The endangered species legislation will promote transparency
February 9, 2014 12:00 AM
A recent article (“Groups Take Sides on Endangered Species Bills,” Jan. 26 Outdoors) regarding the Endangered Species Coordination Act, bipartisan legislation advancing in Harrisburg, failed to offer your readers several critical facts and instead employed recycled and misleading rhetoric, rather than a thoughtful, unbiased analysis.
The legislation allows for all earth-moving industries to better plan activities and avoid sensitive species. And contrary to the assertions made in the recent article, in establishing that straightforward planning tool, this legislation would not strip the Pennsylvania Game or Fish and Boat Commissions of any oversight authority. The bill simply adds a level of transparency to the process by requiring them to follow the same protocol as other state agencies in listing threatened and endangered species, just as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources does without issue when it considers these species.
At the same time, the more transparent framework called for in this bill would enable a broader review process, providing for input from conservation and environmental groups, legislative oversight committees and relevant industries.
Further, despite the claims put forth in the article, species would not be “de-listed” every two years. In fact, the amended version of the legislation — not cited even once in the article — provides for all currently listed threatened and endangered species to be grandfathered into the centralized database. And the bill’s most recent text also explicitly prohibits the transfer of hunting and fishing licensing revenues, which ensures that Pennsylvania will not lose any federal funding.
Almost 30 diverse groups — including those in agriculture, economic development, energy, small business and building — support this legislation. They support the protection of threatened and endangered species through better planning. And they, like many Pennsylvanians, believe that transparency in government is key to sustained economic development. This legislation aims to achieve this shared goal.
STEVE FORDE Vice President, Policy and Communications Marcellus Shale Coalition North Fayette
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