Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week - Holiday Weekend Early Edition

Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations and the Federal Debt
Three separate, environmental and conservation-related, Fiscal Year 2012 spending bills are currently in various stages of making their way through the U.S. House.  They include the Water and Energy, Agriculture, and Interior and Environment appropriations measures.  An overview of each bill's status and spending levels proposed for key conservation and environmental programs can be found here.
As the House continues its appropriations bill work, the Senate for its part has been more "deliberative," waiting for the resolution of two prequels to its spending bill efforts: the development of a Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution, and conclusion of ongoing long-term deficit reduction negotiations between the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders.  
Regarding the latter debt and budget negotiation issue, this week in very quick succession (belying the notion that nothing moves rapidly inside the Washington beltway):
  • House Speaker Boehner called the Treasury Department's August 2 debt-ceiling deadline "artificial"
  • President Obama said "is not" and berated Congress for planning to recess next week while the debt ceiling deadline looms (see "Last Word," below)
  • Senate Majority Leader Reid cancelled the Senate's recess in response to the Presidential scolding, assuring Capitol Hill fireworks well beyond the July Fourth spectacular on the Mall
  • Senate Republican Leader McConnell invited the President to meet with Senate Republicans Thursday afternoon about the debt, and
  • the President declined.
With respect to the former issue, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced on June 29 that Democrats had reached agreement on a Fiscal Year 2012 budget plan, and that the plan may be announced sometime during the week of July 4. Conrad’s proposal would reportedly cut more than $4 trillion from the Federal deficit over the next ten years. 

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week:

Agriculture -
  • Mississippi River's floodway farmers in MO race to salvage a growing season
  • USDA: number of acres planted for corn this spring rose 5 % this spring to 92.3 M acres
  • House Ag Committee holds 1st of 6 farm bill hearings to determine spending trends & how programs work together
  • Editorial: Does "slash-and-burn budget cutting" put farm bill "mutual back-scratching" formula at risk?
  • Senators Grassley (IA) & Cantwell (WA) introduce bill to extend domestic biodiesel production tax incentive
  • Midwestern Governors Association releases "mythbusters" fact sheet: "Setting the Ethanol Record Straight" (PDF file)
  • Food & Agricultural Policy Research Institute at U of MO releases report on direct farm payment elimination impact
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • Army Corps' Maj. Gen. Walsh: another floodway could be needed to relieve pressure on levees along Mississippi River
  • American Rivers: floodplain Easements are a Wise Investment & Bring Multiple Benefits
  • EPA News Release: Birds Point Floodway Chemical/Pesticide Contamination below Levels of Health Concern
  • Army Corps of Engineers forms task force to help restore Mississippi River Basin flood control system damage
  • Army Corps seeking public feedback about possible Kaskaskia River lock & dam operations cuts (IL) &
  • Barge traffic limited in Mississippi River as silt begins to clog passes at River's mouth
  • Feinstein introduces bill to amend National Flood Insurance Act; requires FEMA flood protection system consideration
Current Flooding-
Water Quality-
  • EPA extends comment period on definition of "Waters of the United States" guidance until July 31
  • Agenda/presentations; 2011 Stakeholder Meeting; EPA Development of New or Revised Recreational H2O Quality Criteria: 
  • EPA approves Iowa DNR list of impaired waters: removes 56 waters from list & adds 103 waters
In the States -
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Federal Budget -
  • Sen Majority Leader Reid cancels Senate July 4 week recess to continue budget-deficit talks
  • Senate Budget Committee Chair Conrad: Democrats have reached agreement on 2012 budget plan (will release next week)
  • Sen McConnell challenges President to meet with Senate Republicans on debt issues; Obama declines
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Senate Environment & Public Works subcommittee holds hearing on Gulf BP spill natural resource damage assessment
Events -
  • The Horinko Group Annual Water Resources Summit, October 25; 9 AM-5 PM, U of MD at College Park
Other news-
  • EPA & Interior Dept announce new federal urban waters initiative to increase cooperation among federal & local agencies
  • Scientists develop model to help manage agroforestry systems
  • Army Corps of Engineers completes new Upper Mississippi Systemic Forest Management Plan
  • FOIA Lawsuit Seeks Release of Dept of Energy’s ‘Water-Energy Roadmap’
  • The June Mississippi River Basin Newsletter (PDF file) is now available from the Northeast-Midwest Institute
Last Word -
"Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. Malia is 13, Sasha is 10.  They don't wait until the night before. They're not pulling all-nighters. Congress can do the same thing. If you know you've got to do something, just do it." - President Obama chiding Congress for not moving in a timely manner on debt reduction and budget issues during June 29 press conference

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