U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Baldwin, Sullivan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Response to Harmful Algal Blooms

Climate change accelerating algae growth on Great Lakes, hurting ecosystems, outdoor recreation, and local economies

By - Nov 29th, 2023 01:03 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Dan Sullivan (R-AL) introduced the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act (HABHRCA) of 2023, a bipartisan bill to improve our response to harmful algal blooms that have the potential to threaten aquatic ecosystems, hurt local economies, and endanger public health. The legislation would reauthorize the HABHRCA of 1998 and improve monitoring, forecasting, prevention, and mitigation of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia by requiring better coordination among task force agencies, and state and local entities, including Indian tribes.

“Our Great Lakes and abundant fresh waters are among Wisconsin’s most valuable resources, supporting wildlife, our economy, and our way of life. I am proud to be a partner in protecting these critical ecosystems from harmful algal blooms that have the potential to endanger our Made in Wisconsin economy and public health,” said Senator Baldwin. “The critical support provided by this bipartisan legislation ensures that we can monitor algal bloom and hypoxia growth in our fresh waters, while preventing and mitigating their spread. I am proud to lead this legislation with Senator Sullivan to ensure generations to come can enjoy and benefit from the Great Lakes and Wisconsin’s inland waters.”

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have long been an issue across the Badger State, often caused by an overabundance of nutrients from fertilizer and stormwater runoff, but climate change is contributing to the acceleration of algae growth in Wisconsin and across the country. Warming waters and strong storms have created ideal conditions for toxic algal blooms as far north as Lake Superior, threatening outdoor recreation and hurting local economies. Additionally, HABs can reduce oxygen levels in the water in events called hypoxia, harming coastal ecosystems and posing health risks for coastal communities. HABs occur in all 50 states, in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

The original HABHRCA was passed in 1998 and established an interagency task force to assess the distribution of harmful algal blooms and their impacts on coastal waters and human health. HABHRCA has since been reauthorized three times and is currently due for reauthorization. This bill reauthorizes the original 1998 HABHRCA, and improves coordination among state and local entities, as well as Indian tribes, to improve monitoring, forecasting, prevention, and mitigation of HABs and hypoxia.

As Chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing, Senator Baldwin has been a fierce advocate for the protection and preservation of Wisconsin’s waters. Earlier this year, she helped secure $2.5 million to help protect the Great Lakes against extreme weather events and climate change. She also successfully called on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize investments from the Baldwin-supported Inflation Reduction Act funding in programs that support Great Lakes resiliency.

Companion legislation in the House of Representatives is led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01) and Dave Joyce (R-OH-14).

Full text of this legislation is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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