|Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg|
Below are various funding and policy provisions of the spending package that are particularly relevant to natural resources within the Mississippi River Basin.
Energy and Water Title
The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $5.5 billion, an increase of $15 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted levels. Some of the spending line items in that title include funding for the following Mississippi River Basin projects (note: this is not an inclusive list, to see the full project breakdown, go to this link):
Mississippi River Basin Investigations (Feasibility Studies)
- Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration- Mississippi River Hydrology, LA $50,000 (the administration had requested $2,500,000)
- Illinois River Basin Restoration, IL $400,000
- Interbasin Control of Great Lakes-Mississippi River Aquatic Nuisance Species, IL, IN, OH, WI $500,000
- Minnesota River Watershed Study, MN, SD (Minnesota River Authority) $600,000
- Missouri River Degradation, MO $593,000
- Upper Mississippi River Restoration, IL, IA, MN, MO, WI $33,170,000
- Olmsted Locks And Dam, Ohio River, IL, KY $160,000,000
- Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Recovery, IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD $48,771,000
- Mississippi River Levees (construction) AR, IL, KY, LA, MS, MO, TN 18,947,000
- Channel improvement (construction) AR, IL, KY, LA, MS, MO, TN $40,861,000
- Channel Improvement (operation and maintenance) AR, IL, KY, LA, MS, MO, TN $65,739,000
- Mississippi River Levees (operation and maintenance) AR, IL, KY, LA, MS, MO, TN $8,890,000
- Dredging $6,400,000
- Flood Control $29,600,000
- Other Authorized Project Purposes $21,000,000
- $1.1 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, for harbor maintenance, construction, and operations activities (a $100 million increase over 2014 enacted levels);
- $281 million (including the full amount of anticipated revenues into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund) for construction and rehabilitation of the nation’s inland waterways infrastructure; and
- $29 million for the Asian carp dispersal barrier project on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Funding is provided for the continued construction, operation, and maintenance of the electric barrier system. No funding is provided for construction of hydrologic separation measures.
- $2.35 billion in grants to states to help them fund local drinking water and sewer construction projects through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds; and
- $1.4 billion for the Fish and Wildlife Service; $12 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.
This title provides $20.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), $305 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, including:
- $5.1 billion for the Forest Service
- $2.7 billion for agriculture research programs with Agricultural Research Service seeing virtually the same level of funding as in 2014;
- $1.5 billion for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which oversees commodity programs, biomass energy efforts, the Conservation Reserve Program and emergency drought measures. That funding level is $22 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level;
- $1.35 billion for Rural Energy for America Program loan guarantees
- $859 million in discretionary funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a $33 million increase over the 2014 enacted level, including $12 million for dam rehabilitation;
- cuts of about $200 million to some of USDA's mandatory programs under the 2014 farm bill (primarily from the NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program, but also from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (FSA), Watershed Rehabilitation Program (NRCS), and Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (Rural Development)).
- Require the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw a rule that outlines numerous exemptions to the Clean Water Act for farmers. That rule (the "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Army Interpretive Rule Regarding the Applicability of the Clean Water Act Section 404(f)(1)(A)" or "interpretive rule") was signed on March 25, 2014;
- Prohibit funding for the EPA to regulate the lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act;
- Prohibit the use of funds for an Army Corps of Engineers' study of the Missouri River and its tributaries known as the Missouri River Ecosystem Recovery Plan, authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 2007;
- Prohibit the use of funds for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to place the greater sage-grouse (a rare bird found in several Western states) on the Endangered Species List;
- Prohibit the use of funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to change the definition of the terms "fill material" or "discharge of fill material" for the purposes of the Clean Water Act; and
- Prohibit the use of funds by the Army Corps of Engineers "to develop or implement rules or guidance to support implementation of the final Principles and Requirements for Federal Investments in Water Resources released in March 2013."