POTTSVILLE – Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) attended a House Game and Fisheries Committee hearing on House Bill 1576, also known as the “Endangered Species Coordination Act.”
The bill, which Heffley has co-sponsored, establishes due process for appealing decisions made by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Pennsylvania Game Commission when the decision pertains to endangered species. Currently, no one can appeal these decisions.
“I am very concerned about the regulatory process in agencies such as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission,” Heffley said. “Decisions of this nature can have a large impact on our local workforce.”
In 2009, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission attempted to list five species of freshwater mussels as threatened or endangered. That effort was delayed when dredging companies and their workers protested about the impact the listing would have on their jobs. Regardless of the jobs it would cost, these designations were made and just this month, the last river dredging company and its 50 workers left the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission proposed listing several species of bats, which have been deeply affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is exacting a 90 percent mortality rate on Pennsylvania bats. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering placing all the state’s bats on endangered status. In Carbon County, similar concerns surround the bog turtle.
“I remain focused on all issues connected to environmental protection and our local economy, and I am currently working on legislation that would further regulate the permitting process for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,” Heffley said. “The legislation would set forth up-front requirements for permits, stemming what can be a long review process.”