Friday, November 30, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Republicans and Democrats Approve Many House Committee Leaders; Five From Mississippi River Basin
Republican and Democratic U.S. House members this week ratified many of their respective committee leaders (chairpersons and ranking members) for the 113th Congress that begins in January.  On the Republican side, the returning chairmen of five committees represent districts within the Mississippi River Basin: Agriculture (Frank D. Lucas (R-OK-3)), Appropriations (Harold Rogers (R-KY-5)), Budget (Paul D. Ryan (R-WI-1)), Education and the Workforce (John Kline (R-MN-2)), and Small Business (Sam Graves (R-MO-6)).  There were six newly appointed chairpersons, while thirteen other members will be returning to the same lead committee position that they currently hold.  The chairs of two committees - Ethics and House Administration -  have yet to be named.   Democrats are part way through their process.  On Thursday, they voted for Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) to keep his ranking member status on the Budget Committee. In addition to Van Hollen, Louise Slaughter (D-NY-28) will remain ranking member on the Rules Committee, and Robert Brady (D-PA-1) will return as the ranking member of the House Administration Committee. Votes for the remaining top Democratic ranking member seats are tentatively scheduled for today (Friday). For the most recent list of each House committee, its 113th Congress chairpersons and ranking members, and an accompanying link to each committee's Internet home page, see here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • EPA has recommended new recreational water quality criteria for states to "better protect public health"
  • USEPA updates water quality guidelines for nation's beaches
  • Ohio will see influx of 'Fracking' waste disposal wells
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency releases monitoring and assessment report for Mississippi River-St. Cloud watershed
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency releases a "mixed" report on the Mississippi River watershed in the St. Cloud area
  • Rare low-water testing opportunity on the Minnesota River shows positive results in reducing phosphorus
  • National Research Council: Report: Cleanup of some contaminated U.S. groundwater sites unlikely for decades
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Congress prepares for bailout of National Flood Insurance Program amid Sandy claims that will deepen the Program's debt
  • Bloomberg News: Drought-Parched Mississippi River Is Halting Barges
  • Mississippi River’s low water levels are now a political issue (a year after the River's high flood levels were)
  • Army Assistant Secretary: Army Corps will consider cutting amount of Missouri River water held back from Mississippi
  • Army Corps on Friday began planned reduction of Missouri River flow; expected to worsen Mississippi River low-water
  • Army Corps of Engineers'  flow reduction at Missouri River reservoir sets up conflict with Mississippi River users
  • Businesses and Federal agencies focus on keeping Mississippi River open during low water
  • Shippers and lawmakers pressure President to declare a federal emergency along the Mississippi River due to its low water levels and threat to shipping efficiency
  • American Farm Bureau Federation media release urges President to issue declaration of emergency for Mississippi River
  • Amount of water used by Ohio power plants to produce electricity has decreased by 0.5 trillion gallons/year
  • In the midst of a deep drought, residents battle high water in South Dakota town
NOAA November 27 drought monitor map
(Click to enlarge)
  • NOAA: Mostly dry weather prevailed across the already drought-hit areas of the contiguous U.S. over the past week
  • Worst level of drought in the contiguous 48 U.S. states reaches its highest point in a year
  • Drought disrupts Mississippi River barge traffic but the Ohio River is not impacted, yet
  • NY Times: Drought-reduced water flow could hurt Mississippi River transport
  • As U.S. Midwest drought expands, winter wheat growers lose hope for a profitable season
Farm Bill-
  • "Five year farm bill gets new life" following House and Senate farm bill leader meeting with USDA Sec. Vilsack
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack to meet with Hill players Thursday as pressure grows for Farm Bill resolution before end of year
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow: Farm Bill "very much part of the (Fiscal Cliff deal) discussion right now"
  • Senate Ag Chair Stabenow: White House “very open to" including Senate's $23B in Farm Bill savings in fiscal cliff deal
  • DTN's Jerry Hagstrom: House Agriculture Committee Chair preparing a Farm Bill "backup plan" involving an extension
  • Sen. Grassley: House and Senate farm bill differences can be worked out by Ag Committee leaders in fiscal cliff deal
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Policy Director: "The Five "Ds" of a Farm Bill Extension"
  • Questioning the logic of a possible Farm Bill extension; it would take more work than passing a new bill
Agriculture -
  • Latest rumors have Tom Vilsack staying on as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
  • Mississippi River Collaborative offers ideas concerning Minnesota's new agricultural pollution "certainty" plan (press release PDF file)
  • Mississippi River Basin Initiative "lets land along Mississippi River return to nature"
  • 2012 US net farm income forecast to decline slightly ($4 billion) from last year's record and
  • Researchers: Climate change increases stress and the need for restoration on grazed U.S. public lands
  • U.S. about to see a boom in nitrogen fertilizer production.
