Friday, May 4, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Your Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
This week's edition is jam-packed with links to over 85 articles across a broad spectrum of water resource-related issues (and I don't mean the lousy kind of jam with just a few berries, but the really good, densely-packed, super-chewy, tasty kind of jam!).  Taking top-billing are the passage and reactions to the Senate Agriculture Committee's version of a 2102 Farm Bill, along with analyses of Farm Bill prospects in the House.

Here and There: This Week and Next
This week, the halls and offices in both the U.S. House and Senate were relatively quiet, as both chambers observed scheduled recesses. Senators and House Members will return in full force next week, reconvening at 2 PM on Monday, when we can expect River Basin-related activities to ramp up in the:
  • House Appropriations Committee as its subcommittees continue their work on the Fiscal Year 2013 spending bills (the  Energy and Water spending bill having already been voted out of Committee);
  • House Agriculture Committee, as it continues with an ongoing series of Farm Bill hearings, in anticipation of eventually marking up its own version of the bill; 
  • House Budget Committee, as it considers (and passes) a politically partisan "Sequestration Replacement Act" designed to negate the need for mandatory across-the-board discretionary spending cuts in 2013 that are required by last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling (most House Democrats have assailed the GOP attempt to roll back last year’s budget deal mandate); and 
  • Senate, where behind the scenes action will play out, as Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill proponents work to get the bill time  to be considered  on the Senate floor (and as others craft and lobby for possible amendments to the Committee bill once it does reach the floor).  The bill could conceivably receive floor consideration before the Senate recesses again - starting on May 26 - for Memorial Day week. 

