Friday, November 6, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

Next Week in Congress
It was a busy week on Capitol Hill this week (as illustrated below), but next week will be practically lifeless in comparison.  The House stands in recess until November 16, and the Senate chambers will be darkened next Wednesday for Veterans' Day.  That leaves very little room next week for Congressional activities relating to Mississippi River Basin water resources.  In fact, thus far only one such committee hearing is scheduled: a Wisconsin field hearing in Stevens Point (along the Wisconsin River) on federal regulations.  The details on that hearing, and any updates to water-related Congressional activity will be available on this web site.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Waters of the United States Rule
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce tells senators it will keep tabs how they vote on WOTUS rule as does League of Conservation Voters (related news story:
  • Senate fails to move forward with a GOP-led bill to overturn the Obama administration’s clean water rule
  • Democrats successfully filibuster Barrasso anti-WOTUS bill, setting up a Wednesday CRA resolution vote to block rule
  • White House issues veto threat for Senate Congressional Review Act resolution that would stop WOTUS rule
  • Senate passes Congressional Review Act resolution 53-44 to kill Obama administration's controversial clean water rule
  • Click to enlarge
  • Senate: 10 Democrats; 1 Independent call on Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to better clarify implications of final WOTUS rule
  • Colorado governor moves to stop state Attorney General's EPA lawsuits, including suit to block WOTUS rule
Other Water Quality News
  • USDA invests $30 Million to improve Mississippi River Basin water quality; 33 new projects and 40 existing projects targeted in high-priority watersheds funded through NRCS' Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (Full list of 2016 projects:
  • Final EPA wastewater rule limits pollutants released by power plants known to cause cancer, other health issues; story: Federal Register notice: (final rule goes into effect in 60 days)
  • Blue-green algae bloom plaguing the Ohio River is subsiding, while scientists ponder the causes
  • Kentucky lifts recreational use advisory caused by algal bloom for Markland, Meldahl, Greenup pools of Ohio River
  • Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge lifts blue-green algae advisory for Long Lake (North Dakota)
  • Ohio Attorney General joins other state AGs in opposing Interior Department's new stream protection rule
  • Minnesota Local Road Research Board funds review of successful road deicing approaches that keep waters cleaner
  • Water Environment Federation: "The Essential Elements of a Successful Water Trading Program
  • Studies identify water quality problems (bacteria and phosphorus), remedies for the Goose Creek Watershed (Minnesota)
  • Rep. Edwards (D-MD) Amendment to House highway bill adopted - re: highway designs to better manage storm water
  • Minnesota project seeks to demonstrate water quality approaches focused on linking upland practices with farm tile outlets
  • U.S. EPA's Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel criticizes agency's finding of no 'widespread, systemic' problems with drinking water from hydraulic fracturing; Committee materials including comments:
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Company wetland case seen as 'no-brainer' for U.S. Supreme Court review
  • Supporters of a plan to bring Missouri River water to the Red River Valley say it's time to move forward
  • NPR: Illinois Issues: Urban Flooding-Heavier rainfalls and sprawling development have left outdated sewers struggling to keep water out of streets, businesses and homes
  • Louisiana's congressional delegation tells Army Corps of Engineers of serious concern over 460-acre wetland construction project
  • Concerns about and conflicts over water in Red River (of the South) Basin grow over of increases in water use
Agriculture -
  • USDA NRCS proposes to revise Illinois Technical Guide regarding wetland determinations to include offsite methods
  • Media release: USDA Provides $314 Million in Water and Waste Infrastructure Improvements in Rural Communities Nationwide
  • EPA proposes ban on all agricultural uses of the Dow AgroSciences insecticide chlorpyrifos
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy seeks input on programs working to innovate agricultural science; areas of need in research, education, training
  • Bills being introduced in House and Senate would cut $19 billion over 10 years from federal crop insurance program
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA: New report finds human-caused climate change increased the severity of many extreme events in 2014
  • NOAA US drought update: rains end general expansion of dryness or drought in most of
    Click to enlarge
    Plains, southern Mississippi River Valley and Midwest
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair accuses NOAA of violating his subpoena for scientists' emails (related article below)
  • Meteorologists defend NOAA; say Lamar Smith actions "can be viewed as a form of intimidation"
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for November: forecasts favor a continuation of wet pattern and widespread removal of drought conditions
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • DNR busts Minnesota snapping turtle poachers, three men face charges
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife crews detect two small silver carp upstream of Seneca, Ill., in the Illinois River
  • Lawmakers told it could take at least four years to develop plan to stop Asian carp at Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet
  • Rep. Hartzler (R-MO) amendment to House highway bill rejected (re: repealing section on landscaping and scenic enhancement); had been opposed by pollinator habitat advocates
  • New Senate bill seeks to prevent and slow the spread of invasive species on federal lands; link to Senate bill: and link to companion H.R. 1485 here:
  • U.S. Geological Survey: Native bees are being exposed to neonicotinoids and other pesticides in farm fields
  • Snowy owls coming to Minnesota earlier and more often looking for food
  • 24 Democratic senators and Independent Bernie Sanders urge Obama to veto bills with anti-Endangered Species Act riders
In the Cities -
  • East St. Louis, Illinois finds itself near bottom, Cedar Falls, Iowa and Bismark, North Dakota near top of new "Best and Worst Small Cities in America” rankings
  • Pennsylvania town defies federal judge; revises charter to maintain drilling operation wastewater ban
  • Times-Picayune editorial: Levee taxes are essential to keeping greater New Orleans area safe from storms
In the States-
  • Iowa citizens' group files complaint accusing state environmental officials of failing to closely
    Click to enlarge
    review waste-management reports (manure)
  • Minnesota Capitol building restoration raising concerns about restrictions to open government
  • Audit: Financially strapped Louisiana lost $1.1 billion from 2010-2014 because of severance tax exemption on horizontal drilling
  • Pennsylvania state budget impasse enters fifth month but signs of progress reported
  • Pennsylvania DEP invites comments on new policy for assessing, reporting stream quality
  • Listing of 2016 legislative calendars for states
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Can Mississippi River sediment save Louisiana's disappearing coastline?
