Friday, May 10, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Farm Bill Resources
The House and Senate Agriculture Committees will be holding mark-up sessions next week on their respective versions of the farm bill (Here is the Senate bill; and here, the House bill).  The Senate Committee will consider its bill during a May 14, 10 AM meeting, and the House Committee in a May 15 session.  This is only the beginning of a lengthy legislative process of crafting and passing a comprehensive farm bill. Here is a link to a compendium of on-line resources you may find useful during the farm bill considerations over the next days, weeks and months, including links to bills, hearings, legislator's contacts and more.  You can see many more related news links below, under "Farm Bill."

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Water Quality -
  • EPA committed to study and development of Total Maximum Daily Load of nutrients in Illinois River watershed
  • Fathead minnow acquires an outsized importance for researchers studying endocrine disruption
  • Environmental groups petition EPA to set numeric conductivity standard for waters near mountaintop mines
  • Conservation, citizen groups to file lawsuit to halt hog farm construction in Arkansas' Buffalo National River basin
  • Media coverage on Kentucky Waterways Alliance, others' petition to the EPA to adopt a conductivity standard
  • EPA approves Pennsylvania’s 2012 list of impaired waters under Clean Water Act; 263 are newly added to list of 7,009
  • Operator of uncertified West Virginia coal slurry dam has until June 3 to certify structure as sound
  • City of Grand Island, Nebraska wastewater plant accused of polluting surface water; lawsuit threatened
  • $120 million facility will treat mercury-contaminated water at Oak Ridge (TN; head of East Fork Poplar Creek)
  • House lawmakers support funding of EPA pilot projects to integrate wastewater and stormwater infrastructure planning
  • Supporters step up efforts to save EPA clean water and drinking water state revolving funds from spending cuts
  • Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) asks Exxon CEO to explain contradictory statements on 210,000 gallon Arkansas oil spill
  • How mussel farming could help to clean polluted surface waters

Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -

Water Resources Development Act
  • Senate approves four Water Resources Development Act amendments; final vote could be next week
  • Senate takes up Water Resources Development Act but it faces high level opposition
  • Obama administration objects to Vitter-Boxer Water Resources Development Act proposal
  • White House releases statement on Senate WRDA - "is deeply concerned with the project permitting provisions"
  • Proposed Senate Water Resources Development Act provisions to speed water projects riles critics
  • Boxer defends her deal with Vitter to streamline environmental oversight of Army Corps of Engineers in WRDA bill

Other Water Resource News
  • Despite a wet April, snowmelt lags and the amount of water flowing into the Missouri River remains below average
  • House Members push Army Corps in letter to use port taxes to improve US harbors; not fill funding gaps
  • Coast Guard has closes portion of Mississippi River near its confluence with Missouri River after barges break free
  • As climate drives US breadbasket northward, farm commodity transportation shifts away from Mississippi River options
  • Representatives from 14 Louisiana parishes head to Washington, DC to rally for flood insurance cost relief
  • Government leaders from across South Louisiana working to build flood insurance coalition to change federal policy
  • Widening of Panama Canal prompts calls for US port expansions; but not all are enamored by the urban side effects
  • Reminder: May 28 deadline to comment on federal water resource Principles & Guidelines; Draft Interagency Guidelines
  • Army Corps of Engineers approves start of latest construction for rebuilding of New Orleans levee system
  • Army Corps of Engineers announces plans to restore Missouri River shallow water habitat north of Atchison, KS
  • $20 million from USDA Wetlands Reserve Program set for AR, KY, LA, MS, MO and TN landowners
  • Senate energy committee passes four hydropower bills, including two that have passed House and
  • Sen. Alexander (R-TN) threatens to restrict Army Corps' funding transfers over "unreasonable" fishing restrictions
  • Articles on the high Mississippi and Illinois water levels this past week:
  • Chillicothe, Missouri residents clearing debris and assessing Illinois River flood damage as FEMA prepares to come in

