Friday, November 15, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Farm Bill Negotiations Continue
Amid reports of "progress," farm bill conference committee members continued to meet in private this week in an attempt to reach a compromise on final legislative language that might then pass both the House and Senate in an "up or down" vote. Meanwhile, the nation moved closer to a January, so-called "dairy cliff," when some of the practical implications resulting from the country's reverting to "permanent law" (original 1938 and 1949 farm legislation) would take hold.  That is when dairy prices would rise to levels greatly exceeding market-dictated levels.  Based on a Wednesday interview of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), the three big items of contention during the negotiations continue to be, according to Lucas, "food stamps" (i.e., SNAP), "the dairy program," and "the commodity title."

As the inevitable "horsetrading" continues among the conferees, their stated aim is to craft a committee bill by Thanksgiving, so that the House and Senate would have between then and a holiday recess beginning on December 14 to consider the legislation.  There is scant "news" to report on these closed-door activities, but what little there is can be found under the "Farm Bill" heading, below, and in our periodically-updated Farm Bill summary.

Water Resources Conferencing Poised to Start
On Thursday (November 14), the House passed a motion to conference with the Senate on the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, and the 28 conferees who will represent the House on the conference panel (16 Republicans and 12 Democrats) were appointed. On November 4, the Senate agreed to conference with the House on the water resources' bill, and appointed eight conferees. The conference committee is tasked with reconciling the differences between the House version and the Senate version of the legislation.
The River Thames, London, England
(click to enlarge)

"Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News" Hiatus
Your FNB* will be on vacation in Jolly Old England (and Wales) next week, and there will be no weekly Mississippi River Basin news issue until the week of November 25, when we will catch up and report on selected River Basin items of import, before breaking again for the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

(* "Friendly Neighborhood Blogger")

