Monday, November 30, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News - Special Post-Holiday Monday Edition

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week in Washington
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release three years’ worth of biofuel blending
requirements, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard (or RFS) today (Monday), the court-mandated RFS release deadline.  The RFS will establish renewable volume obligations for last year, this year, and the next. The 2016 obligations will attract the most interest, since 2015 is nearly over, and the 2014 numbers will be based on actual data.  No matter how high or low the EPA sets the 2016 renewable fuel volume obligation, one or more lawsuits will likely follow.  Should the obligations be too high, oil industry stakeholders such as the American Petroleum Institute will complain.  And if the volume is too low, renewable fuel interests (including the Renewable Fuels Association, backed by some farm groups) will be prone to file suit.  Corn is a major feedstock used in ethanol production, and from a Mississippi River Basin perspective, the RFS is an important driver impacting how much land is placed by farmers into corn production - a collective land use decision that has significant ramifications for the environmental and economic health of the River region.

House members and Senators return to Capitol Hill this week following their Thanksgiving recess. A draft fiscal year 2016 omnibus discretionary spending bill will probably be released during the week. Democrats are said to be unhappy with the low levels of funding being provided for EPA and Interior Department programs, and will push for increases during floor debates in both chambers. The measure will be accompanied by an unknown number of riders that would restrict funding for the implementation of select environmental and energy programs (possibly including the Interior Department's proposed Stream Protection Rule and the administration's final Clean Water (or "Waters of the United States) Rule). Strategists believe that the administration may swallow some otherwise unpalatable environmental riders in exchange for Republicans easing up on proposed refugee restrictions.

The middle of the week should see the beginning of House floor debate on a comprehensive Energy and Commerce Committee energy bill. Opposed by most Democrats, the bill includes some of the Department of Energy's quadrennial review recommendations, and focuses on energy infrastructure improvements. Of interest to Mississippi River Basin stakeholders will be amendments likely to be considered during the floor debate, including those designed to expedite permit (including environmental impact) reviews of certain pipeline projects and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as Democratic amendments addressing climate change). While some may be submitted for consideration, don't expect to see any amendments that mention the RFS (see above) to make the House floor, since the issue is divisive even within the Republican caucus.  You can check out the current list of filed amendments here.

Finally, this week the House and Senate will either have to reconcile two competing federal surface transportation authorization bills ahead of Friday's (December 4) deadline, or pass yet another in a long line of authority extensions. The measure authorizes many highway and rail programs, including those relating to trails and scenic byways, of interest to river advocates.  House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA-9) promised that the most recent short-term extension would be the “last.” And while Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has said that the House and Senate bills could be reconciled “in a matter of hours,” one hour in congressional time often translates to weeks or months beyond the hallowed halls of Congress.

You can check out the latest listing of Mississippi River Basin- and Coastal Louisiana-related Congressional committee activity for the week at this web site.  The listing will be updated throughout the week as needed.

This Week in Paris
While most congressional lawmakers will be in Washington this week, the President and many of his top environmental and energy agency officials will not; having traveled en masse to Paris, France for negotiations (scheduled to take place first at a technical level, then at the ministerial level) to potentially establish climate action thresholds that participating countries agree to meet. Agency heads who will accompany the President include Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Kathryn Sullivan.


Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Iowa state legislature under pressure on improving Iowa's water quality and how to pay for it http://ow.ly/VgA43
  • Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio-7) presses USEPA about its authority to block Army Corps of Engineers' Clean Water Act permits http://ow.ly/V3PqT (news article: http://ow.ly/V3PPQ)
  • Justice Department maintains “EPA gave a reasonable explanation, grounded in the statute, for its decision not to make a necessity determination” of states' need for nitrogen and phosphorus water quality standards (Gulf Restoration Network case) http://ow.ly/V3KYS
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment sues Kansas City, Mo., area amusement park over Clean Water Act violations  (Missouri Coalition for the Environment v. Worlds of Fun LLC, W.D. Mo., No. 4:15-cv-00901, filed 11/16/15) http://ow.ly/UXVxj (MCE press release: http://ow.ly/UXW5T)
  • Can the Greater Des Moines Partnership task force on water quality clean up Iowa's water? http://ow.ly/UY7vw
  • Earthjustice files petition for review in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit over Environmental Protection Agency's revised wastewater effluent limits for power plants http://ow.ly/V10zI (The rule requires power plants to use controls to manage discharges of arsenic, selenium, nitrates, mercury, zinc and other pollutants) - related links below
  • Sierra Club files challenge to EPA's recently published wastewater effluent limits for power plants in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit http://ow.ly/V3LVQ
  • Power utilities sue EPA over recently promulgated effluent limits to regulate discharges of metals and toxics http://ow.ly/VgNGh
  • Pennsylvania DEP fines Chesapeake Appalachia $1.4 million for southwestern Pennsylvania stream impacts caused by well pad landslide http://ow.ly/V12mp
  • National Mining Association petition urges Congress to defund Interior Department's proposed stream protection rule http://ow.ly/V15xO
  • Environmental groups sue West Virginia landowner over alleged water pollution  from closed mountaintop mining site http://ow.ly/VgCLM
  • Three environmental advocacy groups sue Coal-Mac Inc., over alleged Clean Water Act violations at West Virginia mines http://ow.ly/VgOcX
Waters of the United States Rule

