Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week-Early Edition

Next Week
Look for quite a bit of activity next week on Capitol Hill centered upon the Farm Bill, as both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees continue their efforts to draft and pass a Farm Bill out of their respective Committees. The Senate Committee's initial bill language (called the Chairwoman's mark) should be released tomorrow (Friday, April 20), and be considered by the Committee next week. The House Committee may then pick up on the language coming out of its Senate counterpart as a starting point (perhaps modifying language based on feedback received at recent and upcoming House Committee Farm Bill hearings). Here is a listing of currently-scheduled Farm Bill hearings and meetings for next week, including links to the specific committee and subcommittee pages, which include member contact information:

FNB Status
You're FNB (Friendly Neighborhood Blogger) and this weekly newsletter will be taking leave of Washington, DC and the internet world next week.  Luckily, I've been assured that no news will be happening next week that relates to the Mississippi River Basin, anyway, so the timing is fortuitous!  Look for a return of both the news and this weekly summary in the first week of May.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Agriculture -

  • The Guardian: How cotton overuses water resources and increases greenhouse gas emissions
  • In Iowa, corn has won the "battle for acres" over soybeans
  • Atlantic magazine: “The Exceedingly Strange World of Federal Crop Insurance Subsidies”
  • Much-used farm herbicide is losing its effectiveness and forcing producers to spend more and use more chemicals
  • Farmers Weekly: What is sustainable agriculture?
  • Study to focus on efficiency and profitability to be gained through precision agriculture use by soybean growers
  • >2,000 US farmers and food companies to take legal action to force feds to analyze proposed biotech crops & herbicides

Farm Bill-

  • Senate Agriculture Committee members are looking to have Farm on Senate floor as early as summer
  • House Agriculture Committee must slice $33.2 B from Farm Bill programs, most likely focusing on nutrition; food stamps
  • Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) wants Senate to pass Farm Bill with $23 B in budget cuts over 10-yr period
  • Environmental Working Group releases its Farm Bill platform document (PDF file)
  • House Ag Committee to move forward with Farm Bill; announces DC hearing schedule April 25-May 18
  • Senate Agriculture Committee leaders ready to hold meeting next week to adopt and pass new farm bill
  • Conservation Groups Urge Congress to Link Conservation Requirements to Farm Bill Payments
  • Farm Bill status update from DTN: (under "Congress Return" heading)
  • GOP targeting of SNAP benefits for estimated $33.2B 10-yr savings could have immediate impact on farm bill debate
  • In precursor to farm bill budget fights, House Agriculture Committee cuts $7.7 B from federal nutrition program
  • Lawmakers downplay possibility of extending current farm bill after it expires this fall
  • Des Moines Register: Environmental Working Group says next farm bill should focus on runoff water pollution

Water Quality -

  • Farm belt utility in Sprinfield, IL struggles to control drinking water quality in face of herbicide pollution; erosion
  • EPA to conduct three hearings on agency’s objections to 36 Kentucky coal-mining water quality permits
  • TN Clean Water Network, USEPA & TN DEC settle with City of Memphis over sanitary sewer overflows
  • Background on Clean Water Network, USEPA & TN DEC settlement with City of Memphis on sanitary sewer overflows
  • Monona County, IA beef cattle feedlot to pay a $10,000 penalty for violations of the federal Clean Water Act

Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -

  • New Senate bill would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act goes to committee next week
  • US Drought Monitor: > 60 % of continental US experiencing abnormally dry conditions or drought

In the States -

  • EPA approves Nebraska’s list of impaired waters: removes 21 waters from old list and adds 92 new

Forestry -

Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -

  • Invasive Plant Species Taxonomic & Identification: Information, Tools & Resources ~ a good resource
  • Ducks Unlimited receives Louisiana land conservation organization designation
  • Discover Magazine:  Attack of the Flying Asian Carp
  • Twin Cities MN metro lake associations drop legal attempt to require a centralized zebra mussel boat inspection station
  • Army Corps releases final revised Aquatic Nuisance Control Paper for Great Lakes & Mississippi River Interbasin Study
  • House Appropriations Committee Releases FY 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill; Army Corps funded at $4.8B

Gulf Coastal Area-

Resource Extraction -

  • Horizontal hydraulic fracturing may enable energy companies to hit "paydirt" in southern Illinois
  • TransCanada submits new Nebraska routes for Keystone pipeline; avoids environmentally sensitive Sandhills region

Federal Budget -

  • House Minority Whip Hoyer (D-MD) warns of ‘a fiscal storm’ in the post-election lame duck session
  • Budget Committee chair Sen. Conrad (D-ND): unlikely we will reach FY 2013 budget agreement until after election
  • Obama threatens to veto any appropriations bill that caps agency spending at levels below 2011 bipartisan deal's


  • Free Horinko Group Webinar - Biofuel Production: Dissecting the Water-Energy-Land Nexus; May 17, 1:30 PM
  • EESI and Royal Danish Embassy Briefing: Nexus between Water, Energy and Climate; Washington DC, April 25, 4 PM
  • 2012 Environmental Information Exchange Network National Meeting, May 30 - June 1, Philadelphia, PA
  • Free webinar: New Zealand approach to regulating water quality in agriculture; lessons for the US; April 20; 11 AM EDT

e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -

  • America's Waterway monthly Mississippi River newsletter is out:
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network's weekly newsletter out; highlights Memphis water quality settlement and upcoming events

Other news-

  • Minnesota and Louisiana counties tie for top economic development project status among Mississippi River states

Political Scene -

  • Poll: In TN 3rd district GOP primary race, dairy magnate Mayfield leads freshman Rep. Fleischman and entrepreneur Wamp
  • Blue Dog Democrats facing extinction in next election

Last Word - "We’re not making more land. We’re making a lot more people." - Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3);  member of House Agriculture Committee, speaking at a House Agriculture Committee field hearing on the need to pass an effective Farm Bill in 2012.

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