  • Louisiana coastal restoration design competition finalists would abandon coastal communities
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy: Louisiana lacks sufficient funds for coastal protection, restoration
Resource Development -
  • Limited study: Environmental damage from brine spills is more severe and longer-lasting than
    impacts of oil releases
  • White House begins final review of proposed ethanol-level rules under the federal renewable fuels mandate
  • Refinery designed to make ethanol from cornstalks, leaves and cobs opens in central Iowa
  • New Environmental Working Group report urges an end to corn ethanol mandates; use of cellulosic ethanol, other lower-carbon biofuels
  • Renewable Fuel Standard foes release report on the ethanol mandate's impact on the climate and economy in Ohio
  • TransCanada asks the Obama administration to suspend its review of Keystone pipeline project (related story below)
  • Obama Won’t Yield to Company’s Bid to Delay Keystone Pipeline Decision
  • Youngstown, Ohio rejects an anti-fracking ballot measure for a fifth time
  • New U.S. Senate bill would block further fossil fuel leases on federal lands
  • Oil and gas companies have formally renewed their interest in drilling for natural gas in a southeastern Ohio national forest
  • Murray Energy to close New Era mine near Galatia, Illinois, in next year as reserves run out, sales fall
  • Coal industry's swift, steep drop continues in Eastern Kentucky
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page) -
  • Democrats prepare for another Federal government shutdown showdown over policy riders in December
  • Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) does not rule out the House including policy riders in an omnibus appropriations bill
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
  • National League of Cities' 2015 Congress of Cities, Nashville, Tennessee, November 4-7
    National Bison Day - November 7
  • National Bison Day celebration, Tallgrass Prairie Nature Center (Mindenmines, Missouri) 10 AM, November 7
  • Community-Based Public-Private Partnerships Stormwater Infrastructure Summit, December 7, Philadelphia, PA
  • National Conference of State Legislatures 2015 Capitol Forum, December 8-11, Washington, D.C.
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) unveils bill to overhaul the Land and Water Conservation Fund, setting up battle with Democrats and conservation groups (link to bill; story here:
  • Obama order expands upon no net wetland loss policy; requires agencies to offset environmental impacts of development; called arrogant by GOP ( link to memorandum:
  • Illinois advocates warn of municipal utility's coal-ash ponds leaking into Springfield’s groundwater and drinking water supplies
  • Montana Legislative Audit Division finds railroad crude oil safety in Montana to be lacking during high traffic
  • Green groups say House transportation bill would eviscerate environmental review,  meaningful public input for transportation projects (related story below)
  • Environmental groups object to highway funding bill provisions they say erode National Environmental Policy Act protections
  • With strong job prospects and high demand for skilled workers, many University of Minnesota students following ag, environment paths
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announces availability of $2.1 Million in Urban Waters Grants
  • House passes the first long-term highway and transit bill in a decade; House and Senate have two weeks to work out their differences and produce a final bill before current Highway Trust Fund authority expires on November 20
Politics and People-
  • Mark Hague named as USEPA's regional administrator for Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine tribal nations)
  • Executive board overseeing Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium asks marine
    laboratory's executive director Nancy Rabalais to step down
  • 2016 legislative calendars released by US House and Senate leaders; House: Senate:; Many of the planned Senate recesses in the early months of 2016 do not align with the House calendar
  • In upset victory, Republican businessman Matt Bevin upends Democratic hold on Kentucky's Governor's seat
  • Democrat Andy Beshear barely defeated Republican Whitney Westerfield in Kentucky Attorney General's race
  • USDA scientist says he was punished for publicizing research showing a link between pesticides and pollinator decline
  • Ohio Governor sets June 7, 2016 special election to replace former U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH-8)
Your Moment of Zen -

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