Pennsylvania’s process for listing threatened and endangered species is carried out by the two commissions charged with that responsibility relying heavily on one thing — the best science available, not convenience, not economic considerations, not political pressure. The commissions have fulfilled that mission very well since 1973. The Endangered Species Coordination Act, Senate Bill 1047, is clearly another case of trying to “fix what ain’t broken.”
As Michael Pastorkovich points out in a Jan. 23 letter, “The Endangered Species Bill Would Do Harm,” the bill could fundamentally change the process as enacted by automatically removing species from the endangered list after two years, requiring a new application for re-listing and allowing only species already federally designated as threatened or endangered to be considered.
Moreover, local species population decline would cease to be a factor in listing decisions. Under SB 1047, if a Pennsylvania species suffering critical decline here fares slightly better in some other states (as does the critically endangered eastern massasauga rattlesnake), that species would not be eligible for listing. Without the protections provided under the Endangered Species Act, it would be easier, more profitable and more convenient to disregard listed species in the rush to drill, mine or develop in, under and around critical habitats.
Everyone who cares about maintaining the diversity of species and protecting Pennsylvania ecosystems — even for un-glamorous species like the massasauga rattlesnake, the snuffbox mussel and the Indiana bat — must oppose SB 1047 as a thinly disguised and politically expedient move to dismantle endangered species protection in Pennsylvania.
GWEN E. CHUTE
The writer is chair of the Allegheny Group Sierra Club Endangered Species Action Team.