Long Island Sound / Plum Island / Press Releases

House unanimously passes “Don’t Sell Plum Island” bill

For Immediate Release

May 16, 2016

House unanimously passes “Don’t Sell Plum Island” bill

Zeldin, Courtney champion measure on the floor in bi-state, bi-partisan effort

New Haven, Conn. – This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Congressman Lee Zeldin’s (R-NY 1) ‘Don’t Sell Plum Island’ bill.

If passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, HR 1887 would independently review a Department of Homeland Security report that is currently in process (more about that here), fill in gaps with a supplemental report completed by the impartial General Accounting Office, and halt all sales activities of Plum Island until this report process is complete.

In addition to Zeldin, Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT 2) spoke on the floor in favor of the bill, highlighting the efforts of advocates like CFE/Save the Sound and fellow members of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition. (Read what several members of the House had to say about the bill when it passed out of committee.)

“Legislation of this magnitude only advances with the hard work of legislative champions like Congressman Zeldin and engaged citizens,” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator for Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “We’re thankful to the Long Island and Connecticut congressional delegations—and representatives from all over the country—for bringing Congressman Zeldin’s ‘Don’t Sell Plum Island’ bill to the floor and approving it soundly.”

“There is still a long way to go, and we hope that the conservation analysis this bill requires will make the federal agencies reconsider their ill-advised marketing campaign to sell the island,” said Cryder. “Thousands of citizens from New York Connecticut, and Rhode Island have spoken up for saving Plum Island and the endangered species and historic buildings that call it home. Today’s vote shows that Congress has heard them; the agencies should listen, too.”

See the press release from Congressman Zeldin’s office, below, for more information.

 Photos courtesy of Robert Lorenz

For Immediate Release

May 16, 2016

Press Contact: Jennifer DiSiena

jennifer.disiena@mail.house.gov

House Passes Rep. Zeldin’s Bill to Protect Plum Island

Washington, DC – Today, May 16, 2016, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Lee Zeldin’s (R, NY-1) bill to prevent the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder (H.R. 1887). The bill passed unanimously with strong bipartisan support.

Allowing for continued research, public access and permanent preservation of the island, Congressman Zeldin’s bill, H.R. 1887, will reverse a 2008 law that mandated the public sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder. H.R. 1887 was marked up with an amendment and passed the House Homeland Security Committee unanimously last month on April 28, 2016. The bill, as amended, will commission 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 will 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.

Since World War II, Plum Island has been utilized as a research laboratory. The facility, which has been under federal jurisdiction since 1899, has since grown to become what is known today as the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security, which currently has jurisdiction over the island, announced that the Animal Disease Center research would be moved to a new federal facility, the Bio-and-Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) in Kansas. To offset the cost of this relocation, a law was enacted that called for the private sale of Plum Island to the highest bidder. However, due to the costs associated with the cleanup and closure of Plum Island, and because of Southold Town zoning restrictions, the federal government would receive far less compensation for the sale of Plum Island.

Congressman Zeldin said, “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. 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.”

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