Congressman Tim Ryan Joins Ohio Lawmakers Urging National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to Complete Great Lakes Algal Blooms Report

Sep 22, 2014 Issues: Environment

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan today joined Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, along with Ohio House members Bob Latta (OH-05), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Dave Joyce (OH-14), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Pat Tiberi (OH-12), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Mike Turner (OH-10), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Jim Renacci ( OH-16), and Steve Chabot (OH-01), urging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to begin work immediately on a Congressional mandated examination of the causes, consequences, and approaches to reduce hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes and freshwater bodies.

"One of Ohio's greatest strategic advantages for economic growth and the overall health and well-being of our people is Ohio’s abundant supply of fresh water," said Congressman Tim Ryan. "We cannot and must not jeopardize that in any way. We must ensure that the Great Lakes, and particularly Lake Erie, will continue to provide safe drinking water for our families. This report will go a long way toward protecting this most vital resource."

Recently, President Obama signed into law the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-124) which prioritizes combating harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes and freshwater bodies for the first time. Section 605 of the law requires NOAA to conduct and report on research regarding how to combat harmful algal blooms and to complete it by January 1, 2016.

“Our Great Lakes and freshwater bodies are a national treasure and extremely important to Ohio’s economy,” the lawmakers wrote. “Lake Erie alone supports over 117,000 full time jobs, and approximately three million Ohioans count on Lake Erie for their drinking water. Your assistance thus far with HABs is greatly appreciated. Through our continued effort we believe we can ensure the safety of our fresh water bodies, and the assessment called for in Section 605 is a significant step in that direction. We look forward to our continued partnership on this issue that is important to Ohio and the nation.”

Full text of the letter can be found below.

Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan
Under Secretary
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5128
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dr. Holly Bamford
Assistant Administrator
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5128
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Drs. Sullivan and Bamford:

Thank you for your efforts to combat Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), which have so greatly impacted our constituents. As you know, over 500,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio area were affected this past month during a water emergency following HABs on Lake Erie, and your office played an important role in restoring an all clear status.

Recently, Congress passed the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (PL 113-124), which prioritizes combating harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes and freshwater bodies for the first time. Section 605 of PL 113-124 calls for an integrated assessment no later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of PL 113-124, that examines the causes, consequences, and approaches to reduce hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes and freshwater bodies. We were recently informed by advocates of the Great Lakes that NOAA has yet to begin implementing Section 605.

Because of the continued algal bloom crisis in Lake Erie, we ask that you prioritize efforts to implement this section. The implementation of Section 605 will help ensure that the report called for in the legislation will be submitted to Congress and the President by no later than January 1, 2016. Following the water emergencies in Toledo, Ohio and on Pelee Island, we believe this report is more important than ever so that we may work together to ensure we have a long term solution to combating HABs.

Our Great Lakes and freshwater bodies are a national treasure and extremely important to Ohio’s economy. Lake Erie alone supports over 117,000 full time jobs, and approximately 3 million Ohioans count on Lake Erie for their drinking water. Your assistance thus far with HABs is greatly appreciated. Through our continued effort we believe we can ensure the safety of our fresh water bodies, and the assessment called for in Section 605 is a significant step in that direction. We look forward to our continued partnership on this issue that is important to Ohio and the nation.

Thank you again for all your hard work.