Friday, June 12, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week and Next
The week now ending saw spills of an unusual variety (piglets in Ohio and cattle in Oklahoma) and releases of a more usual kind (swine manure in Oklahoma), drought relief throughout most of the River Basin and Red River flooding in Louisiana, Capitol Hill critiques of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (regarding the Waters of the United States) and the Army Corps of Engineers (on the one-year anniversary of WRRDA), and a farmland-nitrate-induced drinking water advisory in Columbus, Ohio. Also in the news: legislation authorizing Minnesota’s stream buffer requirement is poised today (Friday) to pass through the state Legislature for a second time, and the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis was permanently closed in an effort to thwart the relentless upstream movement of Asian carp. Most of this and more can be found below (or, if you prefer, digested into one handy paragraph in “What We Learned This Week - 'How sweet it is'”).

This week in Congress included committee activity on spending bills that would fund the USEPA, Interior Department, U.S. Forest Service, NOAA and the National Academy of Sciences. Those bills were laden with riders that would block agency spending to implement several environmental policies, including climate research, endangered species protection and the Obama Administration's Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule. A Senate committee approved a standalone bill that would thwart implementation of that jurisdiction rule, as well. Don't expect any of those bills to become law in anything close to their present versions.

Next week’s Capitol Hill activity scheduled so far can be viewed in “Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For.”  In addition to more spending bill activity, next week will see a Senate oversight hearing concerning the Environmental Protection Agency's final rule to regulate disposal of coal combustion residuals from electric utilities.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Nitrate levels increase in Columbus, Ohio drinking water, as advisory continues (water source:
    Photo: Dan Olson, MPR News
    Scioto River watershed)
  • USDA-ERS: restoring and protecting wetland is a cost-effective "secret weapon" in the battle to control nutrient runoff
  • Duncan, Oklahoma, prominently displays a statue of Erle P. Halliburton, but water pollution has sparked dozens of lawsuits
  • Swine manure impoundment release results in fish kill in tributary to Ocheyedan River (Iowa)
  • According to recent research, scientists have found artificial sweeteners in bodies of water around the world
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center deploys water quality and weather monitoring buoy on Carlyle Lake (Kaskaskia River)
  • Op-ed: Montana DEQ is ignoring “contaminants of concern” from septic systems, municipal sewage treatment plants
  • St. Croix Watershed Research Station director: Lake bottoms' sediments can show how or if certain farming practices affect water quality
Waters of the United States
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will not support legislation to kill Obama administration's controversial water rule
  • National Law Review: "The Practical Application of the Significant Nexus Test: The Final Waters of the US Rule"
  • Draft House Interior Department and U.S. EPA FY 2016 spending bill contains several policy riders aimed at key environmental regulations, including definitions of navigable waters and fill material (related articles under "Federal Budget," below)
  • Interior Secretary Jewell and environmental groups slam "dreadful" policy riders in House Interior and Environment spending bill (related articles under "Federal Budget," below)
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approves S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, to "require the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to propose a regulation revising the definition of the term “waters of the United States” (link to bill: (also see articles below)
  • Senate Republicans advanced legislation to kill Clean Water Act rule and set sweeping restrictions on waters regulated
  • Senate committee advances bill to overturn Obama clean water act rule after fierce partisan debate
  • U.S. EPA asks federal appeals court to reconsider a wetland jurisdictional ruling; story: EPA petition:
  • Minnesota's water war: Clean Water Act rule-based battle brews over needs of tourism, agriculture
  • Agri-Pulse: Farm Bureau analysis says final WOTUS rule should be scrapped
  • Op-ed: "A frenzy over birdbaths, puddles and the waters of the US"
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • One year after Water Resources Reform and Development Act passage, uncertainty surrounds key Army Corps projects
  • Government Accountability Office report: federal agencies have made limited progress monitoring Missouri River basin snowpack, soil moisture following 2011 flooding
  • MPR: On Tuesday night, the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock (Minneapolis) ran its final cycle.
    William Lager | MPR News
    Here's an interactive guide to the closing:
  • End of an era: Upper St. Anthony Falls lock (Mississippi River at Minneapolis) closes
