Friday, March 30, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

The Budget, the Recess and Reconciliation
House members have been sent off to their various home districts for the next two weeks after voting yesterday to adopt the Paul Ryan (R-WI) budget (see various stories under "Federal Budget," below). Although the House Budget Resolution will never be considered by the Senate, some of its provisions may very well influence deficit reduction discussions on Capitol Hill in the weeks and months to come. Specifically, the Resolution instructs six House committees (Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means) to engage in what's being called a “shadow reconciliation” process when their members return from Spring recess. Resolution instructions direct those committees to collectively (by April 27) come up with $261 billion in spending cuts over ten years from mandatory Federal programs. Following the committees' work, their recommendations will be voted on by the House, likely in early May; a vote (and passage) that will pressure Senate Democrats to respond.  That response would come either before the November general election or during the subsequent lame duck session, when Congress will have a scant seven weeks to come up with a budget-cutting agreement that will make moot the automatic sequestration (across-the-board spending cuts) scheduled to kick in on January 1 under terms of the August  2011 deficit reduction agreement.  For more background on the Federal budget and sequestration, see the lead-in to our overview of the President's Fiscal Year budget proposal, here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
  • Many now questioning whether rewards of using increasingly more crop chemicals are worth the risks
  • Minnesota Dept of Agriculture commissioner promotes water quality certification initiative
  • USDA conservation staff to go mobile and add Web tools; will be more accessible to customers
  • Nature Conservancy's Global Freshwater Program director urges use of water-efficient agriculture
  • Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change releases report on best sustainable farming policy measures
Farm Bill-
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition releases its 2012 Farm Bill policy platform
  • Yale Environment 360: Can reforming the 2012 Farm Bill help change US agriculture?
  • Former Agriculture Secretaries support attaching conservation compliance to crop insurance premium subsidies
  • Senate Ag Committee Chair Stabenow hopes Farm Bill is completed by committee and ready for Senate by early May
  • House Ag committee hears testimony from two panels of producers from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota
  • Farmers offer wish lists for upcoming Farm Bill at House hearing
  • Overhauling the Farm Bill: The Real Beneficiaries of Subsidies - Daniel Imhoff - The Atlantic via @InvasiveNotes
  • Op-ed: Iowans should support Farm Bill's Conservation Reserve Program via @DonEWG
  • Farm Bill process in the House is complicated by the budget reconciliation process
  • House Agriculture Committee posts witness testimony & other info for this week's Arkansas Farm Bill field hearing
  • Signs of life for Farm Bill: Senate Ag Committee Could Markup by End of April via  @ChrisClaytonDTN
Water Quality -
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
In the States -
  • Environmental Council of the States decries potential EPA budget cut impact on states (Word doc of press release)
  • Minnesota setting health standards for emerging contaminants in water supplies/drinking water
Forestry -
  • New Sustainable Forestry report: Forests of the United States: Understanding Trends and Challenges
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Free iPhone/iPad app based on USGS guide allows users to quickly look up a plant to see whether it's invasive
  • 'Bio-bullet' under development would arguably kill Asian carp, leave other fish unharmed; concerns raised
  • Minnesota Reps Kline and Peterson seek bill to manage MN cormorant population
Gulf Coastal Area-
Resource Extraction -
  • TN state lawmakers set aside further consideration of a bill to ban mountaintop mining
Federal Budget -
  • The House Budget Plan: A different vision for Energy and Agriculture than current policies
  • Ryan (GOP House) Budget would reduce Ag farm spending by $33 Billion over 10 years
  • FY2013 Republican Budget Resolution cuts $179.4 Billion total from farm bill programs, including SNAP, over 10 years
  • House approves 2013 budget resolution from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)
  • House unanimously rejects budget proposal based on Obama's 2013 plan
  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Baucus (D-MT) determined to defeat House Budget proposal because of deep farm bill cuts
  • House Ag Committee Ranking Member Peterson statement: Republican Budget Creates Uncertainty for Rural America
  • Registration Now Open 2012 Ohio Stormwater Conference; June 7-8; Toledo
  • EESI Briefing slides/video: Conservation, Energy Security and Jobs with Biomass Crops? A Question for the Next Farm Bill
  • 2012 Upper Mississippi River Conference and 2nd Annual Youth Summit; Sept 26-28; Moline, IL
  • Natural Resources Leadership Academy; June 18-22 and 25-29; Corvallis, Oregon
  • Pre-registration open for 4th Annual Chapter Mtg: Midwest-Great Lakes Society for Ecological Restoration; May 4-6
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
  • Call for Environmental Conservation papers re: Politics, science and policy of reference points for resource management
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases Special Report on managing climate change risks (PDF)
  • Planet Under Pressure conference message: urgent action needed to face threats to water, food, bio & other resources (PDF)
  • Scientific American: Is Human Impact Accelerating Out of Control?
  • U of NC study: Since 1974 conservatives' trust in science has plummeted from the highest to now the lowest (PDF)
Political Scene -
  • Washington Post: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall: Big money pours into big-government fight
  • Joe Walsh's (D-IL) decision to run for reelection guarantees him toughest battle of his career
  • Kansas House poised to pass new legislative district map this week
  • Poll: Former WI governor Tommy Thompson continues to look like GOP’s best bet for state’s open Senate race
Last Word - From a new Etch A Sketch ad capitalizing on its new-found political popularity

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