Harmful Algal Blooms Bill: Onto the House Floor!

Posted by: Elizabeth Maksymonko

As you might have noticed from our blog, fighting toxic algae has been a major priority of Ocean Champions for years. These harmful algal blooms (or HABs) are nasty occurrences that destroy ecosystems, kill marine life and cost millions of dollars of damage in and health problems. The blooms have been causing big problems for many coastal areas for years, and they keep growing. Cleaning up these coastal waters is important to the critters that live there as well as to all of us who love and want to protect the ocean.

Everyone can agree that they don’t like dead zones mucking up their waterways, so HABs bills have generally enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. Last year, Ocean Champions worked with our friends in Congress to help pass H.R. 3650, Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009, out of the House. Senators (and ocean champs) Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the companion that nearly made it out of the Senate. Since then, we haven’t stopped fighting for cleaner coastal water, and that’s why we’re pleased that in this 112th Congress, H.R. 2484, Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011 has been introduced.

The newest HABs bill has passed out of Committee and is on its way to the House floor. Like the HABs bill in the 111th Congress, H.R. 2484 would implement research strategies and provide for a comprehensive action plan to reduce and address HABs and hypoxia. Under this bill, increased emphasis will be placed on developing technologies to control and respond to HABs and the dead zones. We were encouraged to see all members of the Committee agreeing on the core provisions of the bill. Of course, this bill is not without its faults, and there are some issues that concern our champions in the House. But we’ll continue to work with our champs in the House and Senate to produce the strongest bill possible to address this growing problem.

In the end, it’s important to remember that this bill has the opportunity to help clean up our coasts and strengthen both our marine environment and coastal industries. That’s why we’ll be fighting for it, and we’ll need your help. We’re very pleased that even during these times when environmental issues are often put on the back burner (or attacked outright!), this bill is picking up speed. But with many priorities competing for their attention, Members of Congress need to hear from constituents like you that clean coastal water is important.

Date Posted: August 16, 2011 @ 6:36 am Comments Off

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