Congress most recently reauthorized and amended HABHRCA through the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-423). Section 9 of this Act, cited as the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017, provides NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with independent authority to make a determination of “HABs and hypoxia events of national significance.” Following such a determination, federal officials may “make sums available to the affected State or local government for the purposes of assessing and mitigating the detrimental environmental, economic, subsistence use, and public health effects of the event of national significance.” Funds would be subject to the availability of appropriations. This notice focuses only on the authority granted to NOAA and provides interested parties with an opportunity to provide information early in the policy development process for determining HAB and hypoxia events of national significance in marine or coastal waters.
Factors to be considered in making a determination include the toxicity of the HAB, severity of hypoxia, potential for spread, economic impact, relative size in relation to the past five occurrences, and the geographic scope. NOAA is accepting comments to inform the development of guidance for assessing these considerations and whether additional factors should be considered. The determination process optimally will include quantitative and qualitative means of assessment. To ensure clarity, NOAA requests separate comments for HAB and hypoxia events as it is likely that the factors for each will be considered differently. Two forms must be completed to provide comments on both HAB and hypoxia events. Comments will be recorded when you press submit at the end of the final page.
For more details and background, please refer to this site: https://coastalscience.noaa.gov/research/stressor-impacts-mitigation/habhrca/.