By Brigid Beatty
Testimony about a state House bill that could affect laws protecting endangered species across the state was considered during a joint hearing of the House Game and Fisheries Committee and House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Northpointe campus Tuesday.
The proposed Endangered Species Coordination Act, House Bill 1576, seeks to subject the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission to oversight by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
It would allow IRRC to add or remove species from a list of threatened or endangered species.
Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, is a sponsor of the bill, which has received support from interests including the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the coal industry and the Pennsylvania Builders Association.
Kittanning-based businessman Darrel Lewis of the Allegheny Mineral Corp. and Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association said he supports the bill, which “sets out a consistent framework for regulators and those who are regulated.”
He said time frames for studies of endangered or threatened species can cause major delays in development plans. With the delisting procedure, Lewis said, “this bill would eliminate those as an item to be considered in the process.”
Those opposing the bill argue it would shift the burden of proof to the Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission and tip the scale in favor of economic development at the risk of undermining efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats. More....