By Ad Crable
In one of the biggest environmental showdowns in years, the state House Game and Fisheries Committee voted 16-8 Wednesday morning to advance legislation that would bring political oversight to how state game and fish commissions determine endangered and threatened species in Pennsylvania.
HB 1576 also would change how wild trout streams are determined.
The legislation is seen by some as taking such decisions away from scientists to make it easier for developers and Marcellus Shale drillers.
Others say the current process takes too long and needs a "common sense" approach.
Rep. Mindy Fee, a Republican from Manheim, sits on the committee and voted to report the bill out of committee so it can be voted on by the state House.
She said the Endangered Species Coordination Act "just adds a layer of accountability and transparency."
She said an amendment added by state Rep. Martin Causer, R-McKean, addresses the legitimate concerns raised by conservation groups and citizens during a contentious public hearing process.
"There has been so much misinformation to the bill," she said.
She said that scientists will still be the ones determining if bird and animal species are endangered or threatened in the state.
"It just adds a system of checks and balances," she said.
Her legislative district has many sportsmen, and she said she heard from a lot of them, both for and against the bill. More....