Friday, October 14, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

2012 Appropriations Update
The twelve-member bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a/k/a "supercommittee") has been meeting, largely held behind closed doors.  Details are largely lacking, but the committee seems to be pressing ahead toward a legislatively-imposed November 23 deadline to identify $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the 2012 to 2021 period and to submit that proposal (by December 2) to Congress for a straight up or down vote (see this overview of the supercommittee and its work).  If the supercommittee falters and comes up with no plan, then the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations battle will become the only budgetary game in Washington through the remainder of 2011.

On that front, both the Senate and House continue to move (not entirely behind closed doors) toward crafting a bill that will fund the Federal government for the remainder of the 2012 Fiscal Year, beyond November 18, when the current Continuing Resolution spending authority ends.  Appropriations Committee chairs in both chambers have been busy lining up supporters to shape the $1 trillion 2012 funding bill and its potential policy riders.  The bills appropriating funds for the remainder of the Fiscal Year will likely take the form of "minibus" packages consisting of two or three of the traditional twelve annual spending bills each.  The Senate, for example, is scheduled to take up a 2012 spending bill that would fund Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Science, and Transportation next Monday (October 17).

Thus far, the full Senate has passed only one of its dozen regular appropriations bills, while the House has passed six.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed eleven of the twelve spending bills (ten await action by the full Senate).  The only spending bill that has not been passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee is the bill funding the EPA and Interior Department. 

Read details of the appropriations bill plans and negotiations on Capitol Hill here.

Briefing on New USGS Water Quality Management Information
The Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Water Environment Federation will host a briefing on October 28 from 10 - 11:30 AM (EDT) in room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.  The briefing will inform Hill staff and the public of new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) information on major sources of nutrients to streams, and on nutrient loading to rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries. USGS announced the roll-out of the new tool in a September 6 press announcement, "New Science to Help Water Managers Target Areas to Improve Water Quality." 

Speakers include:
  • Alan Vicory, Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, moderator
  • Steve Preston, USGS NAWQA Hydrologic Systems Team  
  • Saya Qualls, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Water Pollution Control.
  • Wayne Anderson, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

More briefing details are available at the Institute's Mississippi River Basin blog

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
  • U of MN led researchers create a recipe for globally sustainable agriculture; feeding world & protecting planet
  • NPR: global group of scientists explore if we can feed world without destroying environment (also see previous link)
  • Complete Summary Proceedings for April 2011 National Agricultural Landscapes Forum now available on AFT’s Forum page
  • USDA-NRCS produces special publication commemorating 20th anniversary of Wetlands Reserve Program (PDF file)
  • World Food Prize winner tells Nebraskans about need for food science to help feed world
  • Worldwide meat consumption jumped 20% in last decade with huge environmental impacts
  • Congressional Agriculture Committee leaders closing in on 10-year savings target nearing $23 billion and
  • Congressional Agri Committee leaders craft plan to cut farm subsidies $23B, tying cuts to new crop subsidy system
  • Conservation groups' letter to ‘Supercommittee’ calls for fair treatment for agriculture & conservation programs (PDF)
  • American Farmland Trust: REFRESH Act has good ideas for farm safety net; takes conservation in wrong direction
  • Ethanol industry fights back against possible expiration of their tax credit at end of 2011
Farm Bill-
  • National Farmers Union issues white paper giving its overview of 2012 Farm Bill needs
Water Quality -
  • Sierra Club releases US House members' "Clean Water Voting Record" flunking most Republicans; some Dems
  • EPA makes final decision on MO's 2010 list of impaired waters, bringing total # of impaired waters in MO to 245
  • Bipartisan House group seeks $13.8B for water quality infrastructure improvements (Clean Water State Revolving Funds) (PDF)
  • New EPA summary of fish advisories across nation in 2010 now available
  • In West Virginia-Pennsylvania fish kill investigation, EPA scientist points at shale drilling (PDF of EPA emails:
  • New EPA DVD with several videos on reducing runoff from urban areas; to download & view in small screen format:
  • Environmental Integrity Project: House coal ash bill on floor this week would loosen water quality regs
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Mississippi River lock/port of Minneapolis could be closed because of invasive Asian Carp
In the States -
  • 2012 Ohio Stormwater Conference (June 7-8, 2012) call for abstracts:
  • Permit for IL 4,500-head hog CAFO on hold; state regulators re-examine plans to minimize water pollution
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Federal Budget -
Gulf Coastal Area-
Resource extraction -
  • Judge rules in favor of coal industry in case vs EPA permit reviews of mountaintop mining
  • Army Corps of Engineers has reissued its permit for the Reylas Surface Mine (WV mountaintop coal mine)
  • West Virginia lawmakers propose Marcellus Shale drilling buffer zones
Events -
Other news-

Political Scene -
  • Significant Senate rules change has huge implications: Will the 51-vote majority be a new norm in the Senate?
  • Sierra Club releases US House members' "Clean Water Voting Record" flunking most Republicans; some Dems
  • Tim Pawlenty not ruling out challenging Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in 2014 or a 2014 run for governor
  • WI State Speaker Fitzgerald launches bid for GOP nomination for seat of retiring US Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Last Word -  "There's too much drama and theater in politics." - Former Utah Governor and current Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr., in an interview on The View

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