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New Legislation Takes Proactive Approach to Saving Species

New legislation aims to save species before they require the Endangered Species Act. The Indiana Bat is currently an endangered species in Kentucky. (Ann Froschauer/ Celley/USFWS)
New legislation aims to save species before they require the Endangered Species Act. The Indiana Bat is currently an endangered species in Kentucky. (Ann Froschauer/ Celley/USFWS)
December 18, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- What if states had the resources to prevent animals from ending up on the Endangered Species list? A bill introduced in Congress aims to do just that.

Called the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, the bill would fund states' wildlife-management efforts before species are in dire need of help. Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said he thinks addressing problems before an animal lands on the Endangered Species list is a smarter way to preserve wildlife.

"It's a way to bring partners together for collaborative and voluntary efforts upfront, rather than having the emergency measures where you wind up in these horrible court battles and very onerous regulations,” O’Mara said. "We can avoid a lot of that if we did more proactive work."

Supporters say about 12,000 species nationwide could benefit from this approach. The $1.3 billion in funding for the bill would come from an existing tax, paid by energy and resource industries for the right to develop on federal lands. The tax generates $10 billion annually.

O'Mara noted that representatives from both sides of the aisle have voiced support.

"There's obviously an intrinsic value and responsibility to save these species,” he said. "But from an economic point of view, if we have a solution that's going to reduce regulatory uncertainty and really bolster the economy overall, that could be a home run."

The bill lays out a plan to provide 75 percent of the funding for preservation programs, and only requires states to pay one-quarter of the cost.

More information on the bill is available at NWF.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY