Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

Both the House and Senate have reconvened following a two-week recess.  Congressional appropriations leaders hope to move their 2015 fiscal year spending bills quickly to the floor for consideration (the House floor as soon as this week and the Senate floor in June).  However, those hopes may be dashed, since the annual spending bills risk getting caught up in partisan policy fights. House leaders have committed to debating the spending bills under what is known as an open rule, which means that House members would not be prohibited from offering specific amendments (or "riders")  that either encourage or prohibit federal agencies from carrying out a variety of politically-charged activities. Therefore, the appropriation measures may end up being amended by a variety of such riders, slowing down debate, and making consensus achievement problematic. Ultimately, the much-hyped fast start to the appropriations process could fizzle quickly.

Below are the U.S. House and Senate committee hearings currently on this week's calendar that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.  Links are provided to the relevant committee pages on the Internet. Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and these may be, as well (follow the appropriate link). All times are Eastern.  This page will be updated as warranted.


Friday, April 25, 2014

What We Learned This Week - Dog Day Afternoon

My dogs, Amy and Kooper, sad at the
prospect of staying home on Thursday
Farmers disagree over exactly what the proposed definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act means for farmers (the National Farmers Union and American Farm Bureau, for example). The Mississippi River basin's dams block some kinds of sediment from going downriver, but not all kinds, and that may be good for the Louisiana delta. There was some minor flooding in the Middle Mississippi River valley; here, here and here, for example.   The 2014 navigation season officially began in the Upper Mississippi River. Midwest farmers are willing to provide ecosystem services, especially if they are paid.  El Niño is on its way in the Pacific Ocean, with implications for the U.S. later in the year.  Asian carp are making their way into the headwaters of the Ohio River watershed, with possible implications for the Great Lakes.   The historic Louisiana coastal damages lawsuit against major oil companies will soon be history, but with coastal Louisiana parishes losing residents because of coastal erosion, they'll soon be no one left to care. EPA can retroactively lower cellulosic biofuel mandates for past years when they find that those mandates weren't met. And Secretary of State John Kerry brought his dog Ben to "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work" day, at the U.S. Department of State on Thursday, but my dogs stayed home.

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
Both the House and Senate were recessed over the past two weeks, and both are scheduled to reconvene next Monday afternoon. Among the limited number of items on the legislative agenda, House and Senate appropriations' leaders hope to move their 2015 fiscal year spending bills quickly to the floor (to the House floor as soon as next week). However, those hopes may not be realized, as the annual spending bills risk being caught up in policy fights.  House leaders have committed to debating the spending bills under what is known as an open rule, which means that House members would not be blocked from offering specific amendments (or "riders")  that either encourage or prohibit federal agencies from carrying out any number of politically problematic activities. Therefore, the appropriation measures may end up being decorated with a variety of such riders. And, ultimately, the much-hyped fast start to the appropriations process could fizzle.  On the Congressional committee front, here is a link to some other House and Senate activities currently scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.

Public Comment Period Opens for Proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule
On April 21, the Environmental Protection Agency and  Army Corps of Engineers officially published a proposed rule to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction for streams and wetlands across the U.S. The proposal had been released on March 25, but was not published until last Monday.  The Federal Register publication (found here as a PDF file) opened a 91-day public comment period, through July 21, during which time comments on the proposed rule may be submitted online, via email, by regular mail or by courier. Specific instructions for submitting comments can be seen in this section of the Federal Register notification (see related stories under "Water Quality," below).

