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Citing legislation on both the state and now the federal level, state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., denounced the industry-driven effort to end legal protection of endangered species and the designation of wild trout streams.
“These bills were troubling enough when we saw them at the state level, but now we’re seeing similar legislation introduced at the federal level,” McCarter said. “It’s clearly an all-out assault on the environment and endangered species perpetrated by big industry that doesn’t want to deal with legal protections of wildlife hampering their profits.”
In Pennsylvania, H.B. 1576 and S.B. 1047, dubbed the Endangered Species Coordination Act, would aim to make it more difficult to designate an endangered species and protect wild trout streams by giving the final decision-making process to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the legislature.
“IRRC is made up of bureaucrats, not biologists,” McCarter said. “Removing scientists and adding bureaucrats causes one to become suspicious about the actual intent of these bills.”
At the federal level, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, S.B. 1731 which would end protection for most species that are currently protected under the Endangered Species Act. The bill's most extreme measure would require every species to be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species every five years until Congress passes a joint resolution renewing their protections for another five years. The process would then repeat. The species would have no legal protections between the expiration of their classification and the passing of the congressional joint resolution.
“The strength of both the federal Endangered Species Act and the Pennsylvania Endangered Species Act — in fact all of our nation’s environmental laws — comes from the requirement that science, not politics, guide the protection of our wildlife, air and water,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These bills would allow extreme ideologues in Congress and the Pennsylvania legislature to veto environmental protections for any protected species they wanted, just so they could appease their special-interest benefactors.”
“The legislators who have introduced these bills are not giving proper thought to the long-term consequences of their actions,” McCarter said. “Many of the animals on our endangered species list serve a vital purpose in their individual ecosystems that will be undoubtedly altered in a negative way – with no way of turning back the damage that has been done. These are very serious bills and everyone needs to pay attention to what is really going on here.”