Friday, September 21, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

History Repeating Itself: No Farm Bill Vote and No Immediate Repercussions
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced yesterday that there won’t be a Farm Bill vote in the House this month, killing prospects of working out an agreement with the Senate and its already-passed version of a new Farm Bill.  House Republican leadership has not moved away from its resistance to holding what would undoubtedly be a contentious vote before the November election, and a bipartisan “discharge petition" attempt to force the measure onto the House floor  won’t have nearly enough time to succeed.

The consequence of the Congressional stalemate (an expired 2008 Farm Bill at midnight, September 30) won't become immediately evident before the November 6 national election, or even before the end of this calendar year. That added buffer providing more time for Congress to act exists because (although the effective date of the current law matches that of the Federal fiscal year) the 2008 Farm Bill covers all of this calendar year's (2012) crops.  Additionally, Congressional appropriations can be utilized to fund many of the major Farm Bill provisions, whether they are authorized or not.  To read more about what happens next (and why you may have that nagging feeling that this has all happened before), see here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

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  • Some drought letup in parts of Lower Midwest and Southern Plains; Northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest remain dry
  • USDA Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/19/12
  • National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist: "greatest extent of drought we've seen all summer" in US
  • USA Today Online: “The Drought of 2012: Misery in the Midwest”
  • CNN: From dry rivers to dead deer, drought's impact felt everywhere
  • U.S. drought is withering nation’s corn crop, but is fertile opportunity for genetically modified crop makers
  • Farmland values hold strong and farm balance sheets remain solid despite devastating drought
Federal Policy
  • Drought highlights  lack of coherent  U.S. approach to dealing with water; U.S. is "paying the price"
  • 2011 flooding, coupled with 2012 drought mean crop insurance more important than ever to Missouri farmers
  • USDA Secretary announces $11.8 million in added financial and technical assistance to help reduce drought impacts
Farm Bill-
  • House Speaker Boehner: Congress will tackle stalled farm bill after the election is over
  • Congressional Research Service: Many Farm Bill programs will continue without a new bill at the end of the month (PDF file)
  • Few in agriculture will immediately feel the consequences of Congress’s gridlock and September 30 Farm Bill expiration
  • National Public Radio Online: “So What Happens If The Farm Bill Expires? Not Much, Right Away”
  • Farm Bill discharge petition signers demonstrate increasing political trouble inaction is causing farm state members
  • Update from  “Snapshot: An Election Year Farm Bill - Campaign Impacts"
  • Chicago Tribune Street Journal editorial boards opine on Congress's Farm Bill inaction
Agriculture -
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's new report says agriculture support at historic lows
  • USDA to form partnership of 10 agricultural watershed-rangeland research sites; story: release:
  • Climate change is severely impacting food prices
  • Researchers seek to bioengineer drought-tolerant woody biofuel crop  plants
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog analyzes possible impacts of potential sequester cuts on agriculture
  • USDA and USFWS announce new program to coordinate working lands productivity and conservation with Endangered Species Act
Water Quality -
  • Iowa researchers conduct assessment to guide Mississippi River-Gulf of Mexico nitrogen and phosphorus reduction efforts
  • WI looking to better coordinate programs; find cost-effective ways to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loading to waters
  • WV liability deal (re: selenium pollution from mountaintop removal mining operations) has fallen through
  • EPA awards Oklahoma $2+ million in grants to help curtail several types of pollution in watersheds (news coverage)
  • Climate change may dictate new set of best management practices to control dissolved farmland phosphorous runoff
  • Public Comment Sought on Iowa Dept of Natural Resources’ Response to Report on CAFO Permitting & Compliance Program
  • St. Paul light-rail system storm water tree-trench system will reduce runoff pollution in Minnesota
  • CNN Video: Using "mussel power" to clean rivers
  • EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Program "success spotlight" highlights cutting nutrient runoff into Beaver and Doga Creeks, Oklahoma
  • Grist: "Toxic green slime has taken over the lakes of America. Again."
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Senate Committee hears from stakeholders on need for Water Resources Development Act funding and reform; statements here:
  • Senate EPW Committee Chair Boxer hopes to move  Water Resources Development Act forward by end of this year
  • Lock and Dam 27 shutdown halts barges on Mississippi River (Granite City, Illinois)
  • Scientific American: Will Water Become the Chief Commodity of the 21st Century?
  • Civil Society Institute report: demands on increasingly scarce water are major hidden cost of US electricity generation
  • Wetland restoration project will pilot use of American Carbon Registry's offset protocol for Mississippi Delta wetlands
  • Progress steady, but slow on massive Ohio River Olmsted Locks and Dam project
  • Officials losing faith in prospect of federal funding for project to move Missouri River water outside of basin to protect against extended droughts
  • Army Corps of Engineers continues Mississippi River sediment dredging - Businessweek
  • Levees to Be Raised in Two Northeastern Louisiana Parishes
In the States -
  • Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program for Stormwater Management grant applications due by December 14
  • TN DEC Green Development Project (water) grant applications due September 30 (PDF file)
Forestry -
  • U.S. Forest Service abandons Kentucky logging plan for Daniel Boone National Forest amidst negative feedback
  • Opponents of forest thinning and prescribed burning cite recent research in suggesting USFS management changes
  • Journal of Soil and Water Conservation: Agroforestry as a climate change mitigation and adaptation tool for agriculture
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Asian Carp "fish hunter" on
the Illinois River

