Feds Should Keep Monitoring for Toxic Algae, Red Tide in Shutdowns, Francis Rooney Insists

At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., unveiled a bill to ensure federal monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) continues even in the event of a federal shutdown.

Rooney paired up with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, to introduced a bill which would “require the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), which monitor waters for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) to continue forecasting and monitoring, even during a government shutdown” by having the HAB Operational Forecasting System (HABOFS) remain online.

Three members of the Florida delegation–U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.–are cosponsoring the proposal.

“Over the last several years, Southwest Florida and the rest of the United States have been plagued by severe outbreaks of red tide,” Rooney said. “The most recent outbreak in the Gulf of Mexico lasted 16 months and generated over 2000 tons of dead sea life. In the midst of this outbreak, government shutdowns prevented NOAA’s satellites from monitoring red tide and publishing forecasts across the nation.

“Especially due to the adverse implications that red tide causes for human health, I introduced this bipartisan legislation to make sure NCCOS continues forecasting and monitoring during a shutdown. Specifically, we must ensure that the information gathered is continually updated and available to local officials and the public,” Rooney added.

“The negative economic and environmental impact harmful algal blooms have on Lake Erie and coastal communities across the country cannot be overstated,” said Kaptur. “I look forward to supporting this legislation to reign in the spread of deadly algal blooms and thank Congressman Rooney for his leadership on this issue.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology and the Natural Resources Committees on Friday. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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