Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast of Palm Coast is introducing legislation requiring the federal government to do a scientific assessment of the causes, consequences, and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades region.

The bill would amend a 1998 law that had created an “Inter-Agency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia,” and Mast’s proposal would require the task force to do something in South Florida. If enacted, the bill would force the first-ever federal assessment and action plan dealing with Florida algae blooms like the one in 2016 that devastated the waters of what is now Mast’s Florida Congressional District 18 along Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Under the direction of this existing federal law, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have developed numerous reports over the last two decades researching harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and nationally. However, there has never been an Everglades-specific report, according to a news release issued by Mast’s office, announcing the bill.

“Considering the massive damage algal blooms have caused in our community, it’s ridiculous that a federal program specifically designed to combat algal blooms has never done an Everglades-specific analysis,” Mast stated in the release. “This bill is a critical first step to developing a comprehensive plan that forces the state and federal government to work together to keep our water clean.”

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