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.

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