For the past few months, the Raging Chicken Press has been able to shed light on State Representative Pyle’s Endangered Species Legislation. Over the past week, the legislation was scheduled for a committee vote and had revisions made. The Fish and Game Committee voted to adopt and report the amended House Bill 1576. While skimming through the amended legislation, it appears that the Fish and Wildlife Committee agreed on doubling fines for those who publicly disseminate information obtained from the Commonwealth.
In our original reporting, we highlighted Section 8 of 1576, and a bill summary regarding this section reported:
Detailed information about the location of species, habitat, buffer areas and avoidance procedures listed within the created DCNR centralized database must be provided upon request. Those who request and receive this detailed information are prohibited from disclosing it to other persons without prior written authorization from DCNR. The use of this information is solely for conservation, planning, resource management and compliance.
Violations of the provisions related to unauthorized dissemination of information or illegal use of the data is a civil penalty of not less than $250 or more than $5,000.
As you can see, the fines for publicly disseminating information is between $250 and $5,000, and we also reported that this part of House Bill 1576 is favored by natural gas industry lobbying organizations like the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association. In a letter to House members, it stated:
We also support the prohibition on disclosing sensitive data to anyone other than consultants, scientists, planners associated with a proposed development or project to ensure that access to the data is truly limited and confidential.
The newly revised edition of House Bill 1576 has made significant changes – which will be covered in a later article. One of the changes includes doubling the fines for those who disseminate Commonwealth information. The revised version reads:
(E) CIVIL PENALTY.–THE DEPARTMENT MAY IMPOSE A CIVIL
PENALTY OF NOT LESS THAN $1,000 NOR MORE THAN $10,000 ON ANY
PERSON WHO INTENTIONALLY VIOLATES THE PROVISIONS OF SUBSECTION
(C) OR (D).
While reading through the subsections in question, there were no changes in how the bill reads. The Raging Chicken Press will continue to cover this legislation.