Friday, January 11, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

U.S. Congress in 2013: The Agriculture Committees
The week we launch the first in a series of previews of U.S Congressional committees of particular relevance to Mississippi River Basin water resource issues with a preview of the House and Senate agriculture committees. In addition to this appetizer, for complete Committee member rosters, highlighting new Committee members and those from Mississippi River Basin states and districts (including links to Congressional Internet home pages for Mississippi River Basin members) you can click here.

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
Chaired by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with newly-appointed Ranking Member Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), this Committee will spend much of 2013 doing what it did in 2012: attempting to get a final, comprehensive Farm Bill passed out of Congress and sent to the President's desk. Stabenow had forged a good working relationship over the years with the former Ranking Member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who was replaced this Congress by Cochran. The shift in the Committee's GOP leadership will likely mean a shift in the fortunes of southern farm landowners and producers, as Cochran is expected to be a strong advocate on the Committee for that region's interests. Southerners on the Committee opposed the Senate's 2012 version of the Farm Bill, largely because it ended direct payments to their growers, while shifting farm program payments to insurance-like provisions that they say favored corn and soybean producers of the Midwest.

House Agriculture Committee
Like its Senate counterpart, the House Agriculture Committee's 2013 agenda will be dominated by the Farm Bill. Having failed to usher passage of a Farm Bill in 2012, the House Agriculture Committee is poised to once again attempt passage in 2013, starting anew, as it were, in a fiscal climate dictated by the ongoing fiscal cliff deliberations that will hold most of Congress's political attention at least through March (Neither the Senate nor the House committee will actually start from scratch, however, likely beginning 2013's activity using their respective 2012 bills as templates).

Last year's major area of Farm Bill disagreement among Committee members was ideological, centering on spending cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which accounts for over half of the Farm Bill's total budget. The SNAP payment issue will be sucked into the fiscal cliff debate as that cliff reemerges as a major political issue following the President's inauguration, significantly informing the Farm Bill direct payment, SNAP and risk management deliberations on the House side, as well as in the Senate.

The Committee is lead by its Chair, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK-3) and Ranking Member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7).

