S. 1254 reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Act. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur when colonies of algae grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds…
The bill maintains and enhances an interagency program led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which will be responsible for promoting a national strategy to help communities understand, predict, control and mitigate freshwater and marine HAB and hypoxia events; enhancing, coordinating, and assessing the activities of existing HABs and hypoxia programs; providing for development of a comprehensive research plan and action strategy, including a regional approach to understanding and responding to HAB events; and requiring an assessment and plan for Great Lakes HABs and hypoxia.
Ms. Johnson said in her statement on S.1254, “Harmful Algal Blooms can have serious economic and public health effects. Shellfish beds along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Coasts are often closed during a major event to protect the public from significant respiratory distress, shellfish poisoning, and other illnesses. The economic impact these closures can have on the shellfish industry and tourism is quite large. A single event can cost a coastal community tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. And while NOAA and the research community have made great strides since the establishment of this program the need for continued research and tools to lessen the impact of these events is greater than ever before. More accurate and efficient tools for detecting toxins, early warning of blooms, better predictions of bloom movement, methods for controlling outbreaks, and the development of local and regional partnerships will all allow for a more effective response.”
Subcommittee on Environment Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said, “Authorization for the programs under the Harmful Algal Bloom Research and Control Act expired in 2010, so this reauthorization is long overdue. The rapid overproduction of algae can have devastating effects on aquatic plants and animals as well as on human health. For coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems and communities that depend on fishing and tourism to sustain their economies, the effect of algae blooms is a threat to their livelihood. The cost of these blooms has been estimated to be around $82 million dollars each year, a significant hit to the economy in areas that are still struggling to recover.”
Ms. Bonamici continued later during her statement on the House floor, “The bill before us today…will not only improve coordination, but also assess the program’s activities to ensure that we are prepared for these events and are able to respond in an effective manner. This will become increasingly important as coastal populations increase and changes in the environment, such as warmer water temperatures, have the potential to alter the growth, toxicity, and geographic distribution of algal blooms.”
H.R. 4412 passed by a vote of 401-2 under suspension of the rules.
S. 1254 passed by voice vote under suspension of the rules.
The Bay Net
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