Friday, July 26, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

This Week and Next
Formal activity regarding the farm bill floundered this past week, as House leaders pondered how to go about addressing the nutrition title that was stripped out of its version of the bill but is included in the Senate version.  According to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), either the House will move to address nutrition legislatively relatively soon, or the chamber will need to decide formally to conference with the Senate, anyway.  In a word, the situation is "fluid."  And it's "murky."  Okay, that's two words, but you get the idea.  You can read more under the "Farm Bill" heading, below, and see the latest farm bill update here.  Elsewhere this week, the House moved two 2014 spending bills in committees that contain restrictive environmental riders and steep cuts to environmental and natural resource programs.  But in the end they will mean little, as Congress appears to be headed toward a September budgetary showdown and a likely Continuing Resolution (see, "Federal Budget," below).

Next week should be a fairly lightweight one legislatively on Capitol Hill, with only a few oversight and public lands and parks hearings scheduled (see our Mississippi Basin-related listing here).  Many eyes will be firmly fixed on the August calendar and the upcoming five-week Congressional recess (officially beginning August 6, but effectively starting August 2).

USGS Briefing Describes How Health of Nation’s Streams Is Being Degraded
On July 19, over 80 attendees heard of new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) findings regarding the ecological health of the Nation’s streams during a public briefing at the U.S. Capitol.  USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program and state representatives used the occasion to describe the results and implications of a national assessment on stream health, emphasizing the degradation of the nation's streams that the assessment cataloged, the importance of evaluating various stream health indicator and stress factors, and the implications the study findings have for establishing protection and restoration goals and priorities.  To see a recap of the briefing and its highlights, and for other study resources, follow this link to the study web page, and visit this briefing summary article

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • GOP grills nominee for U.S. EPA's water office, Ken Kopocis, during Senate Committee hearing
  • Senate EPW Committee Chair seeks speedy vote on EPA nominees but faces GOP concerns over water office
  • Lawsuit could test the Scope of the Clean Water Act permit exemptions for agriculture
  • The Gazette (IA) editorial: "Awash in ‘nutrients’" If voluntary measures won't work look for tougher EPA talk and mandates
  • Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer talks about ways to reduce nitrate losses
  • Iowa Ag Secretary: regulating fertilizer application would make landowners miserable; not improve water quality and
  • Southeast Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts Breaking New Ground in Water Quality Trading
  • Oklahomans in conflict over extent of water pollution caused by coal industry
  • Groups push EPA for strict treatment options in upcoming coal- and steam-fired power sector effluent limitation guidelines
  • Report: Water pollution permits for most coal-fired power plants lack heavy metal, other toxin discharge limits
  • Office of Surface Mining director, Republicans spar over stream protection rule during contentious House hearing
  • EPA releases new National Stormwater Calculator to help inform land-use decisions, reduce stormwater runoff pollution
  • Minneapolis area beaches close Wednesday after tests reveal unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Mississippi River will fall rapidly over next seven to 10 days, from 36 feet to about 21 feet in Vicksburg, MS area
  • News coverage: Army Corps releases review of hotly-contested Mississippi River levee project (in Missouri)
    St. Johns Bayou – New
    Madrid Floodway Area

