Senate Passes Bipartisan Portman Bill to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms

September 27, 2017 | Press Releases

Bipartisan Measure Reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced that the Senate has passed bipartisan legislation he authored with Senators Bill Nelson (D- Florida) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan) – called the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act.  This legislation would reauthorize the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA), which was first enacted in 1998. For almost two decades, the HABHRCA program has served as the federal government’s research and response toolkit for harmful algal blooms. Senator Portman worked with Senator Nelson to reauthorize the program in 2014 and negotiated a Great Lakes section that has ensured federal agencies prioritize monitoring and mitigation efforts in fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie.  He issued the following statement:

“This legislation takes critical steps toward protecting Lake Erie and other freshwater bodies throughout Ohio and the nation from toxic algae.  It is important that these water bodies are protected, as they supply drinking water to millions of Ohioans and are critical for Ohio’s tourism and fishing industries. I am pleased that this program has provided a toolkit and forecasts that help our communities prepare for and respond to the impact of HABs. For the first time, our legislation also allows funding to be potentially provided to communities with significant HAB outbreaks to help protect against environmental, economic, and public health risks. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this important legislation to the president for his signature.”  

NOTE: Portman was recently named Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force.  Recent HABHRCA efforts include NOAA’s seasonal forecasts on the expected severity of HAB events in Lake Erie and a biweekly Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom bulletin issued by NOAA to provide forecasts of the movement and toxicity of HAB events in the lake. In addition, the HABHRCA program has provided a toolkit for communities with HAB outbreaks in freshwater bodies, such as Buckeye Lake or Grand Lake St. Marys, to help identify the cause of, monitor, and mitigate the HAB event.

The HABHRCA program has provided research on HABs, including the most recent report, “Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia in the Great Lakes Research Plan and Action Strategy: An Interagency Report”, released in August 2017. A second report, “Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Comprehensive Research Plan and Action Strategy”, was completed in February 2016.