Friday, September 5, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Up Next
Next week, the U.S. House and Senate return from an August hiatus to begin a short September performance before breaking again during the run-up to November's mid-term election.  The House is scheduled to be in session through Thursday, October 2, and the Senate will likely follow suit.  On the agenda for Congress during that period will be a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government funded beyond the September 30 end of the current fiscal year.  Look for a bipartisan push for a clean (rider-free) measure that will fund the government at least into December. Here is a link to the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources (As for the week gone by, we've distilled all of the news into this one-paragraph summary: "What We Learned This Week").

Also on the House Menu: Waters of the United States Rule
Earlier in the week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy named House consideration of of H.R. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014," as one of several Republican September legislative priorities.  The House Rules Committee will meet on Monday to clear the way for full House consideration of the bill, which would limit the Obama administration's ability to implement rules, policy or guidance redefining the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 
Water Quality -
  • U.S. EPA Inspector General report: EPA approach to shrinking Gulf of Mexico dead zone
    State shares of the total nutrient mass to the Gulf of Mexico
    (Source: USGS) Click to Enlarge
    has some major flaws; article:  (Link to full report: and "Report at a Glance" (related article:  EPA Inspector General  calls for EPA to do more on Gulf of Mexico dead zone
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy issues memo to House Republicans outlining September's legislative priorities - including "H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act"
  • Pennsylvania has released a list of drinking-water wells contaminated by oil and gas drilling
  • Study detects high groundwater arsenic levels in wells across Barnett Shale Gas area (Trinity River Basin)
  • Oil and gas company to restore streams, wetlands at 15 West Virginia sites damaged by dredge or fill operations
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District says it created about 850 acres of wetlands in 2014 in Louisiana through the beneficial use of Mississippi River dredge materials
  • Coal, petroleum coke debris found in Mississippi River dredge materials piped to Plaquemines marsh restoration projects
  • USEPA opposes key Army Corps proposed coal ash landfill wetland permit, saying it would destroy 16.5 miles of high-quality streams (Kentucky)
  • Thirty Mile Canal project designed to help endangered species through the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program
  • Missouri Valley, Iowa residents forced to evacuate because of a levee breach along the Boyer River
  • Wet August led to higher Missouri River stages; Army Corps increases water releases from Oahe Dam
  • State Rep. Ed Schieffer (Missouri) advocates for "fair and equitable Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan" before the Mississippi River Commission
  • Report: Water shortages could limit shale development across globe
  • Des Moines to install flashboards on Des Moines River's Center Street dam to increase water levels, enhance recreation
  • Several southern Illinois levee and drainage districts propose tax hike to raise funds to reline levee drainage pipes
  • Army Corps awards contracts for two projects to repair damages to shallow water habitat caused by 2011 Missouri River flood
  • Environmental experts kick off World Water Week conference by chastising United Nations for ignoring rainfall management needs
Agriculture -
  • Prospects of a bin-busting crop have driven corn prices to their lowest levels in four years
  • INFORUM National Farmers Union Letter to Editor: Rail Delays in the Dakotas Staggering, Unacceptable
  • Kellogg, its leading corn supplier, and The Nature Conservancy seek to advance Midwest Corn Belt agricultural conservation management
Climate and Weather -
  • Georgetown Climate Center report: Federal natural disaster policies hinder state efforts at climate adaptation
  • US drought update: improvements in drought and dry areas in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for September: drought improvement expected in the central Plains
  • Meteorologists don't see climate conditions to indicate that Old Farmers' Almanac "record breaking winter" is coming
  • Researchers say that Earth cannot sustain humanity's growing demand for meat and dairy products
  • 2050 "weather report" released by UN last Sunday to highlight urgency of its September 23 NYC climate change summit (video)
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Environmental groups file petitions with three federal courts seeking to overturn final USEPA cooling water intake rule
  • Monday was the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the last known passenger pigeon . . . an article of warning:
  • Bald eagles continue to expand in Kentucky, extending steady increase in breeding pairs during the last decade
