Friday, August 26, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

"Look!  Up in the sky!" - What to Expect from the Deficit Reduction Supercommittee

The president signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law on August 2.  The law authorized a $900 billion increase in the Federal debt ceiling.  The legislation in part created a twelve-member bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (which immediately became known as the "Supercommittee").  The job of the Supercommittee is to identify from $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction (in the form of either spending cuts or new revenue) over the 2012 to 2021 period and to submit that proposal to Congress for a straight up or down vote.  

Between September 7 and November 23, the Supercommittee will have its window of opportunity to make targeted cuts from Federal programs.  If a proposal is developed and then approved by the Supercommittee, the committee’s report and legislative language is required to be issued by December 2, and then be presented to the House and Senate on a "take-it-or-leave-it" basis.  Congress will need to vote on the Supercommittee's proposal by December 23.

If December 23 passes without Congressional approval of the Supercommittee’s proposal, then “sequestration” forces automatic spending reductions of $1.2 trillion, including $600 billion in defense cuts, and $600 billion in cuts from all other programs, through 9 percent across-the-board spending reductions (except Medicare, which would be cut by only 2 percent).

If the Supercommittee fails to reach agreement or produces less than $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, then the President is authorized to increase the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion.  However, if Congress passes a Supercommittee plan to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion (or more), then the President may increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion.

The 12 Super Committee members include:
  • Representatives Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Dave Camp (R-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) (appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH))
  • Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA) (appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA))
  • Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Kerry (D-MA), and Patty Murray (D-WA) (appointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV))
  • Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Rob Portman (R-OH) (appointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY))
Senator Murray and Congressman Hensarling will serve as Supercommittee Co-Chairs.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Agriculture -
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack: economics makes continuation of farm conservation efforts uncertain
  • SD GOP Senator John Thune: "the biggest (budget cut) bulls-eye right now is on direct payments"
  • Kansas-based corn waste to energy project to commercialize cellulosic ethanol by 2013
  • Agribusiness confidence slips for first time since August 2010 on back of ethanol uncertainties
  • International Water Management Institute: Water resources at risk from growing global demand for food
  • USDA publishes 20-year WRP commemorative “Restoring America’s Wetlands: A Private Lands Conservation Success Story”
  • EPA Issues Clean Water Act Compliance Orders to 6 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Iowa, Kansas; Nebraska
  • USDA "AmberWaves" Sept 2011 Featured Article: Reducing Agriculture’s Nitrogen Footprint
  • USDA ERS study analyzes whether federal farm programs encourage native grassland losses
  • Native grassland advocates worry rising crop prices cause farmers to plow under native SD grass to grow more grain
  • Intriguing chart showing USDA conservation program spending by category from 1949-present (and ERS analysis):
  • Links to testimony from August 25 Farm Bill field hearing by the Senate Agriculture Committee in Wichita, KS:
  • Senate & House Agricultural committees will start writing versions of latest farm bill in matter of weeks
Water Quality-
  • Second exposed petroleum product pipeline ruptures in Missouri River flood zone
  • Iowa City Press-Citizen Editorial: Significant steps needed to restore the Iowa River
  • Keeping water on the land is the solution to erosion, pollution & flooding that plague Iowa River
  • Study: Ag land associated with good water quality in highly-urbanized watersheds, but to pollution in less-urbanized
  • Environmental groups: KY coal company submitted >17,000 possibly false water pollution discharge reports
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Flooding, etc.) -
In the States -
  • WI DNR announces restructuring plan to make agency more responsive to public
  • Funding cuts have some worried about Iowa’s commitment to protecting its rivers
  • UMETCO Minerals Corp clean water violations & lack of AR DEQ enforcement frustrate public
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Federal Budget -
  • OMB to Federal agencies: cut your budgets by 5-10% for FY 2013 budget request (OMB memo: (PDF file))
  • Debt-ceiling agreement providing little help to congressional appropriators running late on their funding bills
  • House Ag Committee Chairman & Ranking Minority Member mapping out unified Farm Bill program spending cut strategy
  • Conservation Stewardship Program is "low-hanging" Farm Bill fruit that could be cut or eliminated by Supercommittee
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Invasive Apple Snails continue to spread in Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary region (Texas & Louisiana)
Resource extraction -
Events -
  • 31st International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society; Oct 26-28; Spokane, WA
  • Managing Water. Harvesting Results - America's Ag Water Management Summit.  October 11-12; Bloomington, MN
  • First Illinois RiverWatch Biennial Symposium; Peoria, Illinois, October 4
  • 2011 Horinko Group Water Resources Summit; October 25; U of MD College Park
  • World Agricultural Forum Congress: Rethinking Agriculture To Sustain Growing Global Population; Nov 18-Dec 1, Brussels
  • Kentucky Stormwater Association is having its annual convention September 27-29; Frankfort, KY
  • National Nonpoint Source Monitoring workshop/Low Impact Development conference  Sept 25-28, Philadelphia, PA
  • Iowa Farm Bureau will hold its annual summer policy conference next Tuesday - Wednesday
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
  • Okla. tribes sue state over water rights, seeking to stop exports until water rights are analyzed & allocated
  • Stream restoration key to Cincinnati's battle against urban blight & excess stormwater runoff
  • Analysis: Role of Baseline Data & Analytical References in Restoring Ecological Integrity in Highly Regulated Rivers
  • Severe hurricanes prompt talk of changing storm scales and adding "Category 6"
  • Journal PLoS Biology: # of species on Earth: 8.7 million give or take
Political Scene -
  • Poll has Missouri Lt. Gov. Kinder (R) trailing Gov. Nixon (D), 48 to 41 % in the governor's race (pdf file)
  • Former GOP congressman Mark Neumann set to announce US Senate campaign for Kohl's WI seat
  • No criminal charges will be filed in  WI Supreme Court fisticuffs case (and you thought Midwesterners were docile!)
Last Word -"They used to cane each other and have duels! The Speaker of the House Henry Clay was in at least one duel!"  - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an interview with Slate, on why the 112th Congress isn't so bad.

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