Friday, February 10, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Farm Bill Conservation Hearing Details Emerge
The Senate Agriculture Committee has provided additional details on two of its upcoming Farm Bill related hearings (see the Committee's hearing calendar overview page here). Of particular relevance to Mississippi River Basin water issues, the Committee's Farm Bill Conservation Title hearing ("Strengthening Conservation Through the 2012 Farm Bill") will be held on Tuesday, February 28, at 10 AM (EST) in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building (the Committee's link to hearing details and streaming video can be found here).

Federal Budget and Appropriation Season Kicks Off in Earnest
Discussion of and Links to Key Resources
As the Administration and Congress gird themselves for what is likely to be a long and arduous election-year battle over Federal spending, key milestones in the annual budget and appropriation's ritual are on the immediate horizon.  House Appropriations subcommittees have sent out official calls for Fiscal Year 2013 spending and language requests that Members wish to be included in appropriation bills, and the President is set to release his Administration's FY 2013 budget proposal next Monday, February 13. And this is just the beginning! For an overview of the upcoming Federal budget and appropriation season, and a discussion of and links to key resources, see here. Watch this blog space next Monday for updates on what the Obama Administration budget proposal means for vital River Basin water resource issues.

Groups Seek Broad Organizational and Business Support for Farm Bill Conservation Programs
Several conservation groups (including American Farmland Trust, American Forest Foundation, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Land Trust Alliance, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, The Nature Conservancy and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership) have taken the lead in drafting a Farm Bill conservation program support letter that will be sent to U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership. It is available on-line to review and (for organizations and businesses interested in signing) for Internet sign-on at this link.  The deadline for signatures is Friday, February 24.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
  • USDA awards $40 million grants to boost local farm/food projects
  • US Sen. Grassley (IA-R) questions USDA Secretary Vilsack about USDA's announced Farm Service Agency office closures
  • Scientific American/Reuters: Eying Greener Acres, New Farmers Reap Growing U.S. Aid
  • Reminder: March 12-April 6 USDA general signup for farmers to participate in Conservation Reserve Program
Farm Bill-
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition highlights “major factors influencing" 2012 Farm Bill debate
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): "If we don’t get a farm bill done by June, there won’t be a farm bill"
Water Quality -
  • Region 7 EPA director to agribusiness: no standards for N levels in water that could impede the use of N fertilizers
  • Scientific American: What is stormwater runoff, and why does it matter?
  • NRDC report recommends range of actions to promote private investment in green urban stormwater retrofits
  • EPA approves all but one of WV's proposed water quality standards (except  "weight of evidence" nutrient standard)
  • 175 miles of Knoxville, TN wastewater transmission system replaced/rehabilitated to stop sewage overflows
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • With levees rated unacceptable, officials along Mississippi River fight the Army Corps "unreasonable" safety standards
  • Here's a [Google map based] snapshot of river restoration efforts in the US via American Rivers
  • Baraboo River (WI) is longest stretch of river in US restored to free-flowing, after multiple dam removals
  • Corps of Engineers will not recommend controversial "Plan H" Mississippi River flood control plan to Congress
  • Army Corps today released fiscal year 2012 civil works plan; link to report:; critique here:
  • Taxpayer group believes Army Corps of Engineers FY 2012 work plan is effort to end-run Congressional earmark moratorium
  • Oklahoma governor asks Chickasaw and Choctaw nations to withdraw water rights lawsuit vs. state
In the States -
  • MN's conservation "Legacy Fund" is being used to cover cuts to conservation programs, as stakeholders argue the matter
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Congress members prod Army Corps on new plan to sever Great Lakes & Mississippi River watersheds (re: Asian Carp)
  • Wisconsin bill being considered that would require state Dept. of Natural Resources to create Sandhill Crane season
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Already low and vulnerable Louisiana coast prepares for sea level rise
  • Report: Louisiana's coastal restoration & levee projects should anticipate average 3.3-ft sea level increase
Resource extraction -
  • OH DNR considers "all aspects" of oil/gas exploration-related regulations as it crafts new legislation recommendations
  • Are a mild winter, sluggish economy and stricter federal law enforcement brewing the "perfect storm" against coal?
Federal Budget -
  • Next week's Obama 2013 FY budget plan to mirror his plan from Sept 2011, related to deficit-reduction deal
  • Free EPA Webinar on Tool for Comparing Impaired Waters Restorability; February 22, 1-3 PM EST; details and register:
  • Association of State Wetland Managers meeting; March 13-15; "Sustaining Commitment to No Net Wetlands Loss"
  • Save the Date: 2013 National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration dates and location have been set.  Don't miss it!
  • Assoc. of State FloodPlain Managers May 20-25 2012 Conference Program and Registration Now Available
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • American Rivers River Policy Monthly Update: "2011 Wrap-Up" is now on line
  • Northeast-Midwest Institute has a new Mississippi River Basin water policy Google+ page:
  • American Farmland Trust's February E-news issue is now available on line
  • America's Waterway February 2012 River Currents (Mississippi River) Newsletter now online
Political Scene -
  • Former Sen. Kerrey won’t make bid for US Senate, leaving Dems with no viable run for retiring Sen. Nelson's seat (D-NE)
  • Poll shows Adam Kinzinger tied with Don Manzullo for GOP US House primary race in newly redrawn Illinois 16th district
  • KY state Legislature deadlocked over new US Congressional redistricting map, courts may need to resolve
 Last Word -
In light of the results of a new Gallup poll (released this past Wednesday) showing an historic low for the U.S. Congressional approval rating (now at 10 percent), it seems appropriate to leave this week's "last word" to Pogo and his 1971 Earth Day message, "We have met the enemy and he is us.

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