A proposal to add regulatory oversight to the commissions designating endangered species and protected wild trout streams in Pennsylvania has passed out of a key state House committee.
It would give a regulatory review board of political appointees final approval over decisions to allow the state to protect certain species and streams.
Supporters, including natural gas companies and home builders, say it would provide a check and balance to the state’s independent commissions now in charge of the process.
Laura Jackson, a conservationist from Bedford County, attended the hearing with about 15 other activists opposed to the plan.
She says it adds politics to a process of species conservation that now is based on science.
"This is what the industries want," Jackson said. "They want the authority removed from the Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission and they want it now to be under political control."
Supporters also say an amendment to the measure will keep Pennsylvania from losing federal funding.
Those dollars are in jeopardy because the legislation would remove the commonwealth’s conservation programs from being the sole authority over the endangered species designation process.
Jackson says whether federal funding is lost “remains to be seen.”