Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week - Early Edition

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Mississippi River Basin Events Calendar Launched
The Northeast-Midwest Institute's Mississippi River Basin Blog has launched an on-line "Mississippi River Basin Events Calendar," which will list information on upcoming meetings, workshops, webinars, briefings, conferences and other events that might be of interest to those with a stake in the sustainable economy and environment of the River Basin.  The calendar (link here and also placed at the top of our Blog page) will be routinely updated with events that are also listed weekly in the Blog's "Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week." Calendar information will include the event name, location and dates, as well as a link to follow for additional event information. If you or your organization have an appropriate event that you would like to have listed on the calendar, please contact your FNB with the relevant details.

Congressional Leaders Announce 2013 Legislative Calendars
House 2013 Calendar
(click to enlarge)
Congressional leaders announced legislative calendars earlier this week for 2013 that (unlike recent years) match each other quite closely.  In fact through the first ten months of 2013, they match each other exactly.  The first day of the Congressional 2013 session will be Thursday, January 3, as required by the Constitution. Scheduled recesses in both chambers of Congress will fall on the weeks of February 18 (beginning on Presidents Day), March 25, April 5 (including both Passover and Easter), April 29, May 27 (beginning on Memorial Day), July 1 (including Independence Day), and October 14 (starting on Columbus Day).  The summer recesses for both the House and Senate will begin on August 5 and last five weeks until the Monday (September 9) following Labor Day.  For a full listing of scheduled recesses, and days in session for 2013, here are links to the respective House and Senate calendars.

