Joyce cosponsors measure to research, prevent harmful algal blooms

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to help develop and coordinate effective responses to harmful algal blooms (HABs) and efficiently monitor the health of the oceans for the sake of the nation’s coastal communities and ecosystems.

The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act (HABHRCA) of 2023, S. 6235, which U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sponsored on Nov. 6, would reauthorize the HABHRCA program through 2028.

If enacted, the bill aims to improve monitoring, forecasting, prevention, and mitigation of HABs and hypoxia by requiring better coordination among task force agencies, and state and local entities, including Indian tribes, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Joyce’s staff. 

“The shallowest of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, is particularly vulnerable to HABs, which have plagued the lake for more than 45 years. Any threat to Lake Erie is also a threat to the drinking water supply for 11 million people, our tourism industry, and all the plants and animals that are part of the lake’s ecosystem,” Rep. Joyce said last week. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill to ensure Lake Erie and every state in America is protected from these dangerous threats to our bodies of water.”

U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the same-named companion bill in the Senate.

If enacted, the measure would require a task force to complete and submit to Congress not less often than once every five years, an action strategy that would include a scientific assessment for HABs in the United States, according to the text of the bill.

Each action strategy would be required to examine both marine and freshwater HABs, including those in the Great Lakes and upper reaches of estuaries, those in freshwater lakes and rivers, and those that originate in freshwater lakes or rivers and migrate to coastal waters, the text says, as well as the causes and ecological consequences, and the economic, social, and cultural impacts of HABs.

Among several other requirements, the action strategy also would examine the effect of other environmental stressors on HABs, and would identify ways to improve coordination and prevent unnecessary duplication of effort among federal departments and agencies regarding such research, the text says.

“Harmful algal blooms and hypoxia events are occurring with increasing frequency, threatening the health of our marine and freshwater ecosystems and communities,” said Rep. Bonamici. “I’m introducing the bipartisan Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act to help people in NW Oregon and across the country better protect against and respond quickly to these disasters.”