Donalds Introduces Bipartisan Combat Harmful Algal Blooms Act

Donalds Introduces Bipartisan Combat Harmful Algal Blooms Act

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
February 15, 2023

Algae blooms can frequently harm ecosystems, and Florida has plenty of wetlands worthy of preservation. This is why Rep. Byron Donalds (R) introduces the bipartisan Combat Harmful Algal Blooms Act.

In its simplest form, this bill amends Section 102 of the Robert T Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to expand its definition of "major disasters" to include algal blooms harmful to the environment. As such, federal disaster funding would be allocated to combatting this issue in the same way funding goes to tornado and hurricane recovery.

After all, the measures describe how algae blooms such as Red Tide can contain toxic substances that kill marine life and potentially humans. Additionally, this can force beach closures, fishing restrictions, tourism declines, and property value drops.

Sponsors of the bill come from both parties, including Democrats Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Rep. Lois Frankel, Rep. Jared Moskowitz, Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Rep. Maxwell Frost, and Rep. Kathy Castor.

“Water is not only a vital resource but a way of life in Florida,” said Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick. “Floridians have seen the detrimental impacts that harmful algal blooms have on our communities. I am proud to work in a bipartisan effort to make sure Florida’s waters are protected for generations to come.”

Rep. Donalds calls water "Florida's most important natural resource," and thus he is "committed to advancing bipartisan policies that promote the preservation of our waterways against potential long-term damage resulting from harmful algal blooms."

“Water is Florida’s most important natural resource and serves as the heart & soul of Southwest Florida,” said Rep. Donalds. “I’m committed to advancing bipartisan policies that promote the preservation of our waterways against potential long-term damage resulting from harmful algal blooms. This bill gives state and local leaders the opportunity to request federal funding to in this effort to protect our nation’s marine ecosystems.”

Fellow Republican and cosponsor Rep. Gus Bilirakis says "protecting our pristine natural resources is not a partisan issue."

In addition to the ecological harms of certain algal blooms and red tide, Bilirakis adds that "Florida’s combined recreational and commercial fisheries alone generate an estimated $27.2 billion and support nearly 300,000 jobs."

Because of this,  Rep. Bilirakis believes "Florida needs to be able to access the same emergency resources that are provided to help Americans recover from other natural disasters" when these blooms strike.

Similarly, Rep. Mike Waltz refers to Florida waterways as "integral to our economic growth and prosperity.," adding,  "we must work together at every level of government, including federal, to better protect Florida’s beautiful waterways and our way of life."

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna goes so far as to say that "our unique and beautiful ecosystem in Florida is one of America’s treasures."

In addition, the freshman congresswoman stated that Florida's ecosystem " is it the center of a robust tourism industry" and "home to thriving fisheries and precious minerals." Preservation of these areas and prevention of Red Tide is "extremely important."

Rep. Brian Mast, who has long fought against harmful algal blooms, blames the Federal government for the "mismanagement of waterways in Florida."

"By forcing the federal government to pay for some of the damage caused, this bill will force our government to think twice before they discharge toxic water into our communities," stated Rep. Mast.

Publisher Javier Manjarres contributed to this story.

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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