Republicans and Democrats Complete Appointments of 113th Congress House Committee Leaders
Republicans and Democrats have, for the most part, completed the task of assigning top House committee leadership rolls for the 113th Congress that begins on January 3.   Eight of the 42 total committee leadership slots (or 19%) will be filled by House members who represent districts falling within the Mississippi River Basin, including the returning chairmen of five committees: 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)).  On the Democratic side, the ranking members of three committees represent districts within the Basin: Agriculture (Colin Peterson (D-MN-7)), Homeland Security (Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2)), and Transportation and Infrastructure (Nick Rahall II (D-WV-3)).  For the most recently updated 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 -
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment: state has failed to care for its surface waters; asks for USEPA intervention
  • Iowa's water pollution control plan "could prove costly"
  • Acid mine pollution and related heavy metals found in Letcher County, Kentucky streams
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • In wetlands case, U.S. Court of Appeals upholds Army Corps permit for Kansas railroad facility construction
  • Supreme Court rules US government not exempt from damages for water release from Clearwater Lake (Black River in MO)
  • Supreme Court rules against government in flooding case; saying flooding constituted a "taking"
  • U.S. Solicitor General recommends that U.S. Supreme Court hear a Red River (Oklahoma) water compact lawsuit
  • German American Water Technology Initiative focuses on Great Lakes, Mississippi & Missouri rivers, Ogallala Aquifer
  • Western Governors' Association report offers a set of interbasin water transfer policy considerations (covers much of the western half of the Mississippi River Basin)
  • Importing water from Missouri River to semi-arid Colorado emerges as an option western states are considering
Latest Available Drought Monitor Map
(Click to Enlarge)
  • Past week: Areas of dryness and drought remained unchanged for most of Plains and Mississippi River Valley (NOAA)
  • Tenacious U.S. drought worsens, and is expected to last through the winter
  • Iowa State U Extension: unlikely that subsoil moisture will be fully replenished by beginning of 2013 planting season
  • National Drought Mitigation Center at University of Nebraska-Lincoln functions to reduce vulnerability to drought.
  • Drought shifts Mississippi River region from a "Waterworld to water wars"
  • Iowa water deficit will last to spring; utilities may have to implement or increase conservation
Low Mississippi River Levels
  • Chances good that Mississippi River at St. Louis will fall beneath its record low set 72 years ago
  • Army Corps of Engineers moves forward with plan to demolish Mississippi River rock formations using dynamite
  • Water Wars Pit Dakotas Against Barges for Missouri Flow
  • More groups ask President Obama to act on low Mississippi River water levels
  • America's main aquatic artery - the Mississippi River - may soon be too shallow for barge shipping -- that may choke trade but benefit wildlife
  • Mississippi River may hit record low, halt traffic in December
  • Water fight: Drought, farming, fracking and the Midwest's tense shipping situation
  • Barge industry: Mississippi River traffic will stall even if Army Corps decides to release more Missouri River water
  • American Waterways Operators estimates that low Mississippi River and possible barge traffic halting threatens 20,000 jobs
  • Montana Governor asks White House to reject calls for more water releases from Missouri River reservoirs
  • South Dakota’s congressional delegation urges President to deny recent requests to aid Mississippi River navigation
  • NPR: Water levels dangerously low on the Mississippi River
  • River industry: Army Corps' anti-drought efforts hurt Mississippi River commerce
  • Mississippi River is feeling effects of scarce rainfall, making it harder to transport goods up and down river
Farm Bill-
  • NSAC Blog: “Path to the 2012 Farm Bill: Is a Deal Possible and What Would A Good Deal Look Like?”
  • R Street Institute: possible deal to address fiscal cliff that includes farm bill is "wrong vehicle" to pass farm bill
  • USDA Secretary: House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders agree on need to get 5-year farm bill through Congress
  • $300 billion from mandatory spending cuts in Republican fiscal cliff counteroffer includes farm subsidies
  • White House and House Republicans hold surprisingly similar goals about farm bill cuts to include in fiscal cliff deal
  • House and Senate farm bill leaders meet amid signs of progress over commodity title differences
  • House and Senate agriculture leaders may be working out their two farm bills' differences behind the scenes
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chair says she will consider higher food stamp program cuts to get farm bill passed
Agriculture -
  • NPR op-ed: "Something strange"- corn farms intentionally create "a biological desert to produce food for one species: us"
  • National Wildlife Federation releases its Roadmap to Increased Cover Crop Adoption
  • DuPont breaks ground on large cellulosic biorefinery in Iowa (will be world's largest)
  • You've heard of peak oil—Are we heading toward "peak fertilizer?"
  • Op-ed on "Agriculture and conservation" questions merits of "petro/chemical/industrial model of agriculture"
  • USDA Economic Research Service: “Economic and Financial Conditions Bode Well for U.S. Agriculture”
  • House Agriculture Committee Chairman announces new Republican Members to serve on the Committee in the 113th Congress
In the States -
  • Minnesota is taking a closer look at its environmental problems, issues and laws in the coming weeks
Forestry -
  • Even if Minnesota's drought ended soon, the past two dry summers may have already cut future Christmas tree yields
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • A low Mississippi River means large fish catches (both size and numbers of fish) for anglers
  • Sen. Brown introduces bill to fight Asian carp Ohio River Basin invasion -House bill companion:
  • Interior Department initiates process leading toward possible Endangered Species Act protection for the lesser prairie chicken
  • New green group push to block bill provision that would ban EPA from regulating lead in ammunition and fishing tackle
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana lining up major coastal restoration projects to undertake with millions in BP oil spill fine money
  • USDA has committed more than $0.5 billion to Gulf coastal region recovery since 2010; nearly 20% related to BP spill
Resource Extraction -
Frac Sand Mining Locations
(Click to Enlarge)
  • Mining for fracking sand creates wealth and friction across western Wisconsin and southern Minnesota; article: (map:
  • For many a possibly reclaimed 64-acre mine would disrupt tranquility of nearby St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (MN)
  • University of Tennessee plans to hydrofrac for natural gas in its won research forest; and then study the environmental impacts
Federal Budget -
  • Fiscal cliff talks still in the dark, with private, closed-door meetings the rule
  • House Republican leaders make counteroffer to President Obama in fiscal cliff negotiations
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed on the on-line calendar embedded within our Blog page and as a separate calendar here
  • Minnesota Erosion Control Association Conference; March 5-7, 2013 St. Cloud
  • "Turtles: Secrets of the Shell" due to open in Spring 2013 at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
  • Registration for NOAA's Coastal GeoTools 2013 is open; March 25-28 2013, Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Assoc for Environmental Studies and Sciences Annual Meeting-"Linking Rural and Urban Societies and Ecologies" June 2013
  • State Nutrient Reduction Strategies Webinar: Implementing the 4Rs: Engagement, Resources and Examples; Dec. 12
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign's December 6 issue of Delta Dispatches
Other news-
  • EPA's Technology Innovation and Field Services Division updates its Citizens Guides to Innovative Cleanup Technologies
  • The global water crisis – caused by drought, flood and climate change – is less about supply than poor planning
  • Literature research demonstrates minimal scientific uncertainty over climate change
  • USDA's National Agricultural Library's Special Collections houses rare agriculture-related books, manuscript collections, etc.
  • Obama administration America's Great Outdoors Initiative progress report (report PDF:
  • U of WI's new on-line site compiles research, education and outreach activities related to water and water resources
Political Scene -
  • Louisiana GOP Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. and Jeff Landry meet in Saturday runoff for the LA 3rd district US House seat
  • Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO-8) retiring from US House in February to run the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Emerson resignation sets off "scramble" in Missouri for soon to be vacant 8th district House seat-very safe GOP turf
  • South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) plans run for U.S. Senate in 2014, taking on Sen. Tim Johnson (D)
  • Congressional leaders announce 2013 legislative calendars; Senate and House calendars match through first 10 months
  • Speaker adds woman to House committee chair ranks: Rep. Miller (R-MI) to chair House Administration Committee
  • Rep. Huelskamp (R-KS-1) loses seats on House Agriculture Committee and Budget Committee; he calls move "vindictive"
  • At least seven well-known Democrats will run in 2013 special primary for former Rep. Jackson’s Illinois U.S House seat
  • Actress Ashley Judd is seriously exploring a 2014 run against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky
Last Word
Organisms found in an Iowa cornfield:
an ant, one mushroom, a cobweb
spider, a half eaten crane fly,  a red mite  

and some grasshoppers.
"I listened and heard nothing, no bird, no click of insect.  It felt like another planet entirely."  - Craig Childs, National Public Radio commentator and science writer, speaking of his experience while spending two nights and three days this past summer in the middle of a 600-acre corn farm in Grundy County, Iowa.

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