Friday, May 2, 2014

What We Learned This Week - A Carp By Any Other Name

"It was the best of states.  It was the worst of states."
We may soon see an end to what has been a long road of negotiating a final Water Resources Development Act. Things appear to be moving legislatively, as well, on the federal spending front, with the House passing its first 2015 appropriations bill this week (while the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to hold its first full committee votes on fiscal 2015 spending bills sometime around May 22).  House GOP members don't particularly appreciate various provisions of the 40-year-old Endangered Species Act. As U.S. farmers douse their fields with a wide array of herbicides in a battle against so-called "super weeds," comes news that the USEPA is considering approval of a new pesticide designed for use with crops engineered to tolerate the herbicide 2,4-D.  Meanwhile, there appears to be an ever-widening gulf between pesticide manufacturers and environmentalists over pesticides' role in bee deaths. Near-record heavy April rains have swollen streams in the Upper and Middle Mississippi River region, causing minor flooding and disrupting barge traffic (but May should be drier).  There is a burgeoning push among industry representatives and River mayors to broaden commercial Mississippi River shipping.   Sometimes people like fish kills (500,000-plus Asian carp in Kentucky) and sometimes they don't (in Iowa farm ponds).   Minnesota's state senators express their conceptual disagreement with Juliet's thoughts about roses by any other name (in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet), by voting to call "Asian carp" "invasive carp," instead. Many coastal cities around the world are now sinking much faster than previously thought (at a rate up to ten times that of climate-related sea level rise).  Not to be outdone, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels set a record last month (but Iowans seem to be adept at adapting to it all).  In "comings and goings," the National Wildlife Federation has named its new President, while Rep. Vance McAllister, who represents Louisiana's sixth Congressional district, announced that he won't run for reelection in November (as pressure mounts for him to resign now).  And last but not least, about half of Illinoisans don't like living in Illinois (conversely, Montanans rank their state the best - or among the best - places to live).

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