Monday, September 30, 2013

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For (Maybe)

While the clock ticks down to a possible October 1 Federal government shutdown, below are the more "routine" U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to Mississippi River Basin natural resources.

Keep in mind that a shutdown will likely impact this schedule. Although members of Congress will continue to be paid, even in the event of a shutdown, their congressional staffers may not get paid without specific appropriations.  Also, some of the hearing witnesses may be Federal agency employees who could be shutdown-impacted.  The House Energy and Commerce and the Science, Space and Technology Committees, for example, have already announced that they will cancel scheduled hearings for this week if Congress is unable to reach a deal tonight to avert a government shutdown.

Where available, links are provided to the relevant Committee and legislation pages on the Internet. Many of the proceedings are webcast live (follow the appropriate link).  All times are Eastern.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
While the clock ticks down toward a possible October 1 federal government shutdown (see below, under "Federal Budget"), there are some more routine U.S. House and Senate activities scheduled next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin natural resources.  We count about a half dozen or so such hearings, and here is a link to those events.

Farm Bill Inches Forward
On Thursday evening (September 26), the House Rules Committee cleared the way for a House procedural floor vote as early as Friday (but possibly next week) to combine the pared down farm bill it passed in July with a missing nutrition title passed on September 19. Following passage of that motion, the House will send the combined farm bill package to the Senate, setting the stage for the formation of a conference committee made of House and Senate members, tasked to work out the differences between the competing bill versions. That whole process, under the best of conditions, is time-consuming, and portions of the current farm bill will expire at the end of this month.  For more details, see the articles below under "Farm Bill" and our updated farm bill news and resource page.

USGS Chemical Prioritization Approach Toward Ambient Water and Sediment Quality Monitoring Focuses on Human and Aquatic Health
The USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program has released a revised September 2013 update to an earlier report addressing the prioritization of constituents to be assessed when evaluating water and sediment quality. Entitled, "Prioritization of Constituents for National and Regional Scale Ambient Monitoring of Water and Sediment in the United States," the report describes a tiered prioritization approach that can be used by water resource managers when selecting chemicals to be included in ambient water and sediment quality monitoring strategies. Over 2,500 chemicals were prioritized by a NAWQA National Target Analyte Strategy Work Group based on physical and chemical properties, observed and predicted environmental occurrence and fate, and observed or anticipated adverse health or environmental effects. 1,081 of the constituents evaluated were determined to be of highest priority for ambient monitoring.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Chesapeake Bay Nutrient TMDL Ruling
  • How EPA will apply Federal Court's Chesapeake Bay clean water precedent in other multi-state water bodies is unclear
  • American Farm Bureau Federation will appeal court Chesapeake Bay ruling backing EPA's nonpoint water pollution limits In TMDLs
  • In Clean Water Act nutrient ruling, court gave "due deference" to EPA’s scientific and technical expertise; not to alleged coercion
Ruling on EPA Rejection of 2008 Environmental Groups' Petition
  • InsideEPA News: Judge orders EPA to determine adequacy of Mississippi River watershed nutrient limits approach
  • DTN: Court says EPA must provide more detailed defense for letting states take water-quality lead in Mississippi River basin
  • Court says EPA must fully respond to environmental groups’ Mississippi River Basin water quality rulemaking petition: NRDC blog article:; court ruling (PDF file):
  • Huffington Post: Mississippi River Pollution Standards Ruling Tilts In Favor Of Environmental Advocates
  • Regional news coverage of court ruling on EPA Mississippi River Basin nutrient management approach and
  • EPA proposal for preempting state water quality standards could stymie lawsuit over Mississippi Basin nutrient limits (article published before court ruling)
Gulf Hypoxia
  • Huffington Post: "We Are Quickly Turning the Ocean into a 'Dead Zone'"
  • September Gulf Hypoxia Task Force report highlights progress; recommends accelerated nutrient reduction efforts
  • Gulf Hypoxia Task Force: Efforts to significantly shrink size of Gulf of Mexico's dead zone will fall short
  • MPR News: The Upper Mississippi River 1926 dead zone holds lessons for Gulf of Mexico today
  • EPA: Goal to reduce Gulf 'dead zone' won't be met by 2015
  • Minnesota "taking lead" to cut size of Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’
Other Water Quality News
  • Wetlands: Battle lines form as EPA hints at revised Clean Water Act jurisdiction regulatory plan
  • Industry fears that an EPA waters of the U.S. study opens the door to blanket scrutiny of smaller waterbodies
  • State regulators around US consider using controversial "probabilistic" risk assessment method for setting water quality criteria
  • National Wildlife Federation report: "Toxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You?" highlights summer algal blooms (E&E article on report:
  • St. Charles Parish, Louisiana residents can report pollution to interactive "iWitness Pollution" map
  • USGS, state agencies sample flood-swollen South Platte River in Colorado and Nebraska for contaminants
  • EPA has released an enhanced version of the BASINS nonpoint water pollution source software tool
  • MPCA drafts plan to reduce Twin Cities (MN) metro lakes' and stream pollution
  • Hundreds of fish die in Spoon River in western Illinois, possibly from corn syrup spill
  • Minnesota sets nutrient water quality goals; Environmental groups say they are admirable but will need more enforcement
  • WI Public Radio: Wisconsin says it has reduced fertilizer runoff into surface waters; others: but it has to do more
  • Wisconsin factory farm to pay $100,000 settlement to state for water pollution, wetland damage, air emissions
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial: Combination of Army Corps and Congress has failed America's great rivers
  • Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition rallies against transfer of fracking waste water on Ohio River barges
  • Missouri Gov. Nixon urges Corps to put hold on Missouri River endangered fish habitat project and
  • Fearing that Congress may reverse decision to raise flood insurance rates, advocates press for homeowner rate aid
  • Appraisals begin on Mississippi River 2011 flood-damaged property buyouts in Illinois
  • Lawsuit dismissed that challenged Nebraska-approved plan to pump groundwater into streams
  • Missouri River in Bismarck, ND drops 2.8 feet in two weeks
  • Barge industry group suggests 6 to 9-cent increase to 20-cent/gal barge fuel tax paid to fund water resource projects
Farm Bill-(Here is our latest 2013 Farm Bill News and Resources update (UPDATED September 27)
  • House Rules Committee sets up farm bill floor vote to combine separate titles approved in July and last week
  • House leaders may yet move this week to appoint farm bill conferees, once dual farm and food efforts are merged
  • Shutdown or Not, Farm Bill Extension Expires on October 1 
  • With time running short, House leaders work with Senate counterparts toward a new five-year farm bill
  • Uncertainty envelops three of the month's Congressional debates: government funding, the debt ceiling and a farm bill
  • Farm bill fate in Congress is as unclear as it ever has been
  • Choice Magazine op-ed: "Ten Considerations Regarding the Role of Crop Insurance in the Agricultural Safety Net"
Agriculture -
  • USDA assembles over 75 charts and maps of key U.S. farm, food sector information, including land, water and other natural resources 
  • Ranchers and farmers are increasingly opting out of federal Conservation Reserve Program to reap high crop profits
  • Iowa farmland values are beginning to show signs of softening
  • Urban Agriculture: Programs and Policy in Minnesota
  • Despite late-season drought in Quad-City area and Corn Belt states, farmers are awed and surprised by the corn yields
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • National Marine Fisheries Service to determine if Alabama shad should be protected under Endangered Species Act
  • Grand Forks Herald editorial: Asian carp threaten Minnesota's economy, culture
  • Government and fishing industry officials push for Peoria, IL Asian carp processing plant
  • Landowners along 130-mile Missouri River stretch may aid in conservation to protect 140,000 acres of fragile habitat
  • The grotto sculpin, a rare fish found in Missouri, has been granted Federal endangered species status
  • Report: A review of Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year underestimates its effects on vulnerable species
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA drought report: Midwestern mix of drought improvement, deterioration; substantial Plains drought reductions
  • Coming soon: A new version of the U.S. Drought Monitor website; example layout:
  • UN climate science panel: global warming “unequivocal” with at least 95 % chance human activities are its main driver
In the Cities -
  • Illinois awards Sterling a $1.3 million grant to revitalize Rock River riverfront and add green infrastructure
  • Upper Mississippi River and Urban Waterfronts 2013 Joint Conference will focus interest on Davenport, IA riverfront
Resource Extraction -
  • Small MN and WI government entities line up in support of silica sand mining ban along Mississippi River
Federal Budget -
  • Senate to vote on stop-gap funding bill today (Friday), leaving House Speaker Boehner tough choices
  • Washington Post: “Everything you need to know about how a government shutdown works”
  • House Republicans plan to insert debt ceiling bill provisions to limit EPA regulations (Also see: House GOP prepares wish list for debt-limit legislation
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Free October 9 National Urban Flooding Forum at WEFTEC 2013, Chicago, IL; register by September 27
  • EPA Watershed Academy Webcast on new “National Stormwater Calculator”  Oct. 2, 2013 from 1-2:30 pm ET
  • National Park Service at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway will host Autumn Fest on Oct. 5, St. Croix Falls, WI
  • Economic and Ecological Benefits of Agricultural Conservation Systems panel; Oct. 21, 3:30 PM; Washington, DC  RSVP here:
  • November 20-21:   2013 Green Lands Blue Waters Conference, Minneapolis, MN. Save the date.
  • Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium; February 23-26, 2014 at the Radisson in La Crosse, WI
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Green Lands Blue Waters bi-weekly update on efforts to promote continuous living cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • The Horinko Group Newsletter: September 2013 with a heavy water resource focus this month
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers "News and Views" August 2013
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council "Watershed News"
Other news-
  • A Case for an Incremental Adaptive Management Approach to Ecosystem Restoration and Resiliency - Moving from Compliance-Driven Outputs to Stewardship-Driven Outcomes in the Mississippi River Basin
  • Community college consortium receives Dept. of Labor grant funding to advance Mississippi River region economic development
  • Work is rolling on the Mad River (Ohio) recreational "River Run" whitewater project
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to pressure biofuels sector to support a legislative fix to EPA's renewable fuel standard
  • $1.2 million contract awarded for construction of Mississippi River Trail between Anoka and Ramsey, MN
Political Scene -
  • Change in leadership of Army Corps of Engineers' Mississippi Valley Division becomes official September 24
  • Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) campaigning to be next top Democrat on Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says in television interview that he intends to seek a seventh Senate term in 2016
  • Ed Marksberry is leaving the Kentucky U.S. Senate Democratic primary to run as an independent
  • The most urgent question for the GOP in Mississippi is whether Sen. Thad Cochran will retire in 2014
  • Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Shuster's (PA) GOP primary challenger argues Shuster isn't conservative enough
Last Word
Gene Kelly Singing Happily in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
The third thing the Corps of Engineers cannot do is make everybody happy, and I’m beginning to think we can’t make anybody happy.” - John Paul Woodley, former Assistant Secretary of the Army, in a 2005 interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for his book “Big Muddy Blues.”  The other two things, according to Woodley, are, first, making it rain, and, second making the rain stop.  (Ed. note: Perhaps we should all take Gene Kelly's approach to the rain)

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Tiered Chemical Prioritization Approach for Ambient Water and Sediment Quality Monitoring Focuses on Human and Aquatic Health

The USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program has released a revised September 2013 update to an earlier report addressing the prioritization of constituents to be assessed when evaluating water and sediment quality.  Entitled, "Prioritization of Constituents for National and Regional Scale Ambient Monitoring of Water and Sediment in the United States,"  the report describes a tiered prioritization approach that can be used by water resource managers when selecting chemicals to be included in ambient water and sediment quality monitoring strategies. Over 2,500 chemicals were prioritized by a NAWQA National Target Analyte Strategy Work Group based on physical and chemical properties, observed and predicted environmental occurrence and fate, and observed or anticipated adverse health or environmental effects.  1,081 of the constituents evaluated were determined to be of highest priority for ambient monitoring.