  • 90 House members sign letter urging House leaders to include Waters of the U.S. rule-blocking riders to omnibus spending bill http://ow.ly/V20V8
  • Over 400 environmental organizations ask Congress to avoid appropriations bill riders undermine Clean Water Rule http://ow.ly/UXXNk (also see: Environmental groups' November 19 letter to Congress opposes any riders undermining Waters of the United States rule http://ow.ly/UT54H)
  • Colorado AG pushes back on Governor's efforts to limit her power to challenge federal policy (including WOTUS rule) on behalf of state http://ow.ly/UY2eq (related story below)
  • Two Western attorneys general are suing federal government over high-profile environmental issues against their governors’ wishes http://ow.ly/UY8uD
  • In bid for more transparency, administration publishes national database listing approved jurisdictional determinations made under Clean Water Act since September http://ow.ly/VgtIg
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources adds lake levels map to online interactive database maps http://ow.ly/V3OZJ
  • Water policy and law professor: US farmers who fear that cities and industries covet their irrigation water are not irrational http://ow.ly/V3ZJV
  • Resources for the Future: on average, roughly half of people in 100-year floodplains purchase flood insurance http://ow.ly/V416q
  • Concern grows over dwindling water supplies in small Kansas county home to nation's second-largest hog feeding operation http://ow.ly/VgLu7
Agriculture -
  • Updated USDA analysis shows U.S. farm income falling 38 percent between 2014 and 2015 - the biggest single-year drop since the 1980s http://ow.ly/V4mEr
  • NRDC Report: Climate-ready soil can cut crop losses, save trillions of gallons of water,
    remove carbon from the air http://ow.ly/UT7nC
  • Some Nebraska farmers push for property tax discount as revenues fall http://ow.ly/UTb8K
  • National Geographic - "Apocalypse pig: The last antibiotic begins to fail" http://ow.ly/UXNEf
  • While all eyes are on human numbers, it’s the rise in farm animals that is laying waste to the planet http://ow.ly/UXR9d
  • Illinois appeals court rules insurer has duty to defend a nuisance suit brought by property owners against neighboring hog factory http://ow.ly/V11Qi
  • Des Moines Register: What to prescribe for Iowa's eroding topsoil? http://ow.ly/VgjAk
  • General Mills working with 25 farmers to help them to adapt more sustainable practices http://ow.ly/VgEAC
Climate and Weather -
  • World Meteorological Organisation: Global average temperatures in 2015 are likely to be the warmest on record http://ow.ly/V3IRa
  • Rep. Lamar Smith's (R-Tex.) confrontation with NOAA researchers over  groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists http://ow.ly/V46hr
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Photo: Tom Baker for MPR News
  • Yellowstone bison marked for death could be spared by relocation plan http://ow.ly/UTt72
  • University of Arkansas - Monticello researcher tracks mallards, migration and mercury contamination http://ow.ly/UY9ov
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources seeks applications for statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee http://ow.ly/V137s
  • Photo-essay: Migrating tundra swans pause for food, rest along Mississippi River http://ow.ly/V13QC
  • Construction of Mississippi Basin-Great Lakes Basin Asian carp barrier at Eagle Marsh, Indiana nears completion http://ow.ly/VgOXo
In the Cities -
In the States-
  • Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to close a $487 million deficit "kicks some things down the road again," leaving trouble for next Governor http://ow.ly/UXRKF
  • Jindal's proposed Louisiana state budget cuts include $6.4 million from coastal agency http://ow.ly/UXSvC (environmental community reaction: http://ow.ly/UXSy8)
  • Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee plans to hold a hearing on Sewage Facilities Act http://ow.ly/Vgz4Z
  • Pennsylvania Governor acknowledges that a plan to resolve the five-month state budget impasse is in "deep peril" http://ow.ly/V1jD9
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Loyola University panel: Upcoming climate change talks in Paris could hold key to future of Louisiana's rapidly eroding coastline http://ow.ly/V0ZFg
Forestry -
  • 5-year review of Farm Bill-mandated Forest Action Plans and effective water quality protections (prepared by Dovetail Partners) http://ow.ly/V0WCV
Resource Development -
  • New report shows U.S. ethanol production rates hit record levels in mid-November http://ow.ly/Vgymd
  • EPA finding of no widespread, systemic drinking water impacts from fracking is being challenged by agency's own scientists http://ow.ly/UT8l0
  • Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. backs EPA's finding of no 'widespread, systemic' water problems due to hydraulic fracturing http://ow.ly/V3SNR
  • North Dakota lawmakers setting aside money to reclaim legacy drilling sites where companies are no longer responsible for cleanup http://ow.ly/UYvwx
  • Youngstown, Ohio officials will conduct a hand recount of an anti-fracking ballot initiative that failed this month http://ow.ly/UYwe3
  • About 25% of Iowa property tracts needed for proposed Bakken oil pipeline could face condemnation by the state http://ow.ly/V1c6C
  • South Dakota regulators expected to decide today whether to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline through state http://ow.ly/VgxRG
Renewable Fuel Standard

  • EPA RFS decision could come down this week (ahead of November 30 court-ordered deadline); no hint of what position will be (AgriPulse news audio) http://ow.ly/UXMuL
  • EPA Ethanol (RFS) ruling would have big Indiana impact http://ow.ly/UXO4y
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this Congress.gov web page) -
  • Lobbyist rider strategy: Obama administration might be willing to accept environmental riders in return for Republicans yielding on refugees http://ow.ly/V4hUi
  • Environmental policy riders, funding for Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, other roadblocks hinder getting a budget deal done by Dec. 11 deadline http://ow.ly/V3MoX
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
  • Agenda for December 4, Minnesota Legislative Water Commission meeting includes Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program update http://ow.ly/UTQoW
  • Mississippi River Cities and Towns Mayors' Initiative's "Global River Talks: Sustaining the World’s Food-Producing Rivers;" COP21: Paris, France; December 8; 11:45 AM ET http://ow.ly/UZrj2
  • USEPA Farm, Ranch, and Rural Community Federal Advisory Committee; Public Teleconference; December 11, 2-3:30 PM ET http://ow.ly/V3JIv
  • 2016 Infrastructure Week to highlight lack of investment in U.S. infrastructure (including water and wastewater), May 16-23, 2016 http://ow.ly/UTJfG
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 321, November 20 http://ow.ly/UTpVP
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 322, November 23 http://ow.ly/V16Gm
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council's National Water Monitoring News e-newsletter (Fall 2015; 11th edition) http://ow.ly/V1lid
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy, November 24 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/V1x3B
  • Freshwater Biology Special Issue: Extreme Events in Running Waters http://ow.ly/V1O1N
  • Rock River (Wisconsin) monthly recovery e-newsletter for December http://ow.ly/VguEq
Other news-
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources seeks to fill multiple Nonpoint Source Coordinator positions http://ow.ly/V1imJ
  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) unveils new Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization bill, requiring significantly more money for states http://ow.ly/UTMBc (news story: http://ow.ly/UTMWw)
  • Compared with other disciplines, conservation has been rather slow to incorporate digital technology into its methodological toolkit http://ow.ly/V0XwI
Politics and People-
  • New Pew survey shows sweeping distrust of federal government by virtually every measure http://ow.ly/UXZuR
  • Land Trust Alliance names Andrew Bowman as new president http://ow.ly/V3Q80
  • State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) elected Louisiana governor in runoff election against U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) http://ow.ly/UXN4C
  • Vitter announces Senate retirement after losing Louisiana gubernatorial race http://ow.ly/UXOm2
  • Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) plans a 2016 run for David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat http://ow.ly/V1944

Your Moment of Zen -

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For

Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to Mississippi River Basin and Coastal Louisiana water resources. Links are provided to the relevant committee web pages and appropriate pieces of legislation.

