Friday, May 24, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

This Week and Next
As things heat up in the Mississippi River Basin, legislative activity will cool down in Washington, DC, next week, following several  (relatively) active weeks that witnessed movement on both the Farm Bill and the Water Resources Development Act.   Both the U.S. House and Senate are off next week for the Memorial Day recess, and will not be in session again until the week of June 3.  On Monday, June 3, the full Senate will resume Farm Bill consideration.  Only twelve of (as of May 23) 150 officially-offered amendments were considered during this week's Senate debate (see filed amendments listed on the Library of Congress page for the bill (click on "Amendments")).  The House Agriculture Committee passed its Farm Bill during a May 15 mark-up sessionHouse leadership this week confirmed that the full House will take up its bill in mid-June with a goal of completing it by the Congressional July Fourth recess.

It may be hard to find some Federal agency personnel today, as a Friday mass furlough of 115,000 employees at the IRS, EPA, HUD and OMB is occurring in response to budget sequestration cuts.  The furlough means offices will be closed to the public, and all but essential agency personnel will not be at work.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Federal district court rejects NWF challenge to EPA rule on state certification of Clean Water Act permits
  • Senate Majority Opposes Clean Water Act Guidance, Foreshadowing  Possible Future EPA Hurdles
  • Presence of endocrine disruptors in Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis, MN mirrors findings elsewhere in state, Midwest
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency beginning 6th of 10-year effort to assess condition of rivers, streams and lakes
  • Pollution Control Agency's state stormwater rules roil Minnesota cities
  • Minnesota lake makes "remarkable comeback"
  • In a new FERN/American Prospect report, Paul Greenberg discusses the Gulf Dead Zone and How to Fix It
  • Water nutrient cap-and-trade proposal draws bipartisan Senate subcommittee interest; news article: webcast and witness testimony:
  • Sierra Club lawsuit over Kentucky mine discharges targets Clean Water Act 'permit shield'
  • Senate Republicans reintroduce bill to block Obama Administration's Clean Water Act jurisdictional guidance
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Rebuild behind levee that failed or move on? Illinois River flood victims to meet tonight with Army Corps
  • Obama Wants Agencies To Revise Environmental Review and Permitting Rules To Speed Infrastructure Permits
  • Louisiana Gov declares state of emergency in preparation of Mississippi River crests predicted well above flood stage
  • Levee officials: Army Corps plan for armoring New Orleans area levees should undergo independent peer review
  • Army Corps of Engineers predicts amount of runoff flowing into Missouri River this year will be about 79% of average
  • Army Corps: reservoir releases out of Fort Randall Dam could help flush fine sediment out of the Missouri River
  • As ND's shale fields grows, so does fight over who has right to tap into multimillion-dollar fracking water market
  • Two St. Louis, MO flood gates at Broadway and Themis Street reopen after months of high Mississippi River water
  • USGS: Drop in US groundwater levels accelerated greatly between 2000 and 2008
Farm Bill-
  • For those tracking Senate floor Farm Bill amendments, follow this table, updated regularly
  • Senate off until June 3, when it will take up Farm Bill again - just considered 12 amendments so far
  • House leadership aide: goal is to complete House's Farm Bill by July 4 recess; Ag Chair Lucas says mid-June on floor
  • Senate passes Durbin-Coburn insurance farm bill amendment (see here's what that means:
  • National Journal Graphic: Five Things to Watch in the Farm Bill
  • Senates farm bill debate opens, expected to run into June; White House pledges support; wants deeper insurance cuts
  • White House: Senate should cut crop insurance subsidies by $1 billion a year before it passes the new farm bill
  • Proposed farm bills would cut billions from current spending levels
  • Farm Bill floor fights ahead (in June) in House on nutrition cuts, dairy policy, sugar and conservation compliance
  • Congressional Budget Office on Friday released its cost estimate of the Senate Ag Committee-passed farm bill
Agriculture - 
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial: "Bad year for farmers? Not if you count bloated crop insurance program"
  • Midwest farmers planting crops on almost any scrap of available land to take advantage of consistently high prices
  • U.S. farmers should begin winding down corn plantings over the next week to 10 days
  • US farmers driving floodlit tractors into the night have planted the most corn in any week on record after wet spring
  • Increasing U.S. organic food industry political clout isn't going over well with everyone in Congress
  • U.S. farmers dodge showers to plant corn at breakneck pace
  • Minnesota's struggling bioethanol makers hope to snap back after a down year for corn in 2012
  • US insecticide sales rise as more corn is planted and effectiveness of anti-pest genetic modification wanes
  • 2008 Farm Bill data reports are now live on the NRCS RCA Data Viewer; "Farm Bill reports" tab; Click on “What’s New”
  • Union of Concerned Scientists Vision for Healthy Farms in the 21st Century
Climate and Weather -
Click to Enlarge