Farm Bill-
  • Members of Senate Agriculture Committee have received a draft of the farm bill; link here:
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow's summary of the Senate farm bill:
  • Senate Agriculture Committee schedules farm bill markup session for Tuesday, May 14, 10 AM EDT; room 328A Russell SOB 
  • National Farmers Union encouraged by initial farm bill draft circulated to Senate Agriculture Committee members
  • Rep. Collin Peterson (ranking House Agriculture Committee Democrat) confident on prospects for passing a farm bill
  • Sen. Harkin (D-IA) on Senate farm bill: “very happy about conservation provisions . . . conservation compliance"
  • Unlikely there will be a farm bill vote by full Senate before the Memorial Day recess
  • For the most part, the Senate draft farm bill resembles the one passed by full Senate last year
  • Senate Farm Bill Released; Would Expand Insurance Programs, Drop Direct Payments
  • Draft Senate farm bill courts Southern GOP votes with target prices for rice and peanut producers
  • Groups largely praise Senate farm bill draft
  • Discussion Draft - Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013: (PDF file)
  • Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act committee summary:
  • House Ag Committee Chair Lucas retools farm bill; sets goal of $38 billion in 10-year savings; cuts from food stamps
  • Lucas: farm bill will pass, after possibly 100 farm bill amendments in committee; at least that many on House floor
  • Democratic House members to introduce bill Wednesday to reform USDA conservation programs; influence farm bill debate
  • Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR); twelve other House Members, introduce bill to "modernize conservation priorities"
  • House Majority Leader to House Republicans: "we will consider a farm bill produced by the Agriculture Committee"
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair opposes plan to link crop insurance premium subsidies to conservation compliance
Other Farm Bill News
  • Ag, conservation groups offer conservation compliance proposal: Would avoid means testing for crop insurance
  • Agricultural groups agree to farm bill compromise plan to tie conservation compliance to crop insurance subsidies
  • American Farm Bureau Senior Director of Congressional Relations discusses farm bill conservation compliance prospects
  • Farm, conservation groups ink 'historic' farm bill language deal linking stewardship to crop insurance
  • Former USDA officials, watchdog environmental group say conservation should be crop insurance subsidy prerequisite
  • Calls mount for deeper farm subsidy and food stamp spending cuts in farm bill
  • Environmental Working Group launches campaign to underscore "need for federal farm bill reform"
Agriculture - 
  • Corn belt farmers whipsawed by drought, then rain across region
  • Montana farmers are adapting to climate change by shifting planting schedules and selecting different crops
  • Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors' advisers: "Agricultural land prices are veering further from what makes sense"
  • Agriculture groups have a keen interest in this week's Senate consideration of the Water Resources Development Act
Climate and Weather -
Click to enlarge
  • US Plains drought persists; wet, cool weather "definitely dented or eliminated the drought in much of the Midwest"
  • Farmers and ranchers in parts of US West and Plains pondering prospect of another year of drought
  • NASA climate study predicts that, worldwide, "wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier"
In the Cities -
  • Louisville, Kentucky tree commission wants developers to save or plant more trees to replace those lost when building
  • Alternate methods for dealing with New Orleans area stormwater are the focus of workshop series
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors report documents increasing spending on, challenges of water-wastewater infrastructure
Forestry -
  • 2.4 million trees planted on 4000 acres in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Illinois in Mississippi River valley
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Studies: Midwestern frogs decline and mammal populations altered due to invasive European buckthorn plant
  • Asian carp serve as visible icon for invasive species
  • Monitoring for Asian carp to increase in Illinois this year
  • 1 °C temperature rise would shift painted turtle population to 100% female and earmark species for extinction
  • Three Minnesota dogs now specially trained to work with MN DNR; sniff out invasive zebra mussels
  • University of Wisconsin research: Shrinking North American snow cover puts invertebrates and amphibians at risk
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Environmental groups criticize use of BP oil spill Gulf recovery money to fund Gulf State Park convention center
  • Mississippi Secretary of State: proposed Louisiana levee may pose flood risk for low-lying south Mississippi areas
Resource Extraction -
  • 13 energy-producing states tell EPA it should not provide "back-door entry for federal oversight of fracking"
  • Southern Illinois region braces for oil rush as Illinois Legislature considers fracking regulations
  • Forest Service mulls proposed coal lease in southeast Ohio in Wayne National Forest; seeks public comment
  • Republicans; energy representatives criticize pending DOI hydraulic fracturing rules as burdensome; expensive
Federal Budget -
  • U.S. House and Senate reach impasse over how to move forward on their respective budget proposals
  • CBO plans a May 14 release of updated 10-year baseline projections of federal spending, revenues and budget deficits
  • House GOP will wait until June to begin the process of passing annual (fiscal year 2014) appropriations bills
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • National C-FAR Capitol Hill seminar: Organization of Agricultural and Natural Resource Markets; May 13; noon RSVP:
  • Save the date: National Roundtable on New Tools for Water Quality: Trading and Beyond; July 18; Cincinnati, OH
  • Those interested in designating St. Croix River region as National Heritage Area encouraged to attend May 16 event
  • May 14 webinar will discuss effects of nanomaterials on soil health and the food chain; 11:00 AM EDT; register:
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Weekly "Water Headlines" Newsletter from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water
  • Peer-reviewed science journal Nature publishes a special edition on genetically modified crops
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's May 8 and archived WaterWays e-newsletter links here:
  • Green Lands Blue Waters bi-weekly update re: Mississippi River Basin Continuous Living Cover advancement on agricultural land
  • Here is the "1 Mississippi" Campaign's May newsletter
Other news-
  • Director of USEPA Criminal Investigation Division: "There are significant geographic regions we can no longer cover"
  • Globe and Mail reporter: "What I found on my road trip along the Keystone pipeline route"
  • Mississippi Water Walkers arrive in Louisiana with water from river's source after two month trek to raise awareness
Political Scene -
  • And now for something completely different - a Congressional "Hotdish Off" featuring Minnesotan "delicacies"
  • Republican Rep. Steve King (R-IA) announces that he will not run for US Senate
  • GOP prospects will start announcing US Iowa Senate intentions soon in 2014 race against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley
  • Louisiana in top five of Roll Call's "Clout Index" - index of potential influence each state has on national affairs
  • Former Madison County Chief to challenge freshman Rep. Davis in Illinois 13th House district - announcement today
  • Longtime Kentucky environmental lawyer eyes underdog challenge to McConnell for US Senate seat
Last Word -
"We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong." - U2 band member, Bono, whose birthday is today.


  1. Thanks for the link to the Minnesota Delegation "Hotdish-off". I half expected a hockey puck in Rick Nolan's recipe! Anything with the word "ranger" in it usually has one somewhere.

    1. I'll have to try out some of the recipes in the cookbook!