In addition to Committee activity, today (Monday), the House is scheduled to consider S.611 - the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act - a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in June that would reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) program providing technical assistance to small public water systems).

The middle of the week should see the beginning of House floor debate on a comprehensive Energy and Commerce Committee energy bill. Opposed by most Democrats, the bill includes some of the Department of Energy's quadrennial review recommendations, and focuses on energy infrastructure improvements. Of interest to Mississippi River Basin stakeholders will be amendments likely to be considered during the floor debate, including those designed to expedite permit (including environmental impact) reviews of certain pipeline projects and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as Democratic amendments addressing climate change. You can check out the current list of filed amendments here.

A draft fiscal year 2016 omnibus discretionary spending bill will probably be released during the week. Democrats are said to be unhappy with the low levels of funding being provided for EPA and Interior Department programs, and will push for increases during floor debates in both chambers. The measure will be accompanied by an unknown number of riders that would restrict funding for the implementation of select environmental and energy programs (possibly including the Interior Department's proposed Stream Protection Rule and the administration's final Clean Water (or "Waters of the United States) Rule). Strategists believe that the administration may swallow some otherwise unpalatable environmental riders in exchange for Republicans easing up on proposed refugee restrictions.

Finally, this week the House and Senate will either have to reconcile two differing long-term federal surface transportation authorization bills ahead of a Friday (December 4) deadline, or pass yet another in a long line of authority extensions. The measure would authorize many highway and rail programs, including those relating to trails and scenic byways, of interest to river advocates.

Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and those listed below should be, as well (follow the respective meeting or hearing link). All times are Eastern. This information will be updated as warranted.

Monday, November 30
  • House Rules Committee meeting to set the rules for the full House consideration of H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015; 5:00 PM. room H-313 Capitol Building (possibly continuing into Tuesday, December 1, at 3:00 PM).
Tuesday, December 1
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to receive testimony on the Department of Interior's proposed Well Control Rule and "other regulations related to offshore oil and gas production;" 10:00 AM, room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior hearing "examining invasive species policy" (the impacts of non-native species and the effectiveness of the National Invasive Species Council); 2:00 PM, room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.
Wednesday, December 2
  • Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry hearing on the agriculture industry’s role in combating global hunger; 10:00 AM, room 328 Russell Senate Office Building.
  • House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands legislative hearing to review H.R. 3556, the "National Park Service Centennial Act," a draft bill that would raise funding for the National Park Service ahead of its 2016 centennial; 10:00 AM, room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

This Week and Next in Congress
U.S. Senate and House members are now on Thanksgiving recess, not to return until November 30.
However, lawmakers took advantage of their one week in Washington between breaks for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, incrementally moving some water-related legislation, and continuing behind-the-scene's negotiations on a federal spending bill that needs to be passed by December 11.

First to the bills of cocnern to those interested in water resources: On Thursday morning, members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed a popular package of "sportsmen's" measures that was first amended to permanently reauthorize the equally-popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Only Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against the package, saying he preferred the LWCF reauthorization and reform approach included in House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop's (R-Utah) draft bill. That House bill was the focus of a Wednesday Natural Resources Committee hearing. Support for and against the Bishop bill was largely split along party lines at the hearing, with the Chairman reiterating several times that a straight-forward reauthorization was not "going to cut it." Also on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the Microbead-Free Waters Act, which would begin the phase-out of plastic microbeads beginning in 2017. Microbeads are present in personal care products and increasingly present in the nation’s lakes and streams. The bill would move next to the full House for consideration.

Meanwhile, following their Thanksgiving break, lawmakers will have only eight days in session before a December 11 deadline to pass an omnibus 2016 fiscal year spending package that is palatable to the White House. If the bill includes environmental policy riders that the Obama administration finds unacceptable, a Presidential veto and government shutdown may be in the offing. Even before getting a bill to the floor, appropriators must divide up a $30 billion spending increase that all sides agreed to in principle in the Bipartisan Budget Act, and figure out how to find the money for the restoration of the Bipartisan Budget Act's $3 billion cut to crop insurance - restoration promised during Budget Act deal-making.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Food and Water Watch: Industrial facilities that use unverified agricultural nutrient trading credits to offset pollutant discharges exceeding permit limits violate the Clean Water Act http://ow.ly/UPVsN
  • EPA algal toxin strategy: agency to develop list of algal types that could adversely affect health when ingested in drinking water; determine if health advisories should be issued http://ow.ly/UPWl9
  • Chesapeake Bay cleanup: Is Iowa next? http://ow.ly/UNn3l
  • Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism: Nitrate in water widespread, Wisconsin's
    Click to enlarge
    current rules no match http://ow.ly/UKDb4
  • Environmental groups sue Arch Coal Inc. subsidiary over alleged widespread southern West Virginia water pollution http://ow.ly/UNunh (link to complaint http://ow.ly/UPVZ9)
  • Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection finalizes its statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan (target of 50 nutrient management BMPs/year using state funds) http://ow.ly/UC24w
  • Tractor-trailer crash spills hazardous materials into Ohio's Raccoon Creek, killing almost 6,400 fish http://ow.ly/UOIlN
  • Tennessee State University students team up with federal researchers on pollution of the region's water supply http://ow.ly/UHBqG
  • Ex-EPA official Ken Kopocis sizes up Iowa water quality efforts http://ow.ly/UNmO1
  • Train speed rules didn't apply to ethanol train that derailed Nov. 8, spilling 20,000 gallons into Mississippi River http://strib.mn/1OeoEoU
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee approves on a voice vote the Microbead-Free Waters Act to begin phase out of plastic microbeads; news story: http://ow.ly/UOpQY; Committee release http://ow.ly/UOoeP
  • Study: Three common insecticides have sublethal toxic effects on several invertebrate aquatic species weeks after they cease to be detected http://ow.ly/USB5L
  • Database developed to be centralized repository for conservation practices to reduce stormwater runoff from agricultural http://ow.ly/USBSn (also see this news story: http://ow.ly/USDKI)
Waters of the United States Rule

