Friday, April 24, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

Committee Army Corps' Spending Bill Approved; Moves on to Full House
Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee debated and approved its Energy and Water Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016, and, by reference, its accompanying Committee report detailing specific spending line items. The bill would set spending levels for the Army Corps of Engineers and Energy Department for the fiscal year beginning October 1, and next goes to the House floor for consideration by the entire chamber (likely next week). Overall, the bill would restore funding cuts proposed by the Obama Administration for Army Corps' construction, operation and maintenance, and investigations, while funding most - but not all - Mississippi River Basin projects at levels proposed by the Administration.  In addition to setting spending levels, the bill contains two riders that would impact how the Army Corps manages water resource issues.  To see a summary of the bill compared to the President's proposed budget as it relates to the Mississippi River Basin, see this analysis.

Also This Week . . . and Next
Photo credit: Jim Havard via Flickr
Also on the House appropriation docket this week was the Appropriation Committee's announcement of the funding levels in its draft Department of Interior, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spending bill. While the bill's text has yet to be released, the Committee announced that it will fund the agencies at $30.17 billion for Fiscal Year 2016; $246 million below the funding level for the current Fiscal Year, and almost $1.9 billion below the Fiscal Year 2016 level proposed in the Obama Administration  budget plan. The House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee has yet to schedule a mark-up session for the spending bill.  Other Congressional committee meetings and hearings have been scheduled, however, and here is a link to next week's activities that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources in one form or another.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
Waters of the United States
  • Company seeking to build landfill on Louisiana wetland asks the U.S. Supreme Court for the second time to take up Army Corps jurisdiction case
  • White House: it's "irresponsible" for House spending bill to block proposed Clean Water Act rule implementation
Other Water Quality News

  • NY Times: Conflict Over Soil and Water Quality Puts ‘Iowa Nice’ to a Test
  • Exxon Mobil Co. subsidiaries agree to $5 million settlement with Arkansas and federal government over 2013 oil spill
  • West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Kentucky Waterways Alliance call for reduced mercury discharges to the Ohio River
  • Phillips 66 discovers diesel fuel leaking near/into the Mississippi River from one of its Illinois pipelines (now contained within booms before River)
  • Electric Power Research Institute awarded U.S. Water Alliance Water Prize for multi-state nutrient trading pilot
  • Ohio Farm Bureau Federation releases report detailing efforts to ensure safe and healthy state water (report:
  • Cape Girardeau County meat processing company owners: ongoing releases of slaughterhouse waste into nearby creek were unintentional
  • Oklahoma ranks second among states for reducing phosphorus loading to waterways according to new EPA data (third for nitrogen reduction)
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Congressional GOP attempt to gain leverage over Corps' water resources projects within earmark ban constraints has stalled
  • USDA announces $112 million in Water and Environmental Program funding for rural water and wastewater infrastructure projects
  • St. Bernard Parish resolution opposes Louisiana state funding for proposed Mississippi River sediment diversions
  • The Guardian: "The cold truth about our thirst for bottled water"
Agriculture -
  • Environmental groups sue U.S. EPA to end a 2008 pollution-reporting exemption for animal feeding operations
  • Center for Food Integrity research: only 25 percent of consumers believe "U.S. has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world”
  • USDA accepting applications for Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative project in Southeast Lower Green River watershed (Kentucky)
  • Environmental groups contest USEPA decision to allow more widespread use of new 2,4-D version used on genetically modified corn, soybeans
  • Drones: A conservation tool of the future?
  • USDA issues Conservation Compliance Interim Final Rule (effective today); comment period open through June 23
Source: NOAA
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA seasonal drought update: drought improvement in southern High Plains; drought likely to persist across Northern Plains and Minnesota, expanding into portions of Wisconsin and Illinois
  • US weekly drought update: 
  • NOAA: March 2015 and first quarter of year were warmest on record
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Divers confirm effective treatment of Christmas Lake (Minnesota) zebra mussels
  • Unexplained Walleye decline having major effect on Mille Lacs Lake area businesses and communities (Minnesota)
  • Two new research papers suggest that neonicotinoid pesticides play a significant role in the decline of bees
Photo credit: Minneapolis Park Board
In the Cities -
  • New Orleans’ use of pervious/porous pavement gradually expands 
  • Peoria, Illinois seeks USEPA approval of 100% Green Infrastructure Plan to enhance combined sewer overflow management
  • $500,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant to the city of Minneapolis means a new Mississippi Riverside park
  • Despite a state grant-freeze, Alton, Illinois will use National Scenic Byways Program grant to improve Riverview Park
In the States-
  • Minnesota's Clean Water, Outdoor Heritage, and Parks and Trails funds clear first legislative
    States in the News This Week
    step, pass House Legacy Funding Finance Committee
  • Clean Water Action op-ed: U.S. Senate bill would limit ability of Minnesota to act creatively on toxic chemical problems; including new state bills under consideration
  • Fifty-seven Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources employees receiving formal notices that they might face layoff
  • Kentucky Division of Water seeks public comment on draft Hopkins County water quality impairment report-pH and metals (deadline May 18)
  • Pennsylvania bill would create a watershed improvement program and establish a "verified TMDL parameter credit program" (bill:
  • Journal Gazette editorial: Eventually, Indiana's governor and legislature may understand the need to balance economic growth with environmental protection and preservation
  • Governor: New North Dakota pipeline rules will result in stronger safeguards against leaks, improve remediation
  • Kansas lawmakers face roughly $400 million in tax increases or budget cuts in wake of deep income tax cuts
  • Oklahoma Senate approves legislation calling for a statewide referenedum on "right to farm"
  • Oklahoma's state House on Wednesday approved two bills designed to limit local bans on oil and gas operations
  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission announces $35 million plan to create four recreational parks along Platte River
  • Colorado state Senate gives preliminary approval to bill letting state and local authorities assume concurrent jurisdiction over federal forests, other lands (Senate Bill 39:
  • Ranking of eco-friendly states indicates Louisiana is least friendly state to the environment; Kentucky and Minnesota rank 48th and 4th
  • Census Bureau reports that state governments took in $865.8 billion in 2014, a 2.2 percent increase over 2013
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Deepwater Horizon oil spill restoration trustees agree on next 10 natural resources "early restoration" projects, totaling $134 million
  • Louisiana Native American Tribe's relocation promoted in Capitol Hill briefing as a model for coastal indigenous groups
  • Pew Research: five key facts about the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its aftermath
  • The Guardian: Louisiana five years after BP oil spill: "It's not going back to normal no time soon"
  • Political, bureaucratic brawls threaten Gulf Coastal restoration hopes
  • USDA media release highlights how private landowners "play pivotal role aiding Gulf recovery," with USDA's help
  • BP restoration penalties may finally give the Gulf of Mexico’s fragile ecosystem the long-term care it needs
Forestry -
  • USDA and the state of Mississippi sign Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement to conserve and restore Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley forests
Photo: Pennsylvania DEP
Resource Development -
  • Study: Between 2000 and 2012, about 7 million acres of agricultural, range and forest lands were given over to oil and gas drilling
  • Iowa may be about to shift into production of renewable fuels made from manure, municipal waste, other organic byproducts
  • At well sites across Pennsylvania, pictures help tell a story of DEP drilling regulation violations, water pollution
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln report: Ethanol had a nearly $5 billion impact on Nebraska’s economy last year
  • Developers of natural gas project are suing West Virginia property owners in federal court to gain access
  • Wisconsin energy cooperative expands renewable energy portfolio, adding output from Mississippi River hydroelectric station
  • Several senators, from various states, including the Corn Belt, sent a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) support letter to the EPA this week:
Federal Budget -
  • House Appropriations Committee releases its FY 2016 Energy and Water draft committee report ( with details of spending for Army Corps programs; (subsequently the House Appropriations Committee approved a rider-laden energy and water spending bill by voice vote (see related summary at head of this blog post)
  • OMB letter: Obama administration has "serious" reservations with the House fiscal year 2016 energy and water spending bill
  • House Appropriations Committee spending bill provides $30.17 billion for Interior Department, Forest Service and U.S. EPA: $246 million below current funding levels
  • House and Senate GOP negotiators are putting the finishing touches on a fiscal year 2016 budget resolution agreement
  • Top House appropriators tell budget writers that 'CHIMPS' funding stream (Changes-in-Mandatory-Programs) is vital
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
  • The Future of Big Rivers Colloquium series: Computer Simulation of Large River Evolution, April 27, 5 pm CT, University Of Illinois (Springfield)
  • Webinar: The Ecology of Streams and Forested Buffers, by Bernard W. Sweeney, Ph.D., Stroud Water Research Center, April 28, 12 noon ET
  • Center for American Progress: From Risk to Resilience: Fortifying U.S. Communities in the Face of Climate Change, April 30, 12 noon ET (webcast)
  • DuPage County, Illinois Stormwater Management to host public green infrastructure workshop;  April 30, 6 to 7:30 p.m. CDT
  • Lower Mississippi Valley Canoe Outfitting and Guiding class, May 2-3, University of Louisiana at Monroe (registration deadline extended)
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA) posts May 5 and 6, 2015 meeting packets, including agendas
  • Public Meeting: Invasive Species Advisory Committee: Wednesday, May 20-22, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 1305 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD
  • Livable Communities through Urban Forestry conference for urban forestry researchers and practitioners, Washington, D.C., August 6-7
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Coalition report details Federal natural disaster policy flaws; calls for series of policy changes
  • Ex-NOAA director urges major changes in federal spill contingency plan
  • 353 most environmentally responsible colleges listed in 2015 Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges
  • Quadrennial Energy Review: growing energy demands are squeezing U.S. road, rail and waterway transportation capacity
  • New U.S. House bill would require U.S. EPA to conduct studies on oil-dispersing chemicals before approving their use (link to bill:
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair: Land and Water Conservation Fund should be overhauled to maintain existing recreation sites, put more money in the hands of states
  • House Committee approves contentious reauthorization bill for energy and science research programs (bill:
  • House and Senate Republicans introduce bill to empower states to challenge federal regulations (bill:
Politics and People-
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will seek reelection to West Virginia's senior Senate seat in 2016 (and will not run for Governor)
Your Moment of Zen -
Photograph by Harlan Humphrey

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