Friday, May 14, 2010

Mississippi River Water Resource News for the Week

The biannual National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) 2011 will be held in Baltimore, MD at the Marriott Waterfront hotel on August 1-5, 2011. The NCER 2011 Program Committee invites members of the ecosystem restoration community to assist with developing the conference program agenda by proposing and organizing sessions. Proposers should not feel limited to the preliminary topical categories listed on the NCER 2011 web site. Each proposal will be assessed according to individual content, structure and overall relevance. Proposal acceptance will be primarily based on an evaluation of the session's potential for generating useful results, relevance and expected level of interest in the topic. The Northeast-Midwest Institute (Mark Gorman) is on the NCER 2011 Planning Committee.  Please feel free to contact Mark ( with any questions or ideas.

The House Agriculture Committee held the next in a series of hearings on agriculture policy leading up to discussion and debate on the 2012 Farm Bill, on Thursday, May 13. This hearing focused on the testimony and opinions of agriculture economists and academics. For more information on this hearing and on the Farm Bill-related hearing schedule throughout the remainder of May, visit this Committee web site.

On May 7, Rep. Barney Frank (MA-4th) introduced the Stable Flood Insurance Authorization Act of 2010, to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. The wording of the legislation recognizes that “long-term authorization and significant reforms are needed to further improve the financial outlook of the National Flood Insurance Program,” and states that the bill’s intent is to provide “reliable, annual authorization of the program” “while such comprehensive reforms are considered.” The measure currently has three cosponsors. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. The text of the bill and related information can be viewed here.

According to results summarized in a TNC and Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored study, greater cooperation is essential to addressing economic and ecological issues currently impacting the Mississippi River basin. Under direction from TNC ("The Nature Conservancy"), through the Great Rivers Partnership, and the Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Meridian Institute conducted a series of interviews designed to gather input from key stakeholders representing "regional and sector diversity" in the Mississippi River Basin. Meridian Intsitute's final summary of interviews, findings and recommendations is available here (PDF file).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the availability of USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funds that producers can apply for in 2010. CSP offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and who agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial forestland. The deadline to be considered for the next ranking and funding period is June 11, 2010. The CSP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. Producers can find more information about the CSP, and links to the program application here.

On Monday, May 17, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (CA-30th), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Edward J. Markey (MA-7th), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, introduced legislation that would reauthorize and increase funding for the drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Among other things, the bill would gradually increase funding for the drinking water SRF from $1.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 to $6 billion in Fiscal Year 2015. The Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the legislation this past Thursday, May 13, in which some Subcommittee members questioned the ability to implement the increased activities proposed within the bill. A press release, and links to the bill and bill summaries can be found here.

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