Senate sends Obama bill to research algae harm on fish

The Senate accepted House changes Tuesday to a bill that requires the administration to report to Congress on the harmful effects too much algae are having on fish.

Through a unanimous consent agreement, the Senate accepted a House amended S. 1254. The House acted on the legislation last week, while the Senate originally passed it in February.

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S. 1254, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act, would require the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to establish a national harmful algal bloom and hypoxia program and report a plan for Congress to address the issue.

The House amendment reduced the cost of the legislation by nearly $70 million.

Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) original bill authorized the appropriation of $92 million between 2014-2018 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in certain bodies of water. But the House amendment cut the authorization to just $20.5 million.

Because the Senate accepted the House amendment, the bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature before becoming law.

The issue is important to the ecology of the Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes among others. When there are too much dead algae in a body of water it can reduce oxygen levels and kill fish.

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