  • Obama debt deal proposal contains some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but is short on detail
In the States -
  • Kentucky's Governor Beshear administration to pay $270,000 to its fired director of mine permits
  • Iowa DNR seeks more environmental inspectors to monitor livestock operations and other water pollution point sources
Forestry -
  • University of Minnesota conducting invasive Emerald Ash Borer  three-year flight and cold tolerance research
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Journal of Wildlife Management: "Annual and seasonal survival of trumpeter swans in the upper Midwest"
  • Army Corps looking to close Indiana wetlands' pathway where invasives can cross between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds
  • Bill to improve wildlife habitat; expand hunting and fishing access to federal lands defeated in U.S. Senate
  • Senate derails popular outdoors bill over fight about how to count a proposed $10 increase in duck stamp prices
  • Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study 90-Day Interim Report Released to Congress
  • Army Corps of Engineers releases eight draft Wisconsin Aquatic Pathway Assessment Reports for comment (invasives)
  • Journal of Functional Ecology new "Invasions and Infections" special feature articles:
  • Environmental Defense Fund's habitat credit exchange aims to keep lesser prairie chicken off endangered species list
  • EPA settles Clean Water Act case for wetlands violations (filling in wetlands) in West Virginia (Ohio River Basin)
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Gulf Coast states at odds over potential allocation of civil and criminal penalties from BP oil spill
Resource Extraction -
  • GAO: Coal will remain "key fuel source" but industry's power generation share will decline; especially in Appalachia
Federal Budget -
  • Fiscal cliff deal emerging and "here’s what to expect"
  • House and Senate on track to adopt continuation of internal prohibitions on earmarks this month
  • Washington Post: Everything you wanted to know about the fiscal cliff but were afraid to ask
  • Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) declares the fiscal cliff talks at an "impasse;" derides Obama's "road show"
  • Boehner, House GOP reject debt deal offer from White House
  • Webinar: Watershed Restoration Analysis and Integration with Urban Planning- December 6 (cost: $79)
  • 2013 International Congress for Conservation Biology- July 21-25, 2013; Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; October 6-11, 2013
  • Register to watch December 4, Webcast of EPA Symposium: "Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy"
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
  • Amtrak has begun running trains at 110 miles per hour on part of its Chicago-to-St. Louis route
  • University of Toledo researchers attempt to make process of turning algae into fuel more efficient and profitable
Political Scene -
  • Illinois House approves setting special election to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) for April 9
  • Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia (R-WV-2) announces that she will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014
  • Democrats are threatening to change U.S. Senate filibuster rules in what will likely prompt a GOP revolt
  • Harry Reid's plan would have filibustering senators actually speaking on floor but many resist
  • No women will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress
  • House Republican leaders pick six new committee chairmen, with Lamar Smith (R-TX) chairing the Science Committee
Last Word 
The whole government, and the Democrat party, the Republican party - they’re all dinosaurs.” U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-13), in an interview with The Fold.

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