  • Week's heavy rain over northern Plains and Midwest, halted planting but provided further drought relief; eradication
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Grass carp caught near Sartell, MN (upstream of St. Cloud) is northernmost find for Asian carp on Mississippi River
  • Thinking big may not be answer to saving large-river fish; future could depend on moving conservation to tributaries
  • Agrichemical companies are taking steps to determine why bees are dying off
  • Mining group faults Bureau of Land Management sage grouse study (Plains and Western state endangered species)
  • Scientists urge federal officials not to remove protections for gray wolves across all lower 48 states
  • US survey finds frogs, toads, and salamanders continue to vanish from landscape at an alarming pace
In the Cities -
  • Port of Dubuque, Iowa marina opens in hopes of drawing people off Mississippi River and into Port's attractions
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana Coastal restoration efforts complicated by the lack of a systemic Mississippi River plan
  • National Geographic: Louisiana delta is sinking; can $50 billion save it from rising seas, sinking land? Debate continues
  • 30 years of time-lapse satellite images show coastal Louisiana wasting away
  • Historic study will find out how the Mississippi River can really help coastal restoration
Resource Extraction -
  • Obama administration draws environmental and oil industry group criticism by issuing new draft fracking regulations
  • Environmental groups file lawsuit claiming federal agencies unlawfully approved Tennessee mountaintop removal mines
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network, others, file Endangered Species Act lawsuit vs. USFWS over coal mine water pollution
  • Tribal Chiefs declare Keystone XL pipeline consultation meeting invalid, walk out on State Department officials
  • House approves bill to take the decision of building Keystone XL pipeline out of Obama's hands despite veto threat
  • DOI Fracking Plan Wins Bipartisan Congressional Support Despite Advocates' Criticisms
  • "Clean Wisconsin" calls for the addition of more WI DNR staff to oversee increasing frac sand mine activity
  • Minnesota lawmakers compromise on sand mining rules; still leave key decisions up to local governments
  • Northern Louisiana shale natural gas a 'game changer' for New Orleans region; as forestry land sees gas boom
  • Illinois bill to regulate horizontal hydraulic fracturing in state unanimously passed by State House committee
  • Tennessee General Assembly committee signs off on new fracking rules to take effect June 18
Federal Budget -
  • Federal budget caps to be followed by House Appropriations Committee in crafting spending bills will all but kill chance of budget compromise
  • Treasury Secretary: government won't hit the debt ceiling until after Labor Day
  • US House proposes what are called "devastating" cuts to fiscal year 2014 Interior Department and EPA accounts
  • Here is link to House appropriators Interior, Forest Service and EPA funding caps that would mean significant program cuts (see above story)
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • July 17: Tennessee Environmental Council Annual Membership Meeting; Nashville, TN
  • Registration for July 21-25 International Congress for Conservation Biology (Baltimore, MD) closes May 28
  • Green Lands Blue Waters 2013 Conference; November 20-21; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Our Mississippi Teacher Workshop; Winona, MN June 25 9 am - 4 pm; Pre-registration required
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association June 4-6, St. Louis, MO meeting packets, with agendas, background materials
  • Webinar: Economic Benefits and Costs of Frac-Sand Mining in West Central Wisconsin; May 30, 10-11 CDT
  • This weekend's annual South Dakota Kayak Challenge now draws more than 130 kayakers to the Missouri River
  • Registration for July 21-25 International Congress for Conservation Biology (Baltimore, MD) closes May 28
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Weekly "Water Headlines" Newsletter from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's May 21 and archived WaterWays e-newsletter links here:
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy May 2013 e-newsletter
  • Green Lands Blue Waters May update on news relating to agricultural land conservation in the Mississippi River Basin
  • EPA Climate Change and Water News - May 23
  • American Farmland Trust May E-News: Farm Bill, and coverage of AFT work around the US
Other news-
  • Chamber of Commerce: Green groups using “sue and settle” tactics to force new Environmental Protection Agency rules
  • "Climate Change Adaptation and Hazard Mitigation"-interview with Jessica Grannis; Georgetown Climate Center (audio)
Political Scene -
  • New poll shows U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) ahead of any potential 2014 GOP rivals by double digits
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) tells his hometown paper he isn't so sure about running for a seventh term
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley's Chief of Staff plans to officially enter Iowa's U.S. Senate race in June
  • Sen. Blunt has "frank" talk with EPA Administrator nominee; Sen. Durbin not sure nominee can get 60 approval votes
Last Word
"When the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the (High Plains) aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains." - Michael Wines reporting in the New York Times

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