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • LEAD STORY: EPA-Army Corps Proposed Rule formally published: Clean Water Act; Definitions: Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under Clean Water Act http://ow.ly/vZJbK (PDF file of Federal Register notice)
  • LEAD STORY: EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday publish their proposed rule defining "waters of the U.S." http://ow.ly/w1Fq4 (news coverage)
  • American Farm Bureau Federation: EPA Clean Water Act proposed rule "will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms" http://ow.ly/w4vXG
  • USEPA Nonpoint Source Success Story: Tennessee: McKnight Branch-Implementing Grazing and Erosion Control Best Management Practices http://ow.ly/w4pdi
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
Mississippi River Lock and Dam
Number 2, near Hastings, Minnesota
  • LEAD STORY: Researchers say Mississippi River dams aren't to blame for starving its delta of sediment needed to stay above sea level http://ow.ly/vZtCj (also see this story: http://ow.ly/vZtV9 and link to study abstract here: http://ow.ly/vZZiz)
  • Farm cooperative closes agricultural products ferry service across Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri http://ow.ly/vZO36
  • Mississippi River at Rock Island is expected to top flood stage this week, which will result in minor flooding http://ow.ly/w1GtB
  • Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa hits the 17-foot minor flood stage http://ow.ly/w1ICt  and http://ow.ly/w1IEf
  • Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District welcomes first line tow of 2014 navigation season to St. Paul, Minnesota http://ow.ly/w1HgZ
  • US Water Alliance overview of EPA’s new Water Innovation Technology Blueprint, Version 2, addressing water challenges and opportunities http://ow.ly/w2bcW
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan is winner of EPA 2nd annual Campus RainWorks Challenge (1st Place, Site Design Category) http://ow.ly/w2dtJ
  • Kansas officials look again at rerouting some of Missouri River's "excess" water westward across Kansas http://ow.ly/w51xs
Agriculture -
  • Midwest farmers, especially those with large farms, appear willing to change their farming practices to provide ecosystem services in exchange for payments http://ow.ly/w5dbE
  • Cover Crops Swing Into Popularity: More than 60% of farmers have planted a cover crop at some point on their farm http://ow.ly/w6YTZ
  • Study: "Biofuels from crop residue can reduce soil carbon and increase CO2 emissions" http://ow.ly/w9LHR
  • Agriculture Drone Business Takes Off  http://ow.ly/w1Dxk
  • USDA Secretary announces support for 116 projects to improve water, wastewater services for rural U.S. http://ow.ly/w2aHX
  • "Food freedom" bipartisanship takes hold on Capitol Hill as support for local food systems grows http://ow.ly/w4vjR
Positive (red) index values indicate
an El Niño event
Climate and Weather -
  • El Niño weather phenomenon, which can trigger extreme global weather patterns, could start as early as July http://ow.ly/w4xnT
  • Drought update: Drier-than-normal weather dominates Great Plains; that pattern expected to persist in Plains, Midwest into next week http://ow.ly/w7ugJ
  • Oklahoma's variable climate is helping scientists understand how climate change could affect farms everywhere http://ow.ly/w7tbH
  • OSU Climate and Weather: Historical Trends and Future Forecasts webinar is available here: http://ow.ly/w8coV (national in scope)
  • Commentary: Consumer awareness, private initiatives, regulation, targeted investments needed to move towards sustainable water use in light of changing climate http://ow.ly/w9LZO
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Asian carp DNA found in Muskingum River in Ohio (tributary of the Ohio River) http://ow.ly/vZei8
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service April 24, Whooping Crane migration status update http://ow.ly/w9PwO
In the Cities -
  • Tim Kabat, mayor of La Crosse, Wisconsin: Mississippi River is key to our region's future http://ow.ly/w6Z5R
  • Huntington, West Virginia wins EPA-USDA 2014 Livable Communities in Appalachia competition, with focus on developing local food systems http://ow.ly/w1EtM
  • Friday: HUD Secretary Donovan, and EPA Administrator McCarthy will tour sustainability investments in Memphis, TN http://ow.ly/w9CVn
In the States-
  • Wisconsin municipalities gain more time, flexibility to carry out phosphorous removal from wasterwater under new state law  http://ow.ly/w7rXW
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • LEAD STORY: Without much legislative resistance, historic coastal damages lawsuit against major oil companies will soon be history http://ow.ly/w4C4b (However, lawmakers appear to be backing off action against similar litigation filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes http://ow.ly/w4Cz2)
  • Southeast Louisiana coastal restoration, hurricane protection are new, booming 'water management' economic sector, Data Center says http://ow.ly/vZowQ
  • New report: commuting statistics indicate that coastal Louisiana parishes are losing residents because of coastal erosion http://ow.ly/vZL66
  • $1.35 B Louisiana Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier-largest ever Army Corps civil works design-build project-wins outstanding achievement award ow.ly/w1GIE
  • NOAA vessels, contractors begin 180th hydrographic surveying season; high demand for Louisiana coastal, Northern Gulf surveys http://ow.ly/w32Iu and http://ow.ly/w32Gn
  • USFWS report: multiplier effect of coastal restoration spending on output (4.03) and job multiplier (55) are highest for Louisiana of all U.S. coastal states http://ow.ly/w4HWh (PDF file of report)
Forestry -
Resource Development -
  • Advocates on either side now expect a long wait for an Administration decision on Keystone pipeline http://ow.ly/w1BcW
  • Energy and climate change experts say Keystone pipeline's political symbolism vastly outweighs its policy substance http://ow.ly/w2emi
  • EPA retroactively lowers 2013 cellulosic biofuel requirement, aligning mandated 2013 volume to actual amount produced http://ow.ly/w4nwb
Federal Budget -
  • Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants the White House to support his effort to bring back earmarks http://ow.ly/w2gIP
  • Over 100  hunting, angling groups (from 11 western states) urge Congressional appropriators to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund http://ow.ly/w9APg (letter: http://ow.ly/w9AEH)
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • 20th Arkansas River Basin Water Forum "Planning and Planting for the Future" under way http://ow.ly/w720P
  • USEPA State Level Nutrient Reduction Strategies Webinar: Adapting Minnesota's Shoreland BMPs for Climate Change; April 24, 10 AM CT http://ow.ly/vZs2w (log in as guest) 
  • April 29 WEF webcast will present recent findings on algae-based nutrient removal in waste streams; 1 pm EDT (free) http://ow.ly/w70DI
  • Webinar: The National Climate Assessment Recommendations and Implications; May 9, 11:30 AM ET http://ow.ly/vZf67
  • First Annual Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference; May 16, Tunica, Mississippi  http://ow.ly/w5hjn Hosted by the Arkansas Bar Association, the National Sea Grant Law Center, and the National Agricultural Law Center
  • Mississippi River/Gulf Of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force Public Meeting (Little Rock, AR) - Webcast; May 21; 8:30 am-5:45 pm CT http://ow.ly/w9zAf
  • Sixth Annual Mississippi River Forum Workshop (National Park Service), May 30, 8:30 AM-12:30 PM CDT, St. Paul, Minnesota http://ow.ly/w82Wg
  • Early Bird Discounted Registration open for Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 28-August 1 http://ow.ly/w1DUC
  • Save the Date: Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium, Nov. 14-15, 2014, Alton, IL http://ow.ly/w9yn3
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • America's WETLAND Foundation April Newsletter http://ow.ly/vZdxM
  • Mississippi River Collaborative's April 2014 "MRC Currents" http://ow.ly/vZdlU
  • "The Outlook" - Dovetail Partners April e-newsletter: covering active stewardship and Minnesota's county forest lands http://ow.ly/w1APJ
  • St. Croix River Association's April e-newsletter http://ow.ly/w1BKy
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Mississippi River Basin Continuous Living Cover on agricultural land  http://ow.ly/w2cgL
  • Find the latest and archived Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy TUWaterWays e-newsletters here: http://ow.ly/w5krY
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center April 2014 E-Newsletter ow.ly/w9y4L
Other news-
  • Environmental Law and Policy Center op-ed: "Another View: An Earth Day scorecard for a greener Iowa" http://ow.ly/w1Iiq
  • Mississippi River News and Insights: Coldwater Crew wins 2013 Midwest region Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service http://ow.ly/w4uML
  • Environmentalists urge USEPA Region 4 to press for stronger federal oversight of coal combustion waste http://ow.ly/w6ZMd
  • People who live in US West and Midwest tend to have brighter views of their states than in other parts of country http://ow.ly/w9OLM
Politics and People-
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) "responded well" to Tuesday emergency heart surgery he had at Rogers, Ark. hospital http://ow.ly/w4n92
  • Republican state Senator Joe Leibham and Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris (D) enter race to fill retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri’s 6th district U.S. House seat in Wisconsin http://ow.ly/w4udy
  • House Republicans face historic brain drain atop committees next year, as many as half of chairpersons could be forced to step down http://ow.ly/w4wNK
Last Words -
Click to enlarge
"We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest."  - James Watson and Francis Crick, April 25, 1953  (On that date in 1953, the magazine Nature published an article by biologists Francis Crick and James Watson, describing the "double helix" of Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid. The figure to the left is a diagrammatic representation of that double helix from that article: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid. Watson J.D. and Crick F.H.C. Nature 171, 737-738 (1953)).
James Watson (left) and Francis Crick

