Thursday, December 19, 2013

PA Chamber, Industry Coalition Urge Passage Of Endangered Species Changes

The PA Chamber of Business and Industry Wednesday joined a coalition of diverse industries and chambers of commerce throughout Pennsylvania in sending a letter to the General Assembly urging support for legislation that would protect threatened and endangered species without stifling economic growth.
The coalition is pushing for passage of House Bill 1576 (Pyle-R-Armstrong) and Senate Bill 1047 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson), the Endangered Species Coordination Act. The measure would subject the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commissions’ designations of threatened and endangered species to review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
“The bill would not usurp the authority of these agencies to list species as threatened and/or endangered, but would simply require them to follow the same open and transparent regulatory review process that is required of every other state agency, including the Department of Environmental Protection for its environmental regulations and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for its threatened and endangered species designations,” PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Shawn Good said.
The coalition is advocating for passage of the bill because regulated industries that disturb land and that must account for the impacts of their operations on threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats are experiencing unnecessary and costly project delays under the current species evaluation system.
This includes not only the natural resource extraction industry, but also the forest products and concrete and aggregates industries, along with any Pennsylvania business seeking permits for development or redevelopment projects –i.e., bridge work, highway construction, hospital or housing development design.
In the letter, the coalition expresses its unequivocal support of threatened and endangered species designation and protection and stresses that there needs to be a balance between species management and economic development.
This falls in line with the Pennsylvania Chamber’s member-driven environmental policy, which states that economic growth and environmental protection should not be mutually exclusive – that there should be a balance between the two.
The Endangered Species Coordination Act would help to achieve this balance by establishing a more reasoned, transparent rulemaking process for species designation, and allowing for open, consistent access to data by all impacted parties.
“Bringing balance to threatened and endangered species management will have a direct positive impact on multiple industries in the Commonwealth, creating a more conducive climate for economic development and job growth and ensuring that our members have all of the necessary information to adequately plan for the protection of threatened and endangered species,” Good concluded.  
“For these reasons, we are proud to stand with our members to urge the swift passage of the Endangered Species Coordination Act.”
A copy of the letter is available online.

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