Friday, November 7, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "Far From the Madding Crowd"

The loudest news this week in the U.S. centered on the mid-term election, and in its aftermath, some senior GOP Senators from the Mississippi River Basin are poised to chair several key, water-related Committees.  The election results were a bit "reddish" from a Mississippi River Basin perspective. But beyond the electoral din, there was news of slightly greater consequence. And here it is. Most of Montana’s surface water bodies are degraded.  USDA's Conservation Reserve Program enrollment plunged to 7-year low as corn acreage expanded.  The U.S. Geological Survey now makes real-time nitrate water concentration data available on-line from a total of 86 sites nationwide; many in the Mississippi River Basin. Oil-rich North Dakota voters soundly defeated a measure Tuesday that would have set aside oil and gas tax revenue for land conservation. Far from the electoral bluster, House and Senate appropriation committees' staff are quietly planning an ambitious wrap-up spending package for Congress' lame duck session.  The Earth is locked on an "irreversible" course of climatic disruption. The U.S. Senator who will chair the Environment and Public Works Committee in the next Congress called that climate view "extreme."  The odds are high that any pumpkin in your next pie started out in Illinois.   A barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn in Kentucky may play a role in White House-Senate relations over the next two years.  The worst rail delays in over a decade are impeding Midwest crop shipments, and sending commodity prices up sharply. Pasta prices are rising, too.  And last but not least, next year there will be 100 women in Congress for the first time (Ed. note: That's 18.7 percent of the 535 voting members of Congress).

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