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • LEAD STORY: Federal scientists report that Mississippi Basin water quality is declining despite conservation; highlight challenges http://ow.ly/vLlXE (USGS background information:  http://ow.ly/vLoK5)
  • Analysis: Why farm groups are concerned with a major EPA-Army Corps regulatory proposal  that won’t change anything on the farm http://ow.ly/vVaKe
  • Although pollution has lessened, Franklin, Tennessee, families still ask if Harpeth River is safe http://ow.ly/vLuYH
  • An Earth Day appraisal finds number of impaired Wisconsin surface waters has grown nearly 63 percent since state began the list in 1998 http://ow.ly/vLxfV
  • West Virginia has updated its advisories for eating fish caught in state lakes and rivers http://ow.ly/vO4cq
  • 17,000 gallons of untreated sewage released into the Mississippi River at LeClaire, Iowa http://ow.ly/vO4tJ
  • Cleanup focus shifts to restoration following 20,000 gallon oil-spill from pipeline into Ohio nature preserve http://ow.ly/vORtg
  • Overview of first-in-nation formula to estimate evapotranspiration benefits from trees to include in stormwater crediting system (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) http://ow.ly/vQKmg
  • Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Seek To Curb EPA Mine Waste Disposal Authority http://ow.ly/vQQqB
  • Minnesota’s 2014 proposed Impaired Waters List has been submitted to the USEPA http://ow.ly/vTGzC and http://ow.ly/vTGML
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • IG: EPA's "no net loss" of wetlands report each year based on faulty assumptions regarding future restoration projects http://ow.ly/vSXyg (Read the Inspector General's report here: http://ow.ly/vSXL1)
  • Rising Mississippi River prompts Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, to activate its flood fight procedures http://ow.ly/vSZhJ (Also see: High river prompts Corps of Engineers to activate levee inspection program http://ow.ly/vSZtr)
  • City says Wichita, Kansas, wouldn’t have survived 2013 drought without controversial $244 million groundwater recharge project http://ow.ly/vLyDr
  • Officials are monitoring Wisconsin’s rivers after this weekend’s heavy rainfall caused flooding throughout the state http://ow.ly/vO3IL and http://ow.ly/vO3Kf
  • Land acquired for long-discussed Comite River Diversion Canal project (diverting floodwater from Amite, Comite rivers to Mississippi River) http://ow.ly/vVd12
  • Army Corps and TNC discuss $19 million Emiquon East Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project (Illinois River) http://ow.ly/vVdjQ
History and expansion of herbicide
resistance across the U.S. (click to
Agriculture -
  • Update of environmental rules for livestock feedlots on April 22 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency board agenda http://ow.ly/vQGzJ
  • Map shows progression of resistant weeds across U.S. farm country ow.ly/vL9hh (map to right)
  • Scientists frustrated by factory farms, as scientific evidence of their non-sustainability mounts http://ow.ly/vLthP
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement pushes state leaders to shut down large livestock operations that have repeated spills http://ow.ly/vQQQY
  • Farmer's past pollution cited by opponents of plans for a Wisconsin large-scale dairy farm http://ow.ly/vLzUf
  • How to Get Started with Cover Crops: A new way of thinking for a new way of farming, with advice from the experts http://ow.ly/vNXLX
  • Sign-up began Tuesday for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs restored by 2014 Farm Bill http://ow.ly/vOBae
  • Open Source Seed Initiative releases 'open source seeds' free of legal restrictions at University of Wisconsin, Madison event http://ow.ly/vVbbw
Climate and Weather -
Click to enlarge
  • NOAA drought update: improvement from eastern Iowa into Wisconsin; dry pattern continued for northwest Iowa; drought deepens, expands in Kansas http://ow.ly/vV9ol
  • This week in climate history: April 14, 1935, "Black Sunday Storm," one of the worst dust storms in U.S. history http://ow.ly/vO4Jt (photo to right)
  • Dry conditions persist for most of Iowa; continuing drought is reflected in lower stream flows across majority of state http://ow.ly/vO5ju
  • United Nations science panel issues sobering climate wake-up call to world policymakers http://ow.ly/vLiak  (And here's a satirical look at how the world's leaders are responding (courtesy of John Oliver and The Buglehttp://ow.ly/vLjpP)
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Mississippi River mayors focus on invasive species; Asian carp one of top concerns http://ow.ly/vQODx
  • Asian carp that infest the Illinois River could be rebranded as cuisine ow.ly/vLbqe
  • Flint Hills pasture burning may be harming lesser prairie chickens (now a threatened species) http://ow.ly/vLy9G
In the Cities
  • Wisconsin municipal officials meet with DNR secretary to discuss concerns over phosphorus water quality limits http://ow.ly/vLu4R
  • Storm water experts focussing on the South Side of Pittsburgh for new ways to keep sewage out of rivers http://ow.ly/vQJy7
  • Solving Allegheny County's (Penna.) aging sewer infrastructure problems will require a regional
    Part of “The Captains Return” statue lowered by crane onto
    flatbed truck on the St. Louis Riverfront on April 17
    approach, officials say http://ow.ly/vQKSN
  • Frequent high water along St. Louis riverfront forces relocation of city's Lewis and Clark statue  http://ow.ly/vSYOD  (photo to right)
  • Indianapolis’s Cultural (pedestrian and bike) Trail provides a demonstration of green infrastructure for stormwater control http://ow.ly/vQLmH
  • Natchez, Mississippi mayor hopes to restore Mississippi River riverfront between the boat ramp and Roth Hill http://ow.ly/vQNcn
  • Army Corps disagrees with Natchez mayor over status of riverfront project http://ow.ly/vSYEx
  • Largest urban (Davenport, IL) wetland on Upper Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Paul receives tree donation http://ow.ly/vQPzT
  • Recent flooding highlights urgency to address Jackson Mississippi's longstanding problems with flooding, aging sewer system http://ow.ly/vQRqq
In the States -
  • Ohio state Senate bill to create a fertilizer certification program touted as a first step toward cutting phosphorous runoff from farms http://ow.ly/vM8KS
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana Republicans accuse administration of denying state recovery funds related to 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill http://ow.ly/vQDo8
  • NPR: As Louisiana Coast Recedes, Battle Rages Over Who Should Pay http://ow.ly/vQMJr
  • BP ends its "active cleanup" of Louisiana's coast, nearly four years after 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster http://ow.ly/vQRXZ
  • Coast Guard says that BP is wrong to imply there isn't significant work left to be done to restore the Gulf Coast http://ow.ly/vVb0x
  • Louisiana's Senate approves bill to void local flood control board's coastal damage lawsuit filed against over 90 energy companies http://ow.ly/vSY3M
Forestry -
  • Bipartisan House coalition calls on Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to quickly overhaul U.S. timber management, forest health policy http://ow.ly/vVbLh
Resource Development -
  • Government Accountability Office report: when the Environmental Protection Agency is late in issuing its annual Renewable Fuel Standards, it increases costs for refiners http://ow.ly/vNXpI
  • Article analyzes central United States' historic oil transportation realignment in response to the recent shale oil boom http://ow.ly/vQI9r
Federal Budget -
  • Congressional Budget Office's Updated Budget Projections: 2014 to 2024 http://ow.ly/vNWr1 (PDF file)
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 April 23 USEPA Webinar on the Water Quality Mobile Website "How's My Waterway"  - Register for the Webinar here: http://ow.ly/vV7jh
  • Upper Mississippi River (UMRBA and UMRR-EMP CC) meetings scheduled for May 13‑14 in downtown St. Louis, Missouri http://ow.ly/vLqBm
  • 16th Annual EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference Ft Worth, Texas, July 27 - August 1, 2014 http://ow.ly/vQJS0
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
    Other news-
    • The Wetlands Initiative to kick off trail project in July at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge (north-central Illinois along Illinois River) http://ow.ly/vQGjT
    • Army Corps of Engineers seeks volunteers to operate Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Site (Vicksburg) http://ow.ly/vQOjF
    Politics and People-
    • Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.-6) announces his retirement from U.S. Congress http://ow.ly/vLorM
    Last Word -
    Ottmar Edenhofer
    "We cannot afford to lose another decade. If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization." - Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of a United Nations panel that found governments are not doing enough to address climate change.

