WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives has approved two measures authored by Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., to fund research on solutions to harmful algal blooms, which are particularly problematic in Florida and can be detrimental to human health, water quality, recreation and tourism, and the broader economy. The Murphy-led measures were included in a House-passed bill that funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The first measure provides $1.75 million for NOAA to sponsor an independent study on the economic impacts of harmful algal blooms, both nationally and in states like Florida that are especially affected. The last time a similar study was conducted was in 2006, over a decade ago. Murphy’s measure requires the new study to examine the effects of harmful algal blooms on public health, drinking water, commercial fisheries, property values, and recreation and tourism. The purpose of the study is to increase public awareness about the serious consequences of harmful algal blooms, which will push policymakers at the federal, state and local levels to dedicate more attention and resources to address this problem.
The second Murphy measure increases the amount of funding that NOAA will dedicate in the coming fiscal year to scientific research on harmful algal blooms by $2 million, from $10 million to $12 million. The measure was cosponsored by a bipartisan group of Murphy’s colleagues who are leaders on the issue of harmful algal blooms, Democrats Mary Kaptur of Ohio, Darren Soto and Charlie Crist of Florida, and Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, and Republicans Brian Mast and Bill Posey of Florida. NOAA will use this funding to support research into ways to address the public health, economic, and environmental consequences of harmful algal blooms.
“Florida families are at the frontlines of the dangers associated with the rise of harmful algal blooms across our shores. We need the best available data on the potential health and economic hazards associated with this environmental crisis,” said Murphy. “These bipartisan measures will move us a step closer towards solutions that will help reverse the way algal blooms are endangering the health of all Floridians and the well-being of local businesses that drive our tourism industry.”
“The measures authored by Congresswoman Murphy are essential to the future health of Florida’s waters. Proposed funding from these measures will support research and data that will help guide our state toward solutions that address the impacts of harmful algal blooms. Residents, visitors, our environment, and our economy will benefit,” said Temperince Morgan, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Florida.
“Our bipartisan legislative items included in this bill will directly improve the lives of all Floridians, as we continue to combat harmful algae bloom forming in our state,” said Soto. “We will continue to prioritize funding that upholds the voices of Central Florida’s families.”
“At a time of record high Lake levels on Lake Erie, ever increasing HAB incidents across the nation, and a gloomy HAB forecast for Lake Erie this year, now is the time for action,” said Kaptur, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. “I am grateful to the members of this bipartisan and regionally diverse coalition who worked together to ensure more resources are invested to strengthen HAB research and detection in this year’s funding bill.”
“The climate crisis and warming water temperatures are increasing the presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in our drinking water, ocean, rivers, and lakes,” said Bonamici. “Investing in research on HABs and hypoxia will help Oregonians and people across the country who are facing the dangerous effects of exposure, as well as the fisheries and communities that rely on forecasting and monitoring efforts. Earlier this year, I led a bipartisan group of my colleagues in advocating for robust funding for research on HABs and hypoxia. The bill is responsive to our request, and the additional funds from this amendment will help advance research efforts.”
The Murphy-led measures were included in the House approved H.R. 3055, the Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2020. The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.