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Bill Nelson and Bill Posey Team Up to Pass Bill Fighting Algae Outbreaks

June 17, 2014 - 6:00pm
A bill authorizing federal funds to fight algae outbreaks in Florida waters is headed to President Barack Obamas desk, thanks to two legislators from the Sunshine State.

The bill, which was drafted by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., sends $82 million of federal funds to study how to battle large algae blooms and support communities trying to fend them off. The proposal ensures the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will send $20.5 million annually through 2018 to local governments coping with algae outbreaks. The bill stood in jeopardy last week when an unknown Republican senator blocked the measure but the hold was quickly lifted.

Weighing in on the need for the bill, Nelson pointed toward how algae have impacted the Caloosahatchee River and waters in the Fort Myers area.

This will help battle the algae thats been choking off life in Floridas waterways, Nelson said on Tuesday after final passage in the Senate. At the end of the day, this will be good for the environment and the economy.

The bill passed the Senate earlier in the year but the House version was amended two weeks ago. U.S. Rep. Bill Posey. R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., changed the bill to ensure better coordination between various federal, state and local government agencies to fight algae outbreaks.

This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will reauthorize robust funding for important research leading us to a better understanding of the causes, effects and steps we can take to prevent and address harmful algal blooms and hypoxia events, Posey said.

Posey pointed toward Indian River Lagoon which has lost more than 47,000 acres of sea grass over the last three year to algae, killing fish, pelicans, dolphins and manatee.

The overall health and water quality of our Indian River Lagoon and all of our nations waters will be improved with this important legislation, Posey said. This bill gives researchers another tool to help us better understand, anticipate, control, and mitigate harmful algal blooms like those we have seen in the Indian River Lagoon and in communities across the country.

Posey took to the House floor early last week and noted Indian River Lagoon has a $3.5 billion economic impact and must be protected.

Obama is expected to sign the bill.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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