Friday, June 14, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

This Week and Next
House leaders spent much of the last week attempting to line up the 218 member votes needed to pass a comprehensive five-year farm bill, and believe that they are getting close to achieving that goal.  Assuming the passage votes are queued up, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK-3) said on Thursday that he expects the chamber to take up the House version of the bill sometime next week (most likely beginning on Wednesday), and be completed in two days time.  Lucas said that he thinks that the House will end up voting on a total of 30 to 40 amendments covering every title of the farm bill, with some of the major areas ripe for debate being food stamps (SNAP), sugar and dairy support, conservation and crop insurance. This Thursday's  relatively contentious House Appropriations Committee markup and approval of the GOP fiscal year 2014 Agriculture appropriations bill, where nutrition cuts took center stage, gave a taste of what we can expect on the House floor when the farm bill comes up for consideration (see additional news articles about this under "Agriculture, below).  The Senate passed its version of the farm bill on Monday (June 10) on a 66-27 roll call vote.  For more on the farm bill, here is a link to more on the 2013 farm bill status in the Senate and House, and our routinely-updated farm bill resources page.  You can also see more than a dozen other articles and editorial pieces relating to the legislation, below, under "Farm Bill."

There is other Capitol Hill activity next week beside the farm bill, and here a link to a listing of the hearings and business meetings currently scheduled in the U.S. House and Senate that relate to Mississippi River Basin natural resources.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Ohio EPA launching several studies of lower Muskingum River tributaries and Southwest Ohio River tributaries
  • Groups call on EPA to revise its water quality standards rules to bolster stricter nationwide antidegradation policy
  • Led by Tyson Foods, groups try to delay development and deployment of joint OK-AR federal pollution standards
  • USEPA pollution limit model development for Illinois River (OK) watershed likely will proceed despite delay requests (also see article immediately above)
  • Columbus, OH Three Creeks park counts on windmill to fight blue-green algae
  • Federal sequestration may stall work toward development of pollution limits for Tenkiller Lake (OK)
  • Vilsack launches MN farm water-quality program: 4 pilot watersheds selected in first-in-the nation voluntary program
  • Master Naturalist program in Minneapolis area aims to improve water quality by training people to advise neighbors
  • Illinois "goes easy" on coal mining company: Mining permit renewed despite history of water pollution violations
  • US and Arkansas file joint complaint against ExxonMobil for Pegasus Pipeline oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas
  • EPA narrows its list of drinking water contaminants subject to testing under its endocrine disruptor screening program
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Missouri River flooding, contamination cut off water service to Poplar, Montana
  • EPA could miss court-ordered June 27 deadline for issuing final power plant cooling water intake rule
Farm Bill- 
  • Five-year Farm Bill clears Senate, setting stage for long-delayed fight on House floor next week
  • House Ag Committee Chair: farm bill to go to House floor next week, assuming 218 vote count to pass is there
  • Farm bill faces uncertain House fate
  • DTN Editor Emeritus Urban C. Lehner - "Moment of Truth for the Farm Bill"
  • Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) faces a divided conference and tricky legislative waters in trying to manage House farm bill
  • US House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) says that he will vote for the House farm bill despite reservations
  • House Speaker Boehner: “There are parts of the farm bill I hope are improved on the floor of the House through an open amendment process.”
  • Crop insurance restrictions are making the Senate farm bill less attractive to people who would receive its benefits
  • Chicago Tribune editorial: "Senate passes a bad farm bill; crop insurance has got to go"
  • House-Senate food stamp showdown may mean current farm bill would continue on autopilot for at least another year
  • Ames (IA) Tribune op-ed: Farmers belong on a tractor, not under a bus
  • Congressional Budget Office's latest analysis: House version of farm bill would cost $939 billion over next decade (news article)
  • Here is latest CBO Analysis of the House farm bill (June 7, as ordered reported by the House Judiciary Committee)
  • Conservative House Republicans call for decoupling food stamp program from the farm bill
  • 50 group-letter to House Leaders warns to tread carefully in making farm bill crop insurance changes (PDF file of letter)
Agriculture - 
  • Increasingly, Great Plains farmers are switching from wheat to corn, driven by technology, market and climate changes
  • Corn growers feel impact of cool, wet spring but are still expected by USDA to bring in record crop
  • Renewable Fuels Association report: no direct correlation between federal biofuels mandates and increasing food prices
  • IATP: "Planting the seeds: Connect kids with farms using the MN [Dept. of Agriculture] Grown directory"
  • House Appropriations Committee approves Fiscal Year 2014 agriculture appropriations bill over Democratic opposition
