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W E E K L Y  U P D A T E  October 1, 2018
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Farm Bill Deadline Passes with No Agreement

The deadline for the Farm Bill conference committee to reach a compromise agreement between the two versions of the Farm Bill has come and gone with no accord.

The USDA is no longer authorized to administer vital conservation programs, even though funding has been appropriated.  A number of other key programs in the Farm Bill have been frozen, as well, while others will continue to function until December due to mandatory baseline funding.  

Congressional leaders are optimistic about passing an extension for the stalled programs until a full agreement can be reached.  That will likely have to wait, however, as the House has recessed until after the November midterm elections. 

For more information, please contact Eric Heath, Senior Policy Counsel for the Mississippi River Basin Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
The Value of Water Campaign to Hold the 4th Annual "Imagine a Day Without Water" Event on October 10 

The Value of Water Campaign will hold the 4th annual "Imagine a Day Without Water" event on October 10 to highlight and raise awareness about the value of water and the national issues facing the critical water infrastructure on which every home and business depends.
Last year, more than 750 organizations participated in this nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. Coordinated by the US Water Alliance, the Value of Water Campaign educates and engages the public on the importance of clean, safe, and reliable water and helps ensure quality water service for future generations.  

To learn more or to participate in an "Imagine a Day Without Water" event, please visit here

For more information, please contact  Matt McKenna , Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program, at the Northeast-Midwest Institute .
U.S., Mexico, and Canada Sign Last-Minute Deal for New NAFTA

Just hours before the self-imposed negotiation deadline, the U.S. reached an accord with Mexico and Canada for a modified North American Free Trade Agreement, what the Trump Administration is calling The "U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement" or "USMCA."

After months of often contentious meetings between the three countries' respective trade negotiators, the chances of a trilateral agreement began to look dire when Mexico and the U.S. agreed to move ahead with a bilateral agreement in recent weeks.  Canada ultimately joined its North American neighbors, though, after settling some remaining points of contention with the U.S.

While the Trump Administration is attempting to market the new deal as a separate and distinct trade pact with significant new provisions, the bulk of the agreement replicates what the three countries had previously negotiated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or "TPP," during the Obama administration.  President Trump campaigned on "tearing up" that agreement, and promptly withdrew from the pact once he entered office.  

The text of the agreement is available here.  To enter into force, the agreement must be ratified by all three countries.  

For more information, please contact Eric Heath, Senior Policy Counsel for the Mississippi River Basin Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Environmental Working Group Releases Study on Nitrate Treatment Costs

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, is releasing a study tomorrow, October 2, that highlights the costly burden of nitrate treatment borne by small, rural communities. The report will go live at 12.01 am ET here. The report states that in the smallest communities, the addition of a nitrate treatment unit could cost more than $50 a month per person.

This report follows NEMWI's own report on the cost of nitrate treatment in the Mississippi River Basin, released in May 2018, which identified rising nitrate levels and higher treatment costs as a growing threat to public health and water affordability.

For more information, please contact  Dr. Sri Vedachalam , Director of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Coast Guard Releases Final Rule Prohibiting Anchoring in Straits of Mackinac

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard released a rule establishing a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) for certain waters of the Straits of Mackinac.  This rule aims to avoid potential damage to the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline by prohibiting ships from dropping anchor in the straits.  Last April, the Line 5 pipeline was dented by a ship's anchor, but did not leak.  The Rule prohibits  ships from anchoring or "loitering" in the straits, but does contain an exception for times of emergency like an abrupt storm.  Additionally the rule does not apply to sightseeing boats that stop in the straights temporarily.  The rule, which can be viewed here, goes into effect on October 31. 

For more information, please contact  Matt McKenna , Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program, at the Northeast-Midwest Institute .
This Week in Washington

The House is currently in recess.  The following are Senate hearings and markups of interest to the region.


The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a general business meeting to consider pending legislation.  A full list of the legislation to be considered is available here. 2:30 PM | 366 Dirksen SOB.


The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency's Implementation of Sound and Transparent Science in Regulation."  2:15 PM | 406 Dirksen SOB.

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