Friday, July 22, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Calendars and Schedules
This weekly update (and its author) will take a one-week hiatus and not be published next Friday (July 29), reappearing in its regular weekly time slot on August 5.  Coincidentally, at the close of Congressional business on that date (August 5), both chambers of Congress are scheduled to being a four-week congressional summer recess that has been on the respective House and Senate calendars since early this year.  It is likely that the scheduled break will occur no matter the status of debt negotiations or any associated legislation (or, as David Hawkings, editor of CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing puts it, "summer vacations and campaign commitments remain almost as important to many lawmakers as saving the nation from drowning in red ink.").

Correction and Update on Interior and  Environment Spending Bill
EPA's proposed "Mississippi River Basin Initiative" would NOT be funded at all under the terms of Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and  Environment spending bill passed by the full House Appropriations Committee on July 12.  In last week's Update, we mistakenly reported that the Initiative  would be funded under terms of the bill. The Administration's 2012 budget proposal included $6 million for the initiative.   With respect to that  Mississippi River Basin Initiative, the House bill's report language notes "the Committee has not provided funding to initiate a new grant program  in the Mississippi River Basin" (Hat Tip to Irene Lin from Rep. Betty McCollum's Washington, DC office for pointing this out). 

On July 21, the White House issued a strongly-worded "statement of administration policy" regarding that controversial House spending bill, threatening to veto the measure in part because it would undermine conservation, public health and environmental protections.  The veto threat notwithstanding, it’s very uncertain whether or when the full House will even take up the Interior and Environment bill, since there could be a significant voting block forming to defeat the legislation (consisting of a coalition of conservative Republicans who seek to deny EPA any money at all, and Democrats who believe that the bill would deplete EPA's funds too much).

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Agriculture -
  • USDA finds it almost impossible to model & estimate the effects of climate on food production
  • HuffPost Green Online: “Congress’s Short-Sighted Farm Policy”
  • Soil & Water Conservation Soc mtg topics: conservation compliance & crop insurance; farm conservation & productivity
  • Conservationists worried about what annual direct payment cuts could mean for highly erodible cropland
  • Purdue research: Ethanol (corn) & China (soybean) demand shocks help drive 2011 commodity & food price increases
  • Wednesday-House Agriculture Committee's Conservation Subcommittee held hearing on USDA Energy & Forestry Programs
  • House Agriculture subcommittee criticizes USFS chief for conservation efforts during Farm Bill audit; 7/20 video link:
  • Negotiators - $30B in agriculture spending cuts in deficit-reduction deal “Gang of Six” proposal cuts $11B
  • House Ag Comm Chair Lucas: farm bill conservation focus-keep framework intact to protect soil & water in face of $ cuts
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • Talk of diverting Mississippi River water to help ease Western US drought surfaces again
  • Louisiana asking for $95 million in Federal funding to dredge Mississippi River
  • Water Protection Network commentary-Severe Missouri River Flooding Calls for Modernized Water Planning Guidelines (PDF)
  • Nebraska governor invites governors of other MO River states & Army Corps to flood control meeting &
  • Army Corps' New Orleans area levee armoring plans challenged by East Bank levee authority members
  • MN budget bonding bill provides $103 million for natural resource projects, including $50 million for levee rebuilds (PDF)
  • Army Corps may have to repair Mississippi River levee system with no supplemental Congressional appropriation
  • FEMA study: US flood-prone land area likely to increase 45%; major challenge to federal flood insurance program
Current Flooding -
In the States -
  • Under litigation threat EPA hires consulting firm to draft cleanup plan for Floyds Fork (tributary of Salt River in KY)
  • Minnesota state shutdown officially ends as Gov Dayton signs budget
  • KS Gov Brownback puts spotlight on  diminishing supply of water in Ogallala Aquifer; seeks conservation reform
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Fast spreading invasive cogongrass threatens forests in the U.S. South
  • Decatur IL lowering of water level between 2 Lake Decatur dams & Sangamon River leads to 1000s of dead Asian Carp
  • Invasive zebra mussels spreading rapidly throughout Kansas waters
  • EPA extends comment period on power-plant surface water intake proposal until August 18
  • Invasive Asian longhorned beetle attacks maple & other trees in SW OH & Northern KY
Federal Budget -
Gulf Coastal Area-
Events -
  • Webinar Recap of EPA Stakeholder mtg: Development of New /Revised Recreational H2O Quality Criteria; Sept 20; 1 PM
  • National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration; Baltimore, MD, August 2-5
  • 26th Annual WateReuse Symposium; Sept 11-14; Phoenix, AZ (early-bird registration discount ends July 25)
  • Early Bird registration closes July 31 for 2011 Horinko Group Water Resources Summit; U of MD College Park
Other news-
Last Word
With President Obama alienating those in his own party over the Administration's debt reduction negotiation strategy, and the GOP right disgruntled with House Speaker Boehner's dealings with Obama, the two have found themselves stuck in the middle together.  Speaking of which, here's your virtual Friday morning coffee break: "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel

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