Friday, June 27, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
This Week and Next
The U.S. House and Senate are both off next week, as they break for the July Fourth holiday.  But this week, Congress's halls were filled with several water-relevant hearings.  Notably, witnesses testifying before a House Subcommittee, along with Subcommittee members, expressed reservations regarding the clarity of the Obama Administration's proposed "Waters of the United States" rule, as that proposal continued to make headlines in the River region and in Washington, DC.  One particular water of the U.S. - that above the Louisiana and Texas continental shelf - will exhibit a hypoxic or "dead" zone this summer roughly the size of Connecticut, if things go as predicted earlier this week.   A series of political party primaries and a convention this past week chose candidates - mostly establishment candidates - for the upcoming, November mid-term election. There was widespread flooding in Iowa and Minnesota during the week.  And we also discovered that Minneapolis is a much less-stressful Mississippi River city to live in than New Orleans.  In this one, concise paragraph, we've summarized what else we learned over the past week (spoiler - bipartisanship looks awkward).

In Two Weeks
When the Senate returns on July 7, it is planning to begin consideration of the "Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014" (S. 2363), "to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes." That bill is a package of 12 bills that include reauthorizations of federal programs to conserve wetlands for waterfowl and that would allow federal agencies to use revenues from land sales to acquire lands of higher conservation value. This Field and Stream article summarizes some of the key features of the bill, along with each of the section's current sponsors.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Fears of EPA ‘land grab’ create groundswell against water rule
  • Witnesses testifying before House Subcommittee raise concerns that proposed water rule will be misinterpreted
  • Cedar Rapids Gazette editorial: Who’s watching our waterways: Opinions differ on impact of Clean Water Act clarification
  • Colorado brewery that makes the Fat Tire beer supports EPA effort to redefine bodies of water under its jurisdiction
  • Federal Register: EPA and Army Corps officially extend "Waters of the U.S." proposed rule comment period until October 20
  • Archived USEPA Webinar Now Available on Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rule
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks proposals for projects to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the state
  • After reported dog death, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency advises dog owners to keep pets out of algae-laden waters
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Federal government denies that Army Corps of Engineers caused major Missouri River flooding
    Flooding at St. Paul, Minnesota,
    where the Mississippi River crested at
    the sixth highest recorded level
    affecting five states regularly since 2006 
  • After massive fire, water-stressed Fritch, Tex. reels economically as lake dwindles (Arkansas River watershed)
  • Federal survey of water managers: respondents indicate that nearly every U.S. state will experience freshwater shortages within the next decade
  • Vast Stretches of Minnesota Are Flooded as Swollen Rivers Overflow
  • President Obama pledges federal government recovery aid after massive flooding hits many parts of Minnesota
  • Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District provides technical, direct aid to communities following historic rain
  • Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting: Aging water infrastructure ‘nearing the end of its useful life’
Agriculture -
  • International team of scientists concludes regulation of pesticides has failed to prevent poisoning of nearly all habitats
  • The first of a new generation of genetically modified crops is poised to win U.S. government approval
  • Deciphering Key Provisions of the Agricultural Act of 2014: Conservation and the Farm Bill
  • Soil Renaissance Strategic Plan released at World Congress of Conservation Agriculture: strategies to advance soil health
  • U.S. farm income is expected to plummet 27 percent this year, driven largely by lower cash receipts from crops
Climate and Weather -
  • Average May land and ocean surface temperature was highest ever; 2014 shaping up as potentially
    hottest yet
  • NWS Climate Prediction Center: Drought to expand eastward into eastern Texas, western Louisiana by end of September
  • El NiƱo could direct much-needed rainfall back to parched western states, including Mississippi River Basin's Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas
  • Severe storms wreak havoc in northern part of Midwest, leaving livestock, crop operations in poor condition
  • NOAA drought update: Moderate to heavy rainfall reduced or eradicated Midwest and northern, central Oklahoma drought
  • NOAA Survey: Coastal Managers Concerned About Climate Change
  • Storms over the past week damaged thousands of crop acres in northwest Iowa, as farmers consider 
  • replanting options
  • Democratic and Republican Senators seek to find common ground in the climate change debate
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • 20th-century Mississippi River re-engineering devastated a once-abundant populations of native river
    River shrimp,
    Macrobrachium ohione
  • White House announces federal strategy to reverse a rapid decline in the number of honey bees and other pollinators
  • Widespread impacts of neonicotinoids "conclusive" and "impossible to deny"
  • Many plants marketed as beneficial to bees have been treated with insecticide some scientists believe to be harmful to bee colonies
  • Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee releases 014 Asian carp control strategy framework 
  • Obama administration to extend comment period for three proposals to clarify how it designates and protects threatened and endangered species critical habitat 
  • Palmer amaranth weed in five Iowa counties on the state’s border has the power to choke state’s economy, environment
  • Fish and Wildlife Service delays disputed proposed protections for wide-ranging Eastern bat afflicted by fungus
  • "How To Talk To Fish" (including a catfish section!)
