Friday, September 25, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week . . .

It was a relatively “light” water newsweek.  Washington, DC was consumed by coverage of the papal visit and of a possible federal government shutdown. Member organizations from the Watershed Protection Network braved the DC "pope-apocalypse" crowds to gather for their annual meeting.  On Friday, the House was poised to finish debate and pass H.R. 348 - the "RAPID Act" (‘‘Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2015’’). The bill would establish procedures to streamline the regulatory review, environmental decision making, and permitting process for major federal actions that are construction activities undertaken, reviewed, or funded by federal agencies.

Back in the River Basin, the Ohio River blue-green algal bloom continued to persist, was called the worst Ohio River bloom in history, and termed a “monster.” And while things were relatively quiet on the Waters of the United States rule legal front, farm groups prepared to mount a Supreme Court appeal of two Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction blueprint rulings – in a case that would have national repercussions.  You can read details of these news pieces and more, below, or summarized in a single paragraph here: "What We Learned This Week – ‘Habemus Papam’.

. . . and Next
Much of the oxygen on Capitol Hill next week will be consumed during discussions about House Speaker John Boehner's pending retirement (announced earlier today), over who will succeed Boehner, and about government spending, as the fiscal year clock ticks down to midnight on Wednesday, when the federal funding coffers run dry.  You can expect that a "clean" continuing resolution  (i.e., without contentious "riders") will ultimately be passed sometime before the Wednesday witching hour.  Stay tuned.

