Friday, September 20, 2013

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."

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