  • League of Conservation Voters launches Facebook ad campaign to criticize Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for votes in support of measures to block Clean Water Rule http://ow.ly/UC3sN
  • Testimony at Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wisconsin field hearing on federal regulations is critical of Waters of the U.S. rule http://ow.ly/UHp6d (related news article http://ow.ly/UHpug)
  • Op-ed by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa): EPA's WOTUS rule "ill-conceived"  http://ow.ly/UKuVW
  • Tennessee farmers closely watching political fight over Obama administration's clean water rule http://ow.ly/UHAcJ
  • Iowa moves to intervene in federal court challenge to Waters of the U.S. rule http://ow.ly/UOHoA
  • Coalition of Texas development interests files WOTUS legal challenge in District Court for the Southern District of Texas, targeting the rule's treatment of Texas coastal wetlands http://ow.ly/UYikf
  • Agricultural organizations this week sent a letter to members of the Senate about Clean Water Rule http://ow.ly/UPUE5 (Agri-Pulse audio) (copy of ag groups' letter http://ow.ly/UPX5e)
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • U.S. Supreme Court appoints special master to oversee Mississippi-Tennessee interstate water dispute, recommend ruling to the court http://ow.ly/UHDGl (background article: http://ow.ly/UHElE)
  • Op-ed: "Is hydropower green? Not really. Nothing alters a river as totally as a dam" (Minneapolis StarTribune) http://ow.ly/UHL2d
  • 'No net loss of wetlands' because of Bakken pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners official says http://ow.ly/UNmwK
  • Grain shipments enjoying bargain Mississippi River navigation system barge rates (down 66% from 3-year-average) http://ow.ly/UQg8k
Agriculture -
  • USDA announces availability of $350M for conservation easements nationwide under
    Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP consolidates three former programs – the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program); news story: http://ow.ly/USDE6; USDA release: http://ow.ly/UQo8e
  • Journal of Environmental Science and Policy: Investing in the transition to sustainable agriculture http://ow.ly/ULADE
  • Former NRCS Chief Bruce Knight's thoughts on Natural Resources Conservation Service's fine tuning the Conservation Stewardship Program (Agri-Pulse) http://ow.ly/UItN7
  • Environmental Working Group urges Congress not to roll back budget deal provisions that would lower the cap on returns for crop insurance companies http://ow.ly/UL660
  • Analyst: Bakken pipeline would be a boon for Midwest grain farmers by freeing up freight rail service http://ow.ly/UNlHh
  • Oklahoma Stewardship Council opposes "Right to Farm" proposal on November ballot, saying it favors factory farms http://ow.ly/UQdkH
  • Nebraska cattle feeder may face county fines, shutdown over large cattle population, "sham" attempts to circumvent rules (Platte River) http://ow.ly/UQejM
  • New USDA NRCS Organic Farming Handbook released http://ow.ly/USK1t
Climate and Weather -
Click to enlarge
  • World Meteorological Organization: El NiƱo strengthening, will be among biggest on record http://ow.ly/UKJca
  • Weekly NOAA US drought update: Large areas of precipitation across Plains to Midwest and Lower Mississippi Valley brought additional drought relief http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Report card explores preparedness actions each state is taking to prepare for current and changes in climate threats http://ow.ly/UNYzf
  • NOAA: Last month was hottest October globally since record-keeping began 136 years ago http://ow.ly/UQbLN
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Study: increased drainage of smaller wetlands in Prairie Pothole region reduces piping plover breeding habitat http://ow.ly/USJuO
  • Over 150 groups call on President Obama to oppose a series of anticipated riders against Endangered Species Act protections http://ow.ly/UNsCN
  • Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) urges Endangered Species Act reforms at Western Governors' Association's workshop http://ow.ly/UCH9S
  • New study: Cougar numbers are recovering in the Midwest, breeding populations established in Nebraska, North and South Dakota http://ow.ly/UIDvX
  • USDA, EPA butt heads on honey bee and pesticide initiative, highlighting lobbying conflicts http://ow.ly/UKvhx
  • Scientists say they have found the "missing link" in the debate over the risk of pesticides to bees http://ow.ly/UNw5f
  • USGS study: Snake species in nine Midwestern and Eastern states experiencing fungus-caused population declines http://ow.ly/UNtL4
  • Yellowstone National Park authorities want to kill 1,000 (one in five) bison to bring population down to target size http://ow.ly/UPUay
In the Cities -
  • DuPage County (Illinois) Stormwater Management accepting grant proposals for projects to improve County’s stream and river quality http://ow.ly/UITB7
  • Poorest town in the poorest state: Tchula, Mississippi (US’s most deprived communities series) http://ow.ly/UHvLV
  • St. Louis, Missouri joins global compact among cities' mayors committed to taking action on climate change http://ow.ly/UQm5L
In the States-
  • Judge rules that Wisconsin DNR can't impose groundwater monitoring requirements as a condition for high-capacity well permits http://ow.ly/UHC4d
  • Wisconsin DNR invites public input on agency approach for evaluating fish passage at dams http://ow.ly/USHQr
  • Months-long impasse over a Pennsylvania budget poised to end - - - in December http://ow.ly/UKOnG
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board approves final draft of state water resources plan addressing use, conservation and river health http://ow.ly/USzV5 (Plan is available at http://ow.ly/USzZ1)
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana coastal official to Congressional panel: federal government's lack of overarching plan to fight Louisiana land loss wastes money http://ow.ly/UKwpX
  • Plaquemines Parish Council (Louisiana) votes to dismiss 21 lawsuits against 68 oil and gas companies over alleged damage to wetlands http://ow.ly/UCGzS
  • Partnership plans to restore four miles of embankment along Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Lafourche Parish, LA http://ow.ly/UOCca
Resource Development -
  • Rising energy demand is straining freshwater supplies globally; U.S. oil demand disproportionately responsible http://ow.ly/UKIyt
