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Great Lakes Article:

Senate OKs Lake Erie 'dead zone' study
Sabrina Eaton
The Plain Dealer

Washington- Lawmakers hope to soon get full congressional approval to study low-oxygen "dead zones" in Lake Erie.

The Senate passed legislation Tuesday night that would provide $2 million to study problems in Lake Erie, and authorize spending nearly $80 million nationally to research harmful algae blooms in waterways. The blooms deplete oxygen needed by fish and plants, creating dead zones that kill aquatic life.

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich, who co-sponsored the bill written by Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, said Lake Erie's stability is under threat from increased algae blooms in the Great Lakes since 1995.

"This legislation will help ensure the preservation of Lake Erie for our children and grandchildren," said Voinovich.

At a field hearing Voinovich conducted in Cleveland last year, witnesses said the problem is probably caused by invasive species like zebra mussels that are altering the lake's balance, but they said more research is needed.

The bill's House counterpart has been approved by its science committee.

If both houses approve the bill, the study money would need later approval from House and Senate appropriations committees.

Ohio Republican Sen. Mike DeWine and Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who are members of those committees, have co-sponsored the bill, and Kaptur aide Steve Fought called chances of obtaining the money "pretty good," given its bipartisan support.

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