Not what it seems: Deceptive bill won’t protect endangered species

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In nature, some species disguise themselves in order to appear innocuous. That happens in politics too. The deceptively labeled Endangered Species Coordination Act (state House Bill 1576) is a prime example.

As its backers tell it, this bill won’t harm endangered species — it just wants to bring transparency and order to the process of species designations. No, it doesn’t. The sole reason for this bill’s existence is to make life less burdensome to natural gas drillers and coal mining companies. It puts economic interests ahead of protecting endangered and threatened species.

Further, in stripping the independent Game and Fish and Boat commissions of their current science-backed roles, and having them second-guessed by a state regulatory review commission that must by law consider “hidden costs upon the economy,” the system to protect species will itself be threatened — affecting everything from bald eagles’ nests to fragile trout streams.

That is why groups such as Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society oppose the bill. Yet despite industry backers’ concern about jobs, Marcellus Shale operations are booming without it.

On Monday, the House is expected to take action on HB 1576. Pennsylvania’s many sportsmen and nature lovers must urgently make themselves heard.

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