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://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.
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.