Friday, June 21, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
This Week and Next in Washington
Following what looked to some to be the House's adoption a "poison pill" amendment at the very end of two days of farm bill amendment consideration, Democratic support for the House's farm bill quickly evaporated from more than 40 to 24 members, and the farm bill failed to pass yesterday afternoon by a vote of 195-234 (link to roll call vote summary here). In the end, 62 Republicans joined with 172 Democrats voting against the bill.  This defeat surprised many Congressional leaders and outside observers, and left the path forward on the farm bill uncertain. For more about the farm bill's fate and possible future, check out the articles below (under "Farm Bill"), and this link to our latest 2013 farm bill news and resources update page.  

With the farm bill temporarily in a figurative ditch and rear-view mirror, our attention turns to next week, when there are a few Congressional hearings at least marginally related to Mississippi River Basin water resources (on forests, energy development, water development appropriations, weather forecasting and emergency preparedness).  You can see a listing of those scheduled events here.  

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Water Quality -
  • Scientists project large Gulf of Mexico hypoxic ‘dead zone’ this summer
    2012 Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zone" (depicted in red)
    (click to enlarge)
  • U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals weighs EPA bid for rehearing on wastewater discharge rules
  • Scientists: more research needed to reach any conclusions on widely-used pesticide's (atrazine) human health impacts
  • EPA is delaying its projected release of proposed water quality criteria revisions for chloride
  • EPA finalizes list of 109 chemicals, pesticide active ingredients included in Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program
  • USEPA orders Minnesota to impose more stringent limits on pollutants discharged into state’s lakes and rivers
  • Wisconsin poised to add nearly 150 impaired water bodies to list of those not meeting state water quality standards
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens' Board to consider Construction Stormwater general permit at June 25 meeting
  • Four Minnesota watersheds chosen to pilot program where farmers will adopt projects to protect water from pollutants
  • USGS scientists check Missouri waters for impacts from hundreds of pesticides and nutrients used in farming
  • Fearing EPA preemption, Ohio pushing a novel numeric nutrient water quality index; environmentalists support approach
  • Proposed USEPA rules would impose first-ever caps on pollution from power plant water discharges (for more in-depth legal analysis, see:
  • Broken sewer valve spills up to 1M gallons of untreated wastewater into River des Peres near Mississippi River
  • Environmental groups sue over discharges from former West Virginia mountaintop coal mines
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
New Madrid Floodway
(click to enlarge)
  • "Science, Politics and Status of the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project" webinar slides and presentation:
  • Flood waters leave 40- to 50- foot breach in the Missouri River levee at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area
  • New satellite data show significant fluctuations since 2003 in water reserves of six U.S. regions
  • FEMA Report: Climate change could increase areas at flood risk by 45%, impacting National Flood Insurance Program
  • House passes amendment to funding bill that would block large hikes in flood insurance premiums
  • Army Corps of Engineers chief says U.S. might need to strengthen levee designs in response to climate-induced changes
  • Rare wetlands mitigation bank lawsuit may test EPA-Corps rule, challenges regulatory “restoration” definition
  • NPR: two doctrines govern surface water rights in the U.S. - one for the West and one for the East
  • Innovative land management could replenish wetlands, limit flood damage and keep New Orleans from sinking
  • Wetlands Initiative restoration ecologist discusses how one can tell when a wetland restoration project is on track
  • With Mississippi River west bank flood-protection ring complete in Louisiana, focus shifts to still-vulnerable areas
  • Flooding creates opportunities as well as consequences for wildlife in Indiana
  • Army Corps funding passed by House appropriations subcommittee
Farm Bill-
  • Shocking House leaders, chamber soundly defeats farm bill
  • Reuters: U.S. House deals shock defeat to Republican farm bill
  • In blow to GOP leaders, House rejects 5-year farm bill 195-234; only 24 Democratic vote yes; 62 Republicans opposed
  • House farm bill failed even though House Agriculture Committee leaders effectively managed the bill-until the end
  • Conservatives' 'overreach' on food stamps spells doom for the farm fill in the House; future now unclear
  • New York Times editorial board farm bill defeat reaction: "Collision Over the House Farm Bill"
  • Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas is assessing all farm bill options in face of House defeat of the bill
  • Farm bill faces uncertain future after House collapse over food stamp cuts and agriculture subsidies
  • Those involved in farm bill debate, irate at sudden defeat, say dysfunctional U.S. House just isn't working
  • Opposition to House Farm Bill Spans Political Spectrum (this was a pre-vote article, but germane nonetheless)
Agriculture -
  • Missouri soil scientists say they’re seeing more erosion on farmland than they have in years
  • US Circuit Court of Appeals: in break with status quo BLM must study more Missouri River Breaks grazing alternatives
  • IL Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin farmdoc daily blog “An Updated Look at the Profitability of Ethanol Production”
  • New York Times editorial board: “The EPA Backs Off on Factory Farms”
  • Minnesota Gov. Dayton asks USDA to ease conservation rules; allow livestock grazing on conservation land after tough winter
  • In Nebraska, where corn is king, a new appreciation grows for grass-fed beef
  • Indiana University research reveals value of restoring wetlands and riparian habitat on agricultural lands
  • Food production yield trends insufficient to meet needs and double global crop production by 2050
June 18 US Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • More Great Plains heat and dry conditions expected over the next couple of weeks
  • Fracking's new frontier and its high water demands are expanding into areas hit by severe drought
  • Obama considers sweeping climate plan
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • National Wildlife Federation study: Massive climate-induced shifts in bird migration patterns and habitat have begun
  • Journal of Applied Ecology: class of pesticides linked to deaths of bees may be harming other wildlife species
  • Peregrine falcons making comeback in Minnesota
  • Study: cow elk unfazed at prospect of crossing wide Missouri River sections during spring migration
  • Study in Europe and Australia: Pesticide use has sharply reduced regional stream invertebrate biodiversity
  • Researchers: Small dam construction to reduce greenhouse emissions is causing ecosystem disruption; biodiversity loss
  • White House starts review of rule on Interior Department determination of ESA critical habitat designation costs
In the Cities -
  • EPA to host Green Street Design Workshop in Joplin, MO to minimize stormwater runoff while removing pollutants
In the States-
  • Wisconsin expands general permit scope to allow faster cleanup of accumulated biological debris in non-Great Lake waters
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • 100s face off against Coastal restoration officials claiming Mississippi River diversions will harm wildlife, fishing
  • Sea level rise, climate change and coastal erosion mean more inland St. Tammany Parish (LA) flooding during hurricanes
  • Attempts fail to limit Gulf Coast oil spill penalty money to coastal restoration in the Louisiana Constitution
  • Op-ed: Lessons in coastal restoration from Vietnam (applicable to the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana)
Resource Extraction -
  • Terre Haute, Indiana city council passes moratorium on fracking within city limits
  • Tennessee officials close door on more drilling for natural gas (via fracking) on state land
  • Illinois governor signs landmark fracking bill into law; includes disclosure, permit appeal and lawsuit provisions
  • Mother Jones: Illinois fracking law looks more like a tactical concession than an environmental victory
  • Company seeks to undertake tar sands extraction at proposed strip mine in southwestern Kentucky
Federal Budget -
  • House Appropriations subcommittee passes 2014 spending bill that would maintain Army Corps infrastructure funding and
  • Full Senate appropriations committee sends $20.9B agriculture spending bill on to Senate floor
  • Senate Agriculture Committee release includes broad summary of its fiscal 2014 Agriculture spending bill (PDF file)
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • EPA Webcast: Harmful Algal Blooms and Their Impacts in Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems; June 25; 1:00 PM EDT
  • June 24 Washington DC seminar: Impact of the Precautionary Principle on Feeding Current and Future Generations
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • June 18 Water Headlines from EPA's Office of Water
  • 1Mississippi campaign June River Citizen Newsletter
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's most recent and archived WaterWays e-newsletter links:
  • St. Croix River Association June 19 e-newsletter
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency River Connections for June 2013
  • Green Lands Blue Waters bi-weekly update on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land conservation-right hand column:
Other news-
  • EPA updated report: Technical Review of the Interactions among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality
  • House subcommittee members fail to reach coal ash compromise ahead of committee markup; Dems predict ultimate defeat
  • Mississippi World Trade Center enters into alliance promoting "stakeholder interests of’s greatest waterway”
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks seeks input on managing recreation on the Madison River, headwater to Missouri River
  • 27-year-old Chicagoan navigating entire 2,400 miles of Missouri River on his standup paddleboard
  • High water levels on the Mississippi River making for an especially dangerous recreational boating situation
Political Scene -
  • Farm Bill’s Failure Poisons Well in House
  • Minnesota state Rep. Mike Benson (R) to challenge Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-1) for US House seat
  • Kentucky Governor mulls Congressional redistricting do-over, complicating an already-protracted effort
  • Huge climate change gap between Democrats and Republicans on display in House Science, Space and Technology Committee
Last Word -
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." - On this date in 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth and last-needed state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.

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