Lawmakers Speak Out Against Endangered Species Bill

Bog Turtle
The noble bog turtle

Who gets to say what’s endangered?

A new bill would take the authority of designating endangered species away from the Fish and Boat and Game Commission and put it into the hands of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

House Bill 1576, or the Endangered Species Coordination Act, is scheduled for a vote in the House Game and Fisheries committee on Wednesday, which would precede a full House vote. The bill is expected to review the status of over 60 animals currently on the protected list in Pennsylvania, but that are not endangered at a regional or national level. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Pyle.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, Associated Petroleum Industries and Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association all co-signed a letter in support of the bill, applauding its “consistency, transparency and accountability” in handling endangered species.

In his fall 2013 newsletter, Rep. Pyle defended his bill.

“The bill establishes, for the first time, an appeals process to challenge a PGC or PFBC decision only in regards to endangered species,” Rep. Pyle writes. “This appeals process doesn’t currently exist but if we are to be a truly open and transparent government, the right to appeal the decisions of any government agency must exist. HB 1576 establishes due process in the endangered wildlife/plant listing process.

Many environmental groups have been outspoken against the bill, and several representatives are joining in the outcry.

“House Bill 1576 would give final decision making to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, adding unnecessary delays to the designation process and putting endangered species at risk,” state Rep. Greg Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery) questioned the motives of the bill, not so subtly targeting the organizations who signed the support letter.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that’s because there are individuals and businesses who don’t want anyone to continue the protection and listing of threatened species – especially if those species are in the way of digging pipelines, drilling wells or polluting streams. Ultimately we need to hold Governor Corbett accountable for letting these industries go unchecked for too long.”

5 Responses

  1. This Bill is ridiculous, it is already someones job to place animals on and off the list why do we need some government head to help, I don’t think the government knows anything on the environment let alone endangered species and their needs.

  2. This bill is just another way for the Natural Gas industry to work its way into everything PA, so they have an easier way with getting what they want.

  3. I’ve said since the start of this so called “shale boom” that it could be an economic positive as long as the regulations are enforced. Unfortunately, the industry and their political hacks in Harrisburg now want to re-write the laws they don’t want to follow.

  4. I for one applaud Rep. Pyle on taking a courageous stand against Big Endangered-Species.

  5. Typically in support of the Shale industry this bill rubs me wrong. It is literally pitting big oil and gas against helpless little animals. Pyle would give a big edge to big oil and gas with little cause since the Game Commission does an outstanding job. I am not sure why this irritates me so, maybe it is the picture of the bog turtle. If this bill makes it through committee, my annual check to Pyle goes to the Western PA Conservancy or his next challenger.

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