Friday, June 19, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

This Week and Next

For the first time in six years an Interior, Environment and Related Agencies spending bill has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. And while the Committee's Republican leaders applauded the effort, many Democratic Committee members decried the bill's cut to Environmental Protection Agency programs, and its many riders blocking environmental policy and putting a halt to endangered and threatened species listings. A companion House spending bill achieving many of the same ends passed out of that chamber's Appropriation Committee this week, as well - a bill over which the Obama administration expressed "serious concerns." The House Appropriations Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee released and then approved its fiscal year USDA-FDA spending bill providing funding for discretionary programs, but also (as is customary) cutting several mandatory programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Implementation Program, Rural Energy for America Program, and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). That bill includes a policy rider that would delay for one year the implementation of a conservation compliance provision of the farm bill, which requires farmers who receive federal crop insurance to partake in soil and wetland conservation practices. Another rider would prevent the USDA from drafting its upcoming dietary guidelines based on the environmental footprint of foods. Lastly on the spending front, the Senate Appropriation Committee advanced its fiscal year 2016 Homeland Security spending bill that in part funds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Among other things, the bill would provide $100 million for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program; more than provided in the current fiscal year, but much less than what the President requested in his budget. All of these rider-laden bills will eventually meet up with a promised Democratic blockade on the Senate floor.  Links to spending bill details and related news articles can be found below, under "Federal Budget."
    Elsewhere this week, we were provided a weekly helping of Clean Water Act rulemaking opinions; on-again, off-again Minnesota state spending legislation included provisions that environmental advocates found both good and not-so-good; Eastern pumas were declared extinct; flooding continued in southern parts of the River Basin and high streamflows in the northern parts; predictions were made for an “average” 2015 Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” later this summer; and the world is depleting most of its largest aquifers at alarming rates. Links to all of this and more can be found below, or in one, brief paragraph in “What We Learned This Week – ‘He's dead Jim’.”
      Next week . . . variations of the same theme (you can look here for a preview of the currently-scheduled River-relevant Congressional activities on tap for next week).

      Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

      Water Quality -

      • Brookings Institution: What the new clean water rule means for metro areas
        Photo: Kenny Kemp, Gazette file photo
      • USEPA Blog: "The Facts about the Clean Water Rule and Agriculture"
      • Environmental organizations give mixed reviews on Obama Administration's final Clean Water jurisdiction rule
      • Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul op-ed: "Clean water rule just more outrageous government overreach"
      • EPA releases Safe Drinking Water Act Ten-Day Health Advisory concentrations for two cyanobacterial toxins: microcystins and cylindrospermopsin
      • Study evaluates adequacy of water quality (nutrient) monitoring in helping to determine agricultural management practice effectiveness in Lake Erie basin; findings transferable to the Mississippi River Basin; report links: and press release:
      • Studies uphold drinking water health advisory levels issued after 2014 West Virginia chemical spill
      • Freedom Industries and WV DEP reach $2.5 million settlement on 2014 West Virginia spill site cleanup
      • Sierra Club: Regulators are severely underestimating the health risks from power plant water pollution
      • Environmental groups file complaint in West Virginia federal court accusing mine owner of polluting waterways with selenium
      • Recent Ohio Supreme Court case could impact enforceability of discharge limits in Wisconsin wastewater permits (link to referenced Ohio Supreme Court ruling:
      • Several Southern Illinois lakes have fish consumption advisories
      Photo: Jeff Matthews

      Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -

      • New NASA data show the world’s largest aquifers are being depleted at alarming rates (including the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer) (related article, below)
      • Researchers say in a pair of new studies, that we don't know how much water is left in the world's large aquifers
      • Fracking and water: Quantity, not just quality, a concern, even in water-rich states like Ohio
      • Many Louisiana farmers, ranchers face 'total loss' from flooding
      • Heavy river flows slow McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System barge traffic
      • NY Times: Thirsty Colorado's rain barrel debate is a microcosm of intense fights across the region over water rights
      • Army Corps of Engineers seeks nominations for stakeholder representatives on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee
      • Refurbished 110-year-old Sartell Hydro facility on the Mississippi River is now providing power for a Wisconsin dairy co-op
      • Survey: majority of consumers are concerned about water supply and water infrastructure issues in their communities
      • U.S. Forest Service withdraws its proposal for managing groundwater resources on National Forest System lands

