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House Passes Boehlert-backed Science Bills

Will Benefit Upstate New York

Committee on Science
Bart Gordon, Tennessee, Ranking Democrat
July 7, 2004
Press Contact:
Joe Pouliot (joe.pouliot@mail.house.gov)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House of Representatives today passed four bills, brought before the House by Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) that will benefit Upstate New York. The bills passed by voice vote.

"While the four bills the House passed today will benefit the entire nation, they will have a particularly positive effect on Upstate New York," Boehlert said. "From helping local employers remain competitive to addressing environmental problems that are costly to our local economy, these bills, which I pushed through my committee and brought to the floor, will have a direct and positive impact on our area."

H.R. 1856 would help fight a costly environmental problem that has plagued Upstate New York: harmful algal blooms (HABs). Also referred to as blue-green algal blooms, HABs cost the U.S. economy upwards of $50 million dollars each year in lost income from fishing and recreation as waters are put off limits because of their toxic effects. In Upstate New York, such lakes as Oneida, Cayuga, Keuka, Otsego, and Onondaga, as well as the Great Lakes, have suffered from HABs.

The dense mats of algae produce toxins dangerous to aquatic and human life. Some of the toxins are so potent that eating just one contaminated mussel could result in mild nausea, paralysis, and, in some extreme cases, even death.

The bill would reauthorize federal research programs on how to prevent and combat HABs, and would expand those programs to cover fresh water lakes. Previous research efforts have focused on salt water problems.

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse has been a major recipient of federal funds to conduct research on HABs. SUNY-ESF has been engaged in algal toxins research in more than 140 New York State lakes and reservoirs to determine toxin causes, movements and predictions of future toxic algal blooms and potential threats to water supplies.

SUNY-ESF President Dr. Cornelius B. Murphy said, "We believe that H.R. 1856 is critical to the water quality of Central New York, New York State, and the nation. The authorization and direction of the House Science Committee has enabled SUNY-ESF to establish a national and international leadership position in the detection, prediction and prevention of harmful algal blooms in fresh waters like the Great Lakes."

The House also passed H.R. 4218 (High-Performance Computing Revitalization Act of 2004) and H.R. 4516 (Department of Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004), two bills that would help the U.S. computing industry and academic researchers that use the world's top computers, and H.R. 3890, a bill to reauthorize the Steel and Aluminum Energy Conservation and Technology Competitiveness Act of 1998.

For additional information on all four bill visit www.house.gov/science.

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