Friday, November 9, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Now and Then - What Happened Tuesday (And What Won't Happen Next) 
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Basking in the afterglow of Tuesday's election, we have time to pause and take stock of a few lessons taught (if not learned) from that event, and how they might be relevant to the ongoing pursuit of environmental and economic sustainability in the Mississippi River Basin.  The U.S. Congressional delegation returns next Tuesday to Washington, DC,  and if lame duck history proves to be an accurate predictor, the week on Capitol Hill will be one devoted almost exclusively to leadership elections and incoming congressional member orientations. In these upcoming weeks, congressional leaders will also start to tag members to fill soon-to-be-vacant top positions on several key environmentally-relevant House and Senate committees. With the ideological divide fracturing Congress ever-widening, most legislative initiatives are for all practical purposes politically "toxic."  There is no mandate. Nobody has substantive political leverage. So no one really knows what will happen between now and the holiday recess during the congressional lame duck period (even less so during the first session of the upcoming 113th Congress).  But looking ahead through a post-electoral lens, it's perhaps best not to expect too much legislatively in the near future. Or, to paraphrase former Democratic House Leader Dick Gephardt, lame duck sessions are called lame for a reason. To read more of what happened, what it means and what may come to pass, read our blog analysis, here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • EPA draft Section 319 Nonpoint Source Program and Grant Guidelines for States and Territories available for public review; comment
  • Sewer and water system breakdowns in cash-strapped U.S. cities lead to rate boosting to fund long-needed fixes
  • Louisiana Governor Op-ed: "Key to the dead zone lies hundreds of miles north"
  • Nebraska public hearing focuses on increasing water nitrate levels and nitrogen needs for crop health
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeking comments on a water quality improvement report for Bluff Creek in Chanhassen
  • MPCA seeks comments on water quality improvement report for 3 lakes in Sauk River (MN) watershed and
  • Tennessee Valley Authority releases proposed 'natural recovery' option for part of 5 million cubic yard coal ash spill cleanup
  • St. Joseph County Water Resources Advisory Board (IN) to track how badly county groundwater is contaminated
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps holding meetings to discuss how to manage Missouri River in 2013 with drought and past floods high on agenda
  • GAO Report: "Energy-Water Nexus: Coordinated Federal Approach Needed to Better Manage Energy and Water Tradeoffs"
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  • Drought lingers; Army Corps plans near-term Mississippi River reservoir storage to ease drought; support navigation
  • Worst U.S. drought in decades gets worse in parts of the nation’s midsection
  • Indiana Public Radio: Herbicide residue left after drought could harm winter crops
  • Drought-struck areas of U.S. Plains need a deluge of rain and snow this winter to fully recharge parched farmland
  • U.S. farms need recharged soil moisture after drought
  • Commercial Mississippi River barge traffic south of St. Louis may be restricted; halted next month by drought impacts
Farm Bill-
  • Des Moines Register op-ed: Farm bill needs to link federal crop insurance and conservation compliance
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair Lucas (R-OK):  If Farm Bill pushed into 2013, expect deeper cuts
  • Environmental Working Group and Taxpayers for Common Sense op-ed: "Pass a Fiscally Responsible Farm Bill Extension"
  • Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) ‘job one’ in Washington will be helping to craft farm bill legislation
Agriculture -
  • overview of how membership of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee looks after Tuesday’s election
  • NSAC blog: Election Returns Spell Some Changes for Congressional Agriculture Committee Makeup
  • State says detailed environmental study will not be needed for proposed Gourley Brothers Hog Feedlot (Todd County, MN)
  • Farm Foundation launches new blog "to broaden agriculture and food system conversations"
  • U.S. ethanol production is headed for its first decline in 16 years
  • North Dakota state record for per-acre value of farmland: 80-acre parcel sells for $10,000 per acre
In the States -
  • News article and video review projects being implemented across Minnesota to maintain and improve water quality
Forestry -
  • Louisiana State University Agricultural Center project explores biofuel potential of switchgrass and cottonwood
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Gulf Coastal Region-
Resource Extraction -
  • Frac sand mining is changing the face of rural Wisconsin's landscape physically, economically, politically, permanently
  • Companies across eastern Missouri in recent years have emerged as suppliers of so-called frac sand
Federal Budget -
  • House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) point in different directions on fiscal cooperation
  • House Speaker expects to bridge over fiscal cliff issues this fall
  • Two workshops on water quality trading; November 28 and 29; Washington, DC (both also a webinar)
  • Farm Foundation Forum: What 2012 election means for agriculture, food and rural policy; Washington, DC and webcast 11/14
  • SWCS-sponsored "Building Science Assessments for State-Level Nutrient Reduction Strategies," Nov. 13, Davenport, IA
  • Registration Open for December 4 USEPA Symposium on the Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy (Washington, DC)
  • Organizations partnering on government and nongovernment disaster response and preparedness webinar; December 13
  • ASFPM 37th Annual National Conference, "Remembering the Past - Insuring the Future" June 9 - 14, 2013, Hartford, CT
  • Wisconsin Wetlands Association 18th Annual Wetlands Conference February 12-14, 2013, Sheboygan, WI
  • River Rally 2013 will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, May 17-20, 2013
  • National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: Disasters and Environment; Washington, D.C. January 15-17
  • Winter brings best celebrations along Mississippi River in historic Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois communities
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • New blog on conservation from a social science perspective: "Thinking Like a Human"
  • Association of State Flood Plain Managers News and Views - October 2012 issue
  • Army Corps of Engineers' Fall issue of “Our Mississippi” is now available online
  • Association of State Wetland Managers Monthly News Chronicle - "Wetland Breaking News"
Other news-
  • Ken Burns to co-launch new Mississippi river cruise on the American Queen paddlewheel steamboat
  • EPA could be backlogging up to a dozen new major regulations, completed, and ready to roll out after election
  • Long list of unfinished  Congressional legislative business ensures many items will not be completed in this Congress
Political Scene -
  • Likely administration exits soon for Secretaries Vilsack (Agriculture) and Chu (Energy);  EPA Administrator Jackson
  • U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is set to undergo a significant turnover
  • An overview of how membership of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee looks after Tuesday’s election
  • Here is a handy summary of the new 113th Congress Members elected Tuesday, with links to new Members’ bios
  • Here is an overview of the characteristics of largest freshman Congressional class of the past 12 years
  • Mississippi River corridor's U.S. House districts fall decidedly Democratic in north and Republican in south; map -
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) defeats Republican Rep. Todd Akin (R) to retain her once-precarious U.S. Senate seat
  • Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) defeats Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) for Indiana's open U.S. Senate seat
  • Rancher Deb Fischer (R) defeats former Governor Bob Kerrey (D) in Nebraska U.S. Senate race
  • North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg (R) concedes U.S. Senate contest to former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D)
Last Word - "I think environmentalism has failed as a movement." - David Suzuki, Canadian scientist, broadcaster and environmental activist, speaking this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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