      Agriculture -

      • Minnesota farmers find healthy soil works for crops, bottom line; employ cover crops and no-till
      • Retired Metro transit bus will soon be converted into St. Louis MetroMarket's first mobile farmers market
      • North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner suggests coalition to help animal agriculture in the state
      • Volume of U.S. farmland sales down 40% as values slide

      Climate and Weather -

      • Gulf of Mexico disturbance poses major flood threat for Texas, Oklahoma, Ozarks
        Source: NOAA
      • Arkansas braces for flooding, tornadoes
      • US drought update: some Northern Minnesota and adjacent Wisconsin dryness continues; only a few areas of Great Plains dryness and drought remain following deluges of the last 1 to 2 months
      • NPR Living on Earth: research shows we are getting close to runaway global warming
      • North Dakota Game and Fish Department's draft state wildlife action plan includes analysis of climate change impacts on wildlife
      • Climate change is as much an accepted fact in climate science as plate tectonics is in geology and evolution is in biology
      • U.S. Ag leaders to explore Papal climate change encyclical’s connection to farming at international symposium
      • NOAA data: 2015 is on pace to be the hottest year globally on record

      Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -

      • Hydrilla, a highly invasive water plant, has been discovered growing at Pymatuning Lake (Ohio River Basin)
      • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks seeks public comment on options that could establish state bison herd
      • First black bear observed in Indiana in over 140 years
      • Fish and Wildlife Service intends to formally remove the Eastern cougar from the endangered species list due to extinction  (also see: and Federal Register notice
      Photo: Shutterstock

      In the Cities -

      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania flexes its sustainability muscle
      • The persistent rains that have soaked Kansas City, Missouri demonstrate effective rain garden effectiveness
      • Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative now an independent nonprofit organization

      In the States-

      • Controversial Minnesota environment and agriculture state spending bill was rejected,
        States in the news this week
        changed, accepted, changed and accepted again
      • Minnesota spending bill includes stream buffer provision, but critics say it rewards special interests at expense of environment
      • State lawmakers pull the plug on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens' Board
      • Missouri lawmakers' agriculture-related bills raise questions about conflicts of interest
      • Kansas legislators end longest regular session in history after addressing $400 million budget deficit
      • Louisiana lawmakers resolve largely self-inflicted budget crisis with one-year fixes that will lead to problems next year
      • National Association of State Budget Officers report details each state's estimated fiscal 2015 spending, governors’ budget proposals
      • Except for decreases in Iowa, Mississippi and South Dakota, the per capita Gross Domestic Product grew in all of the Mississippi River Basin states last year (the greatest increase being in Louisiana); Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota posted 2014 declines in agriculture and forestry industries

      Gulf Coastal Region-

      • NOAA, partners predict an average 'dead zone' (5,483 square miles) for Gulf of Mexico in 2015
      • June 16 public-television special, "By the River of Babylon" explores South Louisiana culture and environment
      • Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System provides data in support of resilient Gulf communities, ecosystems, economies
      • NASA studies Louisiana’s changing coastal wetlands

