Friday, May 25, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

National Flood Insurance Program Debate Deferred into June
On Wednesday (May 24), the U.S. Senate passed a 60-day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by unanimous consent, and the House is expected to follow suit and approve the same extension during its work session next week. The intent of the simple, short-term NFIP extension bill is to provide Congress breathing room to work on a long-term reauthorization bill, since NFIP authority was due to expire at the end of this month.  Senate passage followed a flurry of negotiations that ended on Tuesday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) reached a deal on the extension and possible reform of the debt-ridden NFIP.  Under the deal, Reid committed to allowing consideration of Vitter's five-year NFIP reform bill during the Senate's June work session. On his part, Vitter agreed to drop his demand that the five-year reform bill be considered as an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration bill that was being debated this week by the Senate.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
  • Agronomist: Soil erosion in western Iowa is worst it's been in two decades
  • New head of MN Pollution Control Agency: voluntary farmer efforts can help clean rivers; can't compel farmers to help
  • US cornfields in best shape for this time of year since 2007; Soybean & wheat planting close to complete
  • USDA ERS: US agriculture less affected by recession than most other industries; should continue doing well
  • EPA "Success Spotlight" - Clearwater River, MN -Managing Agricultural Drainage Reduces Bacteria in River
  • Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District (NE) to study options besides inhibitors to mitigate high farm nitrates
  • Attended a very nice Malthus lecture presentation Tuesday by U of MN's Jonathan Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy)
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack: $32 M to go to water quality & wetlands projects in 7 Mississippi River Basin states
  • In-depth story about problems and solutions with soil erosion in SW Minnesota (via @DonEWG)
  • MO farmers battling "flash drought" - quick burst of dry heat that parches plants and threatens crops
  • MN Dept. of Agriculture to provide $20M in low-interest loans to help farmers with water pollution mitigation projects
  • For Midwest corn and soybean farms, government payments averaged only about 2.26% of total 2011 revenues
Farm Bill-
  • Senate Agriculture Committee formally files its new farm bill with the full Senate chamber
  • The Atlantic: farm bill has "a long way to go, but here's where lawmakers have found some common ground"
  • House Agriculture Committee hears criticism of Senate Committee's Farm Bill insurance & commodity provisions
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair Lucas (R-OK): high probability that we’ll see an extension of the 2008 farm bill
  • Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) hosting series of farm bill meetings this week in western Minnesota
  • Rep. Collin Peterson outlines $30 billion in "likely cuts to Farm Bill" (video and text)
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Stabenow expects farm bill to come up on the Senate floor in early June and to pass
  • Senate Majority Leader Reid has promised floor time to Stabenow in June to try to move farm bill
  • New release: Northeast Farm Bill Agenda: Priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill
  • DTN Washington Insider analysis of likely Farm Bill timing; Senate amendment process: (3rd article down)
  • Sen. Majority Leader sets ambitious agenda for month after Memorial Day recess; includes Farm Bill & flood insurance
Water Quality -
  • Cost to prevent raw sewage from discharging into Kansas City, MO area streams projected at $1.3 billion
  • West St. Paul, MN considers ban on coal tar-based asphalt sealer to reduce PAHs in stormwater
  • EPA proposes new rules applying to stormwater running off logging roads
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • National Crop Insurance Services releases crop insurance educational video highlighting 2011 Missouri river flood
  • Sen. Vitter (LA) announcement on Senate's National Flood Insurance Program deal
  • US Senate approves a 60-day flood insurance extension; House expected to follow suit next week; reform debate in June
  • EPA opposes proposed wetlands-filling permit for Louisville Gas and Electric coal-burning waste site (KY)
In the States -
  • Environmental inspections by the WI DNR dropped sharply during the first year of Gov. Scott Walker's administration
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Scientific American: Northern MN moose population decline due to climate change; preventing extinction problematic
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Washington Post article on climate and sea level adaptation challenges facing Louisiana’s Highway 1 (coastal)
  • New (April) National Coastal Condition Reports describe ecological & environmental conditions in US coastal waters
  • Plaquemines Parish, LA to build a $1.5M, 40-acre barrier island to protect and help rebuild Cat Island
Resource Extraction -
Federal Budget -
  • Senate Majority Leader Reid sees no way to reach bipartisan agreement on deficit or taxes before November elections
  • Community Forestry Webinar, June 5,  12-1pm (EDT); Role of Trees and Forests in Managing Municipal Stormwater
  • EPA free Webinar: Stormwater, Coal-Tar Sealcoat, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons; June 14
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • EPA’s Nonpoint [Water Contamination] Source News-Notes, Issue #91 (May 2012) now available at this link:
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network's May 22 e-newsletter
  • Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) newsletter published (aquatic invasive species): (PDF) 
Other news-
  • Study: even if we stabilize climate, sea level rise may occur simply due to how we use fresh water
  • Midwestern Governors Association launches video contest to draw attention to region's unique qualities (water anyone?)
  • Article on moving beyond superficial Rust Belt chic to real & sustained growth (via @hdentinger)
  • New Orleans Regional Planning Commission to receive 2 $200,000 brownfields grants from USEPA
  • St. Louis Development Corp to receive $400,000 in brownfields funds for hazardous substance; petroleum studies
Political Scene - 
  • NY Times Magazine: "How Did Wisconsin Become the Most Politically Divisive Place in America?"
  • House incumbents win in easy Kentucky and Arkansas primary victories
  • Attorney and GOP rising star Tom Cotton wins solid victory in Arkansas’ 4th House district Republican primary
  • Tea-party-affiliated Thomas Massie wins  4th district House GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Geoff Davis (R)
Last Word - On May 29, the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be awarded to (among others) singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.  So, in this week's musical "Last Word" we feature an acoustic Bob Dylan performing "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in a video of his first-ever performance at the White House (February 10, 2010). 

And in case you'd like to sing along while you sip your coffee or sit at your desk, here are the lyrics to this visionary work~

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

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