Bill Could Threaten Endangered Species, Federal Funding in PA
September 23, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A bill being proposed by Republican
lawmakers in Pennsylvania would be a crippling blow to endangered fish
and wildlife and could jeopardize millions in federal funding the state
receives to protect them, according to environmental and wildlife
groups. The measure would give the state Legislature more authority over
endangered species listings at the expense of the independent
commissions which designate them now. It also would make it easier to
place Marcellus Shale gas wells.
According to Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife
Federation, the process for steering development around endangered
species has worked well for two decades in the state, and the agenda
here is clear.
"And now they want to push the endangered species laws aside so that
they can just run willy-nilly over important and critical habitats for
these remaining living resources, and I think that's a great tragedy."
Schweiger said when it comes to drilling of the Marcellus Shale
formation deep underground, technology exists to keep it away from
"They can do a lot with what they have, and particularly with horizontal
drilling they don't need to go into these critical habitats to get the
gas," he said. "Gas companies want to drill their wells as quickly and
cheaply as possible, rather than spending the extra dollars to drill in a
way that ensures habitats are protected."
Schweiger said natural gas entities are given more than enough leeway as
it is, and a bigger picture, including future generations, needs to be
taken into consideration.
"In fact, I think there's a constitutional question, because the
Pennsylvania constitution clearly guarantees those rights to future
generations, and the Legislature is failing to do that when it moves
legislation like this, Schweiger charged.
Federal regulations require that state commissions have independent
authority when it comes to designating endangered species, and without
it Pennsylvania could lose $27 million in fish and wildlife restoration