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Friday, November 8, 2013

House Committee To Vote on Controversial Endangered Species Bill

houseHouse Committee To Vote on
Controversial Endangered Species Bill
A hotly debated bill is scheduled for a House committee vote next week. House Bill 1576 and its Senate companion bill SB 1047 have created a firestorm of controversy since they were first proposed respectively by Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong) and Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).

A news conference was held Thursday for opponents of the bill to again express their opposition. The lines are clearly drawn between industry supporters of the bill and environmental groups sided with the affected Fish and Boat and Game Commissions.

Industry supporters of the bill, including the Marcellus Shale Coalition, claim the new legislation will ensure accountability through greater consistency and transparency, while eliminating construction delays now encountered when endangered or threatened species may be present. Environmentalists say the bill will gut current laws in place to protect wildlife in Pennsylvania.

A new twist to the discussion is an amendment that Game and Fisheries Chairman Rep. Martin Causer (R-McKean County) plans to offer, which first became available for review on Thursday. The amendment appears to mitigate some of the objections that have been raised, but not enough of them to resolve the situation.

A recent letter to the editor from the Lycoming Audubon Society states what most of those opposed to the legislation agree upon, that HB 1576 is geared to benefit industry, especially the gas industry, at the cost of Pennsylvania's wildlife.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Pyle, admitted in a September interview that
"it was 'fair' to say that the proposed changes to the species listings process would most benefit the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry." Couple that statement with the almost $49,000 in campaign contributions that Mr. Pyle received from the oil and gas industry, and the real reason for HB 1576 seems more evident.

The House Game and Fisheries Committee is scheduled to consider
HB 1576 on November 13. Contact your Representative now to express your opinion on HB 1576.

Find your Representative here

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