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Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Hearing scheduled on endangered species bill

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 19, 2013 10:35 PM
peregrine-falcon.jpg

Photo by Pennsylvania Game Commission

A controversial plan to loop legislative committees into the process of designating endangered species is set to get a hearing.

Twin proposals in the House and Senate would make Pennsylvania's Fish & Boat Commission and Game Commission send endangered species proposals to a separate regulatory review agency, as well as panels made up of lawmakers, for review. Directors of the two commissions have voiced opposition to the plans, which they say would strip their panels' authority. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong), sponsor of the House plan, said the bureaucratic reality isn't quite so dire.

"We've had questions as to their science," said Pyle, "and there's been a lot of objection to there not being an appeal process and it's come from a hell of a lot of sectors."

The underlying premise of the bills is that there should be more oversight of the endangered species designation process, since the label often affects permits for industries like timber, gas, home builders, and coal.

Directors of the Fish & Boat Commission and the Game Commission say under the Pyle's plan (the Senate bill is sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati), the burden for determining an endangered species' presence would shift from industry to their panels when approving permits.

Pyle said such a shift would be better for his district, if not for the commissions.

"Their mission is to protect the game species of Pennsylvania," said Pyle. "And, me as a legislator, part of my mission is to make sure my people don't see widespread unemployment."

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