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Possible Water Resources Development Act and Energy Bills This Week

After the House proposed a narrow version of the energy bill to the Senate, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) proposed a broader bill once again. After a meeting last week with House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman Murkowski appeared confident she will get a bill during the Lame Duck session.

Salk Researchers Say Plant May Hold Key To Drought Resistance

The small green trays of plants in this Salk Institute greenhouse are far more captivating to these researchers than the ocean view. Carol Huang reaches out for a tray. “Can we get the seeds?” she asks as she examines the flat of maturing Arabidopsis plants. “These are too young,“ Huang says. Huang and fellow Salk Institute for Biological Studies researcher Liang Song are picking apart the insides of this hardy, quick growing relative of the mustard plant.

BLOG: Better Forecasts Ahead for Western Weather and Natural Disasters

A new satellite parked 22,000 miles (35,000km) over the United States promises to deliver better storm forecasting for California and other Western states plagued by drought, floods and other weather extremes. The GOES-R satellite was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on Nov. 19. It is the first in a new generation of weather satellites that will be able to scan the planet five times faster and offer four times better imaging resolution than the current technology.


Is Algae in Soils a New Frontier in Plant Health and Yield?

Could applying microalgae to the soil boost yield and strengthen plants? We spoke to Lance Smith, chief business office, Heliae Development LLC., based in Gilbert, Arizona, in the southeast Phoenixmetropolitan area. “Heliae is a company that is dedicated to unlocking the potential of microalgae,” said Smith. “We’ve been in business now for over eight years. We hope to be able to deliver microalgae products in a lot of areas, including in plant agriculture.” “While we work with hundreds of algae species, the algae we are currently marketing for plant agriculture is a green algae.

BLOG: How Engineers See the Water Glass in California

Depending on your outlook, the proverbial glass of water is either half full or half empty. Not so for engineers in California.

What Does a Weak La Niña Mean for Southern California?

Right now, the globe is in the grips of a La Niña, a weather phenomenon that occurs when a patch of the Pacific Ocean near the equator cools down below average.

Typically, La Niña means plenty of rain for the Pacific Northwest and a warm, dry winter for Southern California. That’s the pattern the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is predicting for this winter. However, this year’s La Niña is very weak compared to previous ones, said Bill Patzert, a climate scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Senator Blasts GOP Push for California Drought Language in Water Bill

Outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer is slamming a push by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to attach California drought language to a waterways bill, calling the provision a “poison pill.” Boxer, a California Democrat, said the inclusion of the drought language would jeopardize bipartisan efforts to finalize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which McCarthy said would be posted on Monday.

The underlying legislation authorizes dozens of water-related infrastructure projects around the country and is expected to include emergency funding for the lead-contaminated community of Flint, Mich.

House, Senate Leaders Reach Deal on Calif. Drought, Flint

House and Senate leaders reached agreement Monday on a bipartisan bill to authorize $170 million for Flint, Michigan, and other cities beleaguered by lead in drinking water, and to provide relief to drought-stricken California.

A vote on the water-projects bill could be held this week as Congress wraps up its legislative work for the year. But the measure was jeopardized by sharp opposition from California Sen. Barbara Boxer and other Democrats who said it would harm drinking water quality and severely weaken the Endangered Species Act, threatening salmon and other endangered species.


BLOG: Top Dem Threatens to Block McCarthy Drought Deal

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced a deal to include a long-stalled drought measure inside a water projects bill that is poised to clear Congress as early as this week.

But at least one top Democrat in the Senate says she will try to block passage. The deal, which is aimed at bringing water to drought-stricken areas of California, came after negotiations with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., McCarthy said. Feinstein has in the past opposed the drought bill.

Boxer Slams Water Bill Rider Backed By Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, teamed up Monday to slip a legislative rider into a giant end-of-year water infrastructure bill that would override endangered species protections for native California fish for the purpose of sending water to San Joaquin Valley farmers.

Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., angrily denounced the rider as a “poison pill,” calling a late-afternoon news conference, during which she lashed out against McCarthy, saying he lied by calling the more than 80-page provision a “little, small agreement.”