  • FEMA announces Flood and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants; proposals due August 28; Flood: and Pre-Disaster Mitigation:
  • FEMA issues 2015 National Preparedness Report summarizing progress in building, sustaining, and delivering on 2011 National Preparedness Goals
  • Homes, farmland flood in rural northwest Louisiana from overflowing Red River
Agriculture -
  • Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.): Congress should 'reassess' 2014 farm bill law that pared down conservation
  • Agriculture and conservation groups ask Agriculture Department to simplify its conservation compliance implementation rule
  • The trend is relentless-the average age of American farmers continues to creep upwards
     Source: Flickr: Soil Science
  • Federal Reserve Bank: Cropland values in Minnesota and Northern Plains are lower than a year ago
  • USDA-NRCS plans to revise methods for completing agricultural land wetland determinations in Louisiana to allow offsite determinations
  • Reinvigorating the agricultural economy in southeastern Minnesota
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks comments on proposed Nicollet County hog feedlot that would generate 1.7 million gallons of manure/year
  • House Agriculture Subcommittee holds public hearing to review the implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune: Organic farmers see green both in sustainability and profits
Climate and Weather -
  • We’re all climate change deniers at heart
  • US drought update: Except for spots in South Dakota, Kansas and Colorado, U.S. midsection drought-free for first time since October 2014
  • Montana Farmers Union publishes reports on climate change effects on agriculture
  • National Farmers Union to the USEPA: Climate change impact on farmers is real
  • Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL): focusing on adapting to, not preventing, climate change would be better use of government dollars
  • Journal Science publishes new NOAA analysis: Data show no recent slowdown in global warming
  • May was wettest month in U.S. records
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • New coalition of dozens of conservation and gardening organizations aims to plant 1 million
    Photo credit: Jupiter Images
    pollinator gardens
  • South Dakota officials move to remove eagles from threatened list as number of nests increases
  • MPR News: Programs give farmers incentive to create bee habitat
  • Alabama CDNR report: Northern Alabama’s bat population at risk from white-nose syndrome (CDNR release:
  • House Interior and Environment appropriations bill  directs Interior Secretary to take Minnesota's gray wolves off endangered species list (related articles under "Federal Budget," below)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service proposes expanded hunting or fishing in 21 National Wildlife Refuge System units (11 in Mississippi River Basin)
Click to enlarge
In the Cities -
  • Nashville, Tennessee Metro Council rejects contentious $100 million flood-protection proposal
  • Small Towns, Big Ideas: Reimagining Southeast Minnesota, by Jay Walljasper, explores innovative examples of economic resilience that could serve as models for the entire Midwest
  • New Orleans faces a terrifying future as sea levels rise
  • Flooding burdens Shreveport wastewater plant (also: Everything you need to know about Red River flooding:
In the States-
  • Deals move Minnesota state budget toward finish line, making no one happy; action needed
    States in the news
    before July 1
  • Minnesota state House and Senate scheduled to convene today (Friday) for special session, voting on three budget bills and
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial: Legislature 2015: Special interests win, environment loses with Minnesota ag bill
  • Outmaneuvered: How many of Governor Dayton's Minnesota priorities were sunk in the budget negotiation process (stream buffer provision one of few surviving)
  • Wisconsin's farm to school program is growing resulting in more access to locally produced foods
  • Iowa lawmakers adjourn 2015 regular session after approving a $7.3 billion state budget
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources to form work group to create state water quality trading framework
  • Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection solicits nominations for 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards
  • Kansas Legislature pushes through bill to avert Saturday midnight government shutdown, but state still has no budget
  • Kansas lawmakers drafted a new plan with increased taxes late Thursday night to avoid deep program cuts
  • Louisiana lawmakers adjourn regular session after approving state’s $24 billion budget (budget "winners and losers" -
  • NY Times: States - including Iowa, Wisconsin and Louisiana - confront wide budget gaps even after years of recovery
  • State legislative calendars' update by National Conference of State Legislatures
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Sens. Vitter (R-La.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduce bill to reauthorize National Estuary
    Graphic: Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune
    Program but at reduced funding level; place-based program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of 28 estuaries of national significance, including the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary in southeastern Louisiana (bounded on the east by the Mississippi River) (companion to House-passed HR 944
  • Louisiana’s music, wetlands inspire new documentary
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Louisiana to restore Caillou Lake Headlands ("Whiskey Island" Terrebonne Parish)
Forestry -
Resource Development -
  • Peabody Energy - one of the five largest coal companies operating on the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana -  does not have adequate funds or insurance to clean up its own mining operations
  • A couple who owns land in North Dakota loses court challenge over Sandpiper oil pipeline, eminent domain
  • Iowa Utilities Board will likely make a ruling on the proposed $3.8 billion, 1134-mile Dakota Access crude oil pipeline in December or January
  • Thousands of activists march through Minnesota capital in opposition to Enbridge’s planned $2.6 billion Sandpiper oil pipeline (also see related article, below)
  • Minnesota PUC approves Enbridge's Sandpiper pipeline but still leave open possibility for an alternative route
  • Fracking and its restriction are creating a new dividing line between U.S. red and blue states
  • EPA releases Renewable Fuel Standard Program Standards for 2014, 2015, 2016, and Biomass-based Diesel Volume for 2017
Federal Budget  (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page) -
  • House Appropriations Committee releases its Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment spending bill (funds DOI, USFS and EPA) (see related articles below)
  • House Appropriations subcommittee approves fiscal year 2016 spending bill for Interior Department, Forest Service, USEPA
  • House appropriations subcommittee approves Interior-EPA spending bill cuting funding, with numerous policy riders
  • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee approves Commerce, Justice spending bill; with level NOAA and NSF funding
  • U.S. Senate likely to spend weeks on spending bills that have little chance of becoming law
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)
  • Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations; June 18, 8:30 AM-noon EDT, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC (tie-in with webinar available)
  • EPA State Level Nutrient Reduction Strategies webinar: BMP Selection to Solve Identified Water Quality Problems; June 16, 2 PM CDT
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy second Rural Climate Dialogue/webinar, Grand Rapids, Minnesota; June 22, 2 pm CDT
  • North American Wetlands Conservation Council meeting re: wetland grants; June 23, 8:30 AM (PDT), Courtenay, BC, Canada
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizen Board meeting, June 23, 9:00 AM CDT, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • South Dakota Governor’s Agricultural Summit, July 9, The Lodge, Deadwood SD (with Speakers from World Wildlife Fund and Protect the Harvest)
  • 4th biennial symposium of the International Society for River Science (ISRS), August 23- 28, La Crosse, WI
  • CLEAN GULF Conference, New Orleans, La., November 10-12
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • New book - "Bringing Conservation to Cities" - "explores the new urban conservation frontier"
  • June 4 Gulf Restoration Network's Gulf Waves e-newsletter
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council June 6 Watershed News
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota (BALMM) June 8 "Currents" e-magazine
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency June 2015 Industrial Stormwater News
  • Mississippi River Delta News: June 8
  • Green Lands Blue Waters E-News Update, June 11, re: Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • June 11 Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy TUWaterWays e-newsletter will be posted here (shortly, if not already)
  • New EPA Video (YouTube): Science Safeguards Drinking Water from Harmful Algal Blooms (see below)
Other news-
EJSCREEN: New Orleans (click to enlarge)

  • USEPA releases EJSCREEN, an environmental justice screening and mapping tool (includes impaired streams layer, among many)
  • Restore America's Estuaries report: "Impact Assessment: Federal Coastal Habitat Investments Support People, Fish, and Wildlife"
  • Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index for May reflects energy and agriculture pullbacks; predicts slowing economic growth
  • Pennsylvania tops U.S. states in turning old rail lines into trails
  • Wisconsin DNR accepting applications for grants to local government, nonprofit conservation organizations to fund land acquisition, recreational development
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans ask Government Accountability Office to scrutinize USEPA's environmental grants management
Politics and People-
  • New York Times editorial: G.O.P. Assault on Environmental Laws; Bill Clinton threatened or used vetoes to block that assault. Mr. Obama should be prepared to do the same
  • House Minority Whip launches "Whip Watch" mobile app,  gives floor updates information on latest House developments
Your Moment of Zen -
Photograph: PMBrem/GuardianWitness

No comments:

Post a Comment