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House passes Higgins measure on algal blooms

WASHINGTON – The House has passed legislation that aims to help the Great Lakes cope with climate change and it includes Rep. Brian Higgins' proposal calling for more research on the impact of algal blooms like those that plague Lake Erie.

The package of bills – called the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act – establishes a Living Shoreline Grant program, authorized at $50 million annually, that aims to help waterfront communities adjust to the warming climate. In addition, the measure authorizes $17.5 million in funding annually to study habitats and invasive species in the Great Lakes. The bill also reauthorizes the Sea Grant program.

Higgins' amendment calls on the U.S. Geographical Survey to study the impacts of algal blooms on Great Lakes fisheries.

“The Great Lakes are one of this country’s most overlooked and underappreciated natural assets, representing the largest source of fresh water in the world," Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, said. "Climate change is impacting the health of our lakes and will continue to impact the health of our communities if we don’t act with urgency.”

The bipartisan measure now goes to the U.S. Senate.

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