Category Archives: Conservation
Pennsylvania’s mining, fracking and timber industries are pushing to pass a bill next week that would eviscerate our state’s Endangered Species Act. House Bill 1576 aims to strip our wildlife experts of the authority to decide which species are protected. It wants to hand that authority to the industry-dominated Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).
Our voices count. The only reason this bill wasn’t rammed through and into law last autumn was the incredible outpouring of opposition from Audubon supporters and other concerned citizens, but now industry is pushing hard to get it passed in the State House of Representatives on March 11.
The bill is designed to slow the designation process for all species and makes headwater trout streams more vulnerable to impairment. Among other habitats that will be at greater risk of destruction, this bill will make it easier for Marcellus gas drilling companies and other industries to fragment our fragile songbird nurseries in Pennsylvania’s remaining large blocks of forests.
HB 1576 reduces protection for rare plants and animals, and prolongs and politicizes the process through which they are protected. It jeopardizes critical federal funding of the Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission; increases the likelihood that federal agencies will exert greater authority on rare species protection in the absence of good state protection; and weakens protection for high-quality streams.
One especially bad aspect of this bill is that it requires agencies to create a redundant database of the location of all threatened or endangered species in the state and share that information with anyone who asks, thus placing sensitive species at risk. There are black-market smugglers (of rare herps like bog turtles, orchids and more) who would love to have that become law. It’s a road map for poaching.
We are up against some powerful forces, especially extractive industries (particularly shale gas) with very deep pockets, and so far we’ve stopped them.
Take Action Now
Speak up to keep our current endangered and threatened species protection program safe and strong. We want species protected based on sound science determined by biologists in the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, not through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).
Please contact your PA House Representative today and urge him or her to stand up for Pennsylvania’s endangered species and oppose HB 1576. Even a simple phone call in opposition will help.
Your state representatives depend on where you live. Follow the links below to find your legislators.
The most effective talking point is that you care about wildlife, this bill puts rare species in Pennsylvania at risk, and you will take your rep’s vote on this issue squarely into account at election time.
On Friday, December 6, 2013, the Interior Department announced a new rule that would grant wind energy companies 30-year permits to kill Bald and Golden eagles.
Audubon strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threat posed to birds and people by climate change. We need to deploy renewable energy sources aggressively and use conventional sources more efficiently if we are to meet the challenge of our lifetime. At the same time, we must carefully site and manage these facilities to reduce impacts to birds and other wildlife.
This 30-year permit takes us in the wrong direction. This rule was not necessary to promote responsible wind power development. With no effective conservation measures in place, and without adequate monitoring capabilities, the government is locking in unproven and ineffective permit conditions for decades while protecting the wind industry from enforcement. It is a recipe for more dead eagles.
National Audubon has a long history of involvement in wind-wildlife interaction issues, including efforts to develop state guidelines for wind development in California, Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York; providing substantive input regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s policy for wind development on public lands; and working cooperatively to improve the siting, design, and management of wind facilities across the country.
National Audubon has taken a pragmatic, results-oriented approach to reach an agreement with the wind industry that would have protected eagles and supported renewable energy deployment. We did the hard work of finding a real solution. But DOI issued a bad rule that won’t prevent the killing of eagles even while it creates potential roadblocks for renewables deployment.
We don’t think that’s acceptable, and that is why we are speaking out strongly about the new 30-year rule, and actively challenging the Interior Department on their commitment to monitor and enforce current bird protection laws including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Join us in sending a message to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to reverse this decision and work with conservation groups and the wind industry to come up with a better solution — one that both promotes wind energy and safeguards our Bald and Golden Eagle populations.
Send a message online through Audubon’s Action Center or by mail to Secretary Sally Jewell, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington DC 20240.
- Don’t Throw Bald Eagles Under the Bus – an opinion piece by Audubon CEO David Yarnold that was published in Politico
- A Struggle to Balance Wind Energy With Wildlife – a fair and thoughtful look from the New York Times at the Department of the Interiors failure to accept a deal that would have protected eagles while supporting renewable energy deployment
- Audubon Opposes the Interior Department’s 30-Year Eagle Permit Rule for Wind Farms – Q&A about the 30-year rule
- Wind Power Overview: Audubon’s Position on Wind Power – Audubon strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threat posed to birds and people by climate change
HB 1576 is not dead!
The deceptively named “Endangered Species Coordination Act” (HB 1576) is still in the Game and Fisheries Committee, which may vote on the bill November 13. It has been amended, so your representative may argue that the problematic parts of the bill were “fixed,” but that is far from the truth.
It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, appearing to help improve our species protection program, but in actuality it would slow it down tremendously, preventing timely protection for species found to be in decline. The bill is still designed to slow up the designation process for all species and makes headwater trout streams more vulnerable to impairment. Among other habitats that will be at greater risk of destruction, this bill will make it easier for Marcellus gas drilling companies and other industries to fragment our fragile songbird nurseries in PA’s remaining large blocks of forests.
Following are a few of the key problems with the AMENDED bill:
- Species status changes would have to go through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). The fact that the IRRC will be listing species instead of the PGC and PFBC means that the listing will be a political process, instead of being based on sound science. The IRRC process is slow, politicized and redundant to Commission Boards! As a result, it would delay protections for species that need them most. Although other agencies go through IRRC, no others have to go through an independent Board and then ALSO the IRRC.
- The bill still calls for creation a new database of endangered and threatened species information. This would put sensitive species information at risk, and also is redundant to the existing database (PNDI). Why create a new database? Even the “Right to Know Act” understood that threatened and endangered species information should not be released!
- A new provision is proposed: agencies would be “prohibited from using or transferring to another state agency revenues generated through the sale of hunting or fishing licenses or federal funds for the administration of this act” — This is unrelated to the issue at hand. Added administrative burdens would be put on state agencies by this bill, and this provision seems to prohibit the very resources needed to complete this work! This new provision seems designed to tie the hands of species protection!
- Language still jeopardizes the Fish and Boat’s ability to designate “wild trout streams.” Sensitive headwater streams receive important protection by this designation – don’t undermine it!
Please contact your PA House Representative, especially if they are serving on the House Game and Fisheries Committee: Harold English (part of Allegheny Co.); Mindy Fee (Lancaster); Marcia Hahn (Northampton); Michael Peifer (Monroe, Pike & Wayne); Keith Gillespie (York), and John Galloway (Bucks).
Your state representatives depend on where you live. Find them using the “find your legislators” feature at: http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/findyourlegislator/find.cfm.
We want species protected based on sound science determined by biologists in the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, not through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).
As always, even a simple call in opposition would help. THANK YOU for anything you can do.