congress to reject further cuts to farm bill programs http://ow.ly/JzpKm
  • National Journal: Agricultural science is in trouble http://ow.ly/JGj0a
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General: today's model of agricultural production not suitable for 21st century food security challenges http://ow.ly/Jvaax
  • USDA announces over $160 million available to fund food and agriculture research, education, and extension http://ow.ly/JomKK
  • Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee: cutting crop insurance subsidies is a non-starter http://ow.ly/JvaZr
  • Some Midwestern farmers breaking farmland lease contracts with landowners due to lower commodity prices and reduced farm income http://ow.ly/Jzr1K
  • Renewal option open through March 31 for agricultural producers, forest landowners with expiring NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program contracts http://ow.ly/JB15x
  • North Dakota sees a sharp decrease in the number of small farms and ranches; part of growing trend toward fewer but larger farms http://ow.ly/JD91P
  • Food waste is increasingly being seen as a serious environmental and economic issue http://ow.ly/JFRWa
Climate and Weather -
  • US drought update: Locally-heavy rain and snow eased Mississippi and Ohio Valley drought conditions; Central to Northern Plains, Upper Midwest remained dry; severely dry conditions in western Oklahoma http://ow.ly/JGxqP
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for March (will be published on Saturday afternoon) http://ow.ly/q3yAx
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Newly-introduced bill designed to address "spread of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins" http://ow.ly/JGN1X
  • 12 "most destructive invasive plants and animals" in the United States include feral hogs, European starling, emerald ash borer, nutria in Mississippi River Basin http://ow.ly/JzRmK
  • Spring bird migration is well underway across Wisconsin http://ow.ly/JAZB1
  • Eagle Nature Foundation executive director: Upper Midwest bald eagle populations declining; researchers: they're not http://ow.ly/JGHTO
  • Minnesota farmers face a 'perfect storm' after court wolf protection ruling http://ow.ly/JB3bZ
In the States-
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials warn that state legislators' push to ease state
    wild rice water pollution standards could lead federal oversight http://ow.ly/JDhyR
  • Iowa state bills would tighten regulations on manure fertilizer application 
    River Basin states in the news this week
    http://ow.ly/Jp0Yc (link to Senate bill version: http://ow.ly/Jp0FG)
  • Kentucky State House panel approves first overhaul of Kentucky's oil and gas drilling regulations in a generation http://ow.ly/JDiHI (link to bill: http://ow.ly/JDiUP)
  • Kentucky Oil and Gas Conservation Commission disallows citizens' fracking questions at permit hearing http://ow.ly/JGn1F
  • Missouri "Right to Farm" constitutional amendment opponents ask Missouri Supreme Court to hear their challenge http://ow.ly/JE9Cf
  • North Dakota Senate votes to allow non-family farm corporations to own or lease agriculture land http://ow.ly/JzxAn (bill link: http://ow.ly/JzxWD)
  • North Dakota House approves legislation to regulate oil and saltwater gathering pipelines http://ow.ly/JB5MR (bill link: http://ow.ly/JB64S)
  • South Dakota Senate approves bill establishing nine river basin natural resource districts to oversee water, drainage management http://ow.ly/JzJzW (link to bill: http://ow.ly/JzKeR)
  • West Virginia Senate starts work on bill to scale back law spelling out safeguards to prevent storage tank spills http://ow.ly/JDfP3 (link to bill: http://ow.ly/JDg3P)
  • Indiana Senate defeats proposal that would have added "right to farm" protections to the state's constitution http://ow.ly/JGhbt (link to bill: http://ow.ly/JGhCj)
  • Pennsylvania Senate Committee approves bill to create Marcellus Shale health advisory panel http://ow.ly/JGZM7 (bill link: http://ow.ly/JGZTo)
In the Cities -
  • Work on two of Iowa City's major flood protection projects is behind schedule http://ow.ly/JwX0T
  • Right-of-way disagreement over proposed Greater Cincinnati, Ohio River bike trail along rail line corridor may end up in court http://ow.ly/JzEAY
  • Viking River Cruises-a major European river cruise company-to launch American river cruises from New Orleans http://ow.ly/JGIqd
  • EPA guide: Green Infrastructure Opportunities that Arise During Municipal Operations http://ow.ly/JIFEu
Gulf Coastal Region-
Forestry -
  • Forest Service temporarily halts controversial proposal to better gauge impacts of surface uses upon groundwater http://ow.ly/JH1FN
Resource Development -
  • Crude oil boom translates into major rail investments along Upper Mississippi River corridor, along with calls for an environmental impact assessment http://ow.ly/JwTpJ