The constituents prioritized for this effort included various types of organic compounds, trace elements and other inorganic constituents, and radionuclides, and were placed into three tiers:
Tier 1: those having the highest priority on the basis of their likelihood of environmental occurrence in ambient water or sediment, or likelihood of effects on human health or aquatic life;
Tier 2: those of intermediate priority on the basis of their lower likelihood of environmental occurrence or lower likelihood of effects on human health or aquatic life; and
Tier 3: those with low or no priority for monitoring.

This effort was undertaken in preparation for the upcoming third decade of the NAWQA Program (2013-2023).

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

This Week and Next in Congress
Farm bill - The nutrition section of the farm bill that the House trimmed from its version of the farm bill back in July was passed by that chamber yesterday (September 19), setting the stage for a conference committee to negotiate the full farm bill with the Senate "as soon as we can," according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).   Stay tuned.  And if you're interested in all of the gory details, you can click this link to read more.

Water infrastructure - Also on September 19, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed its Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080), a major water resources authorization bill, on a voice vote, setting up its consideration sometime this fall by the full House.   Here are the details of that bill, and of the companion Senate bill, presented from a Mississippi River Basin perspective.

Next week - There are not many River Basin-related Congressional hearings or meetings of note to point to next week, since the House had been scheduled for a week's recess; however, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this week said that the House would reconvene next Wednesday (September 25) for legislative business centered on the upcoming September 30 end to the fiscal year and need to pass a continuing resolution. The House will likely vote on its continuing resolution today (Friday), and send it on to the Senate.   Senate leaders believe they have devised a way to move the bill without forcing GOP conservatives to vote against defunding Obamacare.  The Senate is adjourned until Monday, when it is likely to place the continuing resolution on next week's Senate calendar.  In other words, the situation is "fluid."  Stay tuned.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
Clean Water Act Jurisdiction
  • Agencies release draft Clean Water Act jurisdiction plan but drop plans for a related interim guidance
  • Army Corps considering utilizing a new, uniform method for determining the limits of Clean Water Act's jurisdiction
Other Water Quality News
  • New USGS tiered water and sediment quality monitoring chemical prioritization approach focuses on human and aquatic health
  • District Court judge's EPA nutrient standards' ruling has implications for Midwestern farmers and ag retailers
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology's urban flood study may help EPA assess stormwater rule benefits
  • Farm groups: environmental groups made "false accusations" when asking court to intervene in CAFO information lawsuit
  • Kentucky circuit court judge sides with environmental groups over local power plant in clean water lawsuit ruling
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms St. Bernard Parish water system tests positive for rare amoeba
  • Industry likely to appeal court ruling favoring EPA discretion to set nonpoint, point water pollution allocations
  • Wisconsin’s draft Nutrient Reduction Strategy calls for putting no new pollution-control regulations into effect
  • Talks between EPA and environmental group collapse over Federal stormwater rule revision deadline
  • Obama Administration urged to issue new fish consumption advisory before signing global mercury pact
  • Judge: Indiana failed to fully assess the impact of coal waste runoff on local waterways in issuing permit
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • House Committee passes water infrastructure bill and (link to bill:
  • Rep. Noem (R-SD) supports House bill provision requiring Corps of Engineers to communicate Missouri River flood risks
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls on Congress to quickly pass new bill to boost American ports and waterways
  • Committee-passed House water bill would close Mississippi River lock in Minneapolis to block Asian carp
  • Olmsted Locks and Dam work costing billions more than expected as delays mount
  • Army Corps better prepared for Mississippi River low water situation this fall and winter after 2012 drought
  • Army Corps says low water levels may affect Mississippi River industries
  • Op-ed: "Missouri River water plan ignores state and tribal rights"
  • Resources for the Future: "The National Flood Insurance Program: Directions for Reform"
  • Lawmakers criticize FEMA for not doing more to help homeowners avoid looming flood insurance price increases
  • Senators propose to revamp Harbor Maintenance Trust fund through new "Maritime Goods Movement Act"
  • Army Corps undertaking $ millions worth of repair to Missouri River's Gavins Point Dam
  • Southeast Arkansas study to investigate problems threatening navigation, aquatic ecosystem habitat
  • Maritime Administration designates Missouri River from Kansas City, Missouri to Sioux City, Iowa, as a Marine Highway
  • Plaquemines Parish proposed coal terminal's permit is protested by environmental groups
Farm Bill-
  • Farm bill continues to move along with passage of House food stamps cuts, but exactly where it's moving to is unclear
  • House passes a bill to fund nutrition programs as part of a farm bill; cuts SNAP by $40 Billion over 10 years
  • Farm bill fight is back: pitting one region against another; creating its own set of refugees
  • R Street Institute seeks help from nation's hunters and anglers on farm bill insurance-conservation linkage measure
  • Over 100 House members urge House leaders to link conservation and farm subsidies in the farm bill
  • "Five choice nuggets contained in the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013"
  • Des Moines Register editorial board blasts GOP SNAP (food nutrition) cuts
Agriculture -
  • Biofuels advocates argue that 2013's "huge" corn crop weakens legitimacy of calls for Renewable Fuel Standard repeal
  • EPA intends to "vigorously defend" itself against farm groups' Freedom of Information Act lawsuit allegations
  • World’s largest agri-chemicals company to call on farmers to use less pesticide, fertilizer to grow more crops
  • Hancock County, Iowa, cattle feeder agrees to "innovative settlement" for violating water permit
September 17 Drought Monitor Map
Climate and Weather -
