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Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2010

Bill Summary and Status

Reported (as amended) by the Full Committee on October 7, 2009

Reported (as amended) by the Energy and Environment Subommittee on September 30, 2009

Introduced in the House on September 25, 2009

Section-by-Section

The Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009  

Purpose:  To establish a National Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Program, to develop and coordinate a comprehensive strategy to address harmful algal blooms and hypoxia and to provide for the development and implementation of comprehensive regional action plans to reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.

Section 1: Short Title

The Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009

Section 2: Amendment of Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998

Section 2 explains that the text the bill modifies is the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998, unless otherwise expressly stated.

Section 3: Definitions

Section 3 provides definitions for the Act, including: Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Program; and the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

Section 4: National Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Program

Section 4 directs the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, through the Interagency Task Force, to establish and maintain a National Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Program.  The bill outlines tasks for the Under Secretary to ensure the Program: 1) develops a national strategy to address both marine and freshwater HABs and hypoxia; 2) coordinates all Federal programs related to HABs and hypoxia; 3) works with regional, State, tribal, and local government agencies; 4) identifies additional research needs and priorities; 5) supports international research efforts on HABs and hypoxia; 6) develops and implements of methods and technologies to protect ecosystems damaged by HABs; 7) coordinates an outreach, education, and training program; 8) facilitates regional, State, tribal, and local efforts to implement response plans, strategies, and tools; 9) provides resources for training of regional, State, tribal and local coastal and water resource managers; 10) enhances observations, monitoring, modeling, data management, information dissemination, and operational forecasts; 11) oversees the updating of the Regional Research and Action Plans; and 12) administers peer-reviewed, merit-based competitive grant funding.

In addition, Section 4 directs the Under Secretary to work cooperatively with other offices, centers, and programs within NOAA, as well as, with States, tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and other agencies represented on the Task Force.  Section 4 also directs the Under Secretary and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to jointly carry out the duties for the freshwater aspects of the Program. 

This bill also requires the Under Secretary to transmit to Congress an action strategy that outlines the specific activities to be carried out by the Program, a timeline for such activities, and the programmatic roles of each federal agency in the Task Force.  The action strategy shall be published in the Federal Register and be periodically revised by the Under Secretary.  Section 4 also requires the Under Secretary to prepare a report to Congress describing the budget, activities, and progress of the Program.

Section 5: Regional Research and Action Plans

Section 5 directs the Under Secretary, through the Task Force, to oversee the development and implementation of Regional Research and Action Plans by identifying the appropriate regions and sub-regions to be addressed by each Plan.  The bill outlines some contents the Plans should identify, including: 1) regional priorities for ecological, economic, and social research related to the impacts of HABs and hypoxia; 2) research, development, and demonstration activities to advance technologies to address the impacts of HABs and hypoxia; 3) actions to minimize the occurrence of HABs and hypoxia; 4) ways to reduce the duration and intensity of HABs events; 5) research and methods to address the impacts of HABs on human health; 6) mechanisms to protect vulnerable ecosystems that could be or have been affected by HABs; 7) mechanisms by which data is transferred between the Program and State, tribal, and local governments and relevant research entities; 8) communication, outreach, and dissemination methods used to educate and inform the public; and 9) the roles that Federal agencies can play to assist implementation of the Plan.

Section 5 directs the utilization of existing research, assessments, and reports in the development of the Plans.  Section 5 also provides a list of individuals and entities that the Under Secretary may work with to develop the Plans.  The bill also requires that the Plans be completed within 12 months of the date of enactment and updated once every 5 years.  Furthermore, Section 5 requires that the Under Secretary submit a report to Congress not later than 12 months after the date of enactment and once every 2 years after the completion of the Regional Research and Actions Plans. 

Section 6: Northern Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

Section 6 directs the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force to transmit a report to Congress and the President on the progress made toward attainment of the coastal goals of the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan.  The initial report is required no later than 2 years after the date of enactment and every 5 years thereafter.  The reports are required to assess progress made toward nutrient load reductions, the response of the hypoxia zone and water quality throughout the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin and the economic and social effects.   The reports shall include an evaluation of current policies and programs and lessons learned.  In addition, Section 6 requires the reports to recommend appropriate actions to continue to implement or, if necessary, revise the strategy set forth in the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan.

Section 7: Pacific Northwest, Estuaries, and Puget Sound Hypoxia

Section 7 directs the Task Force to transmit an assessment report to Congress and the President within 12 months of the enactment of the Act on the hypoxia in the coastal and estuarine waters of the Pacific Northwest by examining the current research, monitoring, prevention, response, and control efforts.  Section 7 also requires the Task Force to develop a plan within 2 years of the enactment of the Act for reducing, mitigating, and controlling hypoxia in the Pacific Northwest. In developing the Plan, the Task Force is directed to consult with State, tribal, and local governments as well as academic, agricultural, industry, and environmental groups and representatives. The Task force is also directed to provide progress reports every 2 years after the submission of the Plan, on the activities toward attainment of the goals outlined in the Plan.

Section 8: Authorization of Appropriations

Section 7 provides an authorization of $35,000,000 each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to the Under Secretary to carry out the Program, of which $5,000,000 is authorized each of the fiscal years for the development of the Regional Research and Action Plans.  Section 7 also provides an authorization of $6,000,000 each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to the Administrator for the freshwater HABs activities of Program.

111th Congress