Earlier this week, representatives of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the state Fish and Boat Commission and the Sierra Club, testified against pending legislation at a joint public hearing on a proposed reduction in state environmental regulations on industry.
The considered legislation, House Bill 1576, would supposedly "standardize" the state process for designating species of fish, wildlife or plants as endangered or threatened, and for designating waterways as wild trout streams.
According to the hearing's chair, Representative Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, HB 1576 would "balance" the protection of endangered species in Pennsylvania "against excessive government regulation."
"We can't run jobs and business out of the state just because species are threatened with extinction," stated Representative Causer.
State Representative Steve McCarter went on record opposing the rest of the legislators hearing testimony arguing that additional oversight would make the process too lengthy and "shifts analysis to non-experts."
"It puts it to an IRRC process that is another set of eyes, but not experts, then potentially to the House and Senate ... we aren't scientists or experts," McCarter stated. "There are species in dramatic situations — 99 percent of some are gone already and still haven't made it on a list."
"This could push us back to a time before Teddy Roosevelt when the robber barons made the decisions for us," he added.
Pennsylvania Game Commission press secretary Travis Lau stated that the agency is on record opposing the HB 1576 for a number of reasons. "If the bill were to go through, it would leave endangered and threatened species more vulnerable."
However, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, while touting the need for wildlife diversity, also apparently believes that said diversity should only go so far.
"Wildlife diversity is important to any species, including humans," Lau said. "However, species like eastern cougar will never be welcomed back. They are native, but they were eliminated for a reason. There's really no room in Pennsylvania for them anymore."
Based on those statements it makes one wonder exactly how committed to the protection of Pennsylvania's endangered species the Game Commission really is.