  • Last week brought some drought relief but drought expanded in some Midwestern and southern states (SD, IL, IN, MO, AR, LA, MS)
  • Scientists outline possible farming adaptations in response to climate change
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • "Jurassic Carp" - Asian carp are adapting to river conditions in Indiana in alarming ways
  • Op-ed by Army Corps: Asian carp threat has its limits; not helpful for media to be ambiguous on northern fish range
  • Environmental DNA (or eDNA) emerges as key tool in the battle to stop the spread of Asian carp
  • Stakeholders divided on whether Asian carp test results signal strong threat requiring aggressive, expensive response
  • Rule issued resolving long-standing dispute regarding how economic impacts of critical habitat designation should be analyzed
In the Cities -
  • Mississippi River levee bike and pedestrian path in Algiers, La. expected to advance this week
  • Ascension Parish eyes low-interest loan to build regional sewer system
In the States-
  • New Association of Clean Water Agencies president: EPA should reconsider states' obligations in light of budget cuts
  • State water regulators urge EPA to consider their smaller budgets in assessing state enforcement, permitting adequacy
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Mid-Barataria project could be first of 10 in Louisiana aimed at reinforcing eroding coast
  • Louisiana could begin building Mid-Barataria sediment diversion by late 2015
  • "Changing Course" competition aims to rescue wetlands around Mississippi River from sinking into Gulf of Mexico
  • Coastal authority urges longer version of West Shore Lake Pontchartrain levee
Resource Extraction -
  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary says state drilling/fracking regulations are sound
  • West Virginia University research findings suggest that surface landowners need increased rights in drilling boom
  • Model zoning standards for Minnesota’s frac-sand mining industry criticized by foes
Federal Budget -
  • Forget the Federal government shutdown, the debt limit hike is real problem
  • House poised to pass continuing resolution, pushed by Republican leaders at the behest of conservatives
  • Senators identify bill strategy to fund federal government without forcing GOP to vote against defunding ObamaCare
  • As the end of the Fiscal Year looms, GOP leaders rework budget Continuing Resolution in a bow to party conservatives
  • House cancels next week's scheduled recess and will return Sept. 25 to address government spending bill
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers 2014 Annual Conference call for presentations now open
  • NC-FAR Capitol Hill Research Seminar: Did a cow just eat my dinner? Washington, DC; Sept. 23; presented twice
  • Webinar: Valuing Green Infrastructure: Economic, Environmental, and Social Benefits, September 26, 2:30 - 3:30 PM ET
  • USACE course: Monitoring Wisconsin Streams for Sediment; September 25 – 26, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
  • 2013 Groundwater Expo and Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, December 3-6
  • River Rally 2014; hosted by River Network and Waterkeeper Alliance; May 30 – June 2; Pittsburgh, PA
  • National CAFO Roundtable on October 15-17 in Sacramento, CA, agenda: register:
  • Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission to host workshops, fundraisers
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Aquatic Sciences Chronicle, Volume 3, 2013 (U of WI Water Resources Institute and Sea Grant Institute)
  • America's Waterway River Currents Newsletter - September
  • Resources for the Future's September Resources Magazine (PDF here:
  • Pennsylvania Environmental Council's Fall "Forum" newsletter
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News - Sept. 18
  • Link to the September 18 "Water News and More" from the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy here
  • American Farmland Trust September E-News: about Farmland Stewardship and the Farm Bill
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's Watershed News September 19
Other news-
  • Two overlapping Mississippi River/water conferences: Mississippi River has problems, potential
  • Pete Montalbano, Army Corps levee safety program manager, Mississippi Valley Division, retires after 31 years
  • Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment article on the role of psychology in conservation
  • Eclectic group forms Iowa River Friends to foster enjoyment and improvement of the River
  • Great River Road, from Minnesota to Gulf of Mexico, to turn 75; St. Louis celebration planned
Political Scene -
  • Senate committee shows bipartisan support for Michael Connor to become new Interior Department deputy secretary
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack taps former congressional staffer to be his next chief of staff
  • Louisiana Governor won’t reappoint two regional levee officials who supported wetland damages lawsuit
  • West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) expected to announce US Senate campaign soon
  • Bill Daley exits Illinois 2014 governor's Democratic primary race
  • Two high-profile Iowa Republicans actively exploring bids for US Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Last Word -
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
"nonpareil" - The word that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) spelled correctly Wednesday night to claim his prize as the winner of the Politicians vs. Press Spelling Bee at the National Press Club.  The word means, "having no match or equal; unrivaled."

Monday, September 16, 2013

House Water Resources Bill Passes Out of Committee

On September 19, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed its Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080), a major water resources authorization bill, on a voice vote, setting up its consideration sometime this fall by the full House.  Here is a Section-by-Section overview of the House bill (known as "WRRDA"), provided by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (PDF file).  The Committee WRRDA web page additionally provides a "Whiteboard Video explains our new bill," along with links to the bill text and a Committee information package.

Based upon indications contained in a legislative priorities' memo from House Leader Eric Cantor to GOP members earlier in September, the bill should be voted on by the full House sometime this autumn.  The Senate version of the bill, the "Water Resources Development Act of 2013," was passed in May by a 83-14 vote.  Assuming WRRDA passes the House, the two bills would likely head to a Senate-House conference committee, during which conferees would attempt to reconcile their differences. Here is an analysis of the Senate bill, particularly as it relates to Mississippi River Basin water issues.

