Friday, April 5, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Next up . . .
It was a light, Congressional-recessed week in Washington, DC from a Mississippi River Basin perspective.  But things were percolating behind the scenes, and the remainder of April should see some policy activity that impacts the River Basin and related sustainability issues.  Here is a look ahead to some of those possibly-relevant events.

On April 10, President Obama is scheduled to present his Administration's overdue fiscal year 2014 budget
proposal to Congress. And while Presidential proposals are typically termed "dead on arrival" by the opposing party in Congress, next week's budget will supposedly embody concepts included in a compromise offer that Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in late 2012, including formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, in an effort to demonstrate a willingness to compromise with Republicans on a budgetary "grand solution."  One could argue that something certainly is needed to break the fiscal deal logjam, since the budget resolutions already passed by the U.S. Senate and House present little common ground upon which to start meaningful negotiations.

Staff of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) indicate that in late April the Committee will formally consider its 2013 version of the Farm Bill (see the article, below, under "Farm Bill").  Since the Senate is scheduled to recess for the week of April 29, the Committee's "mark up" session would likely occur before the end of the preceding week.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last month may see Senate floor action during that same last working week in April, according to sources close to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).  WRDA may see floor time after the Senate considers Reid's gun background check bill (S. 649); legislation guaranteed to take up considerable time in its own right.  UPDATE: There is a possibility that the WRDA bill may be considered by the full Senate as early as Wednesday, April 10.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee may wait to formally take up WRDA until after the Senate passes its version.  T&I Committee's Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for April 16 on "The Foundations for a New Water Resources Development Act" (2167 Rayburn House Office Building; 10:00 am).

Other items of note scheduled to occur next week include:
  • An April 10 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Panama Canal expansion (at 2:30 PM, in room 253 Russell Senate Office Building).  Discussions will inevitably circle round to the issue of U.S. port readiness to accommodate post-expansion sized ocean-going vessels (included in the list of ports are those in the lower Mississippi River system).
  • On April 11, having cleared WRDA from its docket, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Gina McCarthy to be the next U.S. EPA Administrator (10:00 am; 4006 Dirksen Senate Office Building).
Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Wisconsin River pollution was a key theme at a University of Wisconsin Wisconsin River symposium
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Obama administration releases USGS report updating an ambitious effort to develop a national water census
  • Lawmakers plan to introduce bill making it "easier" for Army Corps keep Mississippi River shipping channel open
  • St. Louis Public Radio piece: 2 lawmakers say it's time to start thinking of Mississippi and other rivers as systems
  • National Wildlife Federation report: "Changing Course: Why Protecting Floodplains is Good for People and Wildlife"
  • Sioux City, IA declines to join lawsuit against the federal government for its role in 2011 floods
  • Georgia officials step up their bid for access to Tennessee River water
  • US Supreme Court to hear arguments for Texas-Oklahoma case that will determine the future of interstate water rights
  • NY Times: Fracking’s promised job gains, other than in the petrochemical industry, have been slow to materialize
  • Rising waters force Plaquemines Parish, LA residents to choose between high insurance and adaptation costs or moving and
  • Obama administration planning that would allow wastewater from fracking to be shipped on barges fuels debate
  • Lobbyists for Louisiana Terrebonne’s Morganza-to-the-Gulf project push for project support in next WRDA bill
Farm Bill-
  • Senate Agriculture Committee plans to mark up new Farm Bill before end of the month
Agriculture -
  • Residents of two Iowa towns banding together to stop two new hog confinement operations
  • USDA NRCS: With predictions of continuing drought for many states, ranchers prepare for extreme weather
  • Farm Journal editorial: "EPA Again Puts Ag on Defense" with release of CAFO information
  • Report: US agriculture in serious need of better research, data and tools; public support to adapt to climate change
  • North Dakota cropland values increased by about 42 percent during 2012
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center drought update: drought conditions improve across some areas of middle-US
April 2 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
  • National Weather Service: Iowa's drought conditions will improve this year, but how much is still open to debate
  • New polling shows a continuing partisan divide in views of global warming
  • New USGS  map of long-term evapotranspiration should help ensure long-term, sustainable use of water in regions
  • Federal researchers say global warming will make cases of extreme rainfall even more intense and worsen flood risks
In the States -
  • Minnesota Stormwater Manual gets major upgrade with wiki version launch; news:  wiki site:
In the Cities -
  • Aging sewer system and sewer overflows in Springfield, TN virtually halt new building in the city
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • MN DNR searching for Asian carp in Mississippi River near the Twin Cities
  • $16 million Coon Rapids dam construction designed to better block Asian carp from moving up Mississippi River
  • USDA updates its list of the top 15 most invasive creatures in the U.S. that cost $$ billions in ruined crops
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases new video on the science of eDNA (environmental DNA) and Asian carp
  • Editorial: We ought to be able to do better than using Coon Rapids Dam upgrades to stop Asian carp
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Army Corps adds 600+ new acres in Louisiana to Delta National Wildlife Refuge through dredging
  • Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority approves $767.3 million 2014 restoration and protection plan
  • National Wildlife Federation report: Gulf still impacted by 2010 BP oil spill; news: report:
  • LSU spent nearly $1 million on legal fight over firing of coastal researcher critical of Army Corps levee management
  • St. Bernard Parish (LA) Council deliberates issues surrounding various coastal flooding and pollution disasters
Resource Extraction -
  • Unlocking Illinois shale reserve could bring both economic windfall and environmental disaster potential
  • "A Boom With No Boundaries" film explores how Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND) is being affected by oil and gas drilling
  • North Dakota’s recent oil rush has brought jobs and prosperity to the state; writer asks at what price
Federal Budget -
  • White House says President Barack Obama's 2014 budget blueprint to be released April 10
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
  • Wachiska Audubon to host talk on 2011 Missouri River flood; April 11; Lincoln, NE
  • Army Corps to begin Spring water management public meetings in Missouri River basin next week (MT, ND, SD, NE, MO)
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council online National Water Monitoring News (PDF file)
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's April 2 WaterWays e-newsletter link here
  • Weekly Newsletter from EPA's Office of Water: Water Headlines for April 2
Other news-
  • Ohio River Trail Council planning for water trail from Pennsylvania into Ohio and West Virginia
  • Many ecologists now question the oft-held concept that nature is unchanging and humanity is a destroying intruder
Political Scene -
  • Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy will challenge Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in 2014 Louisiana US Senate race
  • Rep. Bill Cassidy could have company soon in GOP race to challenge Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu
Last Word -
"What we want and what we need has been confused." R.E.M. in their song, "The Finest Worksong."  On this date in 1980, the musical group R.E.M. played their first show when they appeared at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia.

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