This email is sent to those in the U.S. thought to have interest in freshwater harmful algal blooms (HABs) by Drs. Ken Hudnell and Wayne Carmichael. The purposes are to inform you about our effort to have U.S. Congressional legislation passed in 2009 that mandates the U.S. EPA establish a National Freshwater HAB Research Plan, and to ask for your help in getting the bill passed. The proposed bill will be similar to the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA, 1998, 2004) that mandated NOAA establish a National HAB Research Plan for waters within their purview - the oceans, estuaries and Great Lakes.
The frequency of freshwater HABs is increasing in the US, posing increasing risks to human health, aquatic ecosystem sustainability and our economy. Cyanobacteria predominate blooms in fresh and brackish waters, and their toxins are among the most potent known. Their toxins – the cyanotoxins - occur in recreational and drinking waters, yet there are no U.S. regulations or guidelines pertaining to freshwater HABs or their toxins. All U.S. freshwaters are within the purview of the U.S. EPA. The Agency has not developed a National Freshwater HAB Research Plan because of the lack of clear Congressional directive, and allocation and appropriation of funds for that purpose. The act would direct the Agency to use the funds in the competitive research grant programs established by NOAA - ECOHAB, MERHAB and the newly proposed HAB Prevention, Control and Mitigation program (expected this year) – for research in freshwater bodies. The research will provide information needed by the Agency to make policy and regulatory determinations. It is critical that the legislation is enacted soon if we are to successfully confront this looming crisis.
The effort to inform legislators about the freshwater HAB problem began in 2003 when Dr. Carmichael gave testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards. Drs. Hudnell and Don Anderson visited legislators and staff in Washington, D.C. last spring to inform staff and legislators about the need to pass freshwater legislation and reauthorize HABHRCA. Dr. Hudnell presented an overview of the freshwater HAB problem and legislative issues during testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science and Technology last July. Dr. Hudnell is working with Mr. Andy Garfinkel, an environmental lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to gain the support of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science & Technology Committee (Rep. Bart Gordon, chair; Rep. Ralph Hall, ranking minority member) and their subcommittee on Energy and Environment (Sen. Brian Baird, chair; Sen. Bob Inglis, ranking minority member), and the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee (Barbara Boxer, chair; James M Inhofe, ranking minority member) for introducing the Freshwater HAB Legislation later this year. We have early indications of support on Capitol Hill for this effort, but they need a “groundswell of public support” to move this issue to the top of their list. As individuals knowledgeable about freshwater HABs, we can form an informal coalition to provide that support.
We respectfully ask for your support and help in getting this Freshwater HAB Legislation introduced and passed this year. We ask that you:
- forward this email to everyone you know that has an interest in freshwater HABs, and ask them to respond to Dr. Hudnell with "Join" in the subject line if they would like to be added to this email list;
- be prepared to receive draft letters to the House and Senate committee and subcommittee chairs and ranking minority members, type your name, title, mailing address, email address and telephone number at the bottom of the letters, and email the letters to Mr. Garfinkel with "HAB letter" in the subject line. Mr. Garfinkel will hand deliver stacks of letters to the committees’ staff. We understand that those of you who are federal employees are prohibited from Congressional lobbying activities, but we appreciate your help in letting others know about this effort.
- be prepared to call or write letters to staff at the offices of your state’s senators and congressmen, asking them to notify the committees that they support this legislation.
We compiled this e-mail list from a number of different sources and now have approximately 370 names and addresses. We attempted to include U.S. freshwater HAB researchers, managers and other interested parties. The email list will be used only infrequently. The addresses are in the blind copy address field to ensure that they will not be used for other purposes.
The effort to enact Freshwater HAB Legislation and the views expressed here are personal and not those of any organization.
If you do not want to receive future emails, please respond with "decline" in the subject line, and I will remove your name and address from the list.
Thank you for considering our request. We greatly appreciate any help you are able to offer.