Friday, December 5, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~

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U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

This year's Capitol Christmas tree originated in the Upper Mississippi River Basin in Central Minnesota. The official lighting of the tree occurred on Tuesday, and on the left is a photo of the tree following the ceremony, posing nicely next to the U.S. Capitol Building dome (currently under repair).

Next Week in Washington

There is only one U.S. House committee hearing and no Senate committee activity currently scheduled for next week that relates to Mississippi River Basin water resources. Lawmakers, by-and-large, look to clear major pieces of legislation ahead of the winter recess scheduled to begin on Friday, December 12, when the 113th Congress will effectively be no more.   The main piece of pressing legislative business remaining is passage of a measure to fund the federal government beyond December 11 (when the current spending authorization lapses).  Spending bill amendments that impact environmental programs remain a possibility, but no details on those have come to light to date.  In addition, there will likely be some other floor activity in each chamber that relates to the River Basin natural resources or to those in the nation as a whole.  To see details (updated as needed), follow this link.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Voluntary Conservation 
to Protect our Land and Waters
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Voluntary Conservation to Protect our Land and Waters web site (testimony and video)
  • Concerns expressed that Obama Administration's proposed Clean Water Act rule could lessen farmer conservation program interest
  • Toledo, Ohio mayor calls for federal government to devote full attention to improving  U.S. surface water quality
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) questions USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Chief about the Lesser Prairie Chicken and WOTUS rule; Roberts' media release and video:
Other Water Quality News

