River Talk

"Where Washington DC and the Mississippi River Meet"

Of course, speaking in strict geographical terms, Washington DC and the Mississippi do not meet; the District is outside the Mississippi River watershed.

But speaking in terms of policy and economics, they meet--do they ever!

The ongoing legislation affecting the Mississippi is huge; in addition to the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA), River policy comes about through the Farm Bill, the regular transportation authorization, as well, of course, as the appropriations bills governing the disparate agencies that have an impact on the River.

Speaking purely personally, I have spent a good part of my career wishing I didn't have to think about Washington DC's impact on the Mississippi, preferring to believe that the "real work" happens out in the watershed, where thousands of local people put their best thinking and action efforts to making the Mississippi a cleaner, more sustainable river .And it's certainly true that all of that work is centrally important.

But the DC doings matter also.

Fortunately, the Northeast-Midwest Institute exists and does a fine job of tracking the ins and outs of key federal legislation for the river. The NEMWI is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization based in Washington DC. Its staff tracks many issues in addition to those involving the Mississippi:farm and food policy, energy, manufacturing, brownfields, urban revitalization, trade and the environment, all focused on economic vitality, environmental quality, and regional equity for states in the Northeast and Midwest.

People who are substantially involved in Mississippi River issues know that many of those issues--farm policy, brownfields, and urban revitalization just to name three--are intimately tied to the future of a sustainable Mississippi River.Other issues, such as climate change and issues facing American Indians are also part of the watershed's future. But the NEMWI is a good place to start in keeping track of federal legislation affecting the Mississippi in profound ways.

Fortunately, we out here in the watershed don't have to burn up our long distance bills or click onto the web site every day to keep up with Mississippi River news from the NEMWI. Policy analyst Mark Gorman posts regularly to a blogwhich contains key ideas, insights, and reflections on the future of the Mississippi.Of all the noise and static in the blogosphere, this is one of the clear notes of reason and information pertinent to our work. Check it out, or, better yet, subscribe to the blog's feed.

  The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.