Washington D.C. – Today, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved H.R. 2484, the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011, legislation introduced by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD) that authorizes a targeted research plan to improve efforts to monitor, prevent, mitigate and control both marine and fresh water algal bloom and hypoxia events. 

“In addition to damaging ecosystems, harmful algae blooms (HABs) negatively impacts local economies that depend on healthy water for fishing, recreation and tourism,” Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) said in his opening remarks.  “The bill before us today attacks this problem at its core: by strengthening the science necessary to understand HABs and advancing technological solutions to better prevent and respond to outbreaks when they occur.”

Representing the Eastern Shore of Maryland, including areas on the Chesapeake Bay, which has been regularly effected by such events, Rep. Harris strongly supports efforts to mitigate the economic and environmental damages of these outbreaks.  Since the underlying program’s authorization expired in 2010, this bill indicates that Congress believes HABs research should be a priority at both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

In an effort to make these research programs more efficient, the Committee approved an amendment offered by Harris that changes the freshwater program to require that the EPA Administrator does not duplicate activities already ongoing.

In response to amendments offered by Democratic Members attempting to add spending to H.R. 2484, Chairman Harris noted that the bill streamlines reporting obligations and requires budget coordination of all the Federal agencies involved in order to increase efficiencies.  Harris said these efforts would actually allow for more money to be invested in research.