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Researchers suggest complex relationship between phosphorus levels and nitrogen removal in lakes
  • Phosphorus reduction in lakes may limit microbial processes responsible for removing nitrogen from water
  • Iowa state commission rejects request for numerical water pollution (nutrient) standards for lakes
  • New wastewater technology will turn water pollution into fertilizer
  • National Network for Consistency and Integrity in Water Quality Trading aiming to release best practices manual in 2014
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Partnerships, cost-sharing are key to agriculture and water quality project
  • Oklahomans claim that fracking wastewater polluted their groundwater
  • Southeastern Minnesota agriculture generates most of the nitrates ending up in area rivers and streams
  • Report contends that Tennessee Valley Authority polluted groundwater around all of its coal-fired power plants
  • Bloomberg BNA review: EPA, Corps Propose to Assert Jurisdiction Over Tributaries Affecting Navigable Waters (also see article, below)
  • EPA's leaked draft plan clarifying Clean Water Act jurisdiction will codify long-time policy and statutory waivers - Link to leaked proposal here: (PDF file)
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement criticizes Iowa state agency for manure spill at hog farm
  • Shreveport, Louisiana pays $650,00 fine, agrees to $342 Million sewer system upgrade to comply with Clean Water Act
  • EPA will continue revising its model for crafting pollution load limits for the Illinois River (Oklahoma, Arkansas)
  • Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Rep. Edwards (D-MD) introduce the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act
  • Bill aimed at blocking President's rewrite of mining-stream protection rule passes House Natural Resources Committee
  • EPA, CEQ eye voluntary stormwater controls as regulations falter
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Water Resources Development Act moves forward with House conferee appointments
  • House to offer plan for new pilot EPA water infrastructure loan program as part of upcoming Senate WRDA talks
  • Wisconsin Senate panel votes to curb DNR's ability to regulate effects of large wells on surface waters
  • Lawsuit alleges Louisiana illegally granted construction permit next to Mississippi River wetland restoration project
  • October runoff into upper Missouri River Basin near record high for that month and
  • Agencies, anglers disagree over Missouri River reservoir water allocations
  • Army Corps' Ohio River Olmsted locks and dam project survives government shutdown, criticism of cost
  • National Geographic: North Dakota's salty fracked wells drink more water to keep oil flowing
Farm Bill-
  • House Republicans more upbeat on getting a farm bill done this year as sides close in on commodity title agreement
  • Principal House negotiators on the farm bill conference committee cite progress toward a deal
  • Conference Committee member Sen. Hoeven (R-ND) hopes to get compromise farm bill out of the committee by Thanksgiving
  • House lawmaker offers motion to instruct farm bill conferees (then withdraws the motion)
  • In reprise of May letter to agriculture committee leaders, former NRCS, SCS chiefs support conservation compliance, adding Richard Scaling to signatories
  • Many paths forward on the farm bill exist, with three generally possible outcomes
Agriculture -
  • USDA Secretary: Iowa not taking advantage of federal money available through Environmental Quality Incentives Program
  • Associated Press investigation: push for corn-based ethanol has prompted farmers to take very "non-green" practices
  • Many environmentalists and scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy
  • Ethanol helps spur corn's northward move in Minnesota
  • Expansion of Corn Belt into Great Plains grasslands being fueled in part by America's green energy policy
  • National Farmers Union disputes Associated Press story blaming biofuels for causing environmental harm
  • USDA projects that U.S. farmers will harvest a record 13.989 billion bushels of corn this year
  • Continued rise in use of no-till farming in U.S. has broad environmental ramifications
  • Sustainable ag expert: Immense global food system is a marvel of engineering, and it’s racing toward destruction
  • Cellulosic ethanol, once the way of the future, is off to a delayed, boisterous start
  • Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation urges farmers to participate in water management and other conservation programs
  • More Midwestern bankers expect the farm economy to slow as 2013 winds down
  • Fewer USDA private lands' Conservation Stewardship Program acres enrolled this year than in previous years
November 12 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • The November 12 NOAA/NWS national drought update shows continued Midwest improvements 
  • "Rural Climate Network" launched to foster rural engagement in climate policy development, spur collaboration
  • International climate negotiators close to outlining methods to protect carbon-rich coastal ecosystems
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • National Eagle Center (Wabasha, Minn.) tours through February to feature swans, eagles in wildlife-rich Mississippi River flyway
  • Wisconsin State Journal Asian carp editorial calls for bipartisanship, Great Lakes -Mississippi River basin barrier
  • Urban Grassland Restoration: A Neglected Opportunity for Biodiversity Conservation (Restoration Ecology article abstract only)
  • Federal agencies agree on new approach for assessing, addressing potential pesticide impacts on listed species
In the States-
  • Ranking member of the Iowa House agriculture committee speaks on state nutrient reduction strategy
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency posts 2014 draft Impaired Waters List; public meetings scheduled across state
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Jefferson, Plaquemines parishes file wetland damage lawsuits against dozens of oil, gas, pipeline companies
  • Louisiana parishes file lawsuits demanding that oil, gas and pipeline companies repair damage caused by operations
  • Groups move to block leasing of federally-owned coal for mining beneath Southeastern Ohio Wayne National Forest
Resource Development -
  • North Dakota commission to decide on designating special places subject to restrictions on drilling, other development
  • Enbridge Energy files plans for proposed $2.6 billion crude oil pipeline from North Dakota across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin
Federal Budget -
  • Non-partisan Congressional Budget Office details 103 ways to cut spending, raise revenue to reduce budget deficit
  • Second public House-Senate budget conference committee meeting offers little hope of resolving fiscal policy differences
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Plans to prevent spread of Asian carp at Eagle Marsh (IN) to be topic of Fort Wayne forum; November 14; 6:30 PM
  • Wisconsin Wetlands Association's 19th Annual Wetlands Conference, La Crosse, Wisconsin on February 18-20, 2014
  • International Conference on the Status and Future of the World‘s Large Rivers; Manaus / Amazonas, Brazil; July 21-25, 2014
  • Save the Date: SER2015 6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration will be held in Manchester, England, in August 2015. More information to come.
Meanders of the Mississippi River
from space (click to enlarge)
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Stunning Photo of Earth from space: United States, Arkansas and Mississippi: meanders of the Mississippi River (photo to the right)
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's November 12 "TU Waterways" issue link here:
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, November, 2013 e-newsletter: "Beyond the Farm Bill"
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's November 14 "Watershed News" (date says "7" but it is 14th)
Other news-
  • Some recreational activities would be restricted in Ozark National Scenic Riverway areas under Missouri draft management plan
  • House science committee looks at competing proposals to renew, reshape National Science Foundation programs
Politics and People-
  • Rare changes made to four powerful House Appropriations subcommittee chairs, including Energy and Water Development, and Interior and the Environment
  • Iowa businessman Mark Jacobs (R) will enter the crowded open-seat 2014 Iowa U.S. Senate race next week
  • Former Montana Lt. Gov. Bohlinger (D) decides to seek U.S. Senate nomination, complicating primary race for Democrats
  • Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee advances President's nominee, Kathryn Sullivan, to lead NOAA
  • Is Congress done for the year? Expectations are that rest of 2013 will not produce any legislative breakthroughs
  • Saturday's special U.S. House election in Louisiana's 5th District will whittle down 14 contenders to two
Last Word -
"Perfection is the enemy of the done."  - Jeremy, in the comic, Zits (November 12, 2013)

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