WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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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