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  • Changing Landscapes-Despite loss of funding, Missouri's Smithville Grassland Revitalization Project moves forward
  • Illinois River "fish hunters" use pitchforks and water skis to hunt invasive Asian carp
  • Can pallid sturgeon hang on in the overworked Missouri River?
  • Federal study: No high-risk Asian carp paths between Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds
  • Across Mississippi Valley, anglers and exporters are teaming up to develop market for Asian carp and carp products
  • Reps. McCollum and LaTourette introduce legislation to fight Asian Carp in Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Basins
  • Link to McCollum-LaTourette "Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act" (HR 6385)
  • Winnebago County Forest Preserve District spraying herbicides to control invasive black locust trees
  • Three years after fish kill, West Virginia's Dunkard Creek restoring itself
  • New research: created salt marshes do not have 'equivalent biological characteristics' to natural reference sites
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • BP’s post-Isaac beach cleanup plans could threaten wildlife, hasten erosion
  • Wetland restoration project will pilot use of American Carbon Registry's offset protocol for Mississippi Delta wetlands
  • After hurricane, Louisiana demands that BP expand its efforts to look for residual 2010 spill oil
Resource Extraction -
  • US Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) plans to introduce new hydraulic fracturing bill to give states more power to regulate
  • Friday: US House to debate what Dems call "single worst anti-environment bill" media release:  and bill:
  • White House threatens veto of House bill to scuttle environmental rules that GOP calls harmful to coal industry
Federal Budget -
  • White House releases plan explaining how sequester’s mandatory spending cuts will be implemented in 2013
  • Capitol Hill discussions over how to solve the Federal budgetary "fiscal cliff" suddenly swing into action
  • Save the dates: Leadership for Midwestern Watersheds meeting; Oct 31-Nov 1, at the Iowa Soybean Association office, Ankeny, IA
  • Green Lands Blue Waters 2012 Conference, October 15-16; Leopold Center at Iowa State U; Register and more information:
  • The Wetlands Initiative 7th annual native prairie plant seed harvest Sept 22; 9 AM-noon CDT Dixon Waterfowl Refuge IL
  • Mississippi River Network & NWF on-line briefing: link between Farm Bill & healthy Mississippi River; 9/25; 1130 AM EDT
  • Nat Water Quality Monitoring Council webinar:"Water Footprint of Electricity" 9/27 noon EDT (password: burningrivers)
  • 20th Annual Nonpoint Source Monitoring Workshop-Making the Most of Available Resources. Oct 14-17, Tulsa, OK
  • 2012 Water Quality Technology Conference and Exposition; November 4-8, 2012 Toronto, Ontario, Canada
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment launches new web site
  • September 14 issue of "Delta Dispatches" now available, with latest Gulf of Mexico Coastal restoration news
  • The Horinko Group's September "sustainabulletin" now available, includes Mississippi River sustainability perspective
  • World Agricultural Forum Quarterly Newsletter for September 2012 (PDF file)
Other news-
  • Library of Congress unveils legislative website to eventually replace and be accessed on smartphones
  • Mayors shine spotlight on Mississippi River
  • Mississippi River mayors select Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative leadership and begin to build platform
  • Clean Water America Alliance has changed its name to the U.S. Water Alliance
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Great Plains Studies announces Top 10 Great Plains ecotourist sites
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Global forecasts of urban expansion to 2030 and direct impacts on biodiversity and carbon pools
  • "The role of statistics in the analysis of ecosystem services" (PDF file)
  • Chattanooga's Tennessee River "Riverwalk" expansion to focus on industrial history
  • EPA to fund KY, IA, LA, MT and IN capitals to create healthy, prosperous communities through green development
Political Scene -
  • NY Times analysis of most competitive 2012 election House races (interactive U.S. map with clickable districts)
  • House cuts back on work schedule - this week will be final work session for US House before November election
  • Yale Environment 360 compares "sharply divergent views" of President Obama and Mitt Romney on environment and energy
  • Poll shows Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) gaining on former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) in race for Wisconsin's US Senate seat
  • There are some signs Rep. Joe Walsh's (R-IL-8) re-election race vs Tammy Duckworth (D) could still be competitive
Last Word -
"Bill Clinton on the left, and Ronald Reagan on the right . . . understood that governing under the American system meant inclusion, not exclusion, and that to get something done one needs to be able to work with others, even those in the other party." - Judd Gregg, former Governor and three-term Senator from New Hampshire

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