Federal budget bill goes down in flames; takes local projects with it

Among the local projects that watched their funding evaporate last week, when Senate Republicans voted down a $1.2 trillion budget package: A $500,000 earmark for fighting Asian longhorned beetle. The Daily Mail reports:

Several earmarks destined for the region have failed to materialize as a result of the U.S. Senate’s failure last week to pass a massive budget bill funding government operations in the current fiscal year.

The earmarks included $650,000 for health information and technology equipment at Columbia Memorial Hospital, $500,000 for a program at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry designed to combat Asian Long-Horned Beetle in state forests and $19,000 in pre-disaster mitigation for the town of Livingston.

Though the first sighting of the devastatingly invasive Asian longhorned beetle in the United States was in Brooklyn, in 1996, it has not yet reached the Catskills. The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development hopes it will stay that way:

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Asian Longhorned Beetle "has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and the gypsy moth combined."...

...The Catskill region, with a close proximity to current populations of ALB, and a forest largely comprised of host species, is at great risk for a potentially devastating infestation.

The Times Herald-Record reports that the collapse of the spending bill has killled about $21 million worth of spending in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan Counties.

Gone are funding earmarks of $4 million to install renewable-energy equipment at West Point, $1.25 million to help the Town of Montgomery replace its sewage treatment plant and $250,000 to expand after-school programs for disadvantaged children in Sullivan County.

And the Daily Freeman reports that $4 million for solar energy products testing at SUNY New Paltz has been scrapped as well:

The Hinchey-sponsored earmark for SUNY New Paltz was announced earlier this year as part of a project to help companies test products with assistance from The Solar Energy Consortium. It was lost, though, with the recent defeat in Congress of a federal spending bill.

“The $4 million was going to SUNY New Paltz to set up a laboratory testing center,” said Michael Iger, a spokesman for the congressman. “They were going to work with the Defense Department to develop a testing facility so that solar companies could come and develop their products, systems (and) test them there so they would know how it would fit in with the Defense Department’s requirements and qualifications.”