Portman hopes bill floats in House

By Tom Jackson, Sandusky Register
1 April 2014


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, hopes to convince the U.S. House that his water bill holds water.  

The Senate has approved Portman’s bill to combat harmful algal blooms. The measure has now advanced to the House.

“There is no companion bill in the House,” said Christyn Keyes, a spokeswoman for Portman. “Sen. Portman has been in touch with the relevant House committees, and there is interest in moving his version forward.”

Portman’s measure, the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013, passed the Senate a few weeks ago. It’s co-authored by Portman and Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat. 

The measure would renew the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act and would authorize $20.5 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to coordinate efforts against harmful algal blooms and provide research funding.

“The legislation is reauthorizing existing legislation, but it’s changed to provide more funding than has been provided in previous appropriations, but also to prioritize freshwater, and specifically talks about the Great Lakes, which it did not previously,” Portman said in a recent phone call with Ohio reporters.

The problem affects Ohio’s fishing industry and recreational tourism industry, he said.

“It’s a huge issue for Ohio” said Portman, who attended a forum on harmful algal blooms at Grand Lake St. Marys, which has been hard-hit by the algal bloom problem.

Lake Erie suffered a harmful algal bloom in 2011 that was the largest ever recorded, spreading green goo over much of the surface of the lake. The blooms put large amounts of harmful toxins in the water.

Blooms in the lake since then have been smaller, but scientists remain worried about the potential for large blooms.