While authorizing 23 navigation, flood protection and ecosystem restoration projects, WRRDA also establishes a new procedural mechanism to approve new, future projects, and proposes to reform existing Army Corps of Engineers' procedures, by arguably streamlining the project review process and capping the cost of project studies.  In addition to those and other sections of the bill of a more national scope, the House draft measure contains several provisions that directly reference and would impact Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Coast waters. Here are several such provisions of note:

Section 116 of the bill requires the Corps of Engineers, as part of the President's annual budget process, to report to Congress on the prioritization of federal actions to be carried out during the next fiscal year to mitigate for fish and wildlife losses as a result of Corps of Engineers projects in the Missouri River Basin. The wording calls for the Corps' report to "assist in the prioritization of Federal activities" related to a Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project designed to  repair channel stabilization structures on the Missouri River as a result of damage sustained during the flood of 2011 (in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska).   The report to Congress is to include:
  1. " an inventory of all Federal actions taken and a prioritization of all Federal actions planned in furtherance of the project, including an inventory of lands owned, acquired, or directly controlled by the Federal Government, and lands enrolled in federally-assisted conservation programs; 
  2. "a description of the specific Federal actions proposed for the upcoming fiscal year in furtherance of the project; 
  3. "an assessment of the progress made in furtherance of the project, including a description of how each of the actions identified under paragraph (1) have impacted such progress; and 
  4. "an assessment of additional actions necessary to achieve the results of the project."
Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam
Section 219 would require the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a study of and submit a report to Congress on the impact on the economy and environment of closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam (on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN).  Closure of that Lock and Dam has been proposed as a means to lower the probability of invasive and damaging Asian carp from moving farther upriver.  The bill would require mandatory closure of the Lock and Dam if "the annual average (barge navigation goods) tonnage moving through the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam during the preceding 5 years was not more than 1,500,000 tons."

The Lucas-Berg Pit confined disposal facility in Illinois would be one of 15 Army Corps' projects deauthorized by the bill in Section 304.  That project is described by the bill as the "portion of the project for navigation, Illinois Waterway and Grand Calumet River, Illinois, authorized by the first section of the Act entitled 'An Act authorizing the construction of certain public works on rivers and harbors for flood control, and for other purposes'").  The navigation channel in question (in conjunction with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal) connects Lake Michigan with the Illinois Waterway system.

Projects described in six Army Corps' Mississippi River Basin or Gulf Coast feasibility studies are authorized  for construction under Section 401 of the bill.  They include three flood risk management projects (Topeka, KS, Cedar River, Cedar Rapids, IA, and Ohio River Shoreline, Paducah, KY), and three environmental restoration projects (Louisiana Coastal Area, LA, Marsh Lake, MN, Louisiana Coastal Area- Barataria Basin Barrier, LA).

The Lower Ohio River, Locks and Dams 52 and 53 navigation project (known as the "Olmsted Lock and Dam" project, in Illinois and Kentucky), authorized the 1988 of the Water Resources Development Act, would be modified under the provisions of Section 402 of the bill.  The modification consists of effectively of capping the project construction at a total cost of $2,300,000,000, with an initial Federal share of the cost being the same, $2,300,000,000.

The bill was sponsored by Committee Chair Bill Shuster (R-9- PA) and Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-3-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Bob Gibbs (R-7-OH) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-1-NY). 

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled this week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources. Where available, links are provided to the relevant Committee and legislation pages on the Internet.   In addition,  sometime during the Wednesday to Friday time window, the House is expected to consider the "Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act" and the Fiscal Year 2014 Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2014 (to keep the government running past September 30). The nutrition bill floor consideration reportedly will clear the way for the House Speaker to appoint farm bill conferees and start the farm bill House-Senate conferencing process.  Many of the proceedings are webcast live (follow the appropriate link).  All times are Eastern.

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to consider pending nominations, including that of Mr. Michael L. Connor to be Deputy Secretary of Interior; 9:30 AM; room SD-366 Senate Dirksen Building

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Upcoming in Congress
Congress has returned from its annual summer recess, and currently has only four working days (next Tuesday through Friday) scheduled before the end of September; the date that is also the end of (a) the current farm bill extension and (b) the current fiscal year.  Now that the Syria military option vote has been set aside, Congress has turned at least some of its attention toward those two looming deadlines.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has indicated that Congress may need to return to Washington the last week of the month, perhaps including the weekend, to pass legislation that would avoid a government shutdown.

On the farm bill front, there are indications that the House will consider a stand-alone nutrition bill late next week.  In the past it has been reported that House Speaker Boehner will appoint House farm bill conference committee members after the nutrition bill vote occurs, even if it is defeated. Those appointments would lead to subsequent conference committee negotiations to resolve House and Senate farm bill differences (see more on the farm bill status and conference process here).  But passage of any new farm bill (or even a farm bill extension) will almost certainly slip past the end of this month (see more news updates under "Farm Bill," below).

House Republican leaders unveiled their Continuing Resolution (CR)  on Tuesday to keep the government funded and running beyond September 30, and House leadership has delayed a floor vote on the measure until - they hope - next week, while they line up tenuous conservative support for the measure.  As it now stands (subject to changes that might be made to gather more GOP support), the House CR would fund the government at $986.3 billion, slightly below current, post-sequestration levels, and extend government funding through December 15. While the House bill is free of riders or policy changes, riders contained in currently enacted appropriations legislation would carry forward. House Minority Whip Hoyer (D-MD) said House Democrats would not support the GOP bill, saying that the plan to continue the sequester is “totally unacceptable and irresponsible.” However, Senate Democrats are more likely to accept the House bill, and move on to address the impending debt limit issue. And speaking of the debt limit, the latest projected cash flow analysis indicates that (absent action by Congress to raise the debt ceiling) the Treasury Department will run short of cash to pay the nation’s bills as soon as October 18, although Treasury may be able to creatively stretch available funds into early November.