  • House Appropriations Committee passes $19.45B USDA, FDA budget; cuts nearly $1.3B from what Congress passed in March
June 11 Drought Monitor Map
Click to enlarge
Climate and Weather -
  • June 11 US Drought Monitor summary; produced in partnership among National Drought Mitigation Center, USDA, NOAA
  • Massive dust storms hit Southeastern Colorado, evoking 1930s
  • Nature Climate Change: By century's end, much of central US may see decreased flooding, according to a new study
  • NY Times: After drought, rains plaguing Midwest farms
  • Missouri River Basin as a whole still faces drought impacts despite rain and flooding in the east
  • KS state school board approves public school science standards including evolution and climate change as key concepts
  • U of WI Water Resources Institute to fund projects to strengthen community planner climate change response abilities
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduces bill to prevent the import of harmful non-native fish and wildlife
  • Kentucky tries to to piece together protected isolated land sections through acquisitions and conservation easements
  • Kentucky "Conservation islands" fight effects of mining, climate change
  • Fort Knox, KY and 22-square-mile Bernheim Arboretum both part of new effort to create natural corridors
  • Agricultural, chemical companies now trying to track down cause of mysterious bee deaths some think they have caused
  • Bald eagle population surges in Wisconsin; numbers expected to set record
  • Green River Ketnucky is Ohio River Basin's most biologically diverse
  • Push to somehow plug the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to stop Asian carp, other invasive species, gains momentum
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial: Illinois governor right: Close the Chicago canal
In the Cities -
  • Wausau receives $400,000 from EPA for Wisconsin River riverfront brownfields cleanup and redevelopment
  • Google street maps now has special StreetView coverage of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Advisory Group appointed to guide National Academies' new Gulf of Mexico Program development and implementation
Resource Extraction -
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park along Little Missouri River seeing impact from North Dakota fracking development
Federal Budget -
  • Budget showdown looms; House Republicans, Senate Democrats are over $90 billion apart on discretionary spending caps
Happy World Oceans Day (June 8)-Click to enlarge
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar
  • June 17 webinar; 3 PM EDT: The Science, Politics and Status of St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project
  • Association of Climate Change Officers' Inaugural Climate Strategies Forum, October 14-17, Washington, DC
  • "Iowa Wetland Assessment and Restorable Wetland Inventory" webinar June 26 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Call for Abstracts - 9th National Monitoring Conference, April 28 - May 2, 2014 Cincinnati, Ohio
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for June 2013
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News - June 11, 2013
  • EPA Climate Change and Water News for June 2013
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network June 10 e-newsletter
  • EPA Office of Water June 11 Water Headlines
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's June 10 and archived WaterWays e-newsletter links here:
  • The Wetlands Initiative June e-newsletter with news of Illinois flooding and the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge; other news
Other news-
Burning Barge On The Ohio River,
May 1972
  • 41 years ago, photographer documented daily life along Ohio River for EPA's Documerica project: (link to 75 National Archive photos)
  • Federal regulators: Monticello nuclear power plant on Mississippi River long been unprepared for worst-case flooding
  • Sputtering growth in retirement, recreation areas hits a rural economy already impacted by farm population declines
Political Scene -
  • Two GOP candidates so far declare their intentions to run for the open Minnesota 6th district US House seat
  • Republican Rhonda Sivarajah announces that she is running for Minnesota’s 6th District US House seat
  • Democrat environmental activist Adams announces run in open race for Minnesota's 6th District US House seat
  • Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) expects that former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) will decide to run for Senate
  • Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) decides to not run for US Senate in South Dakota
  • POLITICO Photo Gallery: 13 things more popular than the U.S. Congress
  • Congress now ranks as least popular societal institution in U.S. history, according to a new Gallup poll
Last Words
William Hodges - Jacques and the Wounded Stag
 'As You Like It,' Act II, Scene I
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," - the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's "As You Like It," spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII.

"Last year the House leadership didn’t bring the [farm] bill up for a floor vote, so for supporters the prospect of a floor debate represents progress.  Further progress will depend on whether the House is a legislative body or a stage." - the phrase that closes a Tuesday blog update written by the not-so-melancholy DTN Editor Emeritus Urban C. Lehner in Act I, Paragraph XI.

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