  • Bipartisan group of U.S. Senators pushes bill to improve pipeline safety http://ow.ly/UBVqV (link to bill: http://ow.ly/UBWxQ)
  • West Virginia company uses "dummy proof" technologies to convert fracking wastewater into distilled water and road salt http://ow.ly/UHOUB
  • Iowa Utilities Board begins debating pipeline project to carry Bakken crude oil through the state http://ow.ly/UKCzv
  • For the first time in a decade, North Dakota Bakken oil patch posts a year-to-year production decline http://ow.ly/UKMTo
  • For the first time in years, North Dakota's oil is now traveling by pipelines more than trucks http://ow.ly/UQA15
  • In potentially illegal move, Iowa Utilities Board head withholds funding for state's renewable energy research center http://ow.ly/UKNjS
  • Bureau of Land Management seeks Ohio public input over potentially opening part of Wayne National Forest to fracking http://ow.ly/UKNGH
  • Coal companies scrap applications for federal leases containing nearly 2 billion tons of Wyoming Powder River Basin coal reserves http://ow.ly/UNuJs
  • Conservation groups call for increased restrictions on Powder River Basin energy production to stem wildlife decline http://ow.ly/UOH09
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this Congress.gov web page) -
  • Critics of Obama administration's environmental rules meet with House appropriators to push for inclusion of riders in omnibus spending bill http://ow.ly/UQh0a
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan: Republicans will force President to accept some conservative policy riders in spending bill http://ow.ly/UNzAA
  • House Democrats: any 'poison pill' spending bill amendments are dead on arrival http://ow.ly/UNzVp
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
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources Water Quality Standards Workgroup Meeting;
    December 10, 10 am–1 pm, Jefferson City http://ow.ly/ULPZq
  • 2015 Illinois Farm Economics Summit to explore "Nutrient Loss Challenge and Farm Bill Conservation Programs" (mid-December, multiple dates and locations) http://ow.ly/UQfbZ
  • St. Croix River Association presents: An Afternoon with Mark Twain featuring Don Shelby; January 24, 2016, 2 PM, Hudson http://ow.ly/UKEnL
  • River memories-sharing spurred by “Remembering the Bohemian Flats: One Place, Many Voices” exhibit http://ow.ly/UNx2Y
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 220; November 16; "Paul Orr: Myths and Misconceptions" http://bit.ly/1kAG8m6
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy November 17 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/ULLna
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Feedlot Update - November 2015 http://ow.ly/UO0QT
  • America's Waterway River Currents Newsletter - November 2015 http://ow.ly/UOGs0
  • Wisconsin DNR: Wisconsin River Basin Clean Waterways Project Quarterly Newsletter http://ow.ly/USIJq
  • Gulf Restoration Network's November 19 GulfWaves e-magazine http://ow.ly/USOoL
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's November 19 Watershed News http://ow.ly/USP0z
Other news-
  • Food Policy Action announces National Food Policy Progress Report for the 114th Congress
    Click to enlarge
    http://ow.ly/UL4Nu (scored food policy issues include domestic and international hunger, food safety, food access, farm subsidies, animal welfare, food and farm labor, nutrition, food additives, food transparency, local and regional food production, organic farming and the effects of food production on the environment)
  • Indiana University researchers awarded funding to study water resources, climate variability http://ow.ly/UHrin
  • Environmental Defense Fund seeks to fill Mississippi River Delta and Natural Infrastructure Economist position http://ow.ly/UHCNd
  • National Audubon Society Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition position opening: Communications Associate, New Orleans, LA http://ow.ly/UKwH7
  • House passes two-week extension of Highway Trust Fund to give congress more time to finalize long-term reauthorization http://ow.ly/UKATC
  • The House Natural Resources Committee releases "federal footprint" map of federal lands, as well as lands with federal environmental designations or resources subject to federal environmental regulations http://ow.ly/UNXDx
  • Artist's proposal to drape 6 miles of fabric above Arkansas River gorge faces what's likely its final legal test http://ow.ly/UOGOy
  • OMB releases Fall 2015 Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda; includes important regulatory actions that agencies are considering for issuance in FY 2016 http://ow.ly/USCDc
Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • House Natural Resources Committee Democrats release analysis focused on Committee members' districts benefiting from LWCF money http://ow.ly/UOdI4
  • House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop attempts to make case for reforming Land and Water Conservation Fund http://ow.ly/UOD0Z
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund gains support of the Evangelical Environmental Network http://ow.ly/UL82t and 50 venture capitalists http://ow.ly/UL7Hw
  • Senate committee approves sportsmen's legislative package including Land and Water Conservation Fund renewal amendment http://ow.ly/UR71q (link to amended bill: http://ow.ly/UR77r)
Politics and People-
  • Colin O'Neil, Center for Food Safety director of government affairs, named new Environmental Working Group director of agriculture policy http://ow.ly/UNqAA (bottom of article)
  • Illinois state senator Napoleon Harris enters Democratic U.S. Senate primary race, with winner taking on Mark Kirk (R) http://ow.ly/UNyD5
  • McKnight Foundation hires Brendon Slotterback as Midwest Climate and Energy program officer http://ow.ly/UNt2G
  • Illinois Governor appoints farmer and State Representative Raymond Poe to be Department of Agriculture Director http://ow.ly/UNq75
  • Republican candidates are backing down on "war on coal" rhetoric, finding it doesn't resonate with younger voters http://ow.ly/UL9MB
  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sues US Department of Agriculture, alleging censoring of scientists http://ow.ly/USJaD
  • New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Kentucky state legislator Robert Stivers named as two of Governing magazine's Public Officials of the Year http://ow.ly/USN9G
Your Moment of Zen -