  • DOT predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over next two decades http://ow.ly/JwViv
  • EPA to Release Renewable Fuel Volumes this Spring for 2014, 2015 and 2016 http://ow.ly/Jveyx
  • Iowa Gov. Branstad fires ethanol warning shot to 2016 presidential candidates, with launch of launch of "America’s Renewable Future" nonprofit http://ow.ly/JH79W
  • Bill introduced by Sens. Feinstein (D-CA) and Toomey (R-PA) would strip corn ethanol from EPA renewable fuel standard http://ow.ly/JH11z
  • ActionAid report says food-based federal biofuel mandates threaten food security http://ow.ly/JB3Jz
  • Houston County, Minnesota close to adopting a permanent ban on frac-sand mining http://ow.ly/JzI2C
  • President Obama vetoes legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline http://ow.ly/JBJcA
  • Five possible ways the Keystone XL pipeline saga could end http://ow.ly/JzOO4
Federal Budget -
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittees criticize U.S. EPA's fiscal year 2016 budget request for its focus on climate change http://ow.ly/JE8Cg (link to hearing archive: http://ow.ly/JE8vP)
  • House will vote today (Friday) to prevent Homeland Security shutdown tomorrow (includes FEMA funding) http://ow.ly/JIA1q
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) 
  • Aldo Leopold weekend celebration theme is “Water Ethic;” February 27-28, La Crosse, Wisconsin http://ow.ly/JzGyF
  • Focus 2015: A Forum of Communities for Urban Sustainability; Washington, DC, March 5 and 6 http://ow.ly/JvcZy
  • Training: Application of Quality Assurance and Quality Control Principles to Ecological Restoration; March 6, Superior, WI http://ow.ly/JzMYd
  • National Geographic meetings to promote national, Mississippi River tourism; March 9-10, Moline, IL http://ow.ly/JzFAo
  • EPA webcast on “Watershed Approach Handbook: Improving Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects”  March 18, 1:00 PM ET http://ow.ly/JIGeo
  • Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society Biennual Meeting, St. Charles, Missouri, March 22-25 http://ow.ly/JBM1U (one day concurrent overlap with UMRCC meeting, below)
  • Annual Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee annual meeting, March 25-26, St. Charles, Missouri http://ow.ly/JBN4p
  • Illinois RiverWatch Offering Training Workshops for Adults, 4-H and Student Groups; March through May http://ow.ly/Jw1rI
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers 39th Annual National Conference, "Mitigation on my Mind" - May 31-June 5, Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA http://ow.ly/Jve04
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 278, February 23, National Geographic Geotourism Project http://ow.ly/JwsAM
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's February 24 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/JBJJx
  • Green Lands Blue Waters update, focusing on Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land http://ow.ly/JICBy
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers February "News and Views" http://ow.ly/JH8gn
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's February 56 "Watershed News" http://ow.ly/JIFjD
Other news-
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee advances 2 bills aimed at science behind EPA rules http://ow.ly/JFUnx (committee markup meeting page: http://ow.ly/JFUif
  • USDA seeks grant proposals to increase recreational public access on private agricultural, forest lands http://ow.ly/JwABc
  • Team of six paddlers ascending the Mississippi River in first stage of a journey with the Arctic Ocean as its goal http://ow.ly/JBKpk
  • USDA Announces $14 Million in Grants Supporting Economic Growth for Rural Communities http://ow.ly/JE5U8
  • Debate beginning to take shape over the merits of a paved recreational trail through the Minnesota River valley http://ow.ly/JGGGQ
Politics and People-
  • League of Conservation Voters releases annual scorecard of environmental voting records of all members of Congress http://ow.ly/JH0DY
  • U.S. EPA's Region 7 chief Karl Brooks to step down; take on new job at EPA Washington, D.C. headquarters http://ow.ly/JEaad
  • Former Gov. Ted Strickland will seek to challenge Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman in 2016 http://ow.ly/JEc5b
  • Kansas Governor Sam Brownback elected Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association for 2015 http://ow.ly/JpviH
  • Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) hints at a possible comeback bid in final speech as U.S. State Department envoy to Africa http://ow.ly/JDdsg
  • Mississippi Governor schedules May 12 special election to fill 1st district House seat left vacant by Rep. Alan Nunnelee's death http://ow.ly/JD2Ht
Your Moment of Zen -
Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

