Friday, March 8, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Mississippi River Basin Asian Carp Management is Focus of Capitol Hill Symposium; Recent Legislation
Asian carp management in the Mississippi River Basin was the topic of discussion at a March 6, Capitol Hill "Asian Carp Awareness Symposium" in conjunction with National Invasive Species Awareness Week and Great Lakes Days.  The Symposium focused on  Federal, state, local, nonprofit and private coordinating efforts and responses to combat invasive Asian carp in the Ohio River, Upper Mississippi River, Lower Mississippi River, Missouri River and Great Lakes basins.  Legislation that has been recently introduced in the U.S. House and Senate was also addressed by several Symposium speakers, including two sponsors of one of those bills, who stressed that the legislation would assist Asian carp control efforts.  To read more details on this issue, the Symposium and the pending legislation, see here.

Who Are the Federal Agency Sequestration "Winners" and "Losers?" - To Be Determined
Based upon the "no shutdown" rhetoric coming out of last Friday's White House meeting among Congressional leaders and the President, the potential for an end-of-March, Federal government shutdown is practically nil (especially since the President has also told Democratic leaders in the Senate not to threaten a shutdown). The main question remaining, then, is whether the inevitable spending bill, or Continuing Resolution, will replace the sequestration cuts (that went into effect late last week) with some other budget numbers, for what amounts and for which agencies. Some Federal agencies may end up with more money to spend through the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, and some less. Picking the "winners" and "losers" will be the crux of the congressional debate between now and March 27: the last date for any spending legislation before the current spending authority lapses. In reality, since March 22 is the last date that Congress is scheduled to be in session prior to a two-week-long spring recess, the next spending deal will likely be hashed out by then.  You can read more detailed news on this issue under the "Federal Budget" heading, below.

Dubuque Brings It's Mississippi River-Focused Agenda to Washington, DC
Representatives of City of Dubuque, Iowa and the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism visited Washington, DC this week for their annual trip to bring the Mississippi River city's and region's business "voice . . . to Iowa's federal legislative delegation in Washington."  The Chamber's message to federal lawmakers, as well as the strategic policy recommendations underlying that message, reflect on the city's Mississippi River heritage, and was one advocating for federal policies that assist with economic development while assuring long-term sustainability.  To read more of Dubuque's legislative agenda and River-based sustainability approach, see this article.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Environmental Science & Technology paper: Aging US sewer systems release considerable nitrogen into urban watersheds
  • Wetland management reduces sediment; nutrient loading to Upper Mississippi River;  Journal of Environmental Quality (abstract)
  • Researchers tracking the amount of saline runoff into Minnehaha Creek (MN) (Mississippi River tributary)
  • Farm Press Blog editorial : "Louisiana ag braces for new hypoxia challenge"-agriculture is "convenient whipping boy"
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • KS and MO landowners with 2011 flood-damaged property viewing Supreme Court ruling as opening to sue US government
  • Congressional Research Service: National Flood Insurance Program: Status and Remaining Issues for Congress (PDF file)
  • Brookings policy proposal: how National Flood Insurance and other federal disaster relief programs could be reformed
  • Mississippi River breaks through banks in Louisiana, reconnecting itself with old canal and its wetlands
  • U.S. Army Corps:  Mississippi River rock removal project near Thebes and Grand Tower, IL completed
  • Mississippi River water levels on the rise going into spring; barges are carrying full loads again
  • Low Mississippi River water levels are hurting Jefferson County, Missouri towns
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee begin series of Water Resources Development Act listening sessions
  • Federal judge continues a 2005 injunction that prohibits transfer of Missouri River water into Hudson Bay watershed
  • With likely second year of drought ahead, Army Corps to soon start Missouri River sandbar vegetation control work
March 5 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
  • Little change in Plains and Midwest drought conditions as water remains locked in snow or out of frozen ground
  • Drought-stricken Plains farmers 'giddy' over heavy snow
  • USDA and Iowa State Climatologist: just 13 % of Iowa’s soils report adequate moisture despite snows
Farm Bill-
  • New Congressional Budget Office estimate: 2012 Farm Bill drafts save $9-10 Billion less than originally thought
  • Writing new farm bill just got harder with Congressional Budget Office's downgrading of promised Farm Bill savings
  • Journal of Soil and Water Conservation: Farmer support for extending Conservation Compliance beyond soil erosion
Agriculture -
  • Crop insurance is now on the verge of becoming the primary means of supporting farm income
  • Hamburger or Hummus? Free online course on food system sustainability
  • House Ag Committee questions USDA Secretary Vilsack on plans to implement the sequester (testimony; webcast)
  • Farm Foundation Forum highlights new report: “Developing a New Vision for US Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation”
  • Dept. of Agriculture should benefit from Senate changes to House's fiscal 2013 spending bill
  • 173-acre Illinois farm sells for $15,375 per acre in a transaction billed as a new record for the area
In the Cities -
  • Dubuque, Iowa representatives bring their Mississippi River-focused agenda and history to Washington, DC (story above)
Forestry -
  • House Ag Committee to hold March 13 hearing on National Forest Management Impacts on Rural Economies; Communities
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Unprecedented confluence of myriad environmental issues threatens Minnesota's natural resources and heritage
  • Songbird use of floodplain and upland forests along the Upper Mississippi River corridor during spring migration (abstract)
  • National Invasive Species Awareness Week recognized in U.S. House
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • U.S. Senators Landrieu (D-LA) and Shelby (R-AL) urge 'robust' Clean Water Act fines for 2010 BP spill
  • Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head: "NOAA folks are just misinformed” on sea level rise
Resource Extraction -
  • Wisconsin study will examine the impact of frac sand mines on water
  • Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment hosts event to focus on hydraulic fracturing in the region
  • North Dakota's economy won't buckle under sequestration cuts, thanks in large part to state's oil and gas boom
Federal Budget -
  • National Journal details how two years of deep cuts to the EPA budget have handicapped the agency
  • White House: Sequestration means 100s of millions of dollars in cuts to environmental, energy and land-use agencies
  • Obama looks to make long-term federal deficit deal with GOP
Fiscal Year 2013
  • House passes legislation that would provide Federal government with discretionary funds for rest of Fiscal Year 2013
  • GOP six-month spending bill attempts to shift money around to alter sequester effects
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chair plans to substantially expand on House GOP six-month, stopgap spending bill
  • Candidates for separate appropriations in Senate’s fiscal 2013 spending bill: Commerce-Justice-Science; Agriculture
  • Senate Democrats unveil their changes to the House bill funding government through September
Fiscal Year 2014
  • In the next weeks, Chairs of Senate and House Budget Committees will roll out competing fiscal year 2104 budgets
  • The Hill reports that the President’s delayed budget for FY 2014 is now expected to be delivered on Monday, March 25
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar on this Blog page   and here as a stand-alone calendar
  • 2013 Society of Wetland Scientist International conference will be held in Duluth, Minnesota, June 2-6
  • 14th Annual St. Croix Basin Conference; April 8, University of Wisconsin River Falls; March 27 registration deadline
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
Political Scene -
  • Obama names his three nominees for lead jobs at EPA, Budget Office and the Energy Department
Last Word -
"I hope not." - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), when asked Saturday about the Farm Bill and if it would take another year to pass (at the 22nd Annual Farm Forum at Edison State Community College, Greenville, Ohio).

"I have a bad feeling about this." - Various characters; Star Wars episodes I, II, III, IV, V and VI.

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