Weiner, Crowley Fight Longhorned Beetles
Representatives Anthony Weiner, who represents a portion of Rockaway and Joseph Crowley announced that New York City is slated to receive $23,200,000 next year to fight the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). The $12.2 million increase over last year comes after months of campaigning by Weiner and Crowley for more federal funds.
Brooklyn and Queens have been fighting the ALB since it was first discovered in the United States, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1996. Since then, more than 5,979 trees in New York City have been infested.
But last year, as the ALB threat increased, federal dollars dropped precipitously, from an FY 2002 high of $50 million to $26 million for FY 2003. In the wake of the decline, Weiner and Crowley led the fight to restore funding, appealing to the White House, OMB Director Josh Bolten, and House appropriators.
Good news finally arrived in the House omnibus appropriations bill, passed yesterday afternoon. Under the bill, supported by both Weiner and Crowley, ALB funding increased from $24 million to $30 million, which, when combined with left over funding from last year, equals $38.8 million in available funds.
Even better, today Weiner and Crowley secured assurances from APHIS, the agency which administers the ALB program, that New York City is scheduled to receive $23,200,000, with Queens slated to get $10,500,000 and Brooklyn $4,750,000. In addition, APHIS, with Weiner and Crowley support, have renewed their call for $46.8 million in additional funding to fight the beetle in New York from the Office of Management and Budget.
"Last year, the Bush Administration’s funding equation when it came to the Asian Longhorned Beetle was more beetles equals less funding," said Rep. Weiner. "As a result, countless Brooklyn and Queens trees were put at risk. This is an improvement over the beetle brained budget decisions of last year, but there is still work yet to be done."
"This is welcome news for my district, which has been especially hard-hit by the beetle," said Rep. Crowley. "In Sunnyside, Ridgewood, and Woodside, we have been waging an uphill war to save our precious trees. The $23 million is a great quality of life victory for all New Yorkers. Rep. Weiner and I will continue to work as a team to secure the necessary funds to battle the beetle."
The omnibus appropriations bill still must pass the Senate. Consideration is not expected to begin until January.