Friday, May 20, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Basin State Nutrient Reduction Strategies Workshop
US EPA's Region 5 is sponsoring a "State Nutrient Reduction Strategies Workshop -Agricultural Component" on June 13-15, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio.  The workshop is intended to help states in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Basin develop the agricultural component for their State Nutrient Reduction Strategies, which are key components of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force Action Plan.  Registration details and a workshop agenda are available here:  Questions about the conference can be directed to Cynthia Curtis, at US EPA Region 5 by phone (312-353-6959) or email (

Flood Insurance Reform Act Moves Out of House Committee
The "Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011" – H.R. 1309 was passed out of the House Financial Services Committee to the full House by a unanimous (54-0) vote on May 13, in an effort the bill's supporters say would save the National Flood Insurance Program from all-but-certain insolvency.

The bill would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (a program intended to reduce flood risk, encourage smart floodplain management and provide affordable flood insurance) through September 30, 2016.   It proposes to reduce the program's current deficit with phased-in annual policyholder rate increases over the five-year term of the legislation.  Among other changes, the bill would also create a "Technical Mapping Advisory Council" to propose new mapping standards for 100-year flood insurance rate maps used under the national flood insurance program, which would, among other things, "ensure that the flood insurance rate maps reflect true risk" to each property.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Current Flooding-
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • Mississippi River flood spending empties Army Corps' River dredging budget, delays hurricane levees
  • Washington U research: 99.9% chance official Mississippi River flood predictions are incorrect-flooding more severe
  • NOAA, Army Corps & USGS sign memorandum of understanding to support water resources management goals (pdf file)
  • Editorial on Mississippi River & spending on flood control: "The river is winning. The river always wins."
  • Op-ed: "Old Man River Shouldn't Be Shackled"
  • Senators' letter to CEQ urges new guidelines development that mirrors congressional water resource planning mandates
  • NWF releases report on ways federal policy/action exacerbate flooding & recommendations to change
  • MN DNR criticizes state House committee for killing new Coon Rapids "carp-stopping" Mississippi River dam
Water Quality-
Agriculture -
Agricultural federal funding
  • 2012 farm bill will be no easy task amid earmark ban, budget cuts
  • USDA is expected to have more program funding cuts in the 2012 federal budget
  • Liberals & conservatives may soon reach consensus on common agriculture subsidy target for spending cuts
  • Chief of USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service: budget cuts helps NRCS refocus on highest priorities
  • Ten Senate Dems "strongly oppose the extreme level of budget cuts to agriculture" in letter to Obama (pdf)
  • House Ag Committee Chair Lucas (R-OK): money will be a major uphill battle in writing of 2012 farm bill
Other Agriculture news
In the States -
  • MN House OKs invasive species plan over objections it would weaken environmental protections
  • IA DNR eliminates more than 100 positions
  • Gov. Walker considers turning WI DNR into self-contained agency, operating outside many WI rules & regulations
  • EDITORIAL: Improving the Wisconsin DNR-good idea if protections  not weakened
  • Morris City Council approves plan to stop sanitary sewer system overflow into Illinois River
  • Minnesota River Board challenges criticism of Minnesota River cleanup
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Federal Budget -
  • Treasury Secretary Geithner: it's official - government has reached its $14.3 trillion debt limit; default on loans Aug. 2
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) pulls out of "Gang of 6" negotiation group as budget talks break down
  • After "Gang of Six" dissolution, people look to Biden-led deficit /budget negotiations
  • VP-led bipartisan group of 6 Senators & House members makes budget deal progress; includes farm subsidy cuts
Events -
  • National Great Rivers Research & Education Center May 23 speaker series: Midwestern Rivers & Environmental Dynamics
  • Upper Mississippi & OH River Basin State Nutrient Reduction Strategies Workshop-Agricultural June 13-15, Columbus, OH
  • Panel Discussion on Global Concern over Water, Food & Energy Security, May 20, 7:45 PM, Washington, DC
  • Free webinar: Green Infrastructure in Your Backyard: Central US Area; June 9, 2 PM (EDT)
  • Free webinar: Green Infrastructure in Your Backyard: Northeast & Great Lakes Area; Thursday, May 26, 2011; 2:00 PM
  • River Action's 4th Annual Upper Mississippi River Conf; Sept 21-23; Isle of Capri Convention Center Bettendorf, IA
  • 12th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment; January, 2012; Washington, DC
Political Scene -
  • Former state Rep. Dan Severson said Monday he will challenge first-term Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in 2012
  • Former WI Gov Tommy Thompson (R) plans to run for Wisconsin US Senate seat to be vacant when Sen. Kohl (D) retires
  • David Williams wins KY Republican primary for governor, setting up general election campaign vs. Gov. Steve Beshear
  • Six-term Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO-2) officially announces Missouri US Senate bid
  • Sen McCaskill (D-MO) to E&E: environmentalists should not target her for 2012 defeat; she is probably most environmentally friendly option
Gulf Coastal Area-
Other news-
  • 3 Mississippi Basin rivers on "Most Endangered" list; in unprecedented move, Mississippi River gets "Special Mention"
  • EPA: Most coal ash impoundments in 'satisfactory' or 'fair' shape
  • Proposed central Wisconsin woody biomass power plant moves forward

Last word - "I’m not going to bang my head against a wall anymore." -  U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), quoted by the Wall Street Journal explaining why he was withdrawing from negotiations among the "Gang of Six" senators seeking to craft a bipartisan, comprehensive deficit-reduction deal.

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