Friday, April 22, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week - Earth Day Edition

EPA and USDA Announce New Pilot Program to Evaluate Farm Conservation Impacts
Inside EPA” reported on April 22 that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new initiative following an April 19 tour of Iowa farms to develop pilot projects "to help quantify the effectiveness of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) in reducing nutrient pollution from farm runoff, and couple those BMPs with a compliance assurance program - key actions the agriculture industry has long sought to ease their compliance with strict nutrient limits."  The April 19 visit also included a visit to an Iowa biodiesel plant, and was designed to listen to concerns from farmers and agricultural representatives about EPA regulatory impacts on farmers.  There is also a link to media coverage of the visit in the "Agriculture" section, below.

EPA Proposes New Cooling Water Intake Structure Standards to Reduce Environmental Impact
The EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on April 20 that will affect (when finalized) many large cooling water dischargers to rivers in the Mississippi River Basin, including large electric utility plants. The rule sets requirements that reflect the best technology available (BTA) for minimizing adverse environmental impact; requirements that would be implemented through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Read more background and comment submission information here.

Invasive Asian Carp Species Caught in St. Croix River
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that a commercial angler caught a 27-pound bighead carp in the lower St. Croix River on April 18. According to a DNR Media Release issued on April 20, the catch of the carp "is the sixth incident of bighead carp being caught in the Mississippi River bordering Minnesota, but the only the second bighead carp caught near the St. Croix River. In 1996, a bighead was caught in the St. Croix River north of its confluence with the Mississippi River." Bighead carp can grow to reach weights of 110 pounds, and - like other non-native carp species that have been released in North America outside of their native Asian or European ranges - cause ecosystem problems in their wake. Watch a video and read more detailed background on Asian Carp in the Upper Mississippi River (upstream of Cairo, Illinois) here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week:

Agriculture -
  • EPA chief has no plans to regulate farm runoff when "folks stepping up and are willing to do the conservation
  • Sediment from Minnesota's farms threatens to choke off Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers
  • Urban St. Louis MO farm gives opportunity to refugees
  • UN Environment Programme Director: we need a "new agriculture" where conservation & farming learn to live together
  • Even strong congressional supporters of farm subsidies say they will be cut in the 2012 budget
  • Corn, soybean & other crop direct payments as they exist today not likely to be in next Farm Bill
  • Democrats: cuts in House-passed budget plan could make it politically impossible to pass Farm Bill in 2012
  • Book review: "This Perennial Land . . . road to a restorative agriculture" & book's web site:
  • Sen. Conrad (D-ND) convenes meeting of his ND Agriculture Advisory Committee to lay out 2012 Farm Bill priorities
  • International Energy Agency: Biofuels could make up 27% of world’s transportation fuel by 2050; Sustainability is key
  • State Agricultural Lands Nutrient Reduction Strategies Workshop Announced for Upper Mississippi basin audience
  • Book review: "The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories"
Water Quality-
  • WA House passes bill to make it first state to ban coal tar based sealants Rep. Doggett (D-TX) seeks nationwide ban
  • EPA soliciting public comment on General Permit to reduce stormwater discharges from construction sites
  • 170 lawmakers urge Obama Administration to stop roll-out of guidance defining waters of the US (pdf of letter)
  • American Farm Bureau says draft EPA guidance takes overly broad view of ‘waters of the US’ definition
  • Climate change could make Chicago's chronic water pollution (that goes down to the Mississippi River) even worse
In the States -
Flooding, Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • Nashville, TN mayor launches “Nashville: Naturally” plan; emphasizes green infrastructure to rebound from 2010 flooding
  • Predicted Thursday 20.3-foot Mississippi River crest will make it 6th worst flood in Quad-City history
  • Rising Mississippi River turns dangerous in Dubuque IA area
  • 40-year-old ''emergency" levees remain primary line of defense against floods in many MN areas
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Federal Budget -
  • Water infrastructure budgets (EPA & Army Corps) to see massive cuts in 2012
  • Economy insiders polled; say that odds are long for a long-term budget deal based upon current plans
  • IA Ag Secretary: state & federal conservation program cuts makes reducing farm runoff difficult (last paragr)
  • RT @InvasiveNotes: The Case for Funding Agricultural Research
  • FY2012 Republican House Budget Resolution is "non-starter" for House Agriculture Committee Democrats
  • House passes Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's 2012 budget plan
  • For the numerologists and economists among us: the perpetual US national debt clock:
  • Corps of Engineers' budget cuts could hurt Mississippi River-Memphis region industries
  • GOP will send House Majority Leader Cantor (VA) & Senate Minority Whip Kyl (AZ) to negotiate budget & deficit w/ Dems
Events -
  • State Agricultural Lands Nutrient Reduction Strategies Workshop Announced for Upper Mississippi basin audience
  • Briefing on new National Research Council report: effects of climate change on natural resources; DC, April 25, 2 PM
  • Course: Adaptive Management for Conservation Success, June 6-17, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Inst, Front Royal, VA
  • July 15-18, 2012 (Save the date): Inagural North America Congress for Conservation Biology; San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Abstract deadline May 13 for Nov 7-10 American Water Resources Association Conf; Albuquerque, NM
  • RT @eesionline: BRIEFING Apr 27: developing sustainable biomass supplies for energy, economic, & environmental security
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Assoc. announces May 17-18, 2011 meetings, Rock Island, IL (open to public)
Political Scene -
  • Likely redistricting victims: Reps. Landry (R-LA), Donnelly (D-IN), Carnahan (D-MO), Schilling (R-IL), Latham (R-IA)
  • Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-4) announces a 2012 run against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3) in the third district
  • Christie Vilsack likely to run in 2012 against Iowa Rep. Steve King (R-IA-5) &
  • IA Gov Branstad signs redistricting bill: state’s new legislative boundaries are officially law
  • MO congressional redistricting unknowns in MO statehouse lead to in-fighting among US House Dems
  • Dems set to file recall petitions against 5th GOP WI state senator for her vote to limit collective bargaining rights
  • Congress's approval rating hovering near its all-time low, stands at 17%
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • LA Sens. Landrieu & Vitter introduce bill to direct 80% of BP spill penalties to Gulf coastal restoration
  • Scientists surveyed say: Gulf of Mexico health nearly at pre-BP-spill level ("68" on 0 to 100 scale)
  • BP: freshwater diversions that decimated oyster beds off Mississippi River not approved or "viable response technique"
  • Research directors/water resource administrators seek to develop common Upper Mississippi River water framework
  • Conservation Biology article: Ecosystem services as a common language for coastal ecosystem-based management
  • Perceived threat to oil & gas jobs undercuts growth of Gulf Coastal environmental movement
  • "Quagmire Of Bureaucracy" Stifles Gulf Spill Research (with even more "devastating" "loss of wetlands" & "dead zone")
  • Beyond the Oil Spill, the Tragedy of an Ailing Gulf; & a need to find "solutions for a continuing systemic tragedy"
Other news-
Last Word
"Washington is a very easy city for you to forget where you came from and why you got there in the first place." - Harry S. Truman

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