In addition to the above activity, Congressional committee leaders have scheduled a handful of  hearings and bill mark-ups next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin natural resources.  One such committee meeting tentatively scheduled is a mark up of the House's draft water resources bill.  Those activities are listed and described here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • President Obama may pursue executive order to clarify Clean Water Act scope in lieu of a controversial rule
  • Obama administration divided on whether EPA and Army Corps of Engineers should issue interim Clean Water Act guidance
  • Federal court in Minnesota rejects challenge to EPA determination that a waterbody is subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction
  • EPA study documents fish consumption estimates increase, but resulting stricter water quality rules doubtful (Link to study here:
  • Data show positive trends in Mississippi River in Minnesota
  • Missouri Clean Water Commission expects November vote on Department of Natural Resources water quality rules proposal
  • USEPA and Iowa DNR agree upon improvements to Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations permit, compliance program
  • Iowa agrees with EPA to boost livestock  farm Clean Water Act inspections
  • Environmental groups line up against River Commission plans for Ohio River industrial wastewater mixing zones
  • Wastewater utility officials fear that strict, new EPA ammonia water quality criteria will force costly technology upgrades
  • Court rejects environmentalists' suit to block Clean Water Act dredge-and-fill permit in Kentucky, but temporarily blocks activity
  • Louisville, KY pumping station failure causes six million gallon overflow of untreated sewage into the Ohio River
  • EPA Region 6 partially revokes Arkansas' authority to issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits
  • Louisville Courier-Journal op-ed by Kentucky Waterways Alliance Executive Director: "Good news and Bad news for the Ohio River"
  • Environmental groups win legal challenge against Kentucky power plant that discharges into Ohio River
  • WDNR, WI Standards Oversight Council to develop new permeable pavement technical standard focused on water quality
  • Environmental groups ask USEPA to see whether OH EPA-issued mining permits violate federal water-pollution standards
  • Northwest Arkansas landfill is bankrupt; neighbors  now worry about surface and ground water pollution
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -

