Senate Passes Algal Bloom Control Measure

On February 12th, the Senate passed the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act (S 1254).  The measure amends the 1998 Act to create a new national program and interagency task force to coordinate research efforts of all Federal programs that address the chemical, biological, and physical components of marine and freshwater harmful algal blooms and hypoxia; support development of institutional mechanisms and financial instruments to further the objectives of the program; and promote new technologies.
These efforts are to be led by NOAA and calls for the development of a comprehensive research plan and action strategy within one year of enactment.  Within 18 months of enactment, the bill requires an integrated assessment of the causes, consequences, and approaches to reduce hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes, including the status of and gaps within current research, monitoring, management, prevention, response, and control by all partners.  $20,500,000 for each fiscal year 2014-2018 is authorized for this program.
The bill further requires that EPA shall:  research the ecology and impacts of freshwater harmful algal blooms; forecast and monitor event response to freshwater harmful algal blooms in lakes, rivers, estuaries, and reservoirs; and ensure that activities carried under this Act focus on new approaches to addressing freshwater harmful algal blooms and are not duplicative of existing research and development programs authorized by this Act or any other law.
At present, no similar legislation has been introduced in the House.