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U.S House Votes Today on Proposals to Weaken Endangered Species Act

The gray wolf is one species targeted for lesser protections in an amendment to the Endangered Species Act. (California Department of Fish and Game)
The gray wolf is one species targeted for lesser protections in an amendment to the Endangered Species Act. (California Department of Fish and Game)
July 13, 2016

HELENA, Mont. - The U.S. House of Representatives is to vote today on a series of amendments to a must-pass Interior Department appropriations bill that aim to weaken the Endangered Species Act. The amendments chip away at protections for many animals, including the gray wolf, Mexican wolf and New Mexican meadow jumping mouse.

Roger Cruise, a member of the Endangered Species Coalition and president of Sirius Nanotechnology in Oregon, said the health of the ecosystem is more important than any short-term economic benefit of loosening environmental regulations.

"They're picking an easy scapegoat target to weaken the Endangered Species Act overall," he said. "So, they'll start with wolves and then they'll go onto wolverines, or go on to other types of animals, until eventually the Endangered Species Act is so gutted that it has no teeth any more, it has no protections for any animals."

According to the coalition, already in this Congress alone, more than 100 bills and amendments have been filed that would undermine the Endangered Species Act. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., has supported similar bills in the past.

Timothy O'Brien, president of Tycoon Tackle, a fishing manufacturing company in Virginia, said he's worried about the collapse of species such as the Atlantic bluefin tuna and attempts to lift protections for the Gulf sturgeon.

"I think it's reprehensible when we base decisions on what species to protect and which ones not to protect based on political expediency, rather than the best science available," he said.

Several of the amendments also would make it more difficult for citizens to sue for environmental protections.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT