Friday, September 9, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Federal Budget and Appropriations
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (or "supercommittee"), formed under provisions of  the Budget Control Act of 2011, held its first public meeting on Thursday, formally kicking off its two-month-long attempt to trim $1.2  to $1.5 trillion from the Federal deficit over the next ten fiscal years.  Also this week House and Senate appropriators indicated that they plan to schedule a vote on a stopgap spending bill (or Continuing Resolution (CR)) to fund the Federal government before going on their respective recesses during the last week in September.  The plan is to craft a CR that lasts at least until November 23, the day before Thanksgiving, and also the supercommittee’s deadline for making its proposal for cutting Federal program spending.

The way the supercommittee and appropriations calendars are meshing, it appears likely that Congress will be poised to consider one, massive 2012 spending bill for the entire Federal government (an Omnibus bill), at about the time the CR authority runs out.  The CR would appropriate $1.043 trillion for fiscal 2012 spending; a spending limit established under provisions of the Budget Control Act, and no longer in dispute.  What is up for debate, however, is exactly how the $1.043 trillion should be divided among specific agencies and programs.  On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its proposed discretionary spending caps for their respective spending bills (known as 302(b) allocations).  And Senate maximums differ from their corresponding House versions (PDF file). 

Even though no new individual appropriations committee spending bills will be voted on by either chamber, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will still work to prepare each of their respective 12 spending bills for Fiscal Year 2012, since their details would form the basis for debating the details of the Omnibus measure.  The appropriators hope to have the spending bills prepared while allowing enough time for negotiations on the Omnibus spending package.  The more detailed spending levels for particular agencies and their programs contained in the respective House and Senate spending bills are certain to differ, and be open for debate as the Omnibus spending measure is being hammered out.

Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act Passes Senate Committee
On Thursday (September 8) the Senate Committee on Banking and Urban Affairs passed “Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act,” its version of a bill to extend the authorization of the fiscally-nonviable National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September 2016 and add a measure to pay down its nearly $18 billion debt through a series of annual rate increases for policyholders.  The NFIP is set to expire at the end of the month unless Congress acts.  The bill now goes to the full Senate, although there is yet no schedule for the full Senate consideration.  The Senate bill differs somewhat from a similar measure passed by the House on July 12.  For more on both bills and their prospects for passage, see here.

Federal Interagency Floodplain Management Task Force Webinar Rescheduled Following Earthquake
The Northeast-Midwest Institute will host the last webinar in a series of four Natural Floodplain Function Alliance-sponsored presentations on floodplain issues. The "Federal Interagency Floodplain Management Task Force Webinar," originally scheduled on August 23, was postponed due to that day's east coast earthquake.  The new date for the webinar is Wednesday, September 21, 2011 from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM CDT). This webinar will present an overview of the Task Force: its history, goals and objectives, and current activities. Presenters will include Pete Rabbon, Special Assistant on the National Flood Risk Management Program with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, John McShane, with the USEPA's Office of Water, and Dave Stearrett, Chief, Floodplain Management Branch at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Click here to be directed to the webinar registration page. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. 

USGS Water Quality SPARROW Model “Featured Collection” in Journal of the American Water Resources Association
There will be a USGS Water Quality SPARROW Model “Featured Collection” in the next issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (here is a related USGS press release).  The full articles are available for reviewing on line now.  A listing of all of the "Featured Collection" articles – all available with full public access and many bearing on nutrient loading modeling and load reduction management and planning - are available at this Journal link.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Agriculture -

