Friday, September 16, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Budget and Appropriations Update
The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday introduced a $1.043 trillion Continuing Resolution (CR) designed to keep the Federal government running through November 18, when the House is scheduled to recess for Thanksgiving week.  Congress will take up the stopgap appropriations bill in earnest next week.  The bill would cut discretionary program spending by 1.4 percent compared to last fiscal year over those first seven weeks of this, the 2012, fiscal year.  Those cuts would be in line with the mandate contained in the the Budget Control Act of 2011, which established the $1.043 trillion budget cap for fiscal 2012 spending (the full text of the House CR can be viewed here as a PDF file).  Although bipartisan Congressional leadership is describing the bill as “clean,” it is a tad "dirty," containing several policy riders, including a provision extending Federal Flood Insurance availability.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has been gradually unveiling its broad outline for an omnibus spending bill that will cover Federal funding for the remaining 45 weeks of this fiscal year following the e
xpiration of the CR.  House leaders have all but resigned themselves to going along with the Omnibus approach (see related link below under "Federal Budget").  Senate appropriators have set a goal of finishing the omnibus bill by the weekend heading into the House Thanksgiving recess.
In the meantime, the debt reduction "supercommittee" has met several times now, both publicly and in private. Their next public meeting has been set for September 22, while under the committee's own rules, private meetings may occur at any time and without public notice.  For a "Deficit Reduction Supercommittee Primer," including an overview of the committee, its activities and deadlines (and how its work might impact Federal program spending this fiscal year and into the future), see our article here.  That primer includes a listing of the 12 supercommittee members and links to their Congressional web pages.
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There was not much other pressing news being generated this week.  But as David Brinkley once observed about his journalistic medium, “The one function that TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.”  So, in that spirit and in the absence of substantive news, we press on with this week's "Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week"

Agriculture -
  • House Agri Comm completes audit series to increase committee members farm policy understanding, pre-Farm Bill drafting
  • Editorial: Iowa Farm Bureau farm subsidy switch "disheartening"
  • Farm Foundation launches initiative to deliberate critical issues facing modern food & agricultural systems
  • Nat. Corn Growers Assoc's Agriculture Disaster Assistance proposal would replace ACRE & direct payment programs
  • Midwestern Governors Assoc co-hosts meeting Monday PM: advancements in biofuels; Minneapolis, MN agenda link here:
  • Case study: U of MN farm nutrient loading monitoring effort looks to solve runoff debate
  • MPR: "Farm runoff – 'If you won't swim in it, you can do better'
  • Clean Up the River Environment fosters conversations between traditionally at-odds groups like farmers & enviros
Water Quality -
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Flooding, etc.) -
In the States -
  • Kentucky DEP proposes settlement with coal company over 1000s of alleged violations of Clean Water Act
  • State study may provide framework for discussion & more integrated approach to dealing with MN water problems
  • IL Lt. Gov. Simon relaunches Science Advisory Committee; mission-protect IL rivers & reduce flood damage
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • MN state officials propose Action Plan for combating spread of Asian Carp
  • Asian carp search enters new phase on Mississippi, St. Croix, Minnesota rivers; new round of environmental DNA tests
Federal Budget -
  • House Appropriations Committee introduces $1.043 trillion stopgap measure to keep government running through Nov 18
  • Debt supercommittee is unlikely to "go big" & find more than $1.5 trillion in budget cuts
  • Next super committee public hearing Sept. 22 & will feature testimony from top tax code expert
  • House Republicans almost sure to bundle 12 annual appropriations bills into one package
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Gulf of Mexico dead zone research recognized with Heinz award for extraordinary contributions to the environment
  • Native Americans demand a say in Louisiana gulf coastal restoration plans
Resource extraction -
Events -
  • October 25 Water Resources Summit: Sustaining Our Nation's Water Resources; College Park, MD
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • The Horinko Group's Sept. environmental e-newsletter is now available online (with many upcoming events)
Other news-
  • Clean Water Network of Florida criticizes USEPA water quality decision: Obama "as bad or worse than Bush"
  • EPA seeks comments on proposed atrazine ban (Federal Register notice)
  • EPA adds Sandoval, Illinois, heavy metals contamination site to Superfund National Priorities List
Political Scene -
  • Race Ratings: Wisconsin GOP likely to keep US House seat majority
  • Study of major House votes: narrative of tea party freshmen frustrating will of GOP leadership is not true
  • EPA Administrator Jackson staying put despite speculation that she might step down after White House smog limit shift
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) officially opts out of Wisconsin Democratic US Senate primary

Last Word - “No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.” - Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for seventeen years in the 48th, 50th and 52nd Congresses, the longest House Speaker tenure in U.S. history.

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