On Nov. 13, Pennsylvania made yet another very poor decision, this time in its Game and Fisheries Committee.
Working for business interests while turning a blind eye towards those people without padded pockets, the Game and Fisheries Committee voted House Bill 1576, dubbed the Endangered Species Coordination Act, through to the House.
If you haven't heard of it, that is quite understandable - legislators don't generally shout their shameful decisions from the tops of mountains.
This bill, as denoted by its name, redefines the designation of endangered species in Pennsylvania. The bill forbids the designation of any species threatened by any agency unless it is noted in the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which is federal legislation.
The federal government is notoriously slow to react to any new information, so this is very troubling.
Furthermore, the committee may also remove species from Pennsylvania's protection list.
According to section 5.b.1 of the bill, the specie must be in danger in all or a significant portion of its entire range to be considered threatened. Anybody even casually familiar with wildlife ecology would immediately raise a red flag, but no worries, there is no science in politics.
If this were not enough, only those locations already known will even be considered for review.
Thus if an animal has a habitat that has not yet been determined and GIS mapped, it is not considered by this group to be a habitat worth protecting.
Local agencies are forbidden from attempting to protect plants and animals they find need it, so community members like you or me are thus basically written out of the decision-making process by this law.
I strongly encourage you to read this bill and then contact your local representative, which you may find here www.house.state.pa.us/. It is not overly long and fairly easy to understand. Concentrate on sections 3, 4.d, and 5.
You can find it at www.legis.state.pa.us under bill information.
I went to this hearing basically to prove my helplessness in this system. One comment made by a representative voting to approve the bill was that scientists were elitists and this committee would check their hubris.
My thought is that bureaucracy's chief function is to create more bureaucracy.
Perhaps we should ask scientists more often to check the hubris of politicians.