The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed a recent amendment to Congressman Lee Zeldin’s bill to prevent the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder.
Mr. Zeldin’s bill, H.R. 1887 ,was marked up with an amendment and passed the House Homeland Security Committee unanimously on April 28, releasing it for a vote on the floor of the House in the late afternoon on Monday, May 16.
The amended bill commissions the Government Accountability Office, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (which currently owns the island), to formulate a comprehensive plan for the future of the island.
This plan should include possible alternative uses for the island including a transfer of ownership to another federal agency, the state or local government, a non-profit, or a combination thereof for the purpose of education, research, and conservation.
“This afternoon, my legislation to save Plum Island from a sale to the highest bidder passed the House of Representatives unanimously with strong bipartisan support,” said Mr. Zeldin in a statement after the vote. “This is a huge step forward in the efforts to protect and preserve this beautiful land, almost all of which is completely undeveloped. Plum Island, a critical natural, cultural and historical treasure, has been cherished by our local community since before the 1700s, which is why we must protect this land for generations to come. With house passage of this bill, it’s now time for the senate to act, so that we can get this legislation signed into law by the president this year.”
Mr. Zeldin said in an April press conference that he expects Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal to introduce mirror legislation in the senate.
“This study is a strong step toward saving a precious, irreplaceable national treasure from developers and polluters,” said Mr. Blumenthal at a press conference in Old Saybrook, Conn. last Friday to update Connecticut members of the Preserve Plum Island coalition on the status of Mr. Zeldin’s bill. “It will provide the science and fact-based evidence to make our case for stopping the current Congressional plan to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder. The stark truth is the sale of Plum Island is no longer necessary to build a new bioresearch facility because Congress has fully appropriated the funds. There is now no need for this sale—and in fact Congress needs to rescind the sale.”
“I think I can speak for many here on the East End when I say “thank you” to Congressman Zeldin for listening to our concerns and taking action,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell in a statement released after Mr. Zeldin held a press conference in Riverhead Monday morning announcing the floor vote. “Plum Island is a jewel and a national treasure. The federal government’s plan to see it off to the highest bidder is ill-conceived and short-sighted. Congressman Zeldin’s efforts, that have resulted in the vote being taking later today, have taken us the closest we’ve been yet to our goal of protecting this fragile ecosystem. It gives us all hope as we press forward.”