Monday, November 16, 2015

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For (UPDATED)

Big-ticket legislative items will consume the attention of Congress this week, ahead of its planned Thanksgiving week recess. Surface transportation program authorization expires on Friday, and House and Senate conferees will work early in the week to resolve a handful of differences between the Senate and House long-term bill versions.  House and Senate appropriators will be working this week on an omnibus 2016 fiscal year spending package that both meets the conditions of the bipartisan budget deal signed into law three weeks ago, and that can pass both chambers while avoiding a Presidential veto over policy riders.  Republicans plan to propose a number of spending bill riders (or amendments) that address contentious energy and environmental policies, including one restricting funding to implement the final Waters of the U.S. rule.  The continuing resolution currently funding the federal government expires on December 11. The alternatives to passing an omnibus bill by then are a federal government shutdown or yet another short-term extension.

Below are the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for this week that relate to Mississippi River Basin and Coastal Louisiana water resources.  Links are provided to the relevant committee web pages and appropriate pieces of legislation.  Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and these may be, as well (follow the respective meeting or hearing link).  All times are Eastern. This information will be updated as needed. 

Tuesday, November 17
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine past wildfire seasons to inform and improve future Federal wildland fire management strategies; 10:00 AM, room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting to mark up several bills, including S. 611, the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act; and H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015;  4:00 PM, room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.
Wednesday, November 18
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing examining the International Climate Negotiations; 9:30 AM, room 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • House Budget Committee hearing entitled, "Does Biennial Budgeting Fit in a Rewrite of the Budget Process?" 9:45 AM, room 210 Cannon House Office Building. 
  • House Natural Resources Committee legislative hearing on "Protecting America's Recreation and Conservation Act" (discussion draft) to "reauthorize and reform the Land and Water Conservation Fund;" 10:00 AM, room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on the "Administration’s Empty Promises for the International Climate Treaty;" 10:00 AM, room 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.
Thursday
  • NEW - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meeting to consider several pieces of legislation, including S. 556, the "Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015," a bill "to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting," and the nomination of Suzette M. Kimball, Ph.D. to be Director of the United States Geological Survey; 9:30 AM, room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

Endangered Species Act Issues are Nuanced and Multifaceted
If you ever needed proof that the issues central to informed discussions on the status and future of the Endangered Species
Act (ESA) are both sophisticated and complex, look no further than this past Tuesday's Farm Foundation Forum panel presentations on "The Endangered Species Act of the Future." The Forum proceeded from an overview of what many deem to be a successful 11-state effort involving governments, landowners and industries to prevent the ESA listing of the greater sage grouse. But the panel members went beyond that singular example to explore in detail and nuance the varied perspectives on the ESA, giving the audience a glimpse into how those diverse views might shape the future of the Act, itself, and of landscape, agricultural, species and ecosystem conservation overall [That future will likely entail a just-announced USDA initiative to engage farmers and ranchers in the monarch butterfly's 11-state migration range in efforts to improve habitat and turn around that species rapid numbers decline (possibly avoiding a potential ESA listing)].

Layered between informed and informative opening and closing remarks, respectively, by Jason Weller (Chief, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service) and Alex Echols (representing the Sand County Foundation) were distinctive and notably refined presentations by Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Department of Interior, David Willms, Policy Advisor to Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, Brian Rutledge, Vice President of the National Audubon Society, and Wyoming rancher Patrick O'Toole, who is also President of the Family Farm Alliance.  Biographies of all of the presenters can be seen here, and both their panel remarks, and the subsequent question and answer session can be found here in an audio format.  A listen is highly recommended.

Federal Spending Legislation Takes Shape - Policy Riders Are in Play
For the next several weeks behind the scenes in Congress we'll find House and Senate appropriations committee members and staff diligently crafting an omnibus 2016 fiscal year spending package that both meets the conditions of the bipartisan budget deal signed into law three weeks ago (H.R.1314 - the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015), and (they hope) that can be passed by both chambers while avoiding a Presidential veto.  Potential political potholes along the road to enactment arise from Republican plans to propose a number of spending bill riders (or amendments) that address contentious policy, including those blocking implementation of the final Waters of the U.S. rule, and the proposed Interior Department stream protection rule (other possible environmental riders include those overturning recent changes to ozone emission standards and the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan). Some Democrats and their staff are softening a previously hard-line Democratic anti-rider position, and now indicate that it will be impossible to pass a totally rider-free spending bill.

Negotiators have until December 11 to prepare spending legislation and get it passed. After that date, the continuing resolution currently funding the federal government expires. The alternatives to passing an omnibus bill by then are a federal government shutdown or yet another short-term extension. Congressional staff indicate that appropriators are unlikely to finish their spending bill negotiations until the week of November 30 at the earliest.

