U.S. Senators Take a Stand on Plum Island

Plum Island in a Department of Homeland Security aerial photo.

Three U.S. Senators have joined the effort to decouple the proposed sale of Plum Island from the 2008 federal appropriations bill that created a replacement animal disease research lab in Manhattan, Kansas.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York wrote to leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee on May 30 seeking repeal of the mandate requiring the island’s sale.

This fix was first proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives by former Congressman Tim Bishop in 2013 and has been carried since by current East End Congressman Lee Zeldin.

The original bill had been intended to use the sale of Plum Island to provide funding for the Kansas lab, but that funding has since been allocated elsewhere in the federal budget.

“It is imperative the sale requirement be repealed for two critical reasons,” said the senators in their letter. “First, the sale will no longer serve the purpose for which it was intended. We support the transition to the new facility, but the Kansas location has since been funded and no longer needs the revenue that would come from a sale of Plum Island. Second, Plum Island and its boundless natural treasures must remain free from developers so they can instead be preserved for future generations. By repealing the sale we can take away the threat of private development while continuing to work with our colleagues to craft an alternative, long-term path for this precious resource that allows it to remain with the federal government or a responsible entity as a park or preserve in perpetuity.”

The full text of the letter is online here.

“We thank the Long Island Sound region senators for their compelling letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to preserve Plum Island,” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator for Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “There is no longer any logical financial argument to sell Plum Island, and it is time for the thousands of citizens in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island who have stood up for saving Plum Island’s endangered species and historic buildings, to be heard.”

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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