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

    ~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

    Proposed Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard: Where Things Stand
    The Renewable Fuel Standard (or RFS) program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and established the first renewable fuel volume mandate in the United States. The alternative fuel-use mandate was updated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. In November 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed changes to the RFS for the 2014 calendar year, marking the first time since the RFS was put in place that EPA suggested that the nation reduce its mandated minimum level of usage. The RFS changes would apply to cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel.

    Because the RFS and EPA's proposal to change the standard have broad economic and environmental ramifications, EPA's proposal has been followed closely by agriculture, land use, biofuel, petroleum-based fuel, environmental and food stakeholders, among others (see related articles, below, under "Resource Development").  The demand for those fuels can drive agricultural land use decisions by farmers throughout the U.S., particularly in the Midwestern corn belt states, where plentiful corn and soy can be used as feedstocks for biofuels.   Over 140,000 comments were submitted during the proposal's 60-day comment period. The EPA has said that it intends to complete a review of those comments and make a decision regarding its proposal in June. In anticipation of the agency's decision, we provide an overview of the history and status of the RFS here.

    Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

    Water Quality -
    • LEAD STORY: EPA Administrator argues that Clean Water Act rule would provide certainty to those whose work encroaches on wetlands, streams http://ow.ly/vvumG
    • Republican agriculture-state senators question EPA Administrator over Clean Water Act rule proposal, priorities http://ow.ly/vC0Dl
    • Fifteen Senate Republicans say that the USEPA is using the wrong legal justification for a proposed Clean Water Act regulation http://ow.ly/vvv1N
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approves bill to prevent EPA from retroactively vetoing Army Corps Clean Water Act permits http://ow.ly/vC17y
    • Illinois Department of Natural Resources to increase inspections of coal-ash ponds in wake of high-profile accidents http://bit.ly/1fRH0ZW
    • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks comments on Upper Mississippi River water quality improvement report, protection plan http://ow.ly/vyYVj
    • Activist group says Iowa is limiting input on proposed water quality rules http://ow.ly/vC2jq
    Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
    Proposed New Madrid levee system is cited by American
    Rivers as one reason for listing (click to enlarge)
    • LEAD STORY: American Rivers places Middle Mississippi River among "America's Most Endangered Rivers for 2014" - threatened by outdated flood management http://ow.ly/vASJ6 (related articles: http://ow.ly/vASM3 http://ow.ly/vASNx)
    • Grassroots effort could revive Grand Kankakee Marsh (Kankakee River Basin) http://ow.ly/vwsHN
    • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources launches project to study sustainability of groundwater use in three Central areas of the state http://ow.ly/vwpoI
    • MPR: Minnesota  farmers irrigating without permits as groundwater levels drop http://ow.ly/vydat
    • U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday closed the Mississippi River at Sabula, Iowa after a barge struck a railroad bridge http://ow.ly/vAPhf
    • After barge accident in Iowa, Mississippi River traffic may reopen Friday http://ow.ly/vDxTF
    • Speakers blast Ameren plan for ash landfill in Missouri River floodplain http://ow.ly/vC2Aq
    • Report: Louisiana leads country in domestic maritime industry due to proximity to Lower Mississippi River http://ow.ly/vDxd0
    • Corps of Engineers: Missouri River runoff higher than average, but not concerning http://ow.ly/vDyM6
    • Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduces four bills designed to encourage use of and improve water efficiency measures http://ow.ly/vDGew
    Agriculture -
    • Last winter, U.S. beekeeping industry lost nearly half of its bee colonies, and the numbers keep falling - why Congress should care http://ow.ly/vy7gP
    • The five states with largest share of farm bill direct payments and crop insurance payouts over the 2004-2013 crop years http://ow.ly/vG0cj
    • Farmers, ranchers can sign-up for USDA farm bill disaster assistance programs beginning April 15 http://ow.ly/vy6Wb
    • 28 national groups urge House, Senate Agriculture appropriators to oppose cuts to farm conservation programs http://ow.ly/vvrvV
    • Wildlife and environmental groups are claiming victory for conservation practices in the new farm bill http://ow.ly/vvt3h
    • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) wants U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate Lower Mississippi River Valley as Critical Conservation Area http://ow.ly/vvtsZ
    One-month drought change map
    (click to enlarge)
    Climate and Weather -
    • United States drought grew slightly in March, endangering more crops and creating Dust Bowl-like conditions http://ow.ly/vB5xP
    • NOAA/NWS weekly drought monitor update: improvements in Midwest drought; expansion in Plains http://ow.ly/q3w3u
    • Windy, dry conditions prompt National Weather Service to issue "critical fire danger" warning across parts of Midwest ow.ly/vERnp
    Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
    • Republican and Democratic divisions over how to update 40-year-old Endangered Species Act surface during hearing http://ow.ly/vB54d
    • Divisive House GOP bill would promote sale of federal lands to fund endangered species habitat improvements http://ow.ly/vDGWf