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner targets EPA in criticism about Floyds Fork nutrient reduction plan
  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance responds in its blog to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner's Floyds Fork EPA criticisms (see the article, above)
  • Federal judge signs off on mediators who will determine damages over Kingston TN coal ash spill
  • Methylmercury levels spiked in Tennessee rivers after 2008 coal ash spill
  • Five South Dakota projects recommended for EPA Section 319 grants to reduce nonpoint sources of water pollution
  • US District Court: EPA does not have the statutory authority to use stormwater flow as a surrogate for sediment pollution
  • Ohio farmers are being urged by Farm Bureau to reduce manure and fertilizer runoff or face federal regulations to do so
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • The Nature Conservancy op-ed: Water’s 'fiscal cliff' is no pretty waterfall
  • Supreme Court decides to intervene over a Texas - Oklahoma water dispute
  • Government Accountability Office: FEMA needs to make mapping of tribal lands in flood-prone areas a higher priority
  • Army Corps of Engineers releases revised $10.3 billion proposal to build the Morganza to the Gulf levee (Louisiana)
  • Bigger, better physical model of Mississippi River to be built at LSU
  • Columbus, Ohio officials and the Ohio Nature Conservancy strive to protect Columbus wetlands
  • Missouri River Forecast Center expects lower than normal chances of flooding across much of River Basin this year
January 8 U.S. Drought Monitor Map
Click to Enlarge
  • Weekly drought monitor report (NOAA, USDA, DoC): Plains remain tightly gripped by severe drought; Midwest remains dry
  • Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas rains should provide drought relief; but generally worst-hit areas remain in sad shape
  • Little sign of easing in US's "big dry"
  • 2012 hottest year on record in contiguous U.S., NOAA says
  • 2012 drought that ravaged U.S. corn and soybean crops, spurring record prices, poised to persist well into 2013
  • Reuters: USDA declares drought disaster in much of Wheat Belt
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture makes first drought disaster designations in 2013; 597 counties
  • If water levels on Lake Michigan continue to drop, the Chicago River (Illinois River Basin) could reverse itself
Low Mississippi River Levels-
  • NPR's On Point program takes a close look at the “Drought And The Mississippi"
  • Rain to keep water levels high enough to avert Mississippi River barge traffic shutdown before expected February rise
  • On a low-water stretch of the Mississippi River, the U.S. Coast Guard has been reduced to playing traffic cop
  • Despite low water levels, Mississippi River should remain open to barge traffic at least through end of January
  • Barge operators: Drought puts at risk gains from recent emergency Mississippi River dredging and rock removal
In the States -
  • Fiscal cliff deal leaves states' environmental agencies uncertain about level of federal funding they will receive
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency accepting proposals for Clean Water Partnership grant and loan funding
  • Iowa extends comment period on controversial plan to cut pollution running down Mississippi River to Gulf of Mexico
  • EPA provides comments on contentious Iowa nutrient reduction strategy (PDF file of EPA letter)
Farm Bill-
  • Farm Bill's largest conservation program faces an uncertain future under terms of nine-month extension
  • House Agriculture Committee cancels tentative plans to draft a new farm bill in the near future
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chair will proceed with new farm bill; not waiting for House Agriculture Committee to act and
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board: Farm Bill extension is "giant step in the wrong direction”
  • Eastern SD drought will most likely have greater effect on farmers than Congress’ inability to pass a new Farm Bill
  • Rice industry pleased that direct payments are still available due to the extension of the 2008 farm bill
  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): good chance of Senate Farm Bill passage; House passage more problematic
Agriculture -
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Mississippi Gopher Frog
  • Minnesota DNR recommends Asian carp barrier based on bubbles and flashing lights on Mississippi River at Minneapolis
  • Nebraska environment report favors revised Keystone XL pipe plan that avoids sensitive Sand Hills region
  • Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission votes to add Mississippi gopher frog to state's endangered species list
  • MS and AR Congressional delegations want U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow hunting over rolled rice fields
  • Invading Species Can Extinguish Native Plants Despite Recent Reports to Contrary
Resource Extraction -
  • Companies posed to take up diamond exploration and mining in North Dakota
  • Residents near Central Illinois coal mine frustrated with reclamation pace; worried about potential pollution
Federal Budget -
  • Obama administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal is expected to be late this year, possibly not out until March
  • Federal government is facing the threat of three major fiscal disasters in the coming months
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed on the on-line calendar on the Blog page (above) and here.
  • Call for Abstracts for 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology now open (July 21-25 2013 in Baltimore, MD)
  • 2013 International Low Impact Development Symposium; U of MN; August 18-21, Saint Paul RiverCentre, Saint Paul, MN
  • Sustainable Water Management Conference; American Water Works Association; Nashville, TN - April 7-10
  • Webinar: Soil Role in Processing Pollutants: Green Infrastructure; Carbon Sequestration Case Studies; Jan 24, 5-6 EST
  • Save the dates: NCER - The National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration; Chicago, IL, July 29-August 2
  • Webinar: Water Quality Monitoring for Public Health; February 5, 2 PM EST (session password is "healthy")
  • Webinar: Hydroponic nutrient reduction in Upper Mississippi River floodplain levee districts; January 16; 12-1:30 PM ET
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
  • New study: Up to half of the food produced worldwide is wasted 
  • Government Accountability Office launches searchable database allowing look-up of policy issues and related reports
  • City of Cincinnati, Ohio now offering $5 million in green roof loans
  • 1 Mississippi Campaign looks to fill summer intern positions in Minnesota, Illinois/Missouri and Tennessee
  • President Obama likely to nominate outgoing Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire as new USEPA head
Political Scene -
  • Information on the new faces in the 113th congress sortable by state, party, gender and chamber
  • River Basin politics: Ron Paul supporters are expected to effectively take over the Iowa Republican Party on Saturday
Last Word -
Genghis Khan
“Root canals, NFL replacement referees, head lice, Canadian rock band Nickelback, colonoscopies, carnies (that is, carnival employees), traffic jams, Donald Trump, France, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen, Washington political pundits and brussels sprouts.” The list, reported by Time’s Matt Peckham, of those things that are more popular than Congress (which got a 9 percent approval rating in a weekend Public Policy Polling survey of 880 voters). Peckham added, “It wasn’t all bad news for Congress, however; the elected body still managed to beat out John Edwards, lobbyists, telemarketers, the Kardashians, North Korea, Lindsay Lohan, playground bullies, Fidel Castro, meth labs, communism, gonorrhea and the Ebola virus.”

No comments:

Post a Comment