In the Cities -
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors approve resolution urging Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (Conference of Mayors' 82nd Annual Meeting web site:
In the States-
  • Environmental Law and Policy Center launches website to showcase Minnesota water conservation challenges, successes
  • Kentucky proposes new permitting coal mine rules aimed at resolving federal concerns; strengthening stream protection
  • Environment Illinois: 6.1 million pounds of toxic releases occurred into Illinois' streams in 2012
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • LUMCON media release: 2014 Hypoxic (Dead Zone) Predicted To Be Nearly the Size of Connecticut
  • Scientists predict that the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" will end up being about its average size this year
  • Houma Today editorial: Gulf dead zone another reminder of threats upstream
Forestry -
  • U.S. Forest Service report: Climate change has left mark on Minnesota's forests, prompting need for forest management practice changes
  • University of Tennessee receives $200,322 USDA grant to investigate the benefit and health of urban trees in green infrastructure installations
Resource Development -
  • White House threatens to veto cross-border energy infrastructure project streamlining bill (H.R. 3301) -also see below
  • House passes H.R. 3301 - bill to replace permits for border-crossing energy infrastructure projects (i.e., Keystone XL pipeline)
  • Government has failed to conduct key inspections on 1,401 new oil and gas wells on federal and Native American land (see figure to the right)
  • Over 2,600 oil and natural gas wells were completed in Oklahoma last year; boom fueled by horizontal drilling
  • Minnesota appeals court upholds county decision that no environmental impact statement is needed for controversial frac sand mine
Federal Budget -
  • Coalition of outdoor and conservation groups urges robust funding for wildlife refuges
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Natural Areas Association's 41st Annual Natural Areas Conference, re: Natural areas in North America; Dayton, Ohio; October 15-17
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency River Connections for June 2014
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting continuous living cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's June 24 TUWaterWays e-newsletter (PDF file)
Other news-
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee approves "Secret Science Reform Act" bill; Committee release: (bill page:
  • House Agriculture Subcommittee holds public hearing to review credit availability in rural America
  • CNNMoney’s ranking of most (and least) stressed out U.S. cities finds New Orleans, Memphis near top; Minneapolis less-stressed
Politics and People-
  • Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) dies at 88
  • Oklahoma Third District Congressman and Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas cruises to easy GOP primary victory
  • Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) wins Oklahoma Senate primary, making him the odds-on November favorite
  • Former Rep. Bob Beauprez clinches the GOP nomination for Colorado governor in Tuesday primary
  • Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) orchestrates stunning comeback over primary challenger Chris McDaniel (R)
  • "The Bizarro World Of Iowa’s GOP Convention" 
  • David Young, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, is surprise victor in GOP Iowa 3rd District primary race
Last Word -
At least 90 percent water
Beer is, after all, at least 90 percent water.” - Andrew Lemley, government affairs representative for the New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colorado, testifying in support of the Obama Administration's proposed “Waters of the United States” rule, at a Tuesday hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power.  Lemley added, “We depend on clean water for our success.”

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