Friday, December 9, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Task Force Releases Final Strategy for Restoring Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem; Some Plan Elements Address Mississippi River Sources
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force on December 5 released its final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf of Mexico coastal region, and many of the issues addressed in the plan and its recommended solutions point directly to problems and solutions upstream within the Mississippi River Basin.  You can read more details and get a link to the final strategy document here.

Report Calls into Question One Motivation for Expanding Mississippi River Locks and Dams
In November, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) revisited the findings of its 1999 report entitled "Feeding the World? The Upper Mississippi River Navigation Project."  In their new report (as in its 1999 predecessor) IATP calls into question "agribusiness’ and the Mississippi River navigation industry’s claim that U.S. grain exports 'feed the world.'" Additionally, the shortfall in funding available to simply maintain, let alone expand upon, the Mississippi River Basin's (and nation's) system of locks and dams is becoming progressively more problematic. Read more, including links to resources on the issue, here.

2012 Congressional Calendar
For those looking ahead to next year on Capitol Hill (and who among us isn't!), the U.S. House and Senate have set their legislative calendars for 2012 (the second session of the 112th Congress). Next year, if things run as planned, the two chambers' calendars will be slightly less "out of sync" than they were in 2011, when House and Senate in-session weeks often did not coincide, self-limiting the opportunities for face-to-face, inter-chamber coordination and collaboration. Read a summary of the 2012 calendars and related details here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
Farm Bill-
Water Quality -
  • Florida regulators approve numeric nutrient water quality criteria (national implications)
  • EPA $2 M in grants to restore urban waters by improving water quality, community access; proposals due 1/23/12
  • OH EPA developing long-range plan to reduce nitrogen & phosphorus in state waters; questions of cost & payment linger
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Kootenai Environmental Alliance files suit vs Army Corps re: order to remove 100s of levee trees
  • Missouri River flooding issues fall under congressional scrutiny
  • Report questions if US grain exports “Feed the World” & need to expand & upgrade Mississippi River's locks & dams
  • Flood advisory issued to MS residents along Mississippi River through mid-December
  • Louisville’s (KY) pumping stations along Ohio River in use to prevent flooding-more than a month earlier than normally
In the States -
  • KY environmentalist resigns from 2 state boards in protest of Gov Beshear's cuts to regulatory programs
  • City of Dickson, TN signs settlement in two TCE well contamination lawsuits
  • Five-part Mankato Free Press series on the Minnesota River:
  1. Part 1- Studies pin river troubles on farm drainage
  2. Part 2-sedimentation problems at mouth of Lake Pepin
  3. Part 3-Landowner makes buffer strip changes to comply with law
  4. Part 4-River channels move; encroach on farmland
  5. Part 5-Alliances may help move river cleanup discussion forward
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Federal Budget -
  • Both chambers of Congress will be trying to wrap up FY 2012 funding business before breaking for holidays Prospects increasing that $900 billion-ish spending package could get done this month; precluding need for stopgap bill
  • Congress close on  appropriations bill deal; next 2 days will be make or break
  • Some Democrats willing to put farm subsidy cuts on bargaining table to pay for payroll tax break extension
Gulf Coastal Area-
Resource extraction -
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
  • NASA scientist: world's leaders have "run out of time" to save Earth's "traditional" climate
  • Study: Non-native species can play valuable ecological roles in new habitats
  • House passes bill requiring Congressional approval of all major federal regulations with $100 million or more effect
Political Scene -
  • State Sen. Dave Koehler (D) drops out of IL 17th district race, cutting # of challengers vs. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R)
  • Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL-14) will switch to run in IL 8th district next year-report in Human Events magazine
  • Washington Post: 2011 in the US Congress saw fewer bills, fewer laws and more blame
  • Numbers & percentages of independent voters surge; Dem/GOP #s drop in 8 key Presidential swing states (PDF file):
Last Word - "Teaching science without evolution is like teaching sentence structure without the alphabet." - Carin Bondar, one of many scientists interviewed in this video about why evolution needs to be taught in public schools

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