What We Learned This Week - "Let me count the ways"

The Bakken crude oil boom has translated into major rail investments along the Upper Mississippi River corridor, along with calls for an environmental impact assessment. The Transportation Department predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next 20 years. Nearly 400 organizations told Congress not to mess with farm bill programs. Agriculture must change, and agricultural science is in trouble, as well.   Iowa state bills would  tighten regulations on manure fertilizer application.  The Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District announced plans to revise its Mississippi River Master Plan.  55,000 gallons of ethanol remain unaccounted for from a freight train derailment and spill in Iowa along the Mississippi River.  The U.S. House resoundingly passed a bill requiring the EPA to develop a plan for evaluating the health risks of cyanotoxins and issuing health advisories, as well as plan for treatment options.  Following the President's pipeline bill veto on Tuesday, there are five possible ways the Keystone XL saga could end.  That veto left the GOP on a track for an override vote - one that will most likely fail.  A team of six paddlers is ascending the Mississippi River in the first stage of a journey taking them to the Arctic Ocean. Minnesota officials warned state legislators that their push to ease state wild rice water pollution standards could lead to federal oversight.   West Virginia state lawmakers are having second thoughts about a storage tank spill prevention act passed unanimously last year.  Senate Agriculture Committee members expressed concerns over cuts to USDA conservation programs at a Tuesday hearing.  The Supreme Court ruled that Nebraska "recklessly gambled" in taking more water from the Republican River than it was allowed to take in 2005 and 2006. Amid Oklahoma lawmakers' busy schedules this year, they may need to decide the fate of the watermelon as the official "state vegetable." And last but not least, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma threw a snowball in the Senate chamber on Thursday to make a climate change point.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

The House returns from its week-long hiatus on Tuesday, and the Senate on Monday, when both chambers will resume committee and floor activities. The House on Tuesday will consider H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act, which would require the U.S. EPA to develop a strategic plan to manage the risks associated with cyanotoxins in drinking water. The Senate on Monday will begin consideration of the 2015 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which, in part, would fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the end of September.  DHS funding is currently set to run out on February 28.  The House schedule lists that bill for "possible consideration" this week.

Congressional attention this time of year is typically focused on the development of a Budget Resolution, which would set the fiscal boundaries of any subsequent spending bills drafted by the House and Senate. On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee will hold a "Members Day" (details below), providing an opportunity for House Members to express their Fiscal Year 2016 House Budget Resolution needs, requests and questions. This also provides an opportunity for Mississippi River advocates to reach out to their respective House district representatives, asking them to attend the Members Day and back funding levels that match with the advocates' priorities.  

Below are the U.S. 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. 

Tuesday
  • Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the Agricultural Act of 2014 implementation after one year and Farm Credit Administration pending nominations; 9:30 AM, room 328A Russell Senate Office Building.
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing - Department of the Interior's FY 2016 Budget; 10:00 AM, room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Wednesday
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request for Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs; 10:00 AM, room
    2167 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Energy and Commerce joint Energy and Power, and Environment and the Economy subcommittees' hearing on the Fiscal Year 2016 Environment Protection Agency Budget; 10:00 AM , room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Budget Hearing - Department of Agriculture Office of the Secretary; 10:00 AM, room 2362-A Rayburn House Office Building.
  • Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing entitled "Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System;" 10:00 AM, room SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • House Budget Committee "Members Day;" 1:00 PM, room 210 Cannon House Office Building.
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Budget Hearing - Department of the Interior;1:00 PM, room B-308 Rayburn House Office Building.
Thursday
Friday

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week and Next
This rapidly-ending wintry week saw an oil tanker train derailment and spill in West Virginia, a reversal in the legal fortunes for a Louisiana levee authority, a shift in farmers' planting plans from corn to soybeans, signs of Asian carp in the upper Ohio River, and Mississippi River Basin states planning deep budget cuts.  Links to these stories and more can be found in the lengthy list, below (and summarized more pithily in "What We Learned This Week - Sheep or Goats?").