  • Opponents of Obama administration's proposed clean water rule hope to kill the measure through spending bill rider
  • Prairie strips strategically planted in corn, soybean fields near Iowa's Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge reduced nutrient loss to surface waters
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advances bill to permanently exempt small commercial fishing vessels from need to obtain Clean Water Act vessel discharge permits
  • In Chesapeake Bay case, Farm Bureau challenges EPA authority over states to enforce TMDLs
  • Army to halt environmental tests at southern Indiana firing range that is part of the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge after years of testing water and soil
  • State approves 10,000-hog farm in central Missouri despite water pollution concerns of neighbors
  • USGS study seeks to find mercury source in Bighorn Reservoir (Missouri River Basin)
    The Buffalo River in Arkansas
  • Minnesota town leaders say their efforts to clean up Lake Hendricks are threatened by proposed 4,000-cow dairy farm
  • Waste water system pits environmental rules vs. Amish ways in southeastern Minnesota
  • The downside of the boom: For every barrel of North Dakota oil, about 1.4 barrels of brine are produced,  far more of it spilling than does oil
  • Des Moines, Iowa again struggling with nitrate in its water supply source
  • Study: Mining operations can affect waterways and fish habitats far downstream on a regional basis; abstract: and story:
  • Federal judge: USDA and SBA violated environmental laws by guaranteeing $3.6 million loan to large Arkansas hog farm near the Buffalo River; story: (ruling:
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Advanced treatment capabilities gain traction, enabling cities to augment drinking water supplies with purified wastewater
  • White Bear Lake settlement suspends litigation for 3 years, calls for water diversion from Mississippi River, reduced consumption (Minnesota)
  • Colorado officials crafting plan to address 163 billion gallon projected water shortfall reluctant to commit to consumption reductions
  • Oklahoma sets ambitious water plan goal premised on using no more water in 2060 than it does today
  • Water and wastewater industry leaders tout innovations amid many challenges at Senate hearing; hearing information: (story:
  • Barge industry would win long-sought fuel tax increase, boosting Inland Waterways Trust Fund under House-passed bill provision (see related link below)
  • Section 205 of House bill passed Wednesday increases cargo vessel fuel excise tax that funds Inland Waterways Trust Fund
  • 27 non-governmental organizations pledge support, align resources with Urban Waters Federal Partnership
Agriculture -
  • Purdue University Economist: it’s time to retire the myth that the world doesn’t make new farmland anymore
  • Illinois corn belt will soon be home to first-of-its-kind technology to extract valuable corn protein during ethanol production
  • USDA ERS: Prospects for continued growth in agricultural productivity are uncertain, particularly in light of climate change
  • USDA ERS: Milk production continues shift to large-scale farms, reducing prices but making  small and mid-sized farming start-ups more difficult
  • Ohio and Indiana teaming up with college to fly drone missions to help farmers boost crop yields
  • Iowa corn and soybean growers face a grim economic outlook over the next couple of years
  • Obama Administration selects 26 communities in 19 states to develop local food projects, encourage economic expansion (click here for the full list of communities:
  • About one in four Iowa farmers uses cover crops
  • Op-ed: "A Wake-Up Call For U.S. Farmers: The EPA Is Trying To Put You Out of Business"
  • Special Report: one of the most potent antibiotics used by U.S. cattle and dairy farmers is often misused
  • University of Illinois agricultural economists: “How Much Will Falling Gasoline Prices Affect Ethanol and Corn Demand?”
Climate and Weather -
  • This year is on course to be the warmest on record around the world: 
  • Leading meteorologists are on the verge of declaring the emergence of the El NiƱo weather phenomenon
  • US drought update: water deficits continue to mount in Minnesota, Dakotas; most of southern Plains continued to be dry over past week
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for December
  • The ice sheet of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate
  • Research: Grasslands may fare better, remain more stable under warmer conditions, increased carbon dioxide exposure
  • Council on Environmental Quality report: "State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience: Recommendations"
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases annual lists of plants, animals that are candidates for Endangered Species Act protection
  • Excelsior Brewing Co. launches new ale made with zebra mussel shells, Eurasian milfoil, an
    Invasive Zebra mussel
    invasive lake plant (Minnesota)
  • What happens when you put fish on the pill? Researcher tests estrogen's effect on fish at a lakewide scale
  • Policy conundrum looms as Federal agencies are poised to treat honeybee as an invasive species
  • U.S. Geological Survey Models the Response of Imperiled Freshwater Mussels to Climate Change
  • Senate approves House-passed bill (H.R. 5069) to increase price of annual permits to hunt migratory waterfowl by $10
  • EPA approves use of potash on Christmas Lake to kill off zebra mussels (Minnesota)
  • Federal Forums Reveal Deep Divisions On Causes of and Solutions to Pollinator Decline
  • In Appalachia, beekeepers say reclaimed surface mines make a lot of sense for the trade
In the Cities -
  • Clinton, Iowa permeable pavers' major purpose to provide storm water runoff water quality
    Memphis, Tennessee "Pyramid"
  • Columbia, Missouri and Boone County move forward on green infrastructure plan
  • Winnebago, Minnesota takes on project to benefit Blue Earth River along with downstream Minnesota and Mississippi rivers
  • Bass Pro Shops empire to place store and hunting-fishing center at Memphis Pyramid along Mississippi River
  • White House recognizes Minneapolis for its recent environmentally friendly initiatives; named one of 16 “Climate Action Champions”
In the States-
  • Franklin Circuit Court Judge: Kentucky environmental regulators can no longer effectively enforce clean-water rules
  • Advocates hope federal coal ash rules spur oversight in Missouri of unlined pond waste disposal practices
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Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Federal judge returns Louisiana parish lawsuit against 19 oil and gas companies for environmental (wetland) damages to state court (related figure, to right)
  • Major deltas 'could be drowned' by sea level rise; Some of lowest-lying are particularly vulnerable, including the Mississippi
Resource Development -
  • Top fuel manufacturer threatens to sue USEPA for failing to meet 2015 proposal deadlines for renewable fuel mandate (RFS)
  • U.S. ethanol production is likely to continue at a record rate
  • NY Times: Oil boom impacts and politics mix quite well in North Dakota
  • Keystone XL pipeline would be sizable but it would account for under 0.8 percent of the oil pipelines already spread across the U.S.
  • Forest Service finalizes plan forbidding drilling from atop federal lands in Colorado's eastern plains
Federal Budget -
  • House leaders to reveal on Monday measure tying together 11 spending bills to fund government through September 2015
  • House Speaker John Boehner worries he’ll need Democratic votes to pass spending bill to avert government shutdown but has little choice
  • What is the "cromnibus?" It's not a croissant or donut. but a government-funding bill that Congress is leaning toward passing
  • House passes bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Coast Guard for 2015, setting up Senate vote
  • USEPA and Interior Department likely spared from major year-end spending bill "riders" (amendments)
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here each week can be viewed in the on-line calendar, located above and to the right (and here as a stand-alone calendar) 
  • USEPA State Level Nutrient Reduction Strategies webinar: Conservation Cropping And Soil Health; Dec. 10, 10 AM CST
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council Webinar: "Monitoring During Extreme Events (Floods and Droughts)" December 16, 2 PM ET
  • National Research Council's January 7 and 8, “Community-based Flood Insurance Options” meeting (Washington, DC) (Parts of January 6 meeting open to the public)
  • Mississippi River Research Consortium solicits platform and poster papers for presentation at the 47th Annual Meeting,  April 22-24, 2015
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No 267, Tuesday, Dec 2; “I Saw Three Canoes Come Sailing In…”
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays November 26 and December 2 e-newsletter
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Industrial Stormwater Program, December 2014 Newsletter
  • Fall/Winter edition of National Water Quality Monitoring Council's online National Water Monitoring News
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's November 26 and December 4 Watershed News 
  • Latest Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • Latest issue (Volume 4, 2014) of the Aquatic Sciences Chronicle (from U of WI's Sea Grant and Water Resources institutes)
  • December 2014 NW PAssages e-newsletter about Northwest Pennsylvania's Greenways, Heritage & Recreation Opportunities
  • Gulf Restoration Network's December 4 "GulfWaves" e-newsletter
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Feedlot Update - Dec. 4
Other news-
  • Graduate Assistantship, Natural Resource Social Science Beginning Farmer Project; Purdue University Dept. of Forestry and Natural Resources
  • Coca-Cola is preparing a U.S. nationwide launch of a high-end "supermilk" called Fairlife in
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program 2015 Request for Proposals open (due date February 3)
  • Journal of Applied Ecology: "The evolving linkage between conservation science and practice at The Nature Conservancy"
  • White House releases semiannual regulatory agenda detailing short- and long-term regulatory goals for every agency
  • House, Senate lawmakers attach public lands, energy, biofuels bills to defense authorization bill set for vote over next week
Politics and People-
  • House districts where single party rule applies (where representatives, both senators and
    Click to enlarge
    governors will all be from the same party) - in the U.S. mid-section, Minnesota is the only blue region
  • Congressional Management Foundation releases study based on about 450 congressional staff interviews explaining how to best manage Congressional meetings
  • Lame-duck dilemma: More than 130 Obama nominees still await Senate action, including five nominees to Environmental Protection Agency posts
  • How productive are lame duck Congresses? Maybe more than the lame name implies
  • There’s a runoff election in Louisiana’s Senate race Saturday, but Sen. Landrieu (D) is presumed politically dead
  • For those who missed it, here is the U.S. House calendar for 2015 (no Senate version yet):
  • Come January, nearly half of Congress (48.8 percent) will have been in office for four years or less - elected in 2010 or later
Your Moment of Zen -
Black bear cubs in Southwestern Pennsylvania (Photo source: The Guardian)

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