    • Kentucky officials have called a retreat in their five-year battle to contain the invasive emerald ash borer http://ow.ly/vwqi2 
      Alligator Snapping Turtle
    • Wisconsin wildlife officials want to give the state's invasive species list its first overhaul http://ow.ly/vws5e
    • Bald eagles continue their comeback in Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River, with at least 48 nesting pairs http://ow.ly/vG2js
    • Alligator snapping turtles are at risk in Mississippi River, other rivers draining into the northern Gulf of Mexico http://ow.ly/vG2Gd
    • New USGS-developed DNA Tool Helps Scientists Identify Invasive Species of Aquatic Plants ow.ly/vESjs
    • Three environmental groups plan to sue Interior Department to force stronger protections for lesser prairie chicken ow.ly/vER60
    • Upper Arkansas River fishing is better than ever before, after nearly 30 years of work ow.ly/vDQLD
    In the Cities -
    • LEAD STORY: Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative mayors meet with decision-makers in Washington to push River environmental and economic sustainability http://ow.ly/vB0f5
    • LEAD STORY: Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative mayors' 2014 federal policy platform: http://ow.ly/vB2cQ (PDF file)
    • In  search for water and money, Wichita City Council looks for new water sources and ways to pay for it http://ow.ly/vz12K
    • Editorial: No perfect water supply solutions presented at Tuesday’s Wichita City council workshop, but solution needed http://ow.ly/vDyjx
    • Park restoration is changing Minnehaha Creek (Twin Cities Metro area - Minnesota) http://ow.ly/vDy5a
    • Some costs, funding for Tusa's Arkansas River stormwater projects still uncertain http://ow.ly/vG2Zp
    Louisiana Coastal Region-
    • Louisiana State Legislators urged to drop legislation prohibiting levee authorities from filing wetland damage suits http://ow.ly/vwqJb
    • Louisiana regulators suing oil, gas companies propose waiving fees due from companies if they agree to begin settlement negotiations http://ow.ly/vC1sY
    • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says she doesn't support a south Louisiana levee authority's lawsuit against oil and gas companies http://ow.ly/vARAt
    Forestry -
    • Senate Agriculture Committee approves bill to designate 20,000 acres of wilderness in Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest http://ow.ly/vAQS0  (see bill here: http://ow.ly/vARaZ)
    Resource Development -
    • Advanced biofuels supporters tell Senate Agriculture Committee to stick with advanced, cellulosic biofuels Renewable Fuels Standard http://ow.ly/vAPGb
    • Biofuels proponents find sympathetic ears among agriculture senators during Renewable Fuel Standard proposal hearing http://ow.ly/vB4EO
    • Biofuel executive says Obama administration has halted investments in advanced biofuels plants http://ow.ly/vAQ9W
    • State bill would delay Minnesota's soybean-fuel mandate http://ow.ly/vwru3
    • NRDC: Fracking in the Bakken threatens Missouri River watershed health http://ow.ly/vDxKh
    Federal Budget -
    • House passes Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) federal fiscal year 2015 budget in a tight 219 to 205 vote ow.ly/vEnsZ
    • Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.): good chance that Congress will reduce administration’s proposed Army Corps of Engineers budget cut http://ow.ly/vATmg
    • Testimony of EPA Administrator before Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee http://ow.ly/vBZV6
    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 Wetland Managers Wetland Mapping Consortium webinar April 16, 3 PM ET http://ow.ly/vDuAo
    • Arkansas River Basin Water Forum set for April 22; Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado http://ow.ly/vDxv2
    • Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee will meet on April 23 in New Orleans re: navigation safety http://ow.ly/vydC3
    • 2014 Cooperative Extension Centennial Convocation; May 7-8, Washington, DC http://ow.ly/vBZtg
    • Conference: How large-scale restoration can stimulate sustainable development; May 29-30, Washington D.C. ow.ly/vEf6w
    e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
    • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for April 2014 http://ow.ly/vzPCG
    • Pennsylvania Environmental Council Spring 2014 "Forum" e-newsletter http://ow.ly/vBcD0
    • Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota (BALMM) "Currents" e-newsletter http://ow.ly/vBZ1x
    • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy April 8 TUWaterWays edition http://ow.ly/vDv0A (PDF file)
    • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's Watershed News: April 10 ow.ly/vEQia
    Other news-
    • Pennsylvania Environmental Council and and Dominion honor local groups at Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards http://ow.ly/vBcjL
    • Center for American Progress: The Economic Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems http://ow.ly/vDwU9
    • Barren River Area Development District says the Green River (Kentucky) hasn't been living up to its tourism potential http://ow.ly/vDyCN
    • Interior Secretary unveils new landscape-level mitigation strategy across millions of acres of federal land ow.ly/vEQHI
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues its fiscal year (FY) 2014 to 2018 Strategic Plan ow.ly/vEeE4
    Politics and People-
    • Businessman Aaron Miller selected by GOP delegates to challenge U.S. House incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN-1) http://goo.gl/HsoGSv
    • Eight members selected by USDA to serve on National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board http://ow.ly/vyYhV
    Last Word -
    Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, first published on April 10, 1925 by Charles Scribner's Sons.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Proposed Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard: Status and Background