Next Week
Next week's Congressional committee activity includes several hearings of interest to Mississippi River Basin and Coastal Louisiana water resource stakeholders; one being a legislative hearing on a bill authored by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah to "reauthorize and reform the Land and Water Conservation Fund."  You can see the entire list of water-relevant committee hearings here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Wisconsin Train Derailments and Spills
  • Wisconsin: train carrying crude oil derails and leaks oil one day after train derailed on the Mississippi River http://ow.ly/UpQ0P (related stories below)
  • Canadian Pacific Railway: broken rail caused an oil train derailment in southeastern Wisconsin http://ow.ly/UyZcA
  • Crews clean up after train derailment, ethanol spill on Mississippi River in western Wisconsin http://ow.ly/UpQkw  (photo to the right)
  • Mississippi River backwaters' clean up from train derailment, ethanol spill continues; environmental impacts unknown http://ow.ly/UtKKW
  • BNSF Railway says Wisconsin rail ethanol spill was not harmful to aquatic life http://ow.ly/UyNRb
  • Officials say Wisconsin "dodged a bullet" following the spill of thousands of gallons of ethanol from a derailed train http://ow.ly/UBOM8
  • Federal officials investigating what caused two Wisconsin weekend train derailments-ethanol and crude oil http://ow.ly/UtLax
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) urges House leadership to immediately bring his rail safety legislation to a floor for a vote http://ow.ly/UyN5i
  • Recent train derailments in Wisconsin show the need for safety upgrades and better emergency response planning http://ow.ly/UBP5t
Other Water Quality News
  • Safe, clean drinking water eludes many Wisconsinites faced with metal and nitrate pollution http://ow.ly/UyIsW
  • About 1,000 barrels of crude oil spilled from a pipeline in rural Oklahoma; "no water was contaminated" http://ow.ly/UpZXO
  • North Dakota Department of Health notified of 250 barrel (10,500 gallon) brine spill in Stark County; "some" collected http://ow.ly/Uu9rm
  • North Dakota Department of Health notified of pipeline leak; approximately 225 barrels (9450 gallons) of crude oil released http://ow.ly/UqhlZ
  • National implications: Farm organizations, home builders ask U.S. Supreme Court to consider blocking the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay pollution limits http://ow.ly/UpMgn
  • State to revive mercury testing program for fish caught in Louisiana waters for the first time since 2008 http://ow.ly/UpRmD
  • Over 50 business organizations turn up pressure on 10 moderate Democrats and Independent who voted against Senate WOTUS-blocking bill http://ow.ly/Uu0Z2 (related news article http://ow.ly/Uu1LF)
  • Consortium of aquatic scientists opposed Senate Resolution invalidating Clean Water Rule http://ow.ly/Uueu7
  • 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denies environmental groups' request to force U.S. EPA to respond to petition to withdraw West Virginia's Clean Water Act permitting authority http://ow.ly/Uu2p7
  • Illinois Nutrient Science Advisory Committee members named; will guide nutrient water quality standards development http://ow.ly/Uu8N5
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment files notice of intent to sue US EPA over its failure to oversee development of state's water quality standards under Clean Water Act http://ow.ly/UyQ1l
  • Coal mining cleanup in Ohio waterways showing mixed results as legacy pollution persists http://ow.ly/UyXXO and http://ow.ly/UyY4n
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee gearing up for next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) http://ow.ly/Uu6KX
  • Obama administration files petition with U.S. Supreme Court regarding two pending appeals in water cases http://ow.ly/UBM0d (related story: http://ow.ly/UBMjN)
  • Petitioners ask Army Corps to be more transparent with its processing of permit applications http://ow.ly/Ul7Hj
  • Nebraska irrigators served by Republican River basin irrigation district sue state for sending water to Kansas in 2014 http://ow.ly/UqfRj
  • USDA expands water resource investment in Ogallala Aquifer Initiative; adds focus areas in Nebraska and Oklahoma http://ow.ly/UquSt
  • US Army Corps of Engineers' Pittsburgh District requests input on Ohio River  riverfront habitat restoration project http://ow.ly/UtIqY
  • Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana looks to add two new levee projects to its proposed 2016 parish budget http://ow.ly/Uu82t
  • The Future of Ag Water: Increase Irrigation Efficiency and Sell Conserved Water http://ow.ly/Uz0TH
  • Over 200 groups send letter urging House members to vote against "North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act; "an unprecedented assault" on rivers, people and wildlife http://ow.ly/Uz28u (link to bill http://ow.ly/Uz2Dp)
  • Purdue University study: Current flood models do not account for cities' impact on local rainfall patterns http://ow.ly/UzUlI
  • EPA releases draft National Wetland Condition Assessment for comment http://ow.ly/UA3T2
Agriculture -
  • Top USDA official says climate change poses a serious threat to Midwest agriculture  http://ow.ly/UtLDU
  • EPA and USDA partner with producers, and environmental and scientific experts to develop technologies to recycle nutrients from livestock waste http://ow.ly/UyWi7
Climate and Weather -
  • Figures compiled by the World Meteorological Organization showed strong growth  and new records during 2015 in concentrations of all three of most important heat-trapping gases http://ow.ly/Uq7sv
  • "Drought creep” intensifies across southern Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas http://ow.ly/UyFdi
  • NOAA US drought update: dryness expanded in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois; was alleviated in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, southeastern Oklahoma http://ow.ly/wmTdv
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • USDA launches new conservation effort to aid monarch butterflies http://ow.ly/UzoEw
  • Public can comment through Nov. 19 on proposal to allow Wisconsin corn growers to treat seed with repellent to stop Sandhill Crane feeding http://ow.ly/UyJ9h
  • Researchers find fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in Nebraska bats, marking the westernmost detection of the fungus http://ow.ly/UzOHe
  • Western state wildlife officials urge oil and gas companies to enroll in voluntary plan to conserve lesser prairie chicken habitat http://ow.ly/UzP6G
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources live bald eagle cam video streaming now from Twin Cities nest http://ow.ly/UBLxD
  • Bureau of Land Management to hold nine public hearings over proposal to withdraw up to 10 million acres of federal lands in six states from new mining claims in an effort to protect the greater sage grouse http://ow.ly/UBNa1
In the Cities -
  • Minneapolis City Council resolution targets oil train safety through the city http://ow.ly/UyMwZ
  • New Orleans officials hope to use BP spill money to help fund huge disaster mitigation plan http://ow.ly/UyUMX
  • The Guardian: Blighted Beattyville, Kentucky, where hostility to the US’s first black president and his "war on coal" runs deep http://ow.ly/UBxSe
  • U.S. EPA invites nominations for possible appointment to its Local Government Advisory Committee http://ow.ly/UyTIn (December 14 deadline)
In the States-
  • Illinois Pollution Control Board asks state EPA to detail how it will implement new federal coal-ash disposal rules http://ow.ly/Uq1q1 (related: Illinois Pollution Control Board Acts on Concerns Regarding Coal Ash Waste from Electric Generating Plants http://ow.ly/Uqgvu)
  • Wisconsin state lawmakers introduce rail safety bill in wake of two derailments http://ow.ly/UyMMs
  • Critics say politicized state environmental agency threatens Wisconsin's water http://ow.ly/UBFCo
  • Lake associations, river groups, local governments can apply for Wisconsin DNR surface water planning grants through December 10 http://ow.ly/Uz1xD
  • Kansas slashes current fiscal year revenue estimate by $159 million, announces budget adjustments http://ow.ly/UtHAG
  • Pennsylvania budget deal near with higher sales tax, but many decisions still need to be agreed to http://ow.ly/Uu0fd and http://ow.ly/UyJGV
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Funding for Louisiana's 50-year master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane storm surge protection at least $71 billion short http://ow.ly/Uqfd9
Forestry -
  • EPA solicits comments and information on public and private programs to protect water quality from forest road stormwater runoff http://ow.ly/UyVdV
  • USDA announces $10.6 million in available funding for projects to restore southern and southeastern longleaf pine ecosystems (including in Mississippi and Louisiana) http://ow.ly/Uz3cI


