Connecticut, N.Y. Lawmakers Try to Halt Plum Island Sale

By FRANK ELTMAN
|  Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013  |  Updated 1:19 PM EDT
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Connecticut, N.Y. Lawmakers Try to Halt Plum Island Sale

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FILE -- In this Feb. 16, 2004 file photo, a security patrol jeep is parked in front of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center on Plum Island off of the east coast of New York's Long Island. Plans are under way to move an animal research lab there to Kansas. (AP Photo/Ed Betz/File)

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Some federal lawmakers are trying to stop the sale of New York's Plum Island, home to the only national government laboratory studying diseases harmful to livestock.

The New York and Connecticut lawmakers announced the legislation in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Congress voted in 2009 to close the aging lab and move operations to Kansas State University.

President Barack Obama's latest budget includes $714 million for the project. Kansas officials are selling bonds to pay for it.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said it's important to ensure that future generations can enjoy the island's environmental and recreational benefits.

“The level of environmental uncertainty in allowing GSA to auction off Plum Island is unacceptable,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Congress must repeal their short-sighted decision to sell Plum Island and provide GSA with the flexibility it needs to transfer the facility to another federal agency or other entity that has an impeccable environmental record.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said that Plum Island should not be sold to the highest bidder.

“It’s not every day that we have chance to protect an entire island in the Sound, and squandering this chance would be unforgiveable. Congress made a mistake in authorizing this sale, and it’s long overdue that we correct it,” Murphy said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said Plum Island is a unique ecological resource that should be preserved for future generations.

“Currently, the law prescribes only one fate for Plum Island should the site leave federal ownership: sale to a private owner. I applaud the steps that Southhold, N.Y. and stakeholders on both sides of the Long Island Sound have taken towards preserving the island, but it is clear that Congress must eliminate the sale requirement to allow for other options for its future – including preservation as an ecological treasure,” Courtney said in a statement.

Democratic Rep. Timothy Bishop of Long Island also calls it one of the natural treasures of the Northeast.

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