On the Congressional committee front, the Waters of the United States rule resurfaces as a popular hearing topic, following a refreshing intermission that's lasted a few weeks, and pipeline safety - a topical issue in the Midwest and Plains states - will take center stage during a Senate subcommittee.  The full list of committee activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to River Basin water resources can be found here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Tennessee Riverkeeper to sue 3M, Decatur over chemicals found in Tennessee River and the Wheeler Reservoir
  • Algal bloom being called the worst in the history of the Ohio River
  • Harmful blue-green algae bloom is still plaguing the Ohio River; not expected to dissipate soon
  • Farm groups prepare to ask Supreme Court to throw out the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint (national implications)
  • Congressional Budget Office: implementing a House GOP bill blocking Interior Department's new stream buffer zone rule would eventually save about $1 million a year
  • USEPA Urban Waters Small Grants Program Issues Request for Proposals (deadline November 20)
  • USEPA finalizes rule to modernize Clean Water Act reporting for municipalities, industries, and other facilities
  • Kansas Corporation Commission could decide soon whether to extend its wastewater disposal well volume reduction order
  • Over 100 people turn out at hearing to raise concerns about proposed western Nebraska wastewater disposal well
  • USEPA requests scientific views on the Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criterion for selenium in freshwater
  • Chicago River testing reveals high levels of bacteria from human waste at more than a dozen locations
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Water Protection Network holds annual meeting in Washington, DC
  • Ohio River navigation is experiencing major traffic delays due to maintenance work (also see: End in sight for massive Ohio River barge traffic jam
  • Wisconsin research consortium will study how to use less water to make energy; how to use less energy to manage water
  • ECO Magazine: Who Pays for Mississippi River-Gulf  Outlet Ecosystem Restoration? (page 20)
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Minnesota wetlands are healthy overall, but suffering in some regions
Agriculture -
  • USDA ERS compiles data on the most widely adopted farm conservation practices (figure to the right)
  • Study of U.S. farm data shows loss of crop diversity over the past 34 years
  • Water markets would pay farmers for cleaner streams
  • USDA survey: there was a 72 percent increase in sales of organic goods since 2008; Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa in top ten in sales.  However, the number or organic farms and land devoted to organic products is shrinking: there were 14,093 organic farms in the United States in 2014, accounting for 3.6 million acres, with another 122,175 acres in the process of becoming organic.  In 2008 there were 14,540 organic farms making up 4 million acres with another 128,476 acres going through transition
  • When Big Ag swallows up Small Ag, what does that mean for reform
  • Meet Holstein Hilda - Wisconsin's "cow of the year"
  • Farm Aid at 30: decades later, America's farmers still hard-pressed - especially on mid-sized farms
  • Due to flagging state support, University of Illinois plans to reduce off-campus crop research and may shut down several agricultural centers (related story below)
  • Op-ed: closure of four agriculture research centers is another batch of sour news for Illinois agriculture
  • Farmer-owned cooperative is considering an expansion at its ethanol plant in southeastern Minnesota
Climate and Weather -
  • El NiƱo status and anticipated impacts in the Midwest
  • NOAA weekly drought update: Dry, warm weather maintained, worsened Plains dryness, caused rapidly declining conditions in Midwest and Ohio Valley
  • The Onion: "Atlantic Ocean Excited To Move Into Beautiful Beachfront Mansion Soon"
  • The Associated Press declares that journalists should not use the terms "denier" or "skeptic" to describe people who disagree with the scientific consensus on climate change
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Photo: Troy Walz
  • Green-led coalition objects to Obama administration's proposed Endangered Species Act program reforms
  • Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to continue monitoring the status of the bald eagle; public has 60 days to comment
  • Ditch the Trees to Keep the Grass: Eastern Redcedar Invasion into Nebraska’s Grasslands
  • Environmental groups threaten to sue Obama administration over threatened northern long-eared bat protections (West Virginia)
  • Obama administration officials announce that the greater sage-grouse does not need protection as an endangered species
  • Congressional GOP critics of sage grouse plans vow legislative assault on initiative; story: (link to GOP letter:
  • Invasive Asian carp found in Salt Creek just below Lake Monroe dam (Indiana; Wabash River Basin)
  • Weed resistance to popular herbicide glyphosate is increasing rapidly in Kansas; Congressional briefing set for December
  • Natural Resources Board makes walleye limits permanent in Wisconsin's Ceded Territory
In the Cities -
  • Delta Queen Steamboat Co. picks small River town, Kimmswick, Missouri, for its headquarters and homeport
  • Covington, Kentucky receives $3.9M for construction of portion of walking and biking path, other upgrades along Ohio River
  • White House announces national campaign to boost systems to support smart cities and the Internet of Things; tackle energy, water and waste issues; includes city-university collaborations in Mississippi River Basin in Madison, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Pittsburgh
In the States-
  • The Pennsylvania state budget standoff - who wants what
  • Pennsylvania House expected to pass two GOP bills to provide short-term funding during nearly 3-month-old budget stalemate
  • Illinois and Pennsylvania are stuck in budget impasses at the expense of state programs, with no end in sight
  • Alabama's environmental management funding slashed in 2016 budget; fee increases loom
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Southern Media and Opinion Research poll: large majority of likely Louisiana voters would consider a candidate’s coastal restoration platform when voting
  • NOAA-funded research to study how changes in the Mississippi River can impact the Gulf of Mexico
  • Rep. Garret Graves (R-La-6) introduces bill to reauthorize Sport Fish Restoration Fund through 2020 (funds coastal restoration); story:
  • Study projects that Gulf and Atlantic coastal flooding could increase several hundredfold by 2100 (study:
  • Trustees approve Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Final Phase IV Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessments
Forestry -
  • US Forest Service budget going up in flames as fire borrowing continues
  • Pennsylvania DCNR Sets 12 Public Meetings To Review Draft State Forest Management Plan
Resource Development -
  • Judge will allow lyrics from John Prine's "Paradise" to stay as part of a federal lawsuit against Peabody Energy
  • A group of Appalachian coal mines (West Virginia) recently sold for zero dollars
  • The number of operating U.S. coal mines has hit its lowest point on record (records date back to at least 1923)
  • Federal advisory panel urges Obama administration to withdraw, cancel Lewis and Clark National Forest natural gas drilling leases (Montana)
  • Advocates in Ohio are praising the state Supreme Court for placing an anti-fracking initiative back on Nov. 3 ballots
  • Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to end opposition to fracking near Southwestern Pennsylvania
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page) -
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)
  • USEPA Webinar: Stormwater Standards for the future: How modeled pollution load reductions can result in adoption of up-to-date stormwater standards. October 1, noon ET
  • Annual public meeting of Federal Interagency Steering Committee on Multimedia Environmental Modeling, October 27–28, Davis, CA and via the Internet
  • 1st Annual Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference, October 29-30, Chicago, IL (RCRA, air and wastewater compliance issues)
  • Registration Open for December 7-11 USEPA Water Quality Standards Academy in Washington, DC
  • Save the dates: Association of State Wetland Managers Annual State/Tribal/Federal Coordination Meeting: "Managing Change – Wetland Protection and Restoration in an Era of Changing Water and Energy Demands;" March 29-31, 2016, Shepherdstown, WV
  • State of the Coast Conference, June 1-3, 2016, Ernest N. Morial Convention CenterNew Orleans, LA
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Fall 2015 issue of Missouri Resources magazine (includes article on the Missouri River Watershed)
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 306, September 22
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy September 22 TUWaterWays e-newsletter
  • Journal of Applied Ecology Virtual Issue: Ecological Restoration (August 2015)
  • September 29 Green Lands Blue Waters update
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council September 24 Watershed News
  • Gulf Restoration Network's September 24 GulfWaves e-newsletter
  • St. Croix River Association September 24 e-newsletter
  • A three-minute drones-eye view of AEP River Operations bulk commodities barge operations on the inland waterways system (headquartered in St. Louis)
Other news-
  • 30 House Republicans urge Speaker Boehner to extend Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Preliminary results of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2015 Upper Mississippi River Economic Profile released
  • McKnight Foundation blog: "Mississippi River Program Navigates New Currents" by Mark Muller
  • Obama administration unveils package of new initiatives aimed at speeding up federal government review of infrastructure projects
  • American Rivers surveying partners in Upper Mississippi River Basin region to help assess basins conservation needs
  • GAO report: EPA has only fully met two of 17 performance goals laid out in its 2009-13 grants management plan
  • Nuisance Flooding: Communities working to overcome a worsening symptom of sea level rise
Politics and People-
  • US House Speaker John Boehner told GOP lawmakers on Friday he will resign at the end of October
  • No Man's Land: The Last Tribes of the Plains. As industry closes in, Native Americans fight for dignity and natural resources
  • Wes Jackson, Land Institute founder, who envisions food from prairie grass, prepares to retire
    Wes Jackson
  • Minnesota lawmakers question whether Gov. Mark Dayton has "quietly supported" environmental groups looking to block Bakken Pipeline  Dayton denies claim
  • Clark Bunting stepping down as CEO and president of the National Parks Conservation Association
  • Hillary Clinton comes out against Keystone XL pipeline following years of pressure from environmental groups
  • Center for Biological Diversity hires former top FWS official Loyal Mehrhoff as Endangered Species Recovery Director
  • GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush threatens to repeal EPA's controversial power plant, clean water and coal ash rules
  • Former state Sen. John Howe (R) enters race for Minnesota 2nd District U.S. House seat
Your Moment of Zen -
90-year-old icon and St. Louis native, Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra died this week. 69 years to the day of his major league debut.

No comments:

Post a Comment