    The Renewable Fuel Standard (or RFS) program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and established the first renewable fuel volume mandate in the United States. The alternative fuel-use mandate was updated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. In November 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed changes to the RFS for the 2014 calendar year, marking the first time since the RFS was put in place that EPA suggested that the nation reduce its mandated minimum level of usage. The RFS changes would apply to cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel.

    The RFS and EPA's proposal to change the standards have broad economic and environmental ramifications.  The demand for those fuels can drive agricultural land use decisions by farmers throughout the U.S., particularly in the Midwestern corn belt states, where plentiful corn and soy can be used as feedstocks for biofuels.  EPA's proposal has been followed closely by agriculture, land use, biofuel, petroleum-based fuel, environmental and food stakeholders, among others. Over 140,000 comments were submitted during the proposal's 60-day comment period. The EPA has said that it intends to complete a review of those comments and make a decision regarding its proposal in June. This summary of the history and status of the RFS is provided in anticipation of the agency's decision.

    The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (Pub.L. 110-140; originally called the Clean Energy Act of 2007), among other things, mandated that 35 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent biofuels and 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel be consumed in the United States by 2022 (the RFS - a subtitle of the Energy Independence and Security Act). The 2022 RFS goal, along with intermediate annual goals, were established based on a belief that biofuels offered a viable alternative to petroleum-based fuels, which would increase national fuel security, and potentially lower petroleum-based fuel prices.[1]

    2014 RFS Proposal
    In November, 2013, the EPA proposed to reduce the 2014 requirements for ethanol and advanced biofuel under the RFS.  The EPA did so in an attempt to address what it calls the “practical realities in the marketplace” more evident in 2013 than in 2007, when the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted.  The proposed cuts marked the first time since the RFS was put in place that EPA suggested that the nation reduce its mandated minimum level of usage. Specifically, EPA proposed new “volume requirements and associated percentage standards that would apply under the RFS2 program in calendar year 2014 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel [2], and total renewable fuel.”

    In proposing the reduction, the EPA cited an "inadequate domestic supply" of biofuels, its concerns regarding the amount of ethanol that can be used in modern fueling infrastructure and in automobiles, and the agency’s low confidence that the U.S. could produce a substantial amount of next-generation biofuels (such as those derived from cellulosic feedstocks) in 2014. The high cost of producing cellulosic biofuels (compared to petroleum-based fuels) added to the advanced biofuel market ambiguity underlying the EPA proposal.

    Under the proposed rule, EPA would cut ethanol and advanced biofuel usage in 2014 by 16 percent, compared with the level set out in the Energy Independence and Security Act. The agency proposed to mandate 13 billion gallons of conventional ethanol (1.4 billion gallons below what the Act requires), and 2 billion gallons of advanced biofuels made from feedstocks other than cornstarch (a reduction of 1.75 billion gallons below the goal set by the act).

    Reaction to the EPA Proposal
    The proposal, leaked to the public in draft form ahead of its official, late November release, has been very controversial. The proposed RFS change generated over 140,000 written public comments (6,000 of which are unique) before the 60-day comment period ended on January 28. Hundreds of the comments were over 100 pages long. EPA has set a goal of finalizing the rule by midnight June 20.

    The oil, livestock and food industries generally have contended that the EPA should cut the RFS even deeper than proposed by the agency. Refiners argue that they have been hurt by the RFS due to the limits placed on the amount of ethanol that can be used in fueling infrastructure.

    Biofuel producers and farmers have generally opposed the RFS cut from the opposite perspective, arguing that EPA has no legal basis for proposing the deep reductions. They contend that cutting the standard would hurt the domestic ethanol industry and stymie investment in advanced biofuels. Advanced biofuel producer comments have centered on the effects that the EPA proposal would have on next-generation fuel investment (i.e., those that do not use corn starch as a feedstock). Many Midwestern congressional members have echoed these sentiments, suggesting that EPA’s proposal would stifle rural economies and chill investment in the development of next-generation biofuels.

    [1] The RFS program was first created under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, and that earlier standard is sometimes referred to as “RFS1” (with the 2007 standard called “RFS2”)
    [2] “Advanced biofuels” or “second generation biofuels” are fuels that can be manufactured from various types of biomass other than “first generation biofuels” (which include sugars and vegetable oils).  Second generation biofuels are made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, and agricultural residues or waste.

    UPDATED: Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

    Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week ahead that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.  Links are provided to the relevant committee pages on the Internet, and, where appropriate, to pieces of legislation. Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and these should be, as well (follow the appropriate link).  All times are Eastern.

    • None currently scheduled
    • None currently scheduled

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    April 11 Capitol Hill Briefing: Trends in Nutrients and Pesticides in the Nation’s Rivers

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    10:00 to 11:30 AM

    Capitol Visitors Center Congressional Meeting Room South

    The Northeast Midwest Institute and Water Environment Federation (WEF) invite you to a briefing on the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program’s findings of trends in nutrients and pesticides in streams and rivers. The briefing will primarily focus on the Mississippi River Basin, which covers about 40% of the nation and represents a wide range of important climatic, agricultural, and urban influences that are present throughout the country.  Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA-8) are sponsoring the event.  Rep. Kind is is founder and co-chair of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Congressional Task Force, and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on the Mississippi River.

