The debate over legislation to require an independent review of proposed additions to threatened or endangered species of plants and animals in Pennsylvania for projects requiring state permits has been misrepresented and the subject of scare tactics by the state Game and Fish and Boat commissions. The Post-Gazette's recent editorial opposing the bill ("Phony Protection: Pa. Politicians Seek Power on Endangered Species," Sept. 17) is par for the course on this issue.
These two commissions are circling the wagons on the issue of allowing oversight of their decisions by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission -- a stop along the regulatory development path for every other state government action to ensure consistency with the law. The IRRC will not control the process of identifying, adding or removing species for threatened or endangered status.
At the present time, the Game and Fish and Boat commissions essentially operate as a fourth branch of government on those determinations, absent effective checks and balances from the three other branches. Executives from the commissions have been evasive at hearings in answering direct questions about the processes followed to propose a new plant or animal to the endangered list and have not been clear in discussing the expert review process they claim is independent.
This is not transparency in government. It is puzzling that these two agencies are afraid to have these decisions reviewed by an independent body, and hypocritical that so many of their supporters are not calling for more public participation, as they do in every other action by government at all levels. Why are they silent?
LOUIS D. D'AMICO
President and Executive Director
Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association