homepage logo

House approves bill to control Harmful Algal Blooms

By Staff | Oct 9, 2009

On Sept. 30, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Environment Subcommittee approved the bill to control Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).

The Committee on Science and Technology’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee approved H.R. 3650, the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009.

The bill was authored by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Research and Science Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI). This bill requires federal agencies to create a comprehensive and integrated strategy to address and reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia (inadequate oxygen in the water).

“Unfortunately, despite years of research, the frequency and duration of the harmful algal blooms and hypoxia are on the rise, and affecting more of our coastlines and inland waters,” said Baird. “This bill directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to implement research strategies and plans to better understand and respond to these blooms and hypoxic events.”

In the release by the Subcommittee, they said, “Harmful algal blooms are a rapid overproduction of algal cells that produce toxins which are hazardous to animals and plants. When the blooms occur, they block sunlight in water and use up the available oxygen in the water, which causes hypoxia, severe oxygen depletion. The toxins the algae create can be dangerous to people when they drink or swim in the contaminated water or consume seafood that have ingested these toxins.

“Environmental changes in water quality, temperature, and sunlight or an increase in nutrients in the water can cause blooms to increase dramatically.”

The bill now moves to the full Science and Technology Committee.