Water Resources Development Act

  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee releases its long-awaited "Water Resources and Reform Development Act"  bill: (PDF file)
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee news release on newly-introduced water resources reform legislation
  • Sportsmen’s groups send Water Resources Reform and Development Act recommendations letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
  • Draft House water resources bill drops Louisiana  Morganza to the Gulf levee from list of authorized projects
  • Chamber of Commerce launches waterways campaign ahead of House action on water resources authorization bill
  • Groups welcome House WRRDA bill release while objecting to specific provisions
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee draft WRRDA bill authorizes new lock, dam, levee, ecosystem work
Other Water Resource News
  • Minnesota Wetland Management District highlighted in litigation over genetically engineered crops, pesticide use
  • Army Corps to continue drought water conservation measures on Missouri River
  • Missouri River dam releases to be reduced again this winter as drought continues to affect northern Great Plains
  • Kansas Water Office to relook at idea of transferring "surplus" Missouri River water to Western Kansas
  • St. James Parish residents at public meeting demand more protection from proposed West Shore Lake Pontchartrain levee
  • FEMA announces financial aid availability to Wisconsin to mitigate future flood/storm damage in wake of June flooding
  • As attitudes shift, hydroelectric power makes big comeback at US dams, including on Des Moines River
  • Ramsey County judge denies MN DNR request to dismiss White Bear Lake residents' lawsuit on water levels
  • Louisiana business group says FEMA should delay flood insurance premium hikes pending affordability study
Farm Bill-
    Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow
    (right) and signer-songwriter Neil Young
  • House leaders plan to use nutrition bill and its July-passed "farm-only" farm bill to negotiate farm bill with Senate
  • DTN Ag Policy Blog: Effectively, the big stumbling block for the farm bill will be coming to terms on nutrition cuts
  • Nutrition and crop insurance are key farm bill issues for Senate going into potential conference committee sessions
  • Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) won’t back another short-term extension of farm bill
  • House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-3-OK) predicts a farm bill will be passed by end of the year
  • Senate Agriculture Chair confident that farm bill will pass sometime this fall; but not likely this month
  • Singer-songwriter Neil Young in DC Monday for a National Farmers Union farm bill event;  story:
Agriculture -
  • EPA's chief agriculture adviser, Sarah Bittleman, works to bridge EPA-farmer divisions; overcome misconceptions
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists help farmers create greener dairies
  • University of Missouri Extension: agricultural land prices in the state continue to climb
  • USDA awards 33 Conservation Innovation Grants to "develop and demonstrate cutting-edge" land conservation ideas (List and description of recipients and conservation concepts funded:
Climate and Weather -
September 10 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
  • Hot, dry weather in the Midwest and Plains led to incremental increases in drought coverage over the past week
  • Indiana’s once thriving corn crop continues to deteriorate under chronically hot, dry conditions
  • Hot, dry weather continues to "punish" Iowa crops as moderate drought spreads to two thirds of state
  • As Great Plains windbreak trees die from drought, some worry whether another Dust Bowl might arise as a result
  • Late-planted corn in Missouri north of Interstate 70 is dead or dying due to lack of rain and scorching temperatures
  • Record heat wave blasts U.S. Midwest
  • Rep. Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) announce that they will lead climate change and agriculture task force
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • West Virginia's first national wildlife refuge is 22 islands, and four shoreline areas along 362-mile Ohio River stretch
  • Lower Mississippi River endangered species may benefit from Conservation Management Plan engineering practice changes
  • Two endangered freshwater mussel species transported from Pennsylvania to Illinois to reestablish populations
  • Arkansas congressional delegation urges Interior Dept. to go slowly when deciding to close mitigation fish hatcheries
Forestry -
  • Conservationists support final Forest Service rule to accelerate NEPA reviews for soil, water restoration
  • Partnership saves thousands of forestland acres at Western Kentucky's Tradewater and Ohio rivers confluence
In the Cities -
New Orleans' Water-Centric Vision
  • Muscatine (IA) and Army Corps develop hypothetical levee breach scenario maps; map page: news story:
  • New Orleans considers $6.2 billion plan to re-imagine itself as a watery metropolis instead of a drained fortress (see plan here:
  • New Orleans has a radical new plan for managing floods
  • Quincy (IL) City Council votes down the continued pursuit of hydroelectric power on the Mississippi River
  • Congress passes Sen. Cochran (R-MS)-sponsored bill conveying two parcels (67-acres) of parkland to Natchez and state
  • Mississippi River Mayors to host Mississippi River Economy Summit with Delta Regional Authority; Oct. 16-17, Memphis, TN Meeting agenda:
In the States-
  • EPA seeks to allay states' concerns over start-up costs of recently-proposed NPDES electronic reporting requirement
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Treasury Department proposes regulations governing spending of billions in Clean Water Act fines to restore Gulf Coast
  • Louisiana Gulf Coast residents and businesses forced to adapt to a reality of rising sea levels and lost lands
Resource Extraction -
  • University of Tennessee halts attempt to develop fracked natural gas wells on Cumberland Plateau land it owns
  • Ohio Environmental Council comes up with plan to strengthen state oversight of fracking and shale drilling
Federal Budget -
  • House Republican leaders unveil spending plan to keep Federal government running past September 30
  • House GOP leaders delay vote on spending bill (continuing resolution) to avert a government shutdown until next week
  • Republican leaders have failed to settle on an alternative plan to keep the government running after Sept. 30
  • House Majority Leader Cantor warns that House may need to cancel September recess to deal with spending bill
  • Debt limit deadline to boost nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit could come by mid-October (lower third of article)
  • Nature: More funding and staff cuts loom for U.S. science
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Minnesota Environmental Quality Board Meeting; September 18; St. Paul, Minnesota (materials:
  • Arkansas River Compact Administration to hold September 17 informational meeting regarding proposed irrigation plan
  • USEPA Watershed Academy Webcast: Wetlands Supplement: Incorporating Wetlands into Watershed Planning; Sept 17, 1 PM ET
  • 6th Annual Mississippi Earthtones Festival; Alton, IL, September 21, noon - 10 PM CT
  • Annual Ohio River Watershed Celebration theme is “Working Together for Clean Water;” September 19, Pittsburgh, PA
  • EPA Announces Public Webinars/Meeting for Proposed Water Quality Standards Regulatory Clarifications
  • Webinar: The Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” - Linking hypoxia to fish and fisheries; September 25; 10:30–11:30 am EDT
  • Resources for the Future Seminar: The Future of US Water Supplies, October 2, 12:45 - 2 pm EST; Washington, DC
  • Green Infrastructure Conference; University of Illinois Urbana Champaign; September 17,  8 am – 3:30 pm (CT)
  • 2nd North America Congress for Conservation Biology; Missoula, Montana, July 13-16, 2014
  • National Urban Flooding Forum: Oct 9, 1.30-3 pm CT, Chicago, IL
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • The Wetlands Initiative's September "Word on Wetlands" highlights Gulf dead zone and other River Basin news
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update re: agricultural land continuous cover issues in Mississippi River Basin
  • 1 Mississippi Campaign September newsletter: "A Rising Tide of Awareness"
  • EPA Climate Change and Water News
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, September newsletter
  • NPR: "Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History" book looks at River's importance back to Paleolithic Era
  • Water News and More from the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy; September 11 issue
Other news-
  • Call for Applications for 2014 Conservation Leadership Programme Future Conservationist Awards; November 11 deadline
  • Sources: EPA poised to propose regulating chlorate, nitrosomines and strontium in drinking water
  • Winona State University has new minor that can be used to tailor studies to fit a sustainability-focused career path
  • Consumer Reports: Disaster preparedness-How to be ready for the next big storm
  • Chances are Congress will make a run at reforming the Renewable Fuels Standard before the end of the year
  • Citizens and MN DNR continue work on new recreation-conservation model in Minnesota River Valley
  • University of Minnesota River Life blog: Mississippi River Key to Minnesota’s Recent History (see @RiverLifeUMN)
Political Scene -
  • Lopsided redistricting means that 2014 U.S. House races will be the least competitive races in recent
    2014 Election Race Ratings Map
    memory; a regional analysis 
  • Poll: Former Gov. Rounds (R) has large lead over likely challenger Weiland (D) in South Dakota’s open Senate contest
  • Listed on POLITICO's "5 House Primaries to Watch" - Tennessee’s 4th District Republican primary
  • In Friday memo, House Leader Cantor outlines autumnal legislative priorities as Congress starts back to work including WRDA, Continuing Resolution and nutrition
  • Sixty-three percent of Capitol Hill staffers in Washington, DC hope to leave their positions within a year
  • Hate Congressional division and gridlock? They are us.
  • PBS Newshour: "Chaos in House Over Obamacare Fight" (and spending bill, and debt limit, and . . .)
Last Words -
Seamus Heaney
Irish poet and Nobel laureate
"Noli timere" - Irish poet and Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney's last words, sent by Heaney as a text to his wife minutes before his death earlier this month.  The words are Latin for "do not be afraid."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

