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315 East Market Street
Suite 100
Clearfield, PA 16830

(814) 765-0609

Fax: (814) 765-0592


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Hastings, PA 16646.
Phone (814) 247-6210
Fax (814) 247-6212

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600 Lingle Street, Suite 100
Osceola Mills, PA 16666
Phone: (814) 339-6544
Fax: (814) 339-6546

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PO Box 202073
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2073
Phone: (717) 787-7099
Fax: (717) 782-2922
Examining Endangered Species
8/28/2013

By State Rep. Tommy Sankey
74th Legislative District

I recently traveled to Schuylkill County with my fellow members of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for a hearing on House Bill 1576, which I am co-sponsoring. The bill, authored by state Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong/Indiana), is being considered by the House Game and Fisheries Committee, whose members also attended the hearing.

House Bill 1576 would standardize the state process for designating species of fish, wildlife or plants as threatened or endangered, as well as for designating waters as wild trout streams. This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue, as the bill’s 66 co-sponsors come from both sides of the aisle.

“We are simply asking for sufficient burden of proof that a species is truly endangered or under a threat of extinction,” Pyle said. “Not all state agencies are required to play by the same rules when it comes to these designations, and my bill would essentially level the playing field.”

House Bill 1576 would require the Pennsylvania Game Commission, as well as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, to go through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and the related House and Senate committees when attempting to list a species as endangered. Currently, only the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection face these requirements.

Pyle’s bill, also known as the Endangered Species Coordination Act, comes in reaction to a local school building project in his district that was said to have been situated in a forested habitat for a particular species of endangered bat, none of which were actually found near the project. With no option for appealing the decision, the district chose to pay more than $61,000 into a conservation fund over the possibility of abandoning the project or being forced to find a new home for the bats. 

“No one questions the ability of a government agency to render a decision or the possibility of a species being in danger,” Pyle added. “I am simply asking every agency empowered with the ability to carry out an action that, in this case, has the potential to significantly impact the economy of a community to have a second set of eyes review the decisions it makes.”  

“This is no different to any person who receives a medical diagnosis and seeks out a second opinion,” stated Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams). “We trust our government agencies, and this bill is nothing more than asking them, in an era of openness and transparency, to provide evidence that backs up their decisions.”

Any species currently listed as threatened or endangered would be required to go through the IRRC process within two years of the effective date of House Bill 1576, in order to justify its continued designation of that species. The bill also requires DCNR to maintain a database of species designated as threatened or endangered.

The committee chairmen, state Reps. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) and Ron Miller (R-York) announced that details on a similar hearing to be held in western Pennsylvania will soon be announced. I will keep you posted on the progress of House Bill 1576.

Questions about this or any other legislative issue may be directed to my Clearfield office at (814) 765-0609 or my Osceola Mills office at (814) 339-6544.

Representative Tommy Sankey
74th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Scott Little
717.260.6137
slittle@pahousegop.com
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