Friday, January 18, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

U.S. Congress in 2013: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Our series previewing the U.S. Congress in 2013 continues this week with an overview of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and its likely work that will be especially relevant to Mississippi River Basin water issues (click here).  The preview includes complete Committee member rosters, highlights new Committee members and those from Mississippi River Basin states, and includes links to Congressional Internet home pages for the Committee's nine Mississippi River Basin senators. (To view our earlier coverage of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, see here).

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Video of ongoing work at Minnesota Falls dam removal on Minnesota River (completion due mid-February)
  • GOP plans for spending offset and reduction amendments to House bill could hinder Hurricane Sandy bill passage
  • Taxpayers for Common Sense analysis of the Sandy disaster relief supplemental bill
  • Conservatives and watchdog groups mount a "not-so-fast" campaign against $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package
  • Expanded Panama Canal sparks race among U.S. ports to be ready for bigger cargo ships
  • Plan to ship thousands of barrels of “fracking” waste on Ohio River barges on hold as Coast Guard deliberates
  • US Army Corps to strengthen substandard segment of New Orleans' Pontchartrain lakefront levee
  • Inspectors taking inventory of flood control systems overseen by federal government find hundreds at risk of failing
  • Missouri River floodplain issues highlighted in "Missouri River: A flood of disagreements has shaped vital waterway"
  • $50 billion Sandy bill splits Republicans but clears the House; Senate will consider next week
January 15 Drought Monitor Map
Click to Enlarge
  • Government drought forecast: snow and rain relieved some areas but much of Midwest; high plains still suffer drought and
  • Heat is gone and shock has faded, but US drought remains, and it is not about to disappear
  • Drought-stoked water wars heating up in Texas, where officials are suing New Mexico and Oklahoma over river water
  • Risk of damage to US corn and soybean crops for second year increasing as drought predicted to persist through April
  • U.S. drought could leave taxpayers with bill of nearly $16 billion in crop insurance costs because of poor yields
Low Mississippi River Levels-
  • Army Corps of Engineers increasingly confident it can keep Mississippi River open to shippers through spring
  • St Louis Post-Dispatch Letter to Editor: Articles about low Mississippi River overstate the problem
  • Army Corps praised by barge industry for averting Mississippi River shipping shutdown
  • Eastern Iowa companies feel varying impacts from low Mississippi River
  • Army Corps very confident that they will be able to sustain Mississippi River navigation for rest of the season
  • Drought-depleted Mississippi River six feet higher at southern Illinois choke point, allowing barges to pass safely
  • Reuters: Vessels on the Mississippi River gearing up for "shipping superhighway" to fully reopen as water levels rise
Farm Bill-
  • National Farmers Union issues media release on crop insurance: Important but Far From Perfect
  • House and Senate Agriculture committee leaders face more difficult Farm Bill budget situation this year than last
Agriculture -
  • Agriculture: Three broadly-used pesticides pose a threat to honeybees
  • New study: replacing  corn with biofuel crops reduces nutrient runoff through subsurface drainage
  • Nitrate-Nitrogen Losses through Subsurface Drainage under Various Agricultural Land Cover scenarios
  • Midwestern US study: Watershed sediment losses to lakes accelerating despite agricultural soil conservation efforts
  • National Farmers Union Policy Committee meets in Washington, D.C., to begin revising organization’s policy
  • Study recommends use of Midwestern marginal lands unattractive for food crops to grow nonfood feedstocks
  • Federal court preserves an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that permits sale of high-ethanol fuel blend
  • EPA Region 7 and 8 officials meet with state agriculture departments' directors; discuss air, nutrient, water issues
  • USDA Secretary: Americans must gain an understanding for the importance and potential of rural areas
In the States -
  • Iowa nutrient runoff pollution plan criticized by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Iowa officials tout their Nutrient Reduction Strategy as the way to reduce Gulf hypoxia
  • EPA Provides Comments on Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy: praises effort: urges additional steps
  • Draft Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is "getting high praise from EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks"
  • Ag Professional e-magazine: EPA comments on Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy
  • Minnesota state legislators get a crash course in the changes ahead for the state in light of climate change
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • University of Wisconsin study: native eastern US plants flowering as much as a month earlier due to warming climate
  • Cost rises of trying to keep Asian Carp; other aquatic invasives from moving between Mississippi and Great Lakes basins
  • Minnesota Legislature expected to discuss actions to stop further invasive Asian carp advances up the Mississippi River
  • New uses considered for federally-protected Shippingport Island in the Ohio River
  • U.S. Global Change Research Project: Rising temps could change landscape of Midwest U.S.
  • Options to help stop the advance of Asian carp into Minnesota abound, but disputes over choice continue
  • Audubon Nature Institute; San Diego Zoo working on 5-year project to create endangered species habitat near New Orleans
  • Smartphone owners can report invasive species sightings using Midwest Invasive Species Information Network application
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana purchases 11,145 acres of forested wetlands to add to Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area
Resource Extraction -
  • USGS: No water contamination from drilling in Fayetteville Shale natural gas area of Arkansas
  • Wisconsin Republican lawmakers unveil bill to loosen mining regulations; they say bill can generate 1000s of jobs
Federal Budget -
  • Midwesterners accustomed to generous government disaster aid payouts may have to look elsewhere in future
  • White House informs House Budget Committee Chair that it will miss February 4 deadline for sending budget to Congress
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, as a stand-alone calendar.
  • Next Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDS) meeting; January 18, 9-12 CST; MPCA St. Paul, MN office or by webex
  • Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration Meeting; Wooster, OH, April 12-14
  • Assoc of State Floodplain Managers Conference, "Remembering the Past - Insuring the Future", Hartford, CT, June 9 -14
  • 2013 Missouri River Natural Resources Conference and BiOp Forum; March 11-14; Jefferson City, MO
  • Wetland Restoration in Urban Environments; Lisle, Illinois, February 7, 7–8 PM
  • Water Challenge Day during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week to focus on innovative approaches to living with water (3/18)
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Volume 6 of the USGS Cooperative Water Program Quarterly Highlights, January 2013 (pdf file)
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency January 15 issue of Watershed Network News
  • Delta Dispatches January 15 issue with the latest news on Coastal Louisiana restoration efforts
Other news-
  • Doomsday Clock remains at five minutes to midnight on the basis of nuclear, climate change and emerging threats in 2012
  • New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks
  • Anoka County Board supports MN efforts to have Mississippi River Trail through County designated a U.S. bike route
  • Southeast Tennessee Green Infrastructure Handbook for Local Governments; using water to green Tennessee's cities
  • EPA releases fact sheet series on Low Impact Development benefits; addressing obstacles to their wider adoption
Political Scene -
  • Minnesota GOP faces long, rocky road to recovery by 2014
  • USGS Director McNutt to step down in February
  • US Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to step down at the end of March
  • Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire frequently mentioned as possible new Obama Administration Interior or EPA head
  • A look at Iowa's 2104 Congressional races: Braley’s Gubernatorial Aspirations and Harkin’s Re-Election Decision
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will probably not face a credible primary challenger in 2014
Last Word - "'What dust we raise,' said the fly upon the chariot wheel." - Aesop

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