A Look Ahead at a Crowded Legislative Agenda
Members of the House and Senate have been off during the past five weeks on summer recess, and officially return to work on September 9 for nine scheduled working days before a September 30 end to the 2013 fiscal year.  Bills relevant to Mississippi River Basin water resource issues will effectively be on the back burner during at least their first week back in action - and likely longer - as Congress considers other pressing matters: the Federal budget, a looming debt ceiling limit and President Obama’s Syria military resolution.  This crowded legislative and rhetorical agenda means that Congress will have limited time and attention to give to large, complicated pieces of legislation like the farm bill and Water Resources Development Act - bills that significantly impact the Mississippi River Basin environment.  To see more about where those bills stand, how they might fare and what lies in their paths toward passage, you can read this article.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • EPA proposes changes to federal regulation regarding state water quality standards (Federal Register notice-PDF) (related article below)
  • EPA plan revising how it reviews and approves state water quality standards seeks to apply Florida nutrient standard lessons
  • Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources seeks comments on proposed water quality standards; public hearing Sept. 11; Sept. 19 comment deadline
  • Company to seek Supreme Court review court of ruling on EPA Clean Water Act authority to block Army Corps-authorized projects
  • USEPA removes some of Arkansas' authority to enact and enforce the Clean Water Act (see article, below)
  • Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality: USEPA ability to overrule ADEQ-issued permits may be counterproductive
  • Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission considers relaxing mercury rules for Ohio River and
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • New York Times op-ed by Southern Illinois University professor Nicholas Pinter: "The New Flood Insurance Disaster"
  • States urge Senate to drop WRDA plan for new pilot EPA water project fund (also see related article, below)
  • House appropriators back Senate's approach for EPA's water loan pilot, but it may not be included in House WRDA bill
  • Hunting and fishing groups press House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders for WRDA reform
  • Minnesota officials consider plan to divert Mississippi River water into White Bear Lake
  • Army Corps intends to proceed with habitat-creation project that includes placing excavated soil into Missouri River (also see articles, below)
  • Missouri agriculture groups want Governor Jay Nixon to oppose Army Corps' Missouri River dredging project and
  • Ogallala aquifer (Kansas, parts of seven other states) may be depleted by 2060, turning productive farmland semi-arid
  • National Academy of Sciences study suggests that high-yield crops could drain 70% of High Plains aquifer by 2050 (link to study here:
  • Army Corps releases Upper Des Plaines River flood risk management, ecosystem restoration report for public comment (See Army Corps' media release on the report here:
  • Des Plaines River flood management plan calls for new levees, wetlands and dam removal
  • Army Corps of Engineers studying three Kanawha River tributaries that frequently feed St. Albans, WV flooding (Ohio River Basin)
Farm Bill-
  • Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND): final bill could be enacted "if not by the end of September, certainly early October"
  • Rep. Rodney Davis (D-7-IL) believes Congress will pass farm bill by end of September, maybe without nutrition title
Regional USDA Cropland Assessments
in Mississippi River Basin
Agriculture -
  • USDA: Assessment of the Effects of Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland in the Lower Mississippi River Basin
  • Impacts of Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program: Assessment Based on Participating Landowner Interviews (Here is the American Farmland Trust news release accompanying the report release:
  • Mississippi and Arkansas are the least food-secure states in USDA’s annual report on household food security
  • Researchers have found that the world can reuse much more of its treated wastewater to irrigate crops
September 3 Drought Monitor Map
Climate and Weather -
  • Above-normal temps, record to near-record low rainfall lead to rapidly declining topsoil moisture in parts of Midwest
  • NOAA's Climate Prediction Center September monthly drought outlook
  • National Weather Service: It's been very dry in Iowa, northern Missouri, west-central Illinois: “Accumulated Precipitation: Percent of Mean June 1 to August 31” (Midwest US)
  • "Moderate drought" introduced into Indiana this past week

Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Without bridge, Mississippi River island access restricted, and it "returns to nature"
  • Record-sized alligator killed in Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • GPS-tracked prairie chicken travels 1,180 miles since April 4 across southern Iowa and northern Missouri (see map to right - click to enlarge)
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • The Economist: Lawyers v drillers; A huge lawsuit stirs up the sediment in Louisiana
  • South Dakota farmers visit southern Louisiana to explore conservation issues Louisiana faces: dead zone; coastal land loss
  • Louisiana Department of Natural Resources approves coastal use permit for contentious Plaquemines Parish coal export terminal on Mississippi River
  • Four-part story series focusing on economics of ecosystem protection along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast (first story highlighted; all four are listed in right hand column)
  • New research: Mississippi Delta bayous draw water from Mississippi River, creating "missing river" Study:
  • Study: Appalachian Mountain eastern red cedar growing faster than expected in the wake of Clean Air Act controls
Resource Extraction -
  • North Dakota Supreme Court weighs arguments regarding shoreline mineral rights along the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea
  • Series looks at landscape, pollution issues along ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in Arkansas; part 1 and part 2
  • Federal judge halts Kentucky mountaintop-removal mine development pending environmental groups' appeal
Other News
  • EPA launches new online mapping tool for Environmental Impact Statements filed with EPA
Federal Budget -
  • White House budget talks with small group of GOP senators stall; portends partisan fight over FY 2014 federal budget
  • Also see: Budget Talks Collapse Between White House, Senate GOP
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • "Building Climate-Ready Agriculture"-National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research Capitol Hill seminar, Sept 9
  • EPA Webinar: Linking Nutrient Pollution and Harmful Algal Blooms: State of the Science and EPA Actions; September 25
  • St. Croix River Association September Events
  • Symposium on the farm bill and crop insurance: a new policy paradigm - October 8-9, Hyatt Regency, Louisville, KY
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Political Scene -
  • Pew Research Center: The 113th Congress is not the least productive - but it’s pretty close
  • Jim Hagedorn will challenge four-term Democratic Rep. Tim Walz (MN-1) in the 2014 US House race
  • Democrat Paula Overby enters 2014 US House race for Minnesota's 2nd congressional district
  • State Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr (R) drops out of Arkansas 4th district US House race
  • Former Montana state Sen. Corey Stapleton is dropping his Senate bid to run for the House instead
  • Minnesota Environmental Quality Board announces selection of new Executive Director,  William “Will” Seuffert
  • POLITICO: “Grab a chair: Congress is about to get as fascinating and powerful as it gets."
Last Word -
David Frost
"Diplomacy, n. is the art of letting somebody else have your way." - Sir David Frost, broadcaster and writer,  who died Saturday night on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship at the age of 74.