Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Signs of Farm Bill Negotiation Progress Emerge from Wednesday Meeting
The main four farm bill negotiators emerged from a December 4 face-to-face meeting more optimistic than when they entered that a farm bill agreement might be reached soon; possibly even by the end of the current 2013 Congressional session.  Farm bill conferees have reportedly made significant progress on the way toward settling a variety of differences, including closing the gap between Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) cut proposals, defining crop baselines for the purposes of subsidies, and agreeing on an approach toward linking conservation with the receipt of farm insurance subsidies.  The House has set a December 13 recess date, and the Senate is scheduled to recess the following week (December 19).  So, barring a schedule change, that latter date is effectively the deadline for getting a compromise bill before both chambers for a vote this calendar year.  Additional news can be seen in the articles listed under "Farm Bill," below, and in our latest 2013 Farm Bill News and Resources posting.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Levels of nitrates and phosphorous are rising in many sloughs of the Wisconsin River
  • USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading To Benefit Environment, Economy
  • EPA extends comment period for proposed "Water Quality Standards Regulatory Clarifications" rule until January 2
  • Ecosystem services lesson: Water from a clean Mississippi River cheaper to process to drinking water than dirty river
  • Illinois EPA Green Infrastructure grant proposals for stormwater management will be accepted through December 13
  • Former Wisconsin DNR regulator raises concerns about water runoff from large dairy operations
  • USEPA approval of Pike River (WI) water quality plan increases chances for obtaining pollution remediation grants
  • Minnesota (MPCA) seeks feedback on statewide water nutrient pollution plan
  • "Too much oxygen" suspected of killing fish in Lake Owasso (Twin Cities metro area, MN)
  • North Dakota Health Department launching website to enable public tracking of oil spills and hazardous leaks
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Potential funding mechanism for water projects divides experts as Congress seeks WRDA compromise
  • Federal court rules that government-induced flooding in Arkansas qualified as a unconstitutional taking of property (Click here to read the opinion: (PDF file))
  • Sunken Mississippi River towboat in LeClaire, Iowa to be lifted this week following spilled oil and fuel cleanup
  • Missouri River, Kansas aqueduct project faces daunting technical and stakeholder negotiation challenges
  • Across southern Louisiana, feral hogs uproot levee vegetation, along with the usual sugar cane and rice field fare
  • Army Corps considers ring levees around New Orleans after several months of discussions and meetings
  • New Illinois-Gulf study: transporting over-sized goods and equipment by water routes is feasible and can lower costs
Farm Bill-
  • Big trades advance farm bill talks, as both sides made important concessions during hour-long closed-door meeting
  • Farm bill negotiators more optimistic following meeting that they will reach an agreement  and
  • Farm Bill: Conferees said to be favoring Senate conservation language linking insurance subsidies to conservation
  • What is the real farm bill deadline that House-Senate negotiators must meet?
  • Infighting among rival commodity interests is worse than usual, and threatens farm bill
  • After a Thanksgiving break, farm bill supporters redouble efforts to get bill over the finish line
  • Lawmakers eye 2014 midterm elections in farm bill talks
  • U.S. farm bill sodsaver and conservation compliance fates could shape fate of Minnesota's and nation's shrinking prairie
  • House Speaker John Boehner tells Senate to "get serious" about farm bill, budget talks
Agriculture -
  • Ethanol's rise, Conservation Reserve Program cuts spur habitat losses in Prairie Pothole region
  • E&E ClimateWire: Growing corn can be done sustainably. So why isn't it?
  • Applications for popular Farm Bill Conservation Stewardship program due in to USDA-NRCS by January 17
  • USDA: Net farm incomes in America are expected to hit their highest level in four decades this year
  • USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service releases new Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard
U.S. drought monitor map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • Abrupt Impact Climate Change report released by National Academy of Sciences warns of "bad-dream scenarios"
  • Level of drought in the continental United States has reached a nearly two-year low 
  • Latest NOAA/NWS  national drought update shows little Plains/Midwest change
  • NOAA's Climate Prediction Center December drought outlook
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • A biodiversity and ecosystem services approach effectively leads to policy change within iterative science-policy process
  • The Nature Conservancy acquires 228 acres in Boone County, Northern Kentucky
  • USFWS fish biologist works to conserve endangered Missouri River pallid sturgeon
  • Video developed to help anglers identify juvenile Asian carp; prevent their spread
  • Bald eagles congregate in Sauk Prairie area during winter, drawn by open Wisconsin River water
In the Cities -
  • Louisville, KY officials planning January summit to promote Mayor’s environmental agenda and "Sustain Louisville" plan
In the States-
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency "Waterfront Bulletin" special edition: natural resources' Legacy Amendment marks 5 years
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East to hold special meeting, vote again on suit against oil, gas companies
  • Louisiana Coastal Authority authorizes two lawsuits against Army Corps of Engineers to pay for restoration
Resource Development -
  • Tribes struggle to come to terms with North Dakota’s oil boom
  • House passes bill to restrain federal oil and natural gas hydraulic fracturing rules in states that regulate practices
Federal Budget -
  • "Budget fatigue" and bad recent memories of partisan brinkmanship are bringing hopes of a federal budget mini-bargain
  • Congressional negotiators move toward narrow budget agreement to scale back some spending cuts set for January start
  • No budget agreement was reached during one-on-one Wednesday meeting between Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Climate change webcast: Barriers and Opportunities to Managing for Disturbance and Environmental Change in the Upper Midwest; December 5, 1:00 pm CST
  • "Congress on Coastal Resilience and Risk" Dec. 11-12, NOAA's Weather & Climate Prediction Center, College Park, MD
  • Minnesota Organic Agriculture conference, River's Edge, St. Cloud, MN, January 10-11, 2014
  • Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, Jan. 26-29, 2014, Mobile, Alabama
  • River Life (UMN) to host April 21, 2014, “The Irony of Carp” program; Best Buy Theater, Minneapolis, MN
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Link to November 26 and December 3 "Water News and More" from the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy, here:
  • November 2013 "Great Rivers E-news" from The Nature Conservancy
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's November 27, Watershed News
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News - Dec. 3
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Mississippi River Basin agricultural land conservation, cover
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for December 2013
Other news-
  • Minneapolis’ “main street” to get makeover into wavy, tree-lined promenade of three basic uses: live, work, and play
  • White House releases 2014 agenda for hundreds of new environmental and conservation rules
  • Overview of U.S. residential property taxes and recent trends in aggregate property tax revenues shows especially high rates in parts of Midwest and
  • “Platte Basin Timelapse: Seeing a Watershed in Motion” exhibit will details changes in the Platte River
  • Missouri National Recreation River's addition to National Park Service's National Water Trails System may boost park profile
  • Two environmental groups' long-standing arrangement to control 27 acres of Billings, MT riverfront conservation land falls apart (also see this article:
Politics and People-
  • Washington Post: with more left on its plate to do, legislative metrics mean that the current session of the 113th Congress is the least productive ever
  • Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA-5), newest House member, assigned to the Natural Resources. Agriculture committees
  • GOP state Sen. Torrey Westrom will challenge longtime Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) in 2014 US House race
  • Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of White House Council on Environmental Quality, will leave her post in February
Last Word -
"We allow no geniuses around our studio." - Walt Disney, who was born on this date (December 5) in 1901

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