Friday, June 13, 2014

What We Learned This Week - Water Divides; Seersucker Unites

Senators wearing seersucker suits pose for a group photo in
the Capitol (June, 2011)
President Barack Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 into law.  There isn't much support in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the Administration's proposed rule clarifying Clean Water Act jurisdiction, and a House spending bill rider would effectively block the rule's implementation.  In other blockage news, Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) introduced legislation that would limit the EPA's power to revoke permits for work happening in or near waterways.   Bill interrupted - further House consideration of its fiscal year 2015 Agriculture appropriations bill has been postponed for at least two weeks, while Republicans sort out who the next Majority Leader will be.  Before pausing, the House approved several amendments to the bill, including drought relief and invasive pest amendments.  Several organizations and elected officials went to Washington DC to push for Louisiana coastal restoration, but didn't mention that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill earlier in the week to end a levee authority's lawsuit against oil and gas companies for coastal wetland damages.  Projects have been funded to reforest the Missouri River floodplain along its only free-flowing North Dakota stretch, which is good, because new research finds that disturbances to forests and their biogeochemistry adversely impact aquatic ecosystems function and services vital to people.  Farmers markets in Missouri can't catch a (tax) break thanks to a Governor's veto. Michigan State University research on climate change and agriculture finds that too much fertilizer may enhance global warming. But the scorecard may eventually be evened, since the days of "king corn" in the Corn Belt appear to be numbered by climate change.  There is a 90 percent chance that the world's weather could get wilder this upcoming year, and it's all the fault of a "little boy."  Over 60 percent of U.S. corn farmers planted genetically-modified Bt corn in 2010 in response to threats of highly localized insect infestations.  More recently, U.S. corn farmers are increasing pesticide use as they worry that some insects are becoming resistant to genetically modified crops.  The Army Corps of Engineers reports that snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains has fueled above-average May runoff in the Missouri River Basin, but that reservoirs will handle the increased volume. So don't worry - unless you happen to be in the Mississippi River Basin in Central Minnesota, where streams are running high, and it continues to rain.  Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any point in recent history, but not when it comes to National Seersucker Day. And last but not least, although destroying the environment may be bad for the planet, it’s often good for business.

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