      Forestry -

      Resource Development -

      • Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge floods (Red River basin) expose gaps in Fish and Wildlife Service oil and gas management (see related link below)
      • Oil and Gas Wells and Pipelines on U.S. Wildlife Refuges: Challenges for Managers
      • Ohio Department of Natural Resources considers leasing a large part of Perry State Forest for strip mining coal
      • Star Tribune: Is Minnesota prepared for a Bakken oil train disaster?
      • Iowa’s U.S. congressional delegation calls for hearing in state on USEPA ethanol targets
      • Iowa Utilities Board staff find more than 90 questions or deficiencies in a proposed crude oil pipeline plan
      • Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) introduces legislation to repeal the federal renewable fuel standard
      • North Dakota’s oil production has peaked
      • Illinois, Indiana and Missouri researchers among those selected to receive ARPA-E grants to accelerate biofuel crop development

      Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page) -

      EPA and Interior Department Funding

      • Obama administration has "serious concerns" with House fiscal year 2016 Interior-EPA spending bill
      • House Appropriations Committee approves Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill on a 30-21 vote, funding Interior Department, USEPA, and U.S. Forest Service, and including several controversial environmental policy riders; meeting archive: (draft bill: and accompanying Committee report:
      • Tuesday - Senate Appropriations Subcommittee approves fiscal year 2016 Interior and Environment spending bill, cuts EPA by $538.8 million, blocks WOTUS rule news coverage here and audio webcast archive here
      • Thursday - Full Senate Appropriation Committee advances fiscal year 2016 EPA and Interior Department spending bill that blocks key environmental regulations, endangered species listings; story:; bill hearing page and links: committee release:
      • Democrats express frustration with spending cuts and multiple policy riders in Senate's fiscal year 2016 EPA-Interior spending bill
      • The Hill: Senate panel advances $30B spending bill for fiscal year 2016 that targets EPA rules
      • Senate Appropriation Republicans move to block initiatives to curb global warming, issue new clean water rules, regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal land

      USDA Funding

      • Wednesday - House Appropriations Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee releases FY 2016 USDA-FDA spending bill cutting CSP and EQIP mandatory farm bill conservation programs, Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP); news article:
      • Thursday - House Appropriations subcommittee approves fiscal year 2016 agriculture-FDA spending bill (bill: and summary:
      Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Funding
      • Senate Appropriation Committee advances fiscal year 2016 spending bill funding Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), providing $165 million above the FY2015 enacted funding for mitigation programs, including $190 million for Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Assessment Program and $100 million for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program

      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)

      • Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission will hold its annual Ohio River Sweep on June 20
      • Webinar to explore potential for Minnesota farm producers to develop current and future institution markets, June 25, 3 pm CDT
      • “Missouri River Art and Photography” exhibit artist’s reception, Elizabeth Rozier Gallery, Jefferson City, June 27, 2-4 PM

      e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -

      Source: NFWF

      Other news-

      • Water Environment Research Foundation looking to fund new water quality research projects
      • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announces Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund 2015 Request for Proposals (due date July 15)
      • Senate EPW Committee Chairman may support bill aimed at changing U.S. EPA's new coal combustion waste disposal rule
      • Chi–Cal Rivers Fund is now accepting applications for green infrastructure, habitat improvement competitive funding
      • Federal appeals court will not reconsider ruling on Army Corps of Engineers' streamlined strip coal mine permit program
      • One small infrastructure investment can increase bicycle ridership by 75 percent in just one year
      • Paddle Ohio launches 2015 Summer paddling events on state-designated wild, scenic and recreational rivers and water trails
      • Mississippi River News and Insights: How to get out on the River this summer
      • New Senate regulatory reform bill would encourage federal agencies to minimize regulations' costs, improve transparency
      • Nature: Two new studies confirm that wastewater disposal caused sharp rise in central US earthquakes

      Politics and People-

      • Scientific American: "How Scott Walker Dismantled Wisconsin's Environmental Legacy"
      • Sen. Stabenow announces changes in Senate Agriculture Committee Democratic staff; Chris Adamo jumps to White House Council on Environmental Quality
      • Confidence in all three U.S. government branches remains low, according to a new Gallup poll
      • Louisiana’s four gubernatorial candidates vow not to raid Wildlife and Fisheries funds

      Your Moment of Zen -

      Photograph: NASA

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