Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan on Thursday applauded House passage of bipartisan legislation to combat the devastating impact of harmful algal blooms (HABs), including red tide. The bill now heads to President Trump for his signature.
“Red tide has plagued our local economy, environment, and way of life,” Buchanan said in a written statement. “I urge the president to swiftly sign this bill into law.”
Buchanan, co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, worked with three other Florida congressmen, Alcee Hastings, Bill Posey and Brian Mast, to get the bill passed.
"Red tide is a problem that requires more research and development of cutting-edge technologies to mitigate its damaging effects," Buchanan continued.
The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017 was included in the legislation passed Thursday by Congress, providing more than $100 million to combat HABs like red tide. It also establishes a process to declare an “Event of National Significance.” That declaration would trigger disaster-like funding for affected communities.
The bill also reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Bloom Federal Interagency Task Force; formally adds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the task force; and permits private donations to be used to fund recovery for events of national significance, according to Buchanan's statement.
Harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) claims.
Buchanan co-sponsored nearly identical bipartisan legislation in the House (H.R. 4417) and earlier this summer wrote a letter with Democrat Hastings urging House leadership to immediately bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. Buchanan and Hastings are co-chairs of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation.
Separate legislation signed into law earlier this year included Buchanan’s proposal to provide NOAA with an additional $8 million to reduce the threat of algal blooms, including red tide.