(click to enlarge either map)
Resource Development -
  • President Obama rejects application to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast http://ow.ly/Ul3JN
  • Keystone XL oil pipeline supporters plan their next steps following President Obama's permit rejection http://ow.ly/UpLP5
  • Enbridge mapping possible 'twin' of major tar sands line through Wisconsin http://ow.ly/Uq0Hc
  • Analysts say President Obama's rejection of Keystone XL project may eventually boost rail shipments out of Alberta http://ow.ly/UtJSb
  • After five years of work, Obama administration's proposed regulatory overhaul fails to patch hole in US pipeline safety net http://ow.ly/UpZns
  • Signs of a developing shale gas economy dot the Ohio River in Marshall County, West Virginia http://ow.ly/Uq8gd
  • Southern Illinois community braces for another coal bust cycle cycle as one of two large mines is scheduled to close within six months http://ow.ly/UtKin
  • Coal "isn’t going anywhere," according to the head of the World Coal Association - it's simply "moved to Asia" http://ow.ly/UyG0H
  • Des Moines Register: 12 things to know about proposed Bakken oil pipeline (through Iowa) http://ow.ly/UyKbH (related story below)
  • Iowa commission voting on the Bakken pipeling project is one of the most inexperienced utility commissions in the country http://ow.ly/UyYMx
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this Congress.gov 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
  • Webinar: Navigating the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit: How the Toolkit can support local planning and decisions for enhanced community resilience, November 19; 12:00 - 1:00 pm ET http://ow.ly/Upx8C
  • Association of State Wetland Managers Webinar: Improving Wetland Restoration Success Project-Novel Ecosystems and Restoration; November 19, 3 PM ET http://ow.ly/UqiF2
  • USEPA Science Advisory Board Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel  Public Teleconference,  December 3, 2-6 PM ET http://ow.ly/Uu7yM
  • 76th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, January 24-27, 2016; Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids, Michigan http://ow.ly/UziDr
  • StormCon 2016-annual surface water quality conference; Indianapolis, Indiana, August 22 - 25, 2016 http://ow.ly/Uz0m7
  • Presentations from the 2015 Minnesota Water Resources Conference are now posted on University of Minnesota website http://ow.ly/Uzs6o
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 219, November 9: "Gators and Freighters"
    http://ow.ly/UufZu
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy TUWaterWays e-newsletter for November 10 http://ow.ly/UtXft
  • Fall edition of Army Corps of Engineers' "Our Mississippi" magazine http://ow.ly/UueWU
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Waterfront Bulletin for November 2015 http://ow.ly/UzgN1
  • NW PAssages November e-magazine, exploring NW Pennsylvania's greenways and natural heritage http://ow.ly/UzSFa
Other news-
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network seeks to fill a staff attorney position http://ow.ly/UyGfZ
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announces RFP for 2016 Five Star and Urban Waters
    Restoration grants http://ow.ly/UBKQy
  • Voting open for 2016 Pennsylvania River of the Year through December 4; Ohio, and Kiski-Conemaugh rivers nominated http://ow.ly/UzGQm
  • Annual ‘Greening The Statehouse’ environmental event in Indiana this year will focus on coal ash management rules http://ow.ly/UtM0I
  • New GOP bill - H.R.3939 - would "require that the workforce of the Environmental Protection Agency be reduced by 15 percent" http://ow.ly/UqjA8
  • Republicans disagree over House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop's plan to reform Land and Water Conservation Fund http://ow.ly/Uu46w
  • Chances of a Senate vote on bill to overhaul TSCA dim because of protracted Land and Water Conservation Fund fight http://ow.ly/UBGpe
  • Western Values Project ad tries to convince three Republicans to oppose their party's Land and Water Conservation Fund bill http://ow.ly/UyVJb
  • City Parks Alliance: " A Smart Investment for America's Health: Land and Water Conservation Fund"  http://ow.ly/UugBk
  • River Life blog: America’s Watershed Report Card: A Good Start Despite/Because of the Controversy http://ow.ly/UBF93
  • Controversial herbicide glyphosate can now be approved for relicensing in the European Union http://ow.ly/UBFOv
Politics and People-
  • Obscure North Dakota federal district judge Ralph Erickson takes lead role in fight over Obama clean water act rule http://ow.ly/UyHU7
  • Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R, At-Large, Wyoming) will not seek re-election in 2016 http://ow.ly/UBD3o
  • Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity joint "State Integrity Investigation" grades states based on laws and systems they have in place to deter corruption; three states graded higher than D+ http://ow.ly/UtOCu
  • Columnist fired after writing article critical of Ducks Unlimited donor regarding access to ranchland near Ruby River (Missouri River Basin in Montana) http://ow.ly/UzQyh
  • Gallup poll: Congress' job approval rating slips to 11 percent http://ow.ly/UzRbd
Your Moment of Zen -

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Capitol Hill This Week - What to Watch For (UPDATED)

The House stands in recess until November 16, and the Senate chambers will be darkened this Wednesday, November 11, for Veterans' Day, leaving very little room for Congressional activities.  Behind the scenes this week, Senate appropriators will be busy drafting an omnibus spending bill after receiving new spending allocations that reflect the bipartisan budget deal signed into law two weeks ago (H.R.1314 - the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015).  Congress is facing a December 11 deadline to pass spending legislation for the current fiscal year.  The topic of spending bill "riders" that limit funding for contentious federal programs and initiatives is sure to arise between now and then.  Last week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), Chairwoman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee (that oversees spending bills relating to the U.S. EPA and the Interior Department) reiterated the Republican plan to put forward multiple riders, including one restricting spending to implement the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Thus far only two Senate committee hearings are scheduled this week relating to Mississippi River Basin water resources: a hearing regarding spending on unauthorized programs (see this Congressional Budget Office fiscal year 2015 summary of "Unauthorized Appropriations and Expiring Authorizations," which includes the presently-unauthorized Land and Water Conservation Fund), and a Wisconsin field hearing in Stevens Point (a Wisconsin River town) on federal regulations.

Links are provided below to the relevant committee web pages.  Many Congressional proceedings are webcast live, and these may be, as well (follow the hearing link).  This information will be updated as warranted.

Thursday, November 12
  • Senate Budget Committee hearing to examine spending on unauthorized programs; 10:30 AM, room 608 Dirksen Senate Office Building (No details or hearing link are yet available).
Friday, November 13
  • NEW - House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee roundtable on “The Importance of Port, Waterway, Flood Control, and Ecosystem Restoration Improvements to the Nation’s Economy: Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act;” 9:30 AM CST; Formal Conference Room (fourth floor), Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal St., New Orleans
  • Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs field hearing on the "Impact of Federal Regulations: A Case Study of Recently Issued Rules;" 1:00 PM CT, Dreyfus University Center, 230 Laird Room (1015 Reserve Street, Stevens Point, WI 54481).