    As Congress debates federal activities and funding for water-quality protection and restoration efforts, it is critical to know how conditions are actually changing over time and to understand why changes have occurred. Have governmental actions been effective or are other influences causing the changes? For example, from NAWQA monitoring, we now know that nitrate loadings from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico increased 14 percent from 1980 to 2010 despite extensive efforts to improve and expand the use of urban and agricultural management
    Regional Assessments of Nutrient Sources and
    Transport to Streams, Reservoirs, and Estuaries
    practices during the period. Why? From its analyses of the data, NAWQA has determined that pesticide concentrations in streams and rivers change as chemical use changes, as regulations controlling use are issued, and as new or improved products become available.

    The briefing will also include information about efforts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
    Administration (NOAA) to trace the health of the Nation’s valuable estuaries and will explain how information learned from NAWQA’s monitoring and assessments make estuarine protection more effective.

    Speakers for this event include:
    • Alan Vicory, Principal, Stantec Consulting and Chair, WEF Government Affairs Committee, Moderator 
    • Lori Sprague, NAWQA Surface-Water Trends Coordinator 
    • Suzanne Bricker, NOAA Coastal and Oceanographical Assessment Status and Trends Branch 
    Following presentations by the two speakers, there will be time for questions and discussion from the audience.

    This briefing is held in cooperation with the USGS Office of Water Quality and the National Water-Quality Assessment Program and is free and open to the public.

    Please RSVP to cbarbour@usgs.gov. If you do not respond, you must show a picture ID at the Capitol Visitors Center.  For more information, contact Bill Wilber at cbarbour@usgs.gov or 703-648-6878.

    Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

    ~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

    Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
    For the second of a rare three-week consecutive run, Congress will be in session next week, and we
    have compiled a list of the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources. In a turn from recent practice, a majority of the hearings listed do not pertain to the fiscal year 2015 budget. They include a hearing on House bills designed to amend the Endangered Species Act, a Senate committee hearing on advanced biofuels, and a hearing on healthy forests and rural jobs. You can find all of the relevant details here.

    Implementing the New Farm Bill - What's Up Next for Conservation
    NRCS Conservation Landscapes
    The Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the “farm bill”) was enacted on February 7, establishing and reauthorizing a suite of new and existing conservation programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment. USDA has tallied 430-plus actions that it believes it needs to take in order to implement all of the measures called for in the new farm bill. Based on a series of meetings over the past month with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller, we have prepared a summary of USDA’s plans for implementing key conservation initiatives under the provisions of the 2014 farm bill.  The top priorities for the NRCS include getting assistance out as soon as possible this spring; moving from 23 to 13 conservation programs and increasing efficiency and productivity in the process; the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program; the 10 million-acre-per-year Conservation Stewardship Program; the $250 million-per-year authorized for the Small Watershed Rehabilitation Program; and smoothly and quickly implementing new conservation compliance rules. You can find additional conservation implementation details and links to associated USDA web pages here.

    Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
    Water Quality -
    • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee expects vote "soon" on bill to limit USEPA's Clean Water Act permit veto power http://bit.ly/1fs3W5b
    • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency opens draft Industrial Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit for comment http://ow.ly/vdfop
    • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sets goal of a 25 percent reduction in sediment in the Minnesota River by 2020 http://bit.ly/1i4nUQF
    • Thaw threatens Wisconsin water supplies with manure runoff http://bit.ly/1mEyWTP
    • Snake River (Minnesota) water quality report calls for protecting and restoring lakes and streams http://bit.ly/1pG58n3
    • EPA Awarding Close to $13 Million to Assist Small Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Across the United States http://1.usa.gov/1pX9ckR
    Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
    • Survey: Water-related challenges, costs are concerns for many Fortune 500 companies; not enough to make them change related practices http://bit.ly/1mHQoqv
    • Diverting Missouri River to the Red River Valley would be a huge challenge and cost between $800 million and $1.1 billion http://bit.ly/1kig8p4
    • FBI investigating FEMA over "unusual" changes in federal flood insurance maps benefiting oceanfront building owners http://nbcnews.to/1dxyNPu
    • Critics worry Ameren’s preferred coal ash disposal site  in the Missouri River floodplain invites an environmental catastrophe http://bit.ly/1dKeJtl
    • Army Corps to host meetings on Missouri River operation throughout watershed http://bit.ly/1lDY8d3
    • Four-state MINK (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) regional group holds meeting to discuss Missouri River port development http://bit.ly/1pVxXvG
    • U.S. vessel owners, operators and mariners visit Capitol Hill offices during American Waterways Operators' annual "Barge-In" bit.ly/1hEJBuj
    • Officials: Ice in Mississippi River delays barge traffic http://bit.ly/1lFwbSa
    Agriculture -
    • LEAD ARTICLE: "Plowed Under" - Massive shift underway in Northern Plains, with ramifications for water quality, food, and long-term farm viability http://bit.ly/1h2zbWw
    • Timeline for Farm Bill program implementation beginning to take shape http://bit.ly/PmnqhZ
    • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation http://1.usa.gov/1pW5qrO
    • USDA: growers intend to plant 91.7 million acres of corn in 2014, down 4 percent from 2013; should be a record-high soybean acreage year http://1.usa.gov/1pHBldw
    • Illinois farmers explore what "future may hold for corn production if current nutrient management practices are unchanged" http://bit.ly/1fMFBUl
    Climate and Weather -
    April 1 U.S. Drought Monitor Map
    (click to enlarge)
    • LEAD ARTICLE: UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is among most sobering yet; predicting worst is yet to come http://ow.ly/vdmGo
    • April 1 NOAA/NWS national drought update: Midwest mostly unchanged with some drought southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri; Severe Drought (D2) pushed eastward in Plains http://ow.ly/q3w3u 
    • NOAA Climate Prediction Center April monthly drought outlook: improvement and/or drought removal predicted for lower Great Plains, Upper (and especially Middle) Mississippi Valley  http://ow.ly/q3yAx
    • American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) connects leading professionals from a variety of sectors working to increase climate resilience across the United States http://bit.ly/QIkqO6
    Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
    • Seven central Wisconsin counties declare April 2014 as “Celebration of Grasslands Month” http://mnhne.ws/1gXNxr7
    • American bald eagle makes comeback along Pittsburgh's three rivers http://fxn.ws/1jR54n6
    • Water released into Nebraska's Platte River for rare whooping cranes http://bit.ly/1jFjfZW
    • Kansas Secretary of State wants aggressive response to federal designation of  lesser prairie chicken as threatened http://bit.ly/1pVmUml
    • Rarely-observed shovel nose sturgeon seen in Arkansas River by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation http://bit.ly/1gRK6Br
    • Farms investing in habitat for bees see return on investment in less than 4 years http://t.co/jDCjE64zWW
    In the Cities -
    In the States-
    • Community, environmental groups propose state bill  to amend the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act http://ow.ly/vdo5O
    • Environmental groups worry that Iowa House proposal would restrict access to water quality, land-use practice information http://ow.ly/vdouX (also see: http://dmreg.co/1jrhCyW)
    • In spill's aftermath, and after weeks of study and debate, West Virginia finally has new law regulating aboveground chemical storage tanks http://bit.ly/1dV0RMy
    • State budget puts fate of advisory Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission "in limbo" http://cjky.it/1i4iMw6
    Louisiana Coastal Region-
    • Report: Louisiana $50 billion coastal restoration plan would inject billions more into economy http://bit.ly/1loXsbc
    • Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study begins to reveal complexities of  rebuilding Louisiana delta http://bit.ly/1maFRks
    • U.S. Geological Survey releases coastal Louisiana marshes map, detailing habitats and vegetation types http://bit.ly/1hsFJMY
    • As miles of Louisiana coast disappear, Vermilion Parish residents fear they’re losing their way of life, economy base http://alj.am/1jF6233
    • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation approves $144.5 million for Caminada Headland barrier island restoration http://bit.ly/1gtgW6X
    Resource Development -
    • Satellite imagery:  U.S. Corn Belt during growing season is most productive area in world for converting carbon dioxide, sunlight into usable energy http://bit.ly/1hh87NC
    • Report describes significant places, drinking water sources and natural areas threatened by tar sands pipeline expansion http://bit.ly/1s2DBQC
    Federal Budget -
    • Lawmakers agree that Administration's fiscal year 2015 budget: doesn't provide enough money for Army Corps of Engineers http://bit.ly/1i4kv4p
    • Sens. Landrieu and Feinstein want more candid testimony from Army Corps on budget shortfalls http://bit.ly/1gRLLaa
    • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveils Federal budget that proposes to cut $5.1 trillion over a decade http://bit.ly/1ia8GLk
    • GOP lawmakers say Ryan budget plan will pass the House http://bit.ly/PlWqPD
    Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
    • St. Croix River Association Upcoming Events for April - June http://bit.ly/1pOVhv0
    • EPA Webcast on April 7 (1 PM EDT) on waters of the U.S. proposed rule (to clarify protection under Clean Water Act for streams, wetlands) http://1.usa.gov/1lKTEwA
    • The Economic Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems; April 9, 9:30 - 11:30 AM ET; webcast or in person (Washington, DC) http://bit.ly/1mNjzsj
    • University of South Dakota's Missouri River Institute annual Research Symposium; April 10; USD campus in Vermillion bit.ly/1s7r0LZ
    • NRC Committee meeting: Beneficial Use of Graywater and Stormwater: An Assessment of Risks, Costs, and Benefits; April 16-17; Washington, DC http://bit.ly/OfCHjH
    • National Hydropower Association Annual Conference; April 28 - 30, Washington D.C. http://bit.ly/1mI9j4B
    • Great Connections 2014 (stormwater) Conference; April 29 – May 1, Radisson Quad City Plaza; Davenport, Iowa http://bit.ly/OdfUF7
    • The State of Water Conference 2014: Minnesotans Protecting Our Lakes and Rivers; May 1-2, Brainerd, MN http://bit.ly/N32Fat
    • USFWS Aquatic Nuisance Task Force meeting May 7 and May 8, Arlington, VA (Washington DC metro area).  Open to public http://bit.ly/1jvslbu
    • "Ensuring Water Quality in Your Watershed" workshop (Pennsylvania watersheds - statewide); Erie, Pa, June 12 http://bit.ly/1dQrNx7
    • National Conference on Mining-Influenced Waters: Approaches for Characterization, Source Control and Treatment, Albuquerque, NM, August 12-14 http://1.usa.gov/1mv22lH
    • 3rd International Conference on Sustainable Remediation 2014, Ferrara, Italy, September 17-19, 2014 http://www.sustrem2014.com/
    e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
    Other news-
    • USDA ERS: number of people living in nonmetropolitan counties stood at 46.2 million in 2013; nearly 15% of US residents http://1.usa.gov/1dQUNV9
    • MN DNR Commissioner Landwehr tells Mississippi Headwaters Board saving waters and forests reaps economic gains http://bit.ly/1pWGAYI
    • National Geographic Society’s geotourism website will show tourists the experiences the Mississippi River can offer http://strib.mn/1i72qCX
    Politics and People-
    • Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi names Steve Sodeman and Jack Lauer as its new Co-Chairs http://bit.ly/1gnAUQm
    • Former state Sen. Gordon Howie - an independent candidate - is jumping into the South Dakota U.S. Senate race http://bit.ly/1dXBBFt
    • State Sen. Glenn Grothman will challenge incumbent Rep. Tom Petri in Wisconsin's 6th district GOP U.S. House primary http://bit.ly/1j9uIQq
    Boy Scout Picnic
    Last Word - "In South Central Nebraska, the drought of 2014 makes the drought of 2012 look like a Boy Scout picnic." - Adams County, Nebraska farmer.
    April 1 Nebraska Drought Monitor Map