Minimizing hypoxia, the lethal absence of oxygen in water, is critical to protect the environment. The “Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act” (HABHRCA) was first introduced in 1998 to research control and reduction strategies for hypoxia and algal growth in various water bodies in the U.S. This bill will expire Sept. 30, 2018.
In 2017 the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” increased 3% to reach 8,776 square miles—about the size of New Jersey. The Gulf of Mexico is one of the water bodies to whom this research and funding supports. Agencies have a goal to reduce the size of the Gulf’s dead zone by 45%.
“Whether it is a harmful algal bloom in the Western Lake Erie Basin, hypoxia and red tide in the Gulf of Mexico or blue green algal blooms in lake Okeechobee, [this] is one area upon which industry, environmental organization, federal, state and local governments can all agree,” said Chris Jahn, president and CEO of The Fertilizer Institute in a recent press release. “We must continue to invest in research to help predict, detect, monitor and respond to these events.”
After its 1998 introduction, the HABHRCA was amended in 2004 and 2014 to ensure it still addressed critical areas of research. Current legislation for the bill, which was passed by the Senate a year ago, reauthorizes this program for another five years.
“We need Congress to reauthorize HABHRCA so that NOAA and their partners at EPA, USDA and other federal agencies, along with stakeholders, can continue their research in this critical area,” Jahn said. “It is time for the House to pass this commonsense legislation.”