Today's inbox brought a press release from State Rep. Steve McCarter highlighting concerns he has about HB 1576, called the Endangered Species Coordination Act. McCarter is a good guy so I took a look. State Rep. Metcalfe is one of the sponsors; I often disagree with his views. Sadly, State Rep. Tom Murt is also a co-sponsor. This is not the first time I've looked at legislation, been alarmed at what I saw, and noted that Murt was a co-sponsor. I have met Murt a time or two at public events; initially I was favorably impressed, these days not so much.
The Act has 10 sections. The first is a short title; the second defines terms used in the bill.
Section three reads:
No Commonwealth agency may take action to designate or consider fish, wildlife or plants as threatened or endangered unless the fish, wildlife or plants are designated under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-205, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.) or pursuant to this act.Any state agency wishing to declare a species endangered must (section 4):
The Commonwealth agency shall provide detailed reasons and a summary of the acceptable data and methodology upon which theproposed designation is base d, as well as the activities that may be affected by such designation, to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and to the standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives with jurisdiction over the Commonwealth agency for purposes of this act.For those unfamiliar with the IRRC, it's website provides this description:
The General Assembly passed the Regulatory Review Act in 1982 which established the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. IRRC was created to review Commonwealth agency regulations, excluding the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission, to ensure that they are in the public interest.
Note that at present it excludes the Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission. According to IRRC's website it does currently include the Dept of Environmental Protection but there are not regulations listed for that agency.
Section four also includes this note:
Any species designated as threatened or endangered pursuant to 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to fish) or 3 Pa.C.S. (relating to game) prior to the effective date of this section shall be removed from the centralized database after a period of two years unless the Commonwealth agency redesignates the species as threatened or endangered in accordance with the provisions of this act.
Two years seems a rather short time period for a species to be removed from the database. If every species has to be re-designated every two years that's a lot of work for the IRRC.
Section five states that species must be in danger of extinction" throughout all or a significant portion of its range" and another section states it can only be considered threatened if it is likely to become endangered "in the foreseeable future."
Section eight includes a rather chilling, at least to me, statement. The section says that information in the centralized database shall be available to the public but:
Persons receiving the information may only disclose the information to other persons with prior written authorization from the department.Really? You can't disclose that information to anyone else without written permission? It should be noted that in the definitions section the definition of person included corporations. It lists only three acceptable uses of the information and states the penalty for violating the law will be between $250.00 and $5,000.00.
I can't see how this benefits the Commonwealth, its citizens or the wildlife that resides here.