Friday, January 30, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

The U.S. House and Senate are both scheduled to begin their work weeks on Groundhogs Day, with the House planning for four days, and the Senate five days of activity. The week will start off with a scheduled Monday release of the Obama administration's fiscal year 2016 budget proposal (which will be found at this White House OMB page after its release).  The President has already said that his proposal will peg government spending at seven percent ($74 billion) over caps agreed to in a bipartisan "sequestration," deficit-reduction agreement reached three years ago.  That hint of what the budget will entail has already drawn fire from Republicans, and its release will kick off a series of House and Senate hearings, including a House Ways and Means Committee hearing already scheduled for next week.  You can find all of the Capitol Hill activities currently scheduled next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources on this web page.

The budget proposal announcement is just the opening move in a series of maneuvers that has become an annual Washington ritual, symbolic in recent years of the partisanship that has characterized Washington, DC relationships. We will post an analysis of the Administration's proposal with respect to Mississippi River Basin natural resources in this blog site once details become available.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Over 100 U.S. House members cosponsor "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act" (H.R. 594)
  • Regulatory reform and the Obama Administration's proposed clean water jurisdiction rule will be top issues for Senate Agriculture Committee
  • Senate Agriculture Chair Roberts pledges to work with Obama administration to resolve farmers' concerns about proposed clean water rule
  • Federal appeals court: Clean Water Act shields coal mining company from liability for selenium releases (Kentucky case) news article: ruling:
  • West Virginia federal court judge rules that Consol Energy subsidiary is liable for elevated levels of conductivity in regulated waterway
  • Des Moines Register editorial board: Des Moines Water Works lawsuit would be a "civilized
    Des Moines, Iowa
    approach" to resolving a public health threat
  • Des Moines Water Works lawsuit reopens debate over how best to manage nutrient flow from U.S. farms into streams
  • Wisconsin’s frac sand industry is big business and big trouble for the state’s waterways
  • Thousands of Greenbrier County (WV) residents, businesses without water after a diesel spill contaminates Greenbrier River and
  • Pipeline source of oil spilled into Montana's Yellowstone River lies exposed on riverbed, not buried at 8 feet
  • EPA reduces estimate for amount of oil spilled into Yellowstone River from pipeline from 40,000 to 30,000 gallons
  • Yellowstone River shovelnose sturgeon and emerald shiners to be tested for exposure to oil from January 17 spill
  • Major North Dakota brine pipeline spill's contamination reaches Missouri River; wildlife and

