Friday, November 16, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Farm Bill Update
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) indicated earlier in the week that he plans to continue to push a Farm Bill "motion to discharge" effort that he started this summer.  If it gathers enough (218) signatures of supporting House members, the motion would force a  vote on the House floor on the version of the Farm Bill passed earlier this year by the House Agriculture Committee. Beside that piece of “hard” Farm Bill news, absolutely nothing regarding the legislation’s fate is clear. Possibilities abound, and they are summarized here for those who wish to wade into the deep end of Farm Bill policy.  In the meantime, House Speaker John Boehner has indicated that he intends to make a Farm Bill pronouncement by the end of this week. What that announcement will entail is anyone’s guess, but it may shed light on which of the numerous fates awaits the Farm Bill.  Stay tuned.  It should be an exciting ride!

WRDA Update
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing yesterday on the Water Resources Development Act (or "WRDA" - the massive public works bill that periodically authorizes flood control, navigation, and water resource environmental projects and studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). The prospects for passage of any bill during the lame duck session before the end of the year are slim to none, but even more slim and much smaller than none for a bill as complicated and costly as WRDA, which faces a lengthy legislative path in the best of times. To read about WRDA's passage prospects, and of EPW Committee Chair Barbara Boxer's and GOP wishes for the bill, you can click here for our overview. The WRDA hearing web page can be found at this link, where an archived webcast of the session can be viewed, along with opening statements and witness testimony.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Draft EPA nonpoint source program grant guidance no longer requires state's $100 M set-aside for watershed-based plans
  • Journal Nature: "Mixed reviews for US Clean Water Act" at 40 years of age - "spurred progress but problems remain"
  • Op-ed: Gulf of Mexico dead zone "serves as reminder to work together" "Impacts are large if we ignore issues"
  • Groups challenge Florida DEP controversial nutrient water-quality standards plan in case with national implications
  • Carnegie Mellon University Researchers: Monongahela River bromide water-quality problem possibly linked to Marcellus Shale gas drilling is going away
  • High bromide concentrations in Monongahela River returned to normal levels in 2011 and 2102; but not in Allegheny River
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency releases results of  Minnesota River testing that show significant improvements and
  • Twin Cities (MN) could face $1 billion in contaminated storm-water pond sludge cleanup costs
  • Roquette America Inc. to pay $4.1 million penalty to settle Clean Water Act violations in Keokuk, Iowa
  • Iowa corn-processing plant agrees to pay $4.1M for Clean Water Act violations
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency solicits proposals for Surface Water Assessment Monitoring grants (12/14 deadline)
  • USGS releases report: Effects of Urban Development on Stream Ecosystems Across the US ; Fact Sheet and report here:
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Senate EPW Committee hearing focuses on Water Resources Development Act; opening statements and testimony here: (draft  WRDA bill
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) calls for reforms to Army Corps in next Water Resources Development Act
  • Rethinking Waterfronts: In storm's wake, cities and builders say construction codes and planning need tightening
  • Waterways groups call upon Congress; Administration to address planned Mississippi River dam water release reductions
  • Army Corps to reduce flow from an upper Missouri River reservoir as drought-related conservation measure
  • Missouri Governor warns Army Corps of Engineers that its Missouri River plans could be economic disaster
  • Research: more intense rainfalls brought about by climate change may help replenish depleted groundwater supplies
  • Dutch province more than 12 feet below sea level has lessons for US flood-prone lands
Drought-  drought monitor map
Click Map to Enlarge
  • Dakotas' residents and officials urge Army Corps to conserve scarce water in upstream Missouri River reservoirs
  • NOAA: Plains and Midwest precipitation beneficial; still long-term hydrologic drought impacts that need to recover
  • Federal government implored to keep enough water flowing for barges in drought-ridden Missouri and Mississippi rivers
  • Low Mississippi River water level could be costly for Illinois coal miners
  • After drought, US farmers scramble to obtain best corn seed this year to ensure they plant a bumper 2013 crop
  • Dust storm in the U.S. Great Plains resulting from drought observed from space (October 18)
Farm Bill-
  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance op-ed on need to maintain Farm Bill conservation programs for clean water benefits
  • 43 organizations urge House Speaker to complete a full five-year Farm Bill this year to sustain conservation
  • Over 230 agriculture and conservation groups send letters to House leaders urging 2012 farm bill vote
  • Environmental Working Group and Taxpayers for Common Sense argue for Farm Bill extension instead of new bill
  • Environmental Working Group: "Meet the New Dust Bowl, Same as the Old Dust Bowl"
  • Media release from the Mississippi River Network: "Urgency Grows for a New Farm Bill"
  • Op-ed by Kentucky Waterways Alliance: "Kentucky Voices: Farm bill must continue to fund clean-water efforts"
  • Rep. Braley (D-IA) will push motion to discharge to force House Farm Bill vote (motion here:
  • Fate of stalled farm bill could hinge on Congressional leaders’ eagerness for its spending cuts to be in a budget deal
  • Boehner and Cantor both say that the House will address nascent Farm Bill; the question is, "how?"
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair: Farm Bill's promise of $35 B in 10-year savings “has gotten somebody’s attention”
  • Recording of Mississippi River Network's Public Opinion Research: Farmers and the Farm Bill webinar is viewable here:
Agriculture -
  • Project between Green Vision Group (ND), Heartland Renewable Energy (IA) looks to use "energy beets" to produce ethanol
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service  Chief White to retire from USDA on Dec. 3; Jason Weller to be Acting Chief
  • Voters in agriculture-dependent North Dakota become first to add (controversial) right to farm in state constitution
  • Des Moines Register editorial: Farming's conservation efforts fall short
  • Author and farmer Wendell Berry's speech on land husbandry and agriculture: "The 50-Year Farm Bill"
  • Farmland values in the heart of U.S. corn-growing country jumped 13% in the three months through Sept 30 (PDF file)
In the States -
  • Six Citizen Forums in advance of upcoming Minnesota Environmental Congress, first is Nov. 27; 9:30 AM-12 PM (CST)
  • U.S. EPA has informed Iowa that it may take over Department of Natural Resources lax Clean water Act oversight
  • Loosening mining regulations is at top of Wisconsin state lawmakers' agenda in upcoming two-year session
  • Public Comments Sought for Illinois EPA’s Stormwater Runoff Standards; November 30 deadline
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • 3 draft Aquatic Pathway Assessment Reports released for IN as part of Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study
  • New Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill restoration projects target bird, turtle nesting sites (PDF file)
  • U.S. Senate floor schedule for the week includes consideration of sweeping  S. 3525, the Sportsmen Act
  • Asian carp invasion reaches Louisville, Kentucky on Ohio River
  • Louisiana: Biologists release thousands of fish into Pearl River in spill recovery effort
  • "Water Woes: How dams, diversions, dirty water and droughts put US wildlife at risk" (PDF file)
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • BP reaches $4.5 billion settlement with the U.S. government for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill
Resource Extraction -
  • Ashley Judd, mountaintop removal coal mining and Kentucky politics-all mentioned in one article!!!
  • Beleaguered Kentucky coal industry political muscle may not be so feeble after all
  • Friction over fracking sand mining develops in Wisconsin
  • 100s of oil and gas industry officials headed to Pittsburgh for 2012 Developing Unconventional Gas Conference
Federal Budget -
  • November 30, Washington DC briefing to focus on new USGS findings on the effects of urbanization on streams
  • Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" premiers on PBS stations Sunday, November 18, and Monday, November 19 8 –10 p.m. ET
  • Call For Papers: Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference; February 28 - March 3, 2013, Lexington, KY
  • EPA, Water Environment Federation, World Resources Institute presenting water quality trading workshop; Nov 28-29
  • DeSoto Wildlife Refuge to host Art of the Wild Show/Sale; Nov. 17 -18; focus on MO River basin & Great Plains wildlife
  • Watershed Academy webinar: “How’s My Waterway? and Other Water Quality Apps” Nov. 28, 1 to 3 pm EST
  • Call for Proposals for SER's 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration closes December 1
  • The Upper Mississippi River Basin Association has posted its November 28-29, St. Paul, MN meeting packets online
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Weekly newsletter from the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • November newsletter for the Mississippi River Network's 1 Mississippi campaign (this month with a Farm Bill focus)
  • November issue of American Farmland Trust's E-news
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's November "Waterfront Bulletin"
Other news-
  • Mississippi River groups invite Grafton, Illinois mayor to speak on behalf of River support at two events
  • Groups continue efforts to restore a section of the Mississippi River bluffs at the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Climate change is here, even if election skipped it" How it's impacting Wisconsin:
  • CF Industries will spend $3.8 B on new nitrogen fertilizer capacity at Donaldsonville, LA and Port Neal, IA facilities
  • Two companies very close to beginning large-scale, commercial production of cellulosic biofuels
  • Jerseyville, IL subdivision is site of the country’s first LEED Platinum certified affordable housing community
Political Scene -
  • Actress Ashley Judd (D): a challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in 2014?
  • US post-election poll suggests coal and oil interests did not achieve election goals
  • Outgoing Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) says he may run for Illinois governor or U.S. Senate in 2014
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) looking to reclaim top GOP Senate Agriculture Committee spot from Sen. Pat Roberts (KS)
  • U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) intends to remain the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee
Last Word
Click Photo to Enlarge
The Dutch “way of thinking is completely different from the U.S.”  - Wim Kuijken, the Dutch government’s senior official for overall water control policy, speaking on the issue of flood planning and preparation. Kuijken added, "The U.S. is excellent at disaster management.  Working to avoid disaster is completely different from working after a disaster.

(You can also see the location of the aqueduct shown in the photo to the left on this Google Map).

No comments:

Post a Comment