Congress returns from a week-long break next Tuesday, and resumes committee activities - many focused on the development of a Budget Resolution, which would set the fiscal boundaries of any subsequent spending bills drafted by the House and Senate.  Many environmental and water-focused subcommittees next week will host budget hearings for the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture and Interior Department.  There will also be a hearing exploring 2014 Farm Bill implementation over year on.  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.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
Water Quality -
  • Train carrying over 100 tank cars of crude oil derails in West Virginia sending at least one into
    Photo Credit: Iowa Geological Survey
    the Kanawha River http://ow.ly/Jb8iH
  • Oilfield wastewater pipelines often leak in North Dakota, with devastating consequences http://ow.ly/Jhavp
  • National Law Review: Iowa Utility To Pursue Novel Lawsuit Over Agricultural Nitrate Pollution http://ow.ly/Jhp8k
  • Star Tribune: A closely watched fight brewing over nitrates in Iowa water http://ow.ly/Jk93Z
  • After 16 years with lapsed power plant wastewater permit, Ameren’s new Missouri River proposal gets public hearing http://ow.ly/Jhrm8
  • Senate bill aims to reduce polluted stormwater that washes off highways into streams and rivers http://ow.ly/Jl1qJ
  • Farmers can better prevent nutrient runoff based on land characteristics http://ow.ly/Jntad
  • EPA proposes several changes in required/recommended wastewater analysis testing methods; Federal Register: http://ow.ly/JntLQ
  • Center for Biological Diversity: oil trains threaten 3,600 miles of streams as well as 73,000 square miles of lakes, wetlands and reservoirs http://ow.ly/JnZvu
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran questions lack for funding for Mississippi Delta flood control projects http://ow.ly/J1beZ
  • Corps of Engineers moves ahead with study of at-risk Arkansas River levee system (Tulsa, Oklahoma) http://ow.ly/J1bKd
  • Midwest Environmental Advocates opposes DNR's approval of crude oil rail line through La Crosse, Wisconsin wetlands http://ow.ly/J1chh
  • Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District completes last round of buyouts  of flood-prone property along Missouri River (Nebraska) http://ow.ly/JhuLZ
Agriculture-
  • Large number of environmental organizations urge lawmakers “to protect mandatory funding for farm bill conservation" http://ow.ly/JnrCM
  • Complexity of Farm Bill becomes "this mess" in farm country http://ow.ly/Jbpn5
  • As crop prices fall, farmers grow subsidies instead http://ow.ly/JbpGu
  • Des Moines Register: Water, air quality concerns heighten conflict between pig farms and environmental advocates http://ow.ly/JcFHw
  • Biofuels scientists critique World Resources Institute study linking bioenergy, food scarcity http://ow.ly/Jd0mW
  • The "aging farmer problem" may be overstated http://ow.ly/JfsYt
  • The Future Of Agriculture? Precision Farming http://ow.ly/JnsGJ
  • U.S. farmers from Louisiana to North Dakota switch more land to soybeans, seeking to limit slumping corn market losses http://ow.ly/Jh9Kj
  • For the first time since the 1970s, corn planting will decline for three straight seasons; soybeans expand to record acreage http://ow.ly/JfCdR
  • USDA scientists model nutrient loss from Midwestern crop fields http://ow.ly/JhpwP
  • USDA solicits applications for $9 million in funding to help communities develop local, independent food systems http://ow.ly/JkGG7
  • Survey shows Iowans support targeted approaches for multiple-benefit agriculture http://ow.ly/JnLzz
Click to enlarge
Climate and Weather -
  • National Weather Service: Drought likely to develop in Upper Midwest by spring http://ow.ly/Jnvd8
  • US weekly drought update: abnormally dry soils in Lower Mississippi Valley Precipitation below average across most of Great Plains, Central Plains, Midwest http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • EPA Releases Stormwater Climate Change Tool to help communities prepare for climate change impacts http://ow.ly/J1wle
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Asian carp eDNA found in Ohio River for the second year running in Pennsylvania http://ow.ly/J0JSr
  • Arrival of small flock along Platte River signals start of sandhill crane migration http://ow.ly/J1aOz
  • Administration commitment to Asian carp alternatives outlined in 2014's Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study questioned http://ow.ly/JbjnS
  • Invasive emerald ash borer, known pest in ash trees, found in Louisiana (Webster Parish) http://ow.ly/JhoJT
In the Cities -
Photo Courtesy Philips Lighting
  • Big Four Bridge across the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky is ablaze with 1,500 blinking colored LED lights http://ow.ly/J0CVn
  • St. Bernard Parish to get six-mile bike trail along Mississippi River (New Orleans metropolitan area) http://ow.ly/JhskD
  • Prairie du Chien (Wisconsin) council approves preliminary flood mitigation project http://ow.ly/Jhoqj
In the States -
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants to remove tax money from state park system and make parks self-sustaining http://ow.ly/Jgz6W
  • West Virginia Coal Association pushes state bills that would weaken environmental and mining safety rules http://ow.ly/J1DAm (link to bills: House - http://ow.ly/J1DIr Senate - http://ow.ly/J1DQf)
  • Expecting significant budget shortfalls, Illinois’s governor proposes over $6 billion in state spending cuts http://ow.ly/Jjuue
  • Oklahoma budget deficit, prompted by oil industry decline, doubles to over $600 million, deeper cuts coming http://ow.ly/JbnGb
Click to enlarge
Gulf Coastal Region -
  • Times-Picayune editorial: Gulf dead zone must be reduced http://ow.ly/Jhqyn
  • 15 Louisiana coastal restoration projects authorized in 2007 by Congress have met various fates http://ow.ly/JhrOS
  • Federal judge has dismisses southeast Louisiana flood protection board wetland-loss lawsuit against oil and gas companies http://ow.ly/Jbkla
  • Satellite images show new deltas forming off Louisiana coast http://ow.ly/Jd2LG
  • RESTORE Advisory Committee sets criteria for coastal restoration projects in Escambia County, Louisiana http://ow.ly/Jo3wd
Forestry -
  • Newly-announced joint USFS-NRCS projects include Mississippi River Basin forest restoration projects in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and South Dakota http://ow.ly/JnDkw (announcement: http://ow.ly/JnDnQ)
Natural Resources Development -
  • Proposed southeastern Minnesota frac sand mining operation could be biggest in state http://ow.ly/JboAU
  • EPA plans to offer a proposal for Renewable Fuels Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 this spring http://ow.ly/Jnsbh
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)
  • National Invasive Species Awareness Week, February 22-28 http://ow.ly/J1uoQ
  • Aquatic Invasive Species Strategic Plan meeting (St. Croix River); March 4, 9:30 am Central; St. Croix Falls, WI http://ow.ly/JlfjW
  • Symposium "The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change;" Northrop, Minnesota, April 8, 7:00 PM, April 9 (all day), April 10 (morning) http://ow.ly/JbAC3
  • Registration open for USEPA Water Quality Standards Academy; April 27 - May 1; Washington, DC http://ow.ly/Jg9eF
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
Other News -
  • NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite to measure soil moisture worldwide every 2–3 days for next three years http://ow.ly/J1cWS
  • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: Conservatives discount scientific theories that run counter to their worldview; liberals do the same http://ow.ly/Jbzpx
  • Student summer trainee internship positions at the Rock Island, Department of the Interior Field Office, Illinois http://ow.ly/JcXXX
  • Obama to make Colorado's Browns Canyon a national monument (Arkansas River) http://ow.ly/Jhn3T
  • Job: Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council full time, limited term Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator http://ow.ly/JnuJ6
  • Groups slam government advisory group suggestion to reduce red meat intake for environmental reasons http://ow.ly/JnFhV
People and Politics -
  • Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) considers a primary election Tea Party challenge against Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) http://ow.ly/JbiLQ
  • Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) will challenge Sen. Roy Blunt (R) for Missouri U.S. Senate seat http://ow.ly/Jl0Nt
  • New Congress has slightly higher approval ratings: 20% say they approve of the way it's handling job http://ow.ly/Jbwho
  • Newest member of Iowa House of Representatives, David Sieck (R), has extensive river issue experience (won seat in February 10 special election) http://ow.ly/Jhq1N
Your Moment of Zen
Flamingos at the Memphis Zoo huddling together for warmth on Tuesday.
(AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Jim Weber)

