Friday, December 12, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

The Fiscal Year 2015 Spending Package and the Mississippi River Basin 
By a vote of 219 - 206 on Thursday, the House passed a 1,603-page spending package to fund most of the government through next September and the Department of Homeland Security through
"Cromnibus" spending legislation package
February, and sent the measure on to the Senate, which is expected to follow suit by Monday (the House and Senate both passed a two-day stop-gap funding bill, avoiding a government shutdown starting at midnight, Thursday).  Dubbed the “cromnibus,” the House-passed package encompasses 11 appropriations bills that cover most of the government for the rest of fiscal 2015 and one continuing resolution (CR) that funds Homeland Security. The $1.012 trillion bill abides by the caps agreed to under last December’s budget agreement, which relieves lawmakers of the requirement to implement mandatory sequestration for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Here is a link to our summary of the various funding and policy provisions in the spending package that are particularly relevant to water resources within the Mississippi River Basin.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality - 
  • Senate passes algae water quality bill (S.2785 - Safe and Secure Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014) but House doesn't consider its version before adjourning; bill: (article:
  • EPA fighting U.S District judge ruling that it decide on Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' rulemaking
    2008 Mississippi River spill from train derailment
  • Des Moines Water Works left with no alternative but to activate nitrate removal facility in face of record high concentrations
  • Local Ohio group takes on toxic algae in Little Miami River Basin head on
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. works to clean up release of unidentified substance on the Des Plaines River in Illinois
  • Report on Missouri River basin in Minnesota: Few water bodies meet swimmable and fishable standards
  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection commits $1 million to Coal River stream restoration project
  • Environmental groups threaten to sue Patriot Coal Corp. over alleged Clean Water Act violations at Hobet mine, W.Va.
  • Subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railroad settles Mississippi River 2008 oil spill claim (Iowa and Wisconsin)
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) press appropriators to block funding for new flood risk standard development
  • Army Corps of Engineers' commander general: U.S. can no longer rely on Congress to repair failing infrastructure
  • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) on Wednesday unveiled the first draft of a new state plan
  • The Ogallala Aquifer: The Nation's Precarious Underground Water Supply
Agriculture - 
  • USDA allowing North Dakota landowners to enroll 82,800 more acres into two Conservation
    Reserve Program projects
  • USDA seeks public comment on new Environmental Quality Incentives Program rule; press release  December 12 Federal Register notice:
  • A busy year lies ahead as USDA implements the new farm bill; here is a list of staffers who will be instrumental in that effort
  • New Iowa study points to greater need for policy support of cover crops; news story: (study:
  • University of Illinois study: Crop insurance likely adds 4 to 9 percent to farmland values
  • 2014 oil slump may have come too late to benefit U.S. farmers; prices need to remain lower for months to reduce next season's costs
  • Indiana Supreme Court to decide which county court will hear lawsuit filed to stop construction of large scale hog farm
  • Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Tex) announces creation of six new subcommittees for 2015, including Conservation and Forestry panel
  • Organic crops could become more attractive to farmers who are faced with low corn and soybean prices
  • Organic farming boom stretches the U.S. Agriculture Department’s ability to monitor the system
  • Wisconsin-based group says organic regulations are not being enforced; files legal complaints against 14 industrial livestock operations
  • The number of Christmas tree farms has dwindled in Nebraska and elsewhere across the nation
  • EPA is accepting nominations for Science Advisory Board Agricultural Science Committee candidates; Nominations due January 30, 2015
  • Senate passes Coast Guard Reauthorization, with amendment extending permit exemption for small commercial, fishing vessels' discharges (the House cleared the amended version of the reauthorization Wednesday afternoon, sending the bill on to the President)
  • NPR: The roles and number of women working on farms continue to grow, but USDA doesn't always count them
Climate and Weather -
  • White House releases new water and ecosystems data sets for private sector to use in response to climate change impacts
  • U.S. Drought Update: abnormal dryness and drought in southern portions of both Louisiana and Mississippi, Southern Plains remain dry
  • Contiguous U.S. drought coverage declined to 29.13 percent by the beginning of December, the lowest level in three years
  • Scientists look to model how organisms will cope with climate changes' faster, less predictable environmental variation
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Wisconsin officials shut down the state's wolf hunt after hunters exceed the 150 wolf quota
  • More Minnesota landowners are committing to restoring prairie grasslands on their land
  • Dixon Waterfowl Refuge (Hennepin, Illinois) area expanding to more than 3,000 acres with new parcel purchase
In the Cities -
  • New York Times Op-ed: High Rises vs. Honky Tonks: Gentrification is Threatening Nashville's Soul
In the States-
  • In Kentucky, where coal is king, both Democrats and Republicans are blocking green policies
  • Courier-Journal Editorial (Louisville, Kentucky): "Starving the beast" - continued state energy and environment cuts are counterproductive
  • Wisconsin Assembly Republican lawmakers hope to shield land stewardship program from next round of state budget cuts
  • Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner prepares voters for what he says will be a painful two years sorting out state's financial woes
  • House-passed Ohio water-quality bill stalls in state senate; story: (bill here: (related story below)
  • Heavily amended, Ohio bill dealing with environmental, agricultural and fracking appears to be mired in committee
  • Missouri bill would help low-income seniors access farmers markets
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana is trying to restore its coastline with a "a 50-year, $50 billion plan based on science
    Click to enlarge
    that's never been tested and money it doesn't have"
  • Reporting From the Youngest Land in the World
  • BP's failed U.S. Supreme Court appeal sends 'clear signal,' sets tone for future Gulf oil spill disputes
  • Jefferson Parish Council (Louisiana) to ask Treasury Department for $400,000 to develop Restore Act project plan
  • Environmental groups: Louisiana restoration projects should get top priority with BP oil spill fine money (also see related links, below)
  • Environmental groups release two reports describing Gulf coastal restoration projects that could bring biggest benefits and
  • East bank levee authority, energy firms argue in court over Louisiana law passed to kill wetlands lawsuit
Forestry - 
  • Experts fear that U.S. forest health will degrade as forest landowners' ages increase while size of parcels shrink
Resource Development -
  • Companies in drought areas look at liquefied petroleum gas gel for hydraulic fracturing to reduce dependence on scarce water supplies
  • Congressional investigation into the way states regulate fracking waste disposal expands to Ohio and West Virginia
  • Montana regulators seek public comments on the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and
  • Lawmakers vent their frustration at Environmental Protection Agency's  repeated delays of the annual ethanol mandate
Federal Budget -
  • House press release with summary and highlights of FY 2015 budget agreement
  • Summary – Agriculture Appropriations (includes USDA)
  • Summary – Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations (includes NOAA)
  • Summary – Energy and Water Appropriations (includes Army Corps of Engineers)
  • Summary – Interior and Environment Appropriations  (includes USEPA and Interior Department)
        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
        • Wetland Mapping Consortium webinar:  State Offsite Methods for Prairie Pothole Region wetland determinations December 17, 3 PM ET
        e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
        • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency December 8 "BALMM Currents" (Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota)
        • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for December 2014
        • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No 268, Saturday, December 6
        • December 9 Green Lands Blue Waters Update, highlighting efforts to advance Mississippi River Basin agricultural land Continuous Living Cover
        • America's Waterway December 2014 "River Currents" e-newsletter
        • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's December 9, TUWaterWays e-newsletter
        • Montana Watershed Coordination Council December 11 Watershed News
        Other news-
        • House passes bill directing study on the feasibility of incorporating Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail into National Trail System (Nebraska, Kansas)
        • Senate unanimously approves FOIA Improvement Act, sending information transparency bill to the House (bill here:
        • House Energy and Commerce Committee releases policy paper addressing coal ash disposal (article:
        • Closing in on ALS? Link between lethal disease and blue-green algae being explored
        Politics and People-
        • Associated Press-GfK poll: most of the public thinks America's political leaders are incapable of cooperation
        • Joseph Glauber, head of U.S. Agriculture Department's economics office, announces his retirement
        • Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) easily ousted incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in their Senate runoff on Saturday
        • POLITICO: "Greens to Landrieu: Good riddance"
        • Incoming House Agriculture Committee chairman announces committee's eight new Republican members, including Reps. Mike Bost of Illinois, Tom Emmer of Minnesota
        • Republican candidates in Louisiana claim easy Saturday runoff wins in two open-seat House races (Baton Rouge-based 6th District; northeastern 5th District
        • Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Il.) named Chairman of House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research for the 114th Congress
        • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will be new chair of the Democratic Governors Association, breaking run of four straight  coastal state chairmen
        • Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) names 12 new Republican Committee members for 2015, including Garret Graves of Louisiana and Todd Rokita of Indiana
        Your Moment of Zen - 
        Photograph: Jonathan Need/Rex Features

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