State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Hearing scheduled on endangered species bill

Written by Mary Wilson, 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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Comments: 1

  • Jason Gulvas img 2013-08-23 13:21

    So, in other words, an animal or plant is endangered... except when industry decides it isn't good for profits, jobs-creation being an incidental byproduct. Why would the declaration of endangerment and industry profit have anything to do with each other? The PGC observes a crisis, like the white-nose syndrome amongst bats and, if they are about managing our wildlife, which is suppose to be their role in the state, they sound the alarm. They have done their part; let the timber industry then make the statement that , “it doesn't matter, we need to continue to profit”. Let them and their shills like Scarnati then attempt to pass, let's say, an “Endangered Species Override Law”. Why should the PGC compromise their position, their integrity? Not that the Game Commission isn't "on board" with timber anyhow. Commissioner David Putnam shows his support for unfettered access for timber by pointing out “bats do not need old growth forest”, although to declare affected bats in Pennsylvania as endangered has nothing to do with old growth forests, nor does it imply an overall ban on timber harvesting, nor is it a moratorium on timber harvesting at any time. Obviously dispensing with the possibility of any regulation is the only way to assuage timber interests in Pennsylvania. Just like DCNR, PGC fights harder for industry than for the outdoors.

    Where are the hunters, our great conservationists, when such an outrage is looming?

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