What We Learned This Week - Sheep or Goats?

The National Weather Service believes that a drought is likely to develop in the Upper Midwest by this spring. The "aging farmer problem" may be overblown. For the first time since the 1970s, corn planting will decline for three straight seasons. That slumping corn market is driving farmers from Louisiana to North Dakota to switch more land to soybeans, as they seek to limit their losses. Oil trains threaten 3,600 miles of U.S. streams as well as 73,000 square miles of lakes, wetlands and reservoirs. One of those trains, carrying over 100 tank cars of crude oil, derailed in West Virginia sending at least one car into the the Kanawha River. It's the Chinese Year of the Sheep, or Year of the Goat, depending on which old English translation of a Chinese hoofed, grass-eating, bleating mammal you choose. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has detected Asian carp eDNA in the upper Ohio River for the second year running. Another invasive, the emerald ash borer, has been found in Louisiana; the 25th state in which the insect has been detected. The governors of Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Illinois are proposing deep state budget cuts that may impact state park, conservation and environmental programs. A federal judge dismissed an historic southeast Louisiana flood protection board wetland-loss lawsuit against oil and gas companies. Satellite images show that new delta land is forming off Louisiana's coast. The new Congress has a slightly higher approval rating than the last one: 20%. And last but not least, conservatives discount scientific theories that run counter to their worldview; liberals do the same.