  • Missouri River sandbars in South Dakota and Nebraska to be cleared of plants so least terns and piping plovers can build nests
  • Asian carp barrier back up on Lake Decatur dam (Illinois River Basin)
  • Pennsylvania invites project applications for State Wildlife Grants to address high-priority Ohio River Basin conservation needs (including freshwater mussel conservation)
  • Canadian beekeepers file class-action lawsuit against neonicotinoid makers
  • FWS suggests threatened bull trout could recover without population target (range partly in Missouri River Basin headwaters); lawsuit possible
In the Cities -
  • Video: Impervious Surface Reduction/Green Alley phase of Dubuque, Iowa's Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project
  • Water Environment Federation chose this Chattanooga, TN video as 1 of 4 winners of 2014 StormTV Project competition (WEF video awards press announcement here:
  • Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans aims to turn environmental weaknesses into economic strengths
In the States-
  • Kentucky Issues New General Permits for Coal Mine Water Pollution  (see related article, immediately below)
  • Environmental groups are suing Kentucky over key provision of state's new coal-mining, water quality protection rule
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • BP found grossly negligent in Deepwater Horizon disaster; Transocean, Halliburton were each negligent - ruling could add billions more in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken already
  • Several chronic disasters unfolding around Gulf of Mexico compete with the Deepwater Horizon event
  • Halliburton settles majority of lawsuits filed against it for Gulf of Mexico 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for about $1.1 billion
  • BP asks federal judge to remove Patrick Juneau as administrator of damage claims from its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Resource Development -
  • First of three commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants comes online in Iowa;
    uses corncobs, leaves and husks to produce ethanol
  • West Virginia DNR seeks bids from drillers to use fracking to extract natural gas and oil from state-owned land beneath Ohio River
  • Major oil pipeline that would carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois faces fight from activists in Iowa
Federal Budget -
  • 16 hunting, fishing, conservation organizations call on Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • U of Mn-hosted event: "Trapped by History: the Past and Future of the Upper Mississippi River" 7:00 pm CT, September 9
  • Event to mark 25th anniversary of state legislation creating Lower Wisconsin State Riverway; Sept. 14, Spring Green, WI
  • October 2-7 seminars and float: "Timeless Journey Down the River Searching for a Home" (in the Lower Mississippi River Dispatch)
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
  • "Vital Statistics on Congress" August 2014 update – Joint Effort from Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Industrial Stormwater News: September 2014
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers August 2014 "News and Views" (PDF file)
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's River Connections for August 2014
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's September 3 "TUWaterWays" e-newsletter
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Feedlot Update - Sept. 3, 2014
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's September 4 Watershed News
Politics and People-
  • House Oversight, Senate EPW Committees' GOP members launch investigation into NRDC relationship with U.S. EPA (related E&E article:
  • 365 incumbents in the 435-member House;18 of 28 senators on a glide path to a November re-election and another term
  • U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La-5) held the most August recess town hall meetings (23) of all of his Congressional peers
  • Iowa's US Senate race is worth an extra dash of attention because of ideological distance between the two candidates: Bruce Braley, a Democratic House member, and Joni Ernst, a Republican state senator
  • Chad Taylor, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas withdraws from race against Pat Roberts, three-term Republican incumbent; move would boost the prospects of independent candidate Greg Orman (see subsequent article below)
  • Kansas Secretary of State denies Democrat Chad Taylor’s request to be removed from Kansas U.S. Senate ballot boosting the vulnerable Pat Roberts' (R) reelection prospects
  • Mississippi judge dismisses state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) legal challenge seeking to overturn Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) June primary win
  • Roll Call refreshes its rankings of the top 10 most vulnerable senators, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) rises to the top
  • Women who serve in office continue to be underrepresented at all levels of U.S. government — 20% of U.S. senators are women, as are 18% of House members; at the state level, only 10% of governors and 24% of state legislators are women
Your Moment of Zen -
のせ猫 x カエルと猫 "cat and frog" (via NPR)

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