WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the Plum Island Conservation Act to protect the environmental integrity of Plum Island.
The bill would permanently repeal an outdated and misguided law requiring the General Service Administration (GSA) to abandon its traditional process for disposing of excess federal property and mandate sale of the island to the highest bidder. Without that law, the GSA would be allowed to transfer government land such as Plum Island to another federal agency, state or local government, or private steward and would allow for appropriate and due consideration of all stakeholders. Congress mandated the sale in order to help pay for construction of the new bio-lab in Kansas. However, legislation since then successfully included money for the lab, so the sale of the island is no longer necessary.
“Plum Island is one of a kind—an environmental treasure with pristine beaches, miles of natural shorelines, and critical habitats for hundreds of types of plants and animals that should be preserved and protected,” said Blumenthal. “Selling Plum Island to the highest bidder would surely devastate and destroy this ecological gem, which is why the Senate must act to permanently repeal the outdated and wrongheaded mandate to sell the island. I will not stop fighting until Plum Island is free from private developers and protected for generations to come.”
“Plum Island is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and numerous important historical sites. Preserving the Island’s rich history and natural resources is a top priority of mine. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in the Connecticut and New York delegation to prohibit the federal government from selling this treasured island to the highest bidder,” said Murphy.
“With open space ever dwindling on Long Island, we should do everything possible to preserve the environmental and wildlife habitat on Plum Island,” said Schumer. “It would be a mistake to sell Plum Island to a developer and rip apart this unique 840-acre ecological treasure and destroy the habitat of the endangered species that live there. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to repeal the sale of Plum Island and I will continue to support this cause.”
“Plum Island is one of New York’s natural treasures and it should never be sold off,” said Gillibrand. “I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to protect this land and preserve it for future generations, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill. Congress has a responsibility to protect our public lands, and this legislation is an important step toward that goal.”
The environmental significance of Plum Island is remarkable. In the 2006 Long Island Sound Study, Connecticut state agencies in collaboration with New York and federal agencies as well as environmental organizations recognized the ecological and recreational importance of Plum Island as a Long Island Sound Stewardship Site. In addition, GSA’s own Final Environmental Impact Statement concluded that any development of Plum Island could have a major impact on land use, air quality, water resources and biological resources in the area. The legislation allows GSA to transfer Plum Island to a federal agency, state/local government, or private steward that would protect the environmental integrity of the area.