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Daily Audio Newscast - June 20, 2024

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News from around the nation.

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Conservationists tout Indiana's old mines and brownfields to develop renewable energy; Louisiana becomes 1st state to require the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools; Black Hills Visitor Center under new joint tribal, federal oversight; Judge set to rule on massive Montana logging project.


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The Public News Service Dela Newscast for June the 20th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

Today is the summer solstice, the day of the year with the most sunshine.

In Indiana, conservationists say they have a plan to make the best use of all that solar energy.

In a new report called "Mine the Sun," the Nature Conservancy says the quickest way for the state to gain energy independence is to utilize unused sites, such as abandoned mines, brownfields, or dump sites to develop solar and wind farms.

John Mobley with the Nature Conservancy's Indiana branch says there is less resistance to using sites that don't really serve a purpose.

If you have these acres that are abandoned mines or brownfields, they're not really serving a purpose in the community, they're not serving a purpose economically anymore.

We see clean energy as a way to transition those back to productive acres.

Mobley says clean energy is a way to transition those lands back to productive acres.

In a survey, 66 percent of Hoosiers favor solar energy production and 69 percent support adding state incentives to facilitate solar and wind development on brownfields and mine lands.

I'm Mark Richardson.

The "Mine the Sun" report outlined steps to develop policies that would generate new revenue streams for landowners and create jobs in construction and in maintenance.

Meantime, Governor Jeff Landry signed legislation Wednesday requiring the display of the 10 commandments in every public classroom in Louisiana, making the state the only one with such a mandate.

They report that critics, including the ACLU and the Freedom for Religion Foundation, found a legal fight against a law they deem blatantly unconstitutional.

But it is a battle proponents are prepared and in many ways eager to take on.

The Times notes as part of a broader campaign by conservative Christian groups to amplify public expressions of faith and provoke lawsuits that could reach the Supreme Court where they expect a friendlier reception than in past years.

Next to the Black Hills National Forest, which is one of the latest federal lands to enter into a co-stewardship agreement with local tribal nations, a management model encouraged by the Biden administration.

The Pactola-Hesapa Visitor Center sits on the south end of the Pactola Dam along the 1.2 million acres that make up the Black Hills.

A ceremony held this month honored a new memorandum of understanding for co-stewardship of the center, bringing together local tribal nations and the US National Forest to jointly administer the site.

Adam Montague with the Native American Rights Fund says these agreements are opportunities to make good on federal treaty promises.

There's often a difficult history to reconcile with.

That's usually a big first challenge.

But when there are engaged folks on both sides who wanna see something go forward, then typically the difficulties are more technical.

I'm Kathleen Shannon.

The Forest Service says the center averages about 40,000 visitors each year.

This is public news service.

A federal judge in Montana is expected to rule next Tuesday on an injunction against a logging and burning project on the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest.

The Pintler Project is located about 10 miles northwest of Wise River, Montana, and calls for bulldozing in 11 miles of new logging roads to gain access to 3,400 acres of clear cuts, prescribed burns, and logging of more than 560 acres of aspen.

It would also log another 5,800 acres in a commercial segment of project.

All told, Alliance for the Wild Rockies' Mike Garrity says there could not be a more devastating spot for this type of project because it disrupts a continuous ecosystem he says lynx and grizzly bears need to thrive.

If we want these species to eventually be recovered and removed from the endangered species list, we need to have one connected population to prevent inbreeding.

Critics of the lawsuit and supporters of the Pintler Project say it would make strides on preventing wildfires.

I'm Mark Moran.

Meantime, Rhode Island ranks 12th in the nation for child wellbeing, according to the 2024 Kids Count Data Book.

The state has made significant strides in various areas, especially in children's health insurance coverage, employment rates, and a reduction in child poverty.

However, there are still challenges in academic outcomes with Rhode Island ranking low in high school graduation rates and math proficiency.

Paige Clausius-Parks, Executive Director of Rhode Island Kids Count, highlights these achievements in areas for improvement.

Compared to our partners in other states, we should be really proud that Rhode Island is one of the top-ranking states for children's wellbeing in some really important areas, including our children's health insurance coverage.

The Kids Count Data Book, now in its 35th year, examines data in four domains, economic wellbeing, education, health and family and community factors.

Farah Siddiqi reporting.

Finally, Alex Gonzalez lets us know June is National Immigration Heritage Month.

Olivia Juarez is with Green Latinos, one of the 68 organizations that wrote a letter to federal land management agencies and U.S.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, calling for them to provide an America the Beautiful pass to newly naturalized citizens as a welcome gift.

Juarez adds that advocates would also like agencies to consider barriers that cashless entry to national parks can have on unbanked individuals.

Juarez contends those who complete the lengthy and at times complex naturalization process should be given an opportunity to connect with the lands they have a right to.

There's the benefit of course, like fomenting a population that cares about public lands and wants to make sure that they're healthy and here for future generations.

But it also provides direct benefits in terms of public health.

This is Mike Clifford for Public News Service, member enlisted and supported.

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