  • Army Corps releases long-awaited draft St. John's Bayou-New Madrid Floodway project environmental impact statement (Army Corps' web site)
  • Louisiana agency sues 97 oil companies for allegedly damaging numerous sensitive wetlands
  • Republican senators suggest Obama administration is purposefully overstating benefits of proposed cooling water rules
  • EPA seeks Endangered Species Act review of pending cooling water rule on power plant, industrial facility intakes
  • Corps of Engineers moves closer to decision on how to 'armor' New Orleans area levees
  • World’s biggest reinsurer calls for investment in better prevention measures in flood-prone areas, flood planning
  • H2O Partners "Getting to Know Flood Reform" 19-minute video overview of 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act
  • Environmental groups sue to halt 47-mile Illiana Expressway project (IL & IN) near Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Farm Bill-
  • Democrats wary of House Majority Leader Cantor's farm bill plan; while Speaker Boehner works to reassure key players
  • Senate Agriculture Chairwoman announces seven Democrats picked for farm bill conference committee with House
  • "Perspectives on the 2013 Farm Bill" - new essay series by agriculture and rural America leaders from Farm Foundation
  • House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (R-OK) speculates during interview on prospects for farm bill conferencing
  • The next steps in the farm bill debate are no clearer than earlier efforts have been
  • House Majority Leader Cantor vague on process for Continuing Resolution, farm bill conference
  • Conservative groups' lobbying efforts have been unable to reduce congressional support for farm programs
  • House GOP leaders still determining if nutrition funding and reform bill can be passed separate from farm bill
  • National Journal Online: “Farm Bill’s Roots in Old Laws Should Be Sustained”
  • Senators of both parties are rejecting removal of food-stamp funding from a multiyear farm bill
  • Divided House GOP can't agree on food stamp bill, dimming hopes for a pre-August farm bill conference with Senate
Agriculture -
  • Two nominees to fill top Agriculture Department positions receive Senate Agriculture Committee plaudits at hearing
  • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approves 2 top USDA post nominations; sends on for full Senate vote
  • Bioethanol mandate’s squeeze on corn is starting to worry some Senate Democrats
  • Iowa - the "king of corn" state - will have to import corn this year to meet livestock and bioethanol demands
  • Renewable Fuel Standard critics: corn ethanol preempts advanced biofuels, is more polluting than gasoline, drives up food, feed costs (link to House hearing page, with testimony:
  • Corn growers square off against ethanol foes in House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing
  • House Republicans express doubts over Renewable Fuel Standard repeal push at hearing; seek to forge reform consensus
  • Report: Wild relatives of food crops have a potential worldwide value of $196 billion
  • Coalition of farmers asks federal regulators to further scrutinize Monsanto Co.'s new soybean and cotton offerings
  • Kansas court hearing set for airborne photographer stem from "ag-gag" law charges re: agricultural operations
  • Nature magazine: Microbiologists try to work out whether antibiotic use on farms fuels epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria
  • USDA to place 1.7 million acres into conservation land easements under 45th Conservation Reserve Program sign-up
Climate and Weather -
July U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook
(click to enlarge)
July 23 U.S. Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
  • NOAA: Midwest, Lower Mississippi Valley precipitation deficits build over past 30-90 days; Plains drought eases a bit
  • NOAA Climate Connection June monthly e-newsletter
  • NOAA's Climate Prediction Center begins issuing monthly drought outlook at end of each month
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Emerald Ash Borer
  • House Natural Resources subcommittee holds hearing on two bills to combat the spread of  invasive Asian carp - News article:  Library of Congress pages for two bills: H.R. 358 and H.R. 709
  • Invasive Asian carp turning up dead by the hundreds on Missouri River in MO, SD and NE
  • Invasive Emerald Ash Borer confirmed in a second Iowa location; quarantine to be issued by state
  • Minnesota agricultural officials increase invasive plant eradication efforts due to environmental, health worries
  • Spending bill would ban Interior Department from creating new national wildlife refuges without Congressional consent
  • Proposed House bill would permanently extend tax relief for landowners who donate lands for conservation
  • New class of pesticides may be at the root of bee, bat and amphibian die-offs
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources plans osprey releases in two locations
  • White House Council on Environmental Quality: Obama administration releases 2013 Asian Carp Control Strategy
  • Fish and Wildlife Service extends Endangered Species Act protection to West Virginia fish threatened by mining, drilling
In the States-
  • Head of Oklahoma's Department of Environmental Quality plans to retire on October 1
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency concludes 65 second quarter enforcement cases; nearly 30% stormwater runoff-related
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana Coastal Master Plan calls for reintroducing Mississippi River sediment, freshwater into historic floodplain
  • October event to highlight developments in Minnesota's forests and forestry over the past five years; look to future
Resource Extraction -
  • State regulators are weighing options for promulgating best practices for hydraulic fracturing operations
  • DOE study in Ohio River Basin indicates that fracking chemicals didn't migrate; taint water supply aquifers
  • Wisconsin sand mine developers: "We intend to be great" corporate citizen
  • House Republicans revive efforts to prevent Interior Department from toughening mountaintop coal mining restrictions
Federal Budget -
  • GOP House appropriators discuss potential terms for stopgap funding bill  to keep government working past September
  • House Republican budget strategy collapsing as members struggle to meet Budget Committee spending caps
  • House cuts $2.8 Billion from EPA funding; places regulatory-blocking riders in Fiscal Year 2014 spending bill
  • House subcommittee approves $24.3 billion fiscal 2014 natural resources spending bill that zeroes out many conservation programs
  • House GOP natural resources spending bill contains new round of deep cuts to environment, wildlife programs
  • House subcommittee approves natural resources spending bill after key Democratic appropriator walks out of session
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Public meetings to be held by Mississippi River Commission during August from LaCross, WI to Morgan City, LA
  • Chi–Cal Rivers Fund kick-off event August 7; 2:30 PM CDT, Chicago, IL
  • World Water Week; September 1-6; Stockholm, Sweden
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, July, 2013 e-newsletter
  • The Horinko Group July 2013 "sustainabulletin"
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's July River Connections e-newsletter covers many River basin protection issues
Other news-
Department of the Interior "Streamer" Mapping Tool
  • New Streamer tool maps thousands of connections among U.S. rivers; here is Mississippi River Basin example:
  • Reps. Mike Thompson and Jim Gerlach hold press conference, introduce bill to "incentivize conservation"
  • House passes (265-155) Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act; would block EPA from regulating coal ash as hazardous and
  • Newly-released St. Croix River State Water Trail virtual tour
  • 1 Mississippi campaign announces new history page to give "taste of [region's] incredible historical opportunities"
  • Chi–Cal Rivers Fund launched to promote restoration an health of the Chicago and Calumet River watersheds
  • USDA ERS: "Food insecurity increased in most states over the last decade" (highest increases in five Mississippi River Basin states)
  • One week into her tenure, new U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy reshuffles top managers
Political Scene -
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) appointed to choice seats on three Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittees
  • WSJ/NBC poll of U.S. adults puts congressional disapproval at all-time high: 83% (results:
  • Iowa and Minnesota Republicans included in the Roll Call's list of seven "most dysfunctional state parties"
  • POLITICO analysis of evidence exposes holes in GOP claims of ideological biases at the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Midland University President Ben Sasse (R) files paperwork to run for Nebraska US Senate seat
  • DSCC memo: Democrats fully expect to compete in West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota US Senate races
  • Rand Paul (R-KY) in "tough spot" in 2014 Kentucky US Senate race
  • Minnesota businessman Scott Van Binsbergen (R) eyeing 2014 bid against U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7)
  • Former Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) to attempt comeback in 2014 against Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), reprising 2012 race
  • 2014 Louisiana Senate race shaping up to be very competitive, as GOP attempts to unseat Sen. Landrieu (D-LA)
Last Word - "We went into battle thinking they were on our side, and we find out they’re shooting at us." - Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), speaking of the conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, an its advocacy arm (Heritage Action).  Mulvaney is a conservative who urged splitting the food stamp programs (or SNAP) into a separate measure from the farm bill in hopes of enacting changes to SNAP. Mulvaney added that Heritage Action's refusal to back the farm bill even after SNAP funding was removed "undermines the credibility of the organization."

No comments:

Post a Comment