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Farm Bill-
Senate Committee Bill and Senate Passage Prospects
  • Senate Agriculture Committee votes its farm bill version out of committee by 16-5 vote
  • Senate Agriculture Committee's 2012 Senate Farm Bill summary page (updated as needed)
  • Senate's Farm BIll: corn and soybeans the big winners in what would be historic shift away from direct payments
  • Senate Majority Leader Reid: farm bill is on list of major legislation he would like to get done
  • Chances for Senate farm bill success on floor could hinge largely on safety net prospects for southern rice & peanuts
Reaction to Senate Bill
  • Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Roberts (R-KS): can talk Senate Leader Reid into putting Farm Bill on floor (audio)
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair Lucas statement on Senate Committee's passed Farm Bill
  • House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Peterson statement on Senate Committee's passed Farm Bill
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition comments on Senate Farm Bill markup and passage
  • Environmental Working Group statement on Senate Ag Committee's passed Farm Bill
  • US Rep. Kind (D-WI): farm bill needs reform but Senate's proposed deep cuts to conservation programs are not the answer
  • National Wildlife Federation reaction to Senate Farm Bill
  • NY Times summarizes Senate agriculture committee Farm Bill insurance proposal and reactions to it
  • Washington Post editorial: Senate farm bill's “federal crop insurance overprotects"
  • Regional battles open over major Farm Bill provisions as south alleges unfair Senate Bill tilt toward Farm Belt states
  • Wisconsin State Journal editorial: "Better farm bill not good enough"
  • BloombergView editorial: Senate Definition of Reform? Give Rich Farmers More Aid
House Prospects
  • House Agriculture subcommittee witnesses ask lawmakers to maintain conservation programs; testimony here:
  • Agri-Pulse: Senate Ag Committee's Farm Bill Faces Uncertain Future in House
  • Southern agriculture leaders expect House farm bill to be friendlier to region than Senate's is
  • Vilsack: House GOP call for deep food stamp cuts is obstacle for new farm bill passage by Sept when current law expires
Other Farm Bill News
Water Quality -
  • Marten Law News story: Pending environmental groups' lawsuit seeks to force EPA to establish numeric nutrient criteria for US waters
  • New House bill would prohibit EPA and Army Corps from using Clean Water Act guidance document to enforce act
  • Appropriation bill rider would keep Army Corps from implementing water jurisdiction guidance
  • Sporting orgs blast reemergence of Clean Water Act policy restriction rider
  • EPA updates web version of Water Quality Standards Handbook to make "more user-friendly and improve transparency"
  • KY Supreme Court: environmental groups can intervene in proposed state-coal company water quality settlement
  • EPA misses yet another (fifth) deadline to propose stormwater rule; EPA and lawsuit plaintiff negotiating 6th deadline
  • EPA Blog Spotlight: "Giving New Life To The Dead Zone" looks at Miss Basin farm efforts to reduce nutrient loading
  • EPA to work with water systems on 30 unregulated contaminants under final Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule
  • Fort Wayne, IN to test facility to disinfect wastewater otherwise impacting rivers during sewer system overflows
Agriculture -
  • U of IA Dept of Geoscience Professor's op-ed: Does farmland tiling prevent or contribute to flooding?
  • Study: near term hotter, drier conditions more likely to destabilize corn prices than energy policy or market forces
  • Farmers Market Coalition toolkit is guide to communicating about farmers markets to legislators
  • Bad weather and strong demand in China combine to tighten supplies and trigger global food inflation fears
  • Global Food Policy Report gives comprehensive overview of major 2011 ag-related food, fuel, environment policy changes
  • Nature magazine article: Some organic farms can yield almost as much as conventional farms but most cannot
  • LA Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry comments on recent EPA & environmental group clean water activities
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service will come up with solution for wetland determination backlogs by September
  • Op-ed: "The folly of big agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins"
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Bill would prevent EPA & Army Corps from using Clean Water Act guidance document to make wetlands determinations
  • Farmers: Corps of Engineers Missouri RIver practices are contributing to erosion and threatening cropland
  • Op-ed: reconstruction of old, misaligned Missouri River levees and Army Corps' navigation channel a mistake
  • House Appropriations Committee report includes state-by-state funding tables of Corps project & study funding (PDF)
  • Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY-1) calls for roundtable discussion on the maintenance needs of inland waterways (see PDF page 16)
  • EPA Improves public access to online GIS tools; including flood zones, wetlands, H2O monitoring, water features
  • LA Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry comments on recent EPA & environmental group clean water activities
In the States -
  • Invasive-species boating bill advances in Minnesota legislature
Forestry -
  • New report explores history of discussion and challenges re: certifying National Forest System lands for sustainability
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • 2011 flooding Missouri and Mississippi rivers launched invasive species into lakes where they had not been before
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funding to help control invasive plant species; preproposal deadline: May 18
  • Another invasive Bighead Asian carp found at St. Croix River mouth (where it flows into the Mississippi; WI and MN)
  • Organizations partnering to reintroduce up to 600 captive-born endangered American burying beetles into the wild in MO
  • Army Corps releases report on valuation of Great Lakes, Upper Mississippi River & Ohio River basin commercial fisheries
Gulf Coastal Area-
Resource Extraction -
  • Study concludes shale fracking could reduce groundwater contaminant transport time by orders of magnitude
Federal Budget -
  • House Budget Committee Chair Ryan introduces bill to replace mandatory across-the-board 2013 discretionary spending cut
  • Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee approves $33.4 B FY 2013 spending bill ($373 M below 2012 enacted)
  • Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee approves $20.8 B FY 2013 discretionary USDA & FDA spending bill
  • OMB to Congress: Until House abides by 2011 budget deficit agreement, President will not sign any appropriations bills (PDF)
  • House Budget Committee to meet next Monday to put final touches on politicized $300+ billion 10-year budget package
  • House returns next week to start process of passing FY 2013 appropriations bills, starting with Commerce-Science cuts
  • Save the dates: America's Great Watershed Initiative Summit (MIssissippi basin) Sept 26-27, St Louis, MO; more on AGWI:
  • EPA Webinar: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration; May 15, 3:00-4:30 ET
  • EcoSummit 2012 - Ecological Sustainability; Restoring the Planet’s Ecosystem Services; 9/30-10/5; Columbus OH
  • NRC meeting: Levees and National Flood Insurance Program: Improving Policies and Practices; May 10-11; Sugar Land, TX
  • 10th Annual Wisconsin Association for Floodplain, Stormwater and Coastal Management; Madison; Oct 10-12
  • Urban Water Sustainability Leadership Conference; October 15-17; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Free EPA Webcast: "USDA’s NIFA-CEAP Watershed Synthesis: Lessons Learned” May 15, 1-3 PM EDT
  • May 10:   Central Appalachian Women's Climate Justice Tribunal; Charleston, WV
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council's "National Water Monitoring News" is published (PDF file)
  • The Spring 2012 Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee newsletter is out (PDF file)
  • American Farmland Trust's April E-newsletter
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center monthly (Mississippi River basin-focused) enewsletter:
  • EDF's latest issue of Delta Dispatches is out, with news on Louisiana Delta coastal restoration issues
  • Water Environment Federation monthly stormwater enewsletter
Other news-
  • Organizations launch "The Big River Works: Building Cooperation to Sustain the Mississippi River System" (PDF file)
  • Walk Score Ranks 25 US cities by Transit-Friendliness : Major Mississippi River basin cities don't rank or low; DC 3rd
  • EPA names Glenn Paulson as its new Science Advisor and
  • AP story: At 40 years of age, political pressures have replaced pollution as EPA's top foe
  • American Queen riverboat resumes nostalgic cruises on Mississippi & Ohio Rivers for first time since 2008
Political Scene -
  • Political scientists: Congressional polarization has profound implications for governance and "it's going to get worse"
  • Federal lawmakers grow anxious of packed lame duck session and talk of punting big issues into 2013
  • Wisconsin Democrats divided over who to best oust Gov. Walker (R) in recall election
  • Polls differ on who leads in KY 6th district US House race: incumbent Rep. Chandler (D) or attorney Andy Barr (R)
  • USDA Secretary could soon hit campaign trail on behalf wife Christie Vilsack (running vs. Rep. King (R-IA-4))
Last Word
"They only want safety nets, not hammocks."  - Director of National Affairs for Florida Farm Bureau, Adam Basford, speaking of farmer's wishes regarding a 2012 Farm Bill, while expressing a belief that farmers aren’t asking for unreasonable risk management provisions.

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