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Letter to Herb Kohl and Robert Bennett, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, Re: Additional Funding to Eradicate Emerald Ash Borer and Other In

Letter to Herb Kohl and Robert Bennett, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, Re: Additional Funding to Eradicate Emerald Ash Borer and Other Invasive Pests

Casey, Lugar Push for Additional Funding to Eradicate Emerald Ash Borer and Other Invasive Pests

U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) led a bipartisan group of 20 Senators today in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking for $90 million to increase funding to help eradicate invasive pests that threaten our forests. The letter was sent to Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Robert Bennett (R-UT), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.

"As Members from states adversely impacted or imminently threatened by invasive forest insects and diseases, we urge you to include sufficient funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) programs to eradicate the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Asian Longhorned Beetle, Sudden Oak Death, and Sirex Woodwasp," the Senators wrote. "Programs to contain these critical threats to our nation's forests have been under-funded for years, enabling these invasive species to persist and spread."

Invasive pests like EAB threaten forests, urban landscapes and commercial nurseries in Pennsylvania and Indiana. EAB spread from Michigan to Indiana and most recently to Pennsylvania. Federal funding will help assist the states in fighting this pest, which could devastate their landscapes and economies.

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Kohl and Ranking Member Bennett,

As Members from states adversely impacted or imminently threatened by invasive forest insects and diseases, we urge you to include sufficient funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) programs to eradicate the Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Sudden Oak Death, and Sirex Woodwasp. Programs to contain these critical threats to our nation's forests have been under-funded for years, enabling these invasive species to persist and spread.

We respectfully request that you include the following funding levels in the Fiscal Year 2009 Agriculture Appropriations bill: $45 million for Emerald Ash Borer; $30 million for Asian Longhorned Beetle; $10 million for Sudden Oak Death; and $5 million for Sirex Woodwasp. These enhanced funding levels have been endorsed by the American Forest & Paper Association, American Nursery and Landscape Assocation, National Plant Board, the National Association of State Foresters, Nature Conservancy, Society of American Forests, and others.

Each of these pests has the potential to cause substantial damage to major portions of the United States. Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a beetle native to Asia that has been found in significant portions of Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio; as well as portions of Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. EAB has already cost our states, towns, and commercial nurseries millions of dollars. If unchecked, EAB has the potential to cost billions of dollars of damage nationwide, including millions of dollars in costs to municipalities for street tree removal and replanting and significant costs for private homeowners. While the geographic range of EAB and the complexity of managing the pest species have multiplied, preventing further spread is critical to protecting vulnerable forests and the many towns and cities where ash now line streets and parks. Increased appropriations are necessary to slow the spread of this pest and pursue promising research efforts aimed at developing successful management strategies.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is a wood-boring insect native to China and Korea that has invaded New York (1996), Illinois (1998), and New Jersey (2002) via shipping containers. The insect has also invaded the Toronto metropolitan area in Canada. Infestations in Chicago and Jersey City are thought to be eradicated and the second outbreak in New Jersey has been greatly reduced in scope. However, the New York infestations persist (Staten Island was discovered last year to be infested). The continued presence of the beetle in New York presents a threat to the entire Northeast. We request a funding level of $30 million dollars to complete this important work.

Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) has killed millions of oak and tanoaks in coastal California and Oregon. Estimates by APHIS and the Forest Service indicate that if Sudden Oak Death moved across country, the disease could threaten oak, sugar maple, and other tree and shrub species across much of the eastern half of the nation, including portions of the Southeast and Appalachians. We therefore request a funding level of $10 million, which would be sufficient to maintain the quarantine established under a 2004 emergency rule, update the quarantine with new regulations, increase sampling and testing within the nursery trade, and fund an initiative to develop and pilot a systems approach to nursery regulation and inspection.

The Sirex Woodwasp (Sirex noctilio) is a wood-boring insect native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. In 2004, Sirex Woodwasp was detected in New York and Ontario; the invasive insect species now infests much of New York, four counties in northern Pennsylvania, two counties in Michigan, and one country in Vermont; as well as portions of Ontario. Unchecked, the U.S. Forest Service estimated that the Sirex Woodwasp could cause up to $11 billion in damage to the pine wood products industry of the Southeast. We respectfully request a funding level of $5 million, which would be sufficient to institute a federal quarantine on the movement of logs and other vectors and to carry out control programs utilizing a parasitic nematode.

Thank you for your attention to this request. We look forward to our continued work together to prevent and eradicate these harmful invasive pests.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)

Richard Lugar (R-IN)

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Arlen Specter (R-PA)

Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Carl Levin (D-MI)

Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

George Voinovich (R-OH)

John Rockefeller (D-WV)

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

John Warner (R-VA)

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

John Kerry (D-MA)

Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Mark Pryor (D-AR)

Edward Kennedy (D-MA)


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