In The News
Solar wars arrive in Indiana
We knew it was coming - as it has elsewhere: our electric power utilities (which many believe own a controlling interest in the Indiana General Assembly) are attacking rooftop solar power. A utility-backed legislative proposal would drastically change the economics for rooftop solar in Indiana. This is a fight by monopolies to fight off competition from clean energy sources. Contact your legislators and urge to oppose HB 1320 and any other proposal that damages the prospects for consumer choice of energy sources. Here are some articles & commentary about the issue.
- Why you need to pay attention to solar energy legislation (Indianapolis Star), 1/25/15
- Inside the coming showdown over rooftop solar in Indiana; The Green Tea Coalition is contemplating action in the state (UtilityDIVE.com), 1/23/15
- The solar wars come to Indiana (Safeenergy.org), 1/26/15
- Indiana Bill Crafted By Utilities Could Quash Nascent Solar Industry (thinkprogress.org), 1/27/15
For more information on our issues and work in the legislature, click here.
|1/28/15 (Wednesday)||Greendrinks||Fort Wayne|
Green Drinks, 5:30-7:30pm at
|2/1/15 (Sunday)||How Congregations Can Fund Solar Panels||Bloomington||Earth Care Forum: Trinity is powered by the sun. On February 1, from 3:30 to 5 PM, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, Earth Care will present a Forum for lay leaders interested in enabling their congregations to purchase and install solar panels. Five congregations in Bloomington already have panels and five more are interested in installing them as well. The forum is designed to help them consider funding options. The forum will present two models that can be used independently or combined: Raising funds for panels through a well-supported program of energy conservation. With support from H-IPL, congregations across Indiana are reducing their energy use by well over 25% and helping their members steeply reduce at home. Developing a limited liability corporation that can help fund the panels by taking advantage of the 30% tax credit. After five to six years, the solar panels are owned solely by the congregation, which benefits from the solar production from the get-go. There will be time for questions and for lay leaders to consider whether they want to meet again to share information or secure bulk purchases of panels. The forum will be live-streamed for interested lay leaders across the state. Intrigued? Join us! For information: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|2/8/15 to 2/11/15||Fish & Wildlife Conference||Indianapolis||The 75th Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference - Natural Resource Management in an Increasingly Connected World, February 8-11, 2015 will be at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, Indiana. The annual conference attracts over 800 biologists and students from state, federal and tribal natural resource agencies across the 13 Midwestern states. Highlights include: over 400 technical talks, poster displays, plenary sessions, networking opportunities and social events. Info at: http://www.midwestfw.org/|
|2/18/15||Heartland Sierra Club Group meeting||Indianapolis||The Heartlands Sierra Club Group, serving the greater Indianapolis area, meets from 7PM to 8:30pm at the Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W. 42nd Street (NE corner of 42nd & Michigan Rd). For more information, contact email@example.com.|
|2/21/15||IMA Horticulture Symposium||Indianapolis||The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden is the title and theme|
for the 2015 annual Indianapolis Museum of Art Horticulture Symposium. Organized by the IMA’s Environmental & Historic Preservation Division, this day-long annual event draws 200 or more to hear expert speakers from both the local region and across the country address various issues of interest to the gardening public. More at: imamuseum.org
Legislative session begins; get your scorecard here!
All hand are on deck as the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly begins. Our priorities and concerns about the issues we face are detailed on our legislative page. We include a number of articles and commentaries pertinent to these issues. And a first for us: we have prepared a comprehensive scorecard of the 2013-2014 sessions of the General Assembly so you can see how your representatives and senators voted on our priorities in those sessions.
The Indiana Forest Alliance is proposing the establishment of thirteen Wild Areas across seven state forests. In the ongoing fight against unprecedented levels of commercial logging in Indiana’s state forests, this proposal is a strong first step towards restoring a balanced state forest management policy. Learn more about the Wild America Campaign and how you can help.
Groups seek relief for Duke's Edwardsport ripoff
Captive Hoosier ratepayers doled out nearly $400 million before Duke Energy’s Edwardsport coal gasification power plant delivered any net energy to the grid, according to testimony filed by a coalition of citizen groups before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Through the end of March 2014, consumers have paid in excess of $688 million for the scandal-ridden and problem-plagued power plant. Learn more in this news release.
Hoosier Chapter initiates gift card program
We have a new fundraising option that we are now introducing: the Scrip program. This program is a way for you to buy gift cards online and a percentage of the sale goes to the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter. To learn more about the