WASHINGTON—Members of the Connecticut Delegation, including U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), John Larson (CT-1), and Joe Courtney (CT-2), today announced that the omnibus budget package repeals a mandate that Plum Island be sold and $18.9 million will be allocated for cleanup.
“It's taken years of work to get this done, but finally, we've stopped the shortsighted plan to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder. Plum Island is so important, both ecologically and historically, and I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the Connecticut and New York delegations who have worked tirelessly with me to get this repeal across the finish line,” said Murphy.
“Today we can finally and fully celebrate preserving Plum Island. This exquisite environmental treasure has been spared a headlong rush to sell to the highest bidder. We will continue to fight to preserve this special gem from future development. Plum Island is a unique environmental resource that is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and numerous important historical sites that must be preserved for future generations to enjoy. I thank Connecticut’s environmental advocates, including Save the Sound and The Nature Conservancy for their tireless work in this effort. I also thank my colleagues from the New York and Connecticut delegations for their partnership in securing this important provision,” said Blumenthal.
“This is a tremendous victory for Plum Island and the people of Connecticut, and it is in large part thanks to the hard work and advocacy of the local groups fighting to protect this ecological treasure. Plum Island is home to a rare natural ecosystem that should never be up for sale to the highest bidder. Congress has an obligation to protect this island and its natural resources. That is why as a leader on the House Appropriations Committee, and now the Chair-elect, I fought to include this language in the fiscal year 2021 spending bill to preserve Plum Island and prohibit the mandatory sale of this ecological treasure. I urge my colleagues to join me in ensuring this rich environment is protected well into the future,” said DeLauro.
“The House has successfully and unanimously passed our legislation to preserve Plum Island for five years in a row, and the final negotiated omnibus spending package released today will get the job done once and for all. Plum Island is an ecological treasure, and for over a decade the Connecticut and New York delegation members have been working across the aisle and across the Long Island Sound to get this across the finish line. It’s time to move forward and pass this bipartisan deal that will protect Plum Island, and get more relief out the door to thousands in eastern Connecticut who need it,” said Courtney
“Blocking developers from buying up Plum Island is a big win for Connecticut and conservation efforts. This win wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of local conservationists. I’m glad Plum Island will preserved for years to come,” said Larson.
The fight to preserve the island, located in Long Island Sound between Connecticut and New York, began in 2008 when the federal government announced that that island was slated for public sale as part of the planned relocation of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to Kansas. The island is home to numerous flora and fauna that are essential to the region’s ecosystem, including piping plovers, roseate terns, and grey and harbor seals.
The provision, included in the omnibus package, is a modified version of Blumenthal’s Plum Island Conservation Act, cosponsored by Murphy, and the Plum Island Preservation Act, cosponsored by DeLauro, Larson, and Courtney. With passage of this provision, the GSA would be allowed to transfer government land such as Plum Island to another federal agency, state or local government, or private steward – allowing for appropriate and due consideration of all stakeholders. The provision also requires that any future transfer must incorporate the whole island as one unit, instead of a piecemeal approach.