Friday, February 4, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Budget and Appropriations Debate Begins in Earnest
The debate over funding the Federal government during the remainder of this (2011) and the next (2012) fiscal years became more intense recently, beginning with President Obama's State of the Union proposal to freeze discretionary Federal spending at Fiscal Year 2010 levels, and continuing with yesterday's (February 3) announcement by House Republican leaders that they would seek $32 billion in spending cuts from the Continuing Resolution currently funding the Federal government. 
The House Appropriations Committee members, whose job it now is to write a bill detailing the cuts that will be made to meet the $32 billion target, said on Thursday that the biggest reductions would be made to transportation and housing programs (with cuts of 17% below Fiscal Year 2010 appropriated levels). Other cuts directly relevant to Mississippi River Basin conservation and restoration would include agricultural programs (by 14%); energy and water programs (by 10%); and interior and environment (by 8%).    Defense and homeland security spending would increase 1% under the Republican plan. See the graphic, below, from this Wall Street Journal article:
Democrats immediately promised to fight the proposal, reprising their recently-made arguments that significantly cutting spending too rapidly might derail the economic recovery. The White House also countered that the proposed GOP cuts could lead to widespread furloughs of Federal employees, threaten people with loses of subsidized housing, reduce services in national parks, and cut aid to schools and local emergency personnel.
This debate is all but a prelude, however, to a much bigger one looming over spending and tax priorities in the future.  Those discussions will kick off on February 14 when the Obama Administration releases its Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal to Congress.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

In the States -
Flooding, Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • Upper Mississippi River group forms to find alternatives to controversial "Plan H" flood-control option
  • National Weather Service: large snowpack has set stage for Upper Minnesota River Valley spring flooding
  • National Weather Service: Mississippi River runs "high risk" of flooding this spring
  • Significant springtime flooding likely in the Upper Mississippi River Basin
  • Business owners & government officials explore options re: future of "high hazard" Minnesota Falls Dam
  • Meeting attendees take sides on Minnesota Falls Dam site options
  • Improving  Mississippi River Coon Rapids Dam is project under MN Gov. Dayton's proposed $1 billion bonding bill
  • As funding concerns mount, Army Corps says it will resume some lower Mississippi River dredging
Agriculture -
  • EPA draft report on environmental/conservation impacts of biofuels production/use highlights uncertainties
  • Ethanol industry attacks draft EPA study detailing ecological harm that may accompany increased biofuel production
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s agenda this year includes new scrutiny of ethanol
  • USDA Conservation Reserve Prog sign-up March 14-April 14; targets highly erodible & environmentally sensitive land
  • Farmers create U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance to fight bad publicity &
  • OH Farm Bureau spokesman re: messaging: "Feeding the world requires us to kick up some dirt and create a few odors"
  • Upcoming USDA Program & Grant Deadlines from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
  • UN Food & Agriculture Organization report: world food prices reached all time high in January
  • Rep. Conaway (R-TX) Chair of a House Ag Subcommittee: new farm bill will have to accept funding cuts
Water Quality-
Federal Budget-
  • The Obama Administration has now set Valentine's Day for delivery of its budget proposal - Monday, Feb. 14
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Inouye (D-HI) announces earmark moratorium for both FY 2011 & FY 2012 bills
  • House GOP leaders: will seek to cut $74 billion from President 2011 budget request ($32 B from spending)
  • GOP Fed 2011 spending plan would cut Ag programs by 14%; energy/water by 10% and Interior/environment by 8%
  • Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) says House GOP proposal to cut $32 billion from 2011 spending is “unworkable”
Events -
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • RT @InvasiveNotes: Invasive plant species lists by state-US East Coast, Ontario & Midwest
  • Invasive Emerald Ash Borer expected to migrate into IA soon from WI
  • Anti-zebra and quagga mussel bacterium holds promise for control of those invasives
  • Due to weather conditions, Army Corps GLMRIS public scoping meeting scheduled for Thursday is rescheduled for March 8
  • Senate EPW Committee Dems: Bills removing Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolf set bad precedent
Other news-
  • Fishers & Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin receives Stry Foundation funding
  • 18 university & research center scientists call on US lawmakers to take "fresh look" at climate change
  • New report estimates that Gulf of Mexico should recover from BP oil release by end of 2012, with some exceptions
Political Scene -
  • Here is the latest listing of announced US House Committee assignments
  • Tea party candidates eyeing Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-MO) U.S. Senate seat for 2012
  • Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI) sounding more & more like potential 2012 candidate vs. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Last Word-
Finally, we would not be true to our Mississippi River Basin values if we didn't root for our favorite watershed team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in this Sunday's Super Bowl.  As they say in my old home town, "Go Stillers!" 

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