Mar 15, 2006- Kaptur Pushes USDA for Additional Funds for Emerald Ash Borer Control in Ohio
In a session before the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Kaptur pressed Dr. Chuck Lambert USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, to use all sources of funding to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer. Funding for controlling invasive species comes from two sources: appropriated dollars provided in annual appropriation bills, and other emergency authorities granted to USDA.
She obtained the agreement of the USDA officials responsible for control to meet with key Ohio stakeholders. Kaptur also read aloud from a letter she received from Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey in which he wrote; "...we are on the verge of an ecological disaster. ... This is a ticking time bomb for cities and municipalities that will be strapped with the costs of ash tree removal and problems associated with disposal of such a large quantity of ash material."
Kaptur added "The Subcommittee provided $10 million for Emerald Ash Borer control in the fiscal 2006 appropriations bill with committee directions that this money be considered a supplement to and not in lieu of CCC Emergency Expenditures. Undersecretary Lambert acknowledged this fact, and committed to continue to work to secure the release of emergency funds to effectively deal with the pest."
She also pointed to the fact that since treatment for EAB first began in 2003, 91% of the money spent on control efforts has come from this emergency fund with Michigan having received $44.6 million while Ohio has received only $20.9 million through fiscal 2005. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has estimated that it needs $50 million this year to effectively deal with the problem, but has so far received assurances of receiving only a portion of the $10 million appropriated, with no word about the emergency funding.
Kaptur stressed the need to develop treatments to control the insect that do not require the cutting down of all Ash trees within a half-mile radius of infestation, as is currently the protocol. "There are neighborhoods that look like they have had massive haircuts with all of the trees removed. Many people question why there isn't an alternative control strategy. I agree and urged USDA to expand research to develop alternative control methods.
"Toledo holds the distinction of having the most trees of any urban area in Ohio. The Emerald Ash Borer poses a critical threat to such precious assets as the campus of Lourdes College, our metroparks, wildlife refuges, and our shorelines. Ineffective action by the federal government is not an option," Kaptur concluded.