Friday, February 3, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Senate Agriculture Committee Sets Farm Bill Hearing Schedule
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has announced the Committee’s Farm Bill hearing schedule for February and March. It includes a February 29 hearing on the Conservation Title (Title 2), entitled "Strengthening Conservation through the 2012 Farm Bill." The hearings will set the stage for an anticipated Spring 2012 Farm Bill "Chairwoman's mark;" a draft bill that will be considered by the full Senate Committee.  For more details and the complete hearing schedule through the end of March see this Committee announcement.

Controversial St. Croix River Crossing Project Bill Passes U.S. Senate
On January 23, the U.S. Senate passed the St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act (S. 1134) by unanimous consent, clearing the way for the much-debated and controversial measure to be considered by the House.  The bill, sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would permit "any federal agency to authorize and assist in the construction of a new bridge crossing" over the St. Croix River as long as certain mitigation measures are included within the project.  Two issues have consistently arisen at the center of a running controversy regarding the appropriateness of the bridge replacement project: the project's cost and its suitability, especially given the St. Croix River's Federal designation as a Wild and Scenic River.   For more information, including bill proponent and opponent views, and links to the bill and related details, click here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
Farm Bill-
  • Op-ed: "Attaching conservation measures to crop insurance should not be a bad thing"
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) hopeful that Congress in 2012 reforms farm policy that spends billions of $$ in crop subsidies
  • Leaders of major farm and commodity groups look to end their very public feud over Farm Bill safety net priorities
  • 40 leaders from 13 farm commodity organizations meet and agree to work together on Farm Bill issues
Water Quality -
  • EPA pushes to reduce environmental and water quality impacts of 2,300-acre WV mountaintop mine project
  • OH EPA to use alum in fight to control excessive phosphorous in Grand Lake St. Marys (Ohio River Basin)
  • Louisiana draft 2012 impaired waters report delists nearshore impaired waters, cites lack of data; links/comment:
  • Natural resources district eyes use of N-inhibitors in attempt to control farm region drinking water contamination
  • EPA seeks Mississippi River Basin nutrient pollution impact photos for education and outreach
  • Sierra Club: EPA pollution control standards (TMDL) set but little has been done to improve Hinkson Creek's (MO) condition
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Report: Policy & $ changes needed to support US freshwater system efficiency, reliability & environmental upgrades
  • Army Corps of Engineers performing daily inspections of previously-breached Mississippi River's Birds Point levee (MO)
  • Army Corps creates 700,000 acre-ft additional Missouri River basin flood storage capacity; says flood concerns low
  • 128 floodplain homes to be purchased by Louisville KY Metropolitan Sewer District; area will then collect floodwater 
  • Rebuilding river delta wetlands by managing the muddy Mississippi 
In the States -
  • Indiana Dept of EM effort to establish numeric standards for phosphorus in lakes and reservoirs moving forward slowly
Forestry -
  • USFS's 1st planning rule in 30 yrs places more emphasis on watershed protection in 193 million acres of land
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Missouri ban on porous  angling waders to take effect on March 1 (aquatic invasive species issue)
  • New MN law requires mandatory zebra mussel training for those in dock and boat service businesses 
  • Report proposes dividing Great Lakes, Mississippi basins
  • Report demonstrates that permanent physical barriers to protect Great Lakes & Mississippi River "feasible" [Asian carp]
  • Great Lakes Commission: natural divide between Mississippi River & Great Lakes can be rebuilt; suggests 3 alternatives
  • UMN River Life blog: We Can’t Afford to Stop Invasives; We Can’t Afford Not To
  • IL DNR trying to create consumer demand for Asian carp in effort to rid state’s waterways of them
  • MN panel in charge of deciding how to spend state Legacy fund debate its use for Asian carp fight
  • Many frac sand companies mine in WI ; only 1 applied for permit to legally destroy endangered butterfly habitat
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • New study finds Louisiana's second Gulf of Mexico dead zone is 4x larger than that found in 2010
  • OP-ED: "The Mississippi River Delta Must Be Restored" (NY Times)
  • Times-Picayune editorial: "Take the long view on Louisiana's coastal restoration plan"
  • LA scientists lay groundwork to create carbon storage industry that could help rebuild coastal wetlands
Resource extraction -
  • SELC list of southern endangered ecosystems includes VA and TN mountains in Mississippi River Basin (coal mining)
  • RT @americanrivers: Collateral damage from fracking: runoff from roads surrounding hydrofracking wells [Ohio River Basin]
  • IL state House bills aim to control fracking to extract natural gas
Federal Budget -
  • House Budget Committee Chair Ryan will work off FY 2012 budget the GOP passed last year when writing new FY 2013 budget
  • EPA annual Rachel Carson “Sense of Wonder” contest; 4 water-focused categories: photography, essay, poetry & dance
  • 2012 National River Management Symposium; April 24-26; Asheville, NC; for information and registration:
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center February E-News Update now available
Other news-
  • UN: world running out of time to assure enough food, water & energy to meet needs of rapidly growing population
Political Scene -
  • MN & ND's American Crystal Sugar cooperative-one of US's most powerful lobbying groups; calls for sugar price supports
  • Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL-8) faces tough reelection fight after redistricting; but is focusing on defeating Obama
  • New survey: Western state voters of all political affiliation call themselves conservationists; views differ from DC's
  • US Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN-5), a 15-term congressman, announces that he will retire at the end of this term
  • Rep. Latham (R-IA) has campaign bankroll ~4x that of opponent Rep. Boswell (D-IA) heading into redrawn district race
  • KY Legislature, long-deadlocked over US Congressional redistricting map, takes big step toward passage of final map
 Last Word -
Paula the Penguin
"Are you talking about the penguin that just defecated on the floor?" Kentucky State Senate President David Williams, asked of State Senator Katie Stine.  Stine was describing a resolution, thanking the Newport Aquarium "for its contributions to the ecology of our world and the economy of Kentucky," including the "second most diverse collection of cold-weather penguins in the country."  Paula, the Aquarium's "pooping penguin," as it quickly became known, was in the Senate chamber for a reading of the proclamation.  Click here for a video of the ensuing frivolity.

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