Friday, May 11, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

National Flood Insurance Program Extension and Reform Take Center Stage in Senate Hearing
The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee's Economic Policy Subcommittee held a hearing on May 9 focused on the reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), when panel members were told by a series of insurance, real estate, and environmental representatives that the debt-laden program was in dire need of reform and extension before its current authority expires on May 31. Read details and find more links here.

USDA Announces New National Water Quality Initiative-Over Five Dozen Watersheds Targeted in Mississippi Basin
On May 8, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the launch of the agency's new National Water Quality Initiative; a program that USDA describes as an effort to improve between one and seven "impaired watersheds in every U.S. state and territory." Under the Initiative, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will make at least $33 million in financial assistance available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners during the current (2012) Fiscal Year to implement conservation practices that help improve water quality in targetted watersheds. The funding that will defer part of the landowner's cost of the conservation practices will be made available through NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a Farm Bill Conservation Title program.  Nationally, a total of 157 watersheds in 44 states have been selected by USDA for the grant money under the Iniative. Sixty-two of those watersheds are located within the Mississippi River basin and Coastal Louisiana region.  You can read more detail on our blog, USDA's National Water Quality Initiative press release and the program web site.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  
Agriculture -
Farm Bill-
  • Senate Agriculture Committee provides updated 17-page summary of its version of the Farm Bill (pdf file)
  • Rep. Crawford (R-AR) urges constituents to submit US farm policy suggestions by 5/20 online at
  • Des Moines Register editorial board opinion piece on Senate Agriculture Committee's farm bill
  • Tasks that "Congress can't avoid" include National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization and Farm Bill
  • American Soybean Association urges Senate consideration of Farm Bill as quickly as possible
  • Farm org coalition asks Senate leaders to bring Farm Bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible (PDF of letter)
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial on the Farm Bill and crop insurance
  • House Agriculture Subcommittee focuses on Specialty Crop & Nutrition Programs during Farm Bill hearing
  • Republicans for Environmental Protection op-ed on Senate Agriculture Committee's Farm Bill subsidies
  • Senator John Thune (R-SD): clock is ticking and there is a sense of urgency for action to take place on the farm bill
  • House Agriculture Committee schedules four additional Farm Bill hearings for next week:
  • USDA official - Senate version of a new Farm Bill deserves rapid passage as a fair program that will benefit producers
Water Quality -
  • Farm groups seek to intervene in lawsuit vs EPA re: Mississippi River Basin state numeric nutrient H2O quality standards
  • Agribusinesses  asked to intervene in Mississippi River Basin water quality standards suit
  • Activists irked by EPA delay on model for Illinois River (Oklahoma) water quality
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Sen. Vitter and advocacy groups press Senate on 5-year extension of flood insurance program
  • National Assoc of Realtors President: long-term extension of National Flood Insurance Program before May 31 "critical"
  • Sen. Tester: Another extension of National Flood Insurance Program likely before current authorization expires on May 31
  • Tasks that "Congress can't avoid" include National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization and Farm Bill
In the States -
  • Former Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resource secretaries criticize DNR's current leadership
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • NFWF and USDA NRCS Conservation Partners Program funding available to optimize wildlife conservation on private lands
  • Aquatic invasive species electric barrier between Mississippi and Great Lakes basins had 13-min power outage last week
  • Army Corps to quicken pace of Mississippi-Great Lakes Asian carp study ~ to come up with solution options next year
  • Army Corps' report on Asian carp put off until after options are released by 2013
  • MN invasive species fines soon will double
Resource Extraction -
  • Ohio legislative committee approves new horizontal oil and gas drilling rules amid a shale exploration boom
  • Federal threat prompts KY to issue emergency rule demanding larger coal surface mining reclamation bonds
  • 24 states have considered at least 127 bills dealing specifically with hydraulic fracturing in 2012 so far
Federal Budget -
  • House Budget Committee moves GOP bill to replace $78 B in automatic defense cuts with $261 B in domestic spending cuts (then on Thursday the bill was passed by the full House; see next article)
  • House votes to replace steep cuts to Pentagon with spending cuts to food stamps; other mandatory social programs
  • Webinar: The Farm Bill and the Mississippi River: a Long and Complex Relationship; May 17; 430 PM EDT; 330 CDT
  • Save the date: Upper Mississippi River Conference; Sept 26-28, Moline, IL registration soon available here:
  • EPA Webinar: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration; May 15, 3 PM EDT
  • 3rd Annual Malthus Lecture-How can we feed a growing world and still sustain the planet; May 22, Washington, DC
  • IL Cache River Nature Fest, Sat 5/12 8am-4pm Cypress Creek Refuge; Canoe tours, bike trips, hikes
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers latest e-newsletter edition:
  • MO Coalition for the Environment's Vision for a Land, Water, and Economic Ethic in the Upper Mississippi River Basin
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network's latest e-newsletter edition is out
Other news-
  • Ozark nature groups receive $77,021 to create environmental mentoring communities in local areas
  • RT @gregseitz: St. Croix Valley group exploring National Heritage status -
Political Scene -
  • IL GOP leaders select 4 candidates to vie for nomination to replace retiring US Rep. Johnson (IL-15)
  • Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeats Sen. Lugar in Indiana GOP US Senate primary
  • Milwaukee Mayor Barrett to be Democratic opponent in WI gubernatorial recall race vs. GOP Gov. Scott Walker
Last Word - "Unfortunately, we have an increasing number of legislators in both parties who have adopted an unrelenting partisan viewpoint.  If that attitude prevails in American politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have witnessed during the last several years."  - Incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) in a lentghy (1,425-word) concession statement released following his Tuesday primary election defeat to Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (full text available here).

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