  • Op-ed: Next farm bill must address long-term food needs
  • Des Moines Register Editorial: Iowa Farm Bureau farm subsidy policy switch disheartening
  • National Farmers Union top Farm Bill priority will be federal crop insurance
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: Updated Farmers’ Guide to Conservation Stewardship Program (PDF)
  • EPA issues compliance orders to 6 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Iowa, Kansas & Nebraska
Water Quality -
  • USGS Water Quality SPARROW Model “Featured Collection” in Journal of the American Water Resources Association (see article above)
  • Company to pay $430,000 civil penalty for Columbia, MO construction stormwater violations
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee approves flood insurance reform bill as program lapse nears
  • Nominations open for American Rivers’ 2012 America’s Most Endangered Rivers; nomination form:
  • Frustration with Corps levee inaction in Louisiana reemerges in wake of Tropical Storm Lee
  • One-third of Iowa continues to be parched by drought despite rain
  • Unprecedented flooding from Montana to Missouri along Missouri River lasts from Memorial Day to beyond Labor Day
  • Army Corps: Missouri River flooding should ease by mid-October
  • As Missouri River Valley waters recede, levee and disaster aid funding debates rise
  • From NW TN to LA, Mississippi River tried changing course during flooding, leaving >$750 million bill
In the States -
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Southern Illinois University researchers study economics of turning Asian Carp into preferred food
  • Search fails to catch any Asian carp in St. Croix River over nine days
Federal Budget -
  • Budget cut recommendations' deadline to Supercommittee for standing committees: Oct 14; Senate Ag Comm lagging
  • With Senate & House time running out, Fiscal Year 2012 short-term continuing resolution likely by Sept. 30
  • Opening meeting of bipartisan debt ‘supercommittee’ will be held Sept. 8; first public hearing Sept. 13
  • Super committee writing a plan to slash federal budget deficit that's expected to target direct farm payments
  • Congressional Research Service report on current status of 2012 FY Agriculture spending legislation: (PDF)
  • Congress in deal-making mood & moving fast on spending bills with Sept. 30 deadline looming
  • Senate Appropriations Comm decides how $1.043 trillion in FY 2012 spending is to be divided among 12 spending bills
  • Senate Appropriations Committee approves 2012 ag spending bill that cuts farm conservation programs
  • Land conservation programs take hit in Senate Appropriations Committee’s 2012 spending bill 
  • Senate Appropriations Committee releases overview of its 2012 agriculture spending allocations 
  • 16 of nation’s leading hunting & angling groups oppose disproportionate cuts to Farm Bill conservation spending (PDF)
  • Senate Appropriations Comm votes on bill that maintains steady Army Corps funding
Gulf Coastal Area-
Resource extraction -
  • Ohio natural gas drilling opponents to seek moratorium on hydraulic fracturing
  • Hydrofracking prompts water quality and use controversy in Kansas
  • Chief executive of one of top US natural gas producers attacks critics of fracking
  • Missouri coal ash waste lagoon has been leaching contents into groundwater since 1992
  • Goodhue County MN officials want to study impacts of Mississippi River valley sand mining before allowing operations
  • Oil company disappointed in one-year moratorium on frac sand mining in MN county
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sand mining health impact report "inconclusive"
  • PA sues coal company over massive 2009 fish, mussel, amphibian kill along 30 miles of PA and WV stream
Events -
  • American Planning Assoc. workshop "Planning for Flood Resilient Communities" Nashville, TN, Sept 28, 2011
  • Tennessee Sustainable Economy Summit; Nashville, TN; October 28-29
  • Federal Interagency Floodplain Management Task Force Webinar; Sept. 21; 3 PM EDT (Rescheduled from "earthquake day") (see article above)
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
Political Scene -
  • Washington Post: On environmental regulations, Obama administration strategy confounds both right and left
  • Washington parlor game: Will EPA's Lisa Jackson leave in wake of Obama smog regulation shift?
  • Liberal Senate Dems to White House: Don’t retreat on other EPA rules after smog-ozone cave
  • 2 state legislators enter Democratic race for WI 2nd district US House seat
Last Word - “Your proposition may be good, but let’s have one thing understood: Whatever it is, I’m against it! And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it, I’m against it.” - Groucho Marx in the 1932 movie “Horse Feathers”

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