    drinking water supplies not affected
  • Environmental Protection Agency approves Minnesota's amendments to State Water Quality Standards addressing eutrophication of rivers and streams
  • "Nutrient Roadmap Primer: The Future of Nutrient Removal and Recovery," now available from Water Environment Federation
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Department of Energy releases update to modeling tool evaluating water consumption associated with fuel production
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) decries "closed-door, multiagency efforts" to update flood risk
    American Rivers' Dam Removal Map (1936-2014)
    standards for federal investments
  • Four flood-prone Missouri River properties purchased to make room for a now-scrapped North Dakota levee to be auctioned off
  • What makes Baton Rouge's drinking water so good? And is the region at risk of losing it?
  • EPA awards $1 million in National Wetland Program Development Grant funds to six projects designed to bolster state and tribal capacity to protect and restore wetlands
  • American Rivers' report: 72 dams were removed across the U.S. last year, including (in the Mississippi River Basin) 5 in Iowa, 2 in Illinois, and 2 in Tennessee (related story below)
  • National Geographic News: Movement to take down thousands of dams goes mainstream
Agriculture -
  • Federal judge rules in favor of EPA in agribusiness information privacy case: ruling: article: (related story below)
  • American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council appeal court CAFO privacy ruling
  • USDA issues Conservation Innovation Grants Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Announcement for Program Funding; Pre-proposal deadline February 24 (USDA CIG funding press release:
  • Drop in North Dakota dairy farm numbers leads to scrutiny of state law allowing only family members to form farming corporations
  • Minnesota Rep. Peterson (ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee) expects criticism of high farm bill costs
  • Unmanned drones could play key roles in food supply: "Herding cattle. Counting fish. Taking an animal's temperature. Applying pesticides"
  • Neighbors worry about Sonstegard Foods plans to open six-million-chicken facility in South
    Dakota near Vermillion River
  • Nebraska tries to attract out-of-state dairy farmers with promises of abundant land, plentiful water and feed, agriculture-friendly rules
  • USDA workshops being held to help organizations submit Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grant applications
  • USDA Farm Service Agency: non-irrigated "pivot corners" now eligible for Conservation Reserve Program habitat creation
  • USDA kicks off "Organic Survey" to gather detailed data on U.S. organic agriculture production
  • Drone to be used for Clark State Community College's precision agriculture program (west-central Ohio)
  • EPA loosens restrictions on, sets permissible level of sulfoxaflor: pesticide used for agricultural purposes
Climate and Weather -
  • U.S. Midwest's climate future: Missouri like Arizona, Chicago like Texas 
  • US weekly drought update: improvements along Louisiana Gulf Coast; another dry and warm week over the Midwest and High Plains
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for February (will be published on Friday at 3 PM Eastern time)
  • New study based on climate modeling predicts rise in frequency of extreme weather events
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Petition seeks habitat protection by FWS for Ohio River Basin's freshwater clubshell mussel, and 8 eastern species (see figure to the right →)
  • Minnesota’s battle against aquatic invasive species is going local
  • Bald eagles return to Iowa again as they migrate south
  • Congressional Republicans aim to revamp key Endangered Species Act requirements
  • Coalition asks Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify nearly all U.S. gray wolves as threatened
In the Cities -
  • Baton Rouge, La., Polk County, Iowa and Cincinnati, Ohio among 22 communnities to receive EPA technical assistance to pursue sustainable development strategies
In the States-
  • Former Missouri Department of Natural Resources employee: DNR lacks "political appetite" to enforce state laws
  • Two Missouri bills introduced to eliminate, decrease Conservation Sales and Use Tax that funds state conservation and
  • Interactive 2015 states' Legislatures' session map and legislative calendars table
  • Minnesota's House GOP is eager to scale back environmental regulations that they say hinder economic growth
  • Minnesota Governor's proposal prompts lively discussions on vegetative buffer strips along streams
  • Ohio appeals court rules that Oxford Mining Co. is authorized to operate in protected wetlands in east-central Ohio
  • Ohio House committee holds public meeting "to discuss water quality, nutrient management, and the important role Ohio farmers play in protecting our aquifers" and
  • Newly-introduced Indiana state legislation would mandate a Wabash, White, and Ohio Rivers aquifer study
  • Montana lawmakers introduce state bills targeting landowners who illegally block access to public land (House Bill 304 and House Bill 286
  • Wisconsin Natural Resources Board votes to conduct a "strategic analysis" of the frac sand mining industry
  • Pennsylvania Governor Wolf to sign moratorium on new gas drilling leases in state parks, forests
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • New FEMA elevations causing some Iberia Parish (Tete Bayou, Louisiana) residents to buy flood insurance
Forestry -
  • Report examines the efficacy of Forest Stewardship Council standards for conserving bat habitat in Minnesota
Resource Development -
  • World Resources Institute: world cannot meet future food needs and produce bioenergy at the same time
  • Senate on Thursday passed by a vote of 62 to 36 legislation to approve TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL oil pipeline
Federal Budget -
  • Congressional Budget Office annual budget outlook: federal deficit will begin to rise in 2017 and expand with an aging population
  • CBO report: Falling crop prices are raising cost projections for new farm bill risk management programs
  • Obama fiscal year 2016 proposed budget will “fully reverse” sequester cuts to the domestic budget and (budget to be released February 2)
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)
Click to enlarge
  • Great Mississippi River Photo Shoot; February 1 (details to the right →)
  • March 6 Capitol Hill briefing will highlight USGS report on groundwater quality across the nation
  • 10th Annual Regional Stormwater Seminar: new developments in stormwater practices and permit policies; April 17; Atlanta (southeast region includes TN, KY, MS)
  • Mississippi River Research Consortium solicits platform, poster papers for its 47th Annual Meeting, April 22-24
  • Penn State Extension Green Infrastructure Webinar Series: free events 2-3 times monthly into June (with more to follow) (link to flyer:
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • U.S. Water Alliance gives U.S. Water Prize to Electric Power Research Institute for its Ohio River Basin water quality trading project
  • Four Mississippi River Basin areas receive USDA rural development loans for small businesses in poor, underserved areas
  • Job: University of Montana Department of Society and Conservation in the College of Forestry and Conservation seeks Assistant Professor of Water Policy
  • Safe Food Act of 2015 introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would establish Food Safety Administration (link to bill:
  • Petroleum spills may promote the release of naturally-occuring arsenic to groundwater
  • Senate comes up one vote shy of permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Politics and People-
  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chair Agriculture Committee, announces new Subcommittee assignments for 114th Congress
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair Conaway (TX-11) announces subcommittee assignments
  • Senate Appropriations Committee announces full roster of its 12 subcommittees (Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to chair Agriculture Subcommitee)
  • Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) announces she will seek re-election this year, sidestepping other state races
  • New Pew Research Center poll: Republicans dislike U.S. EPA even more than they did a year ago; Democratic support up; article: and EPA table:
  • Despite progress, U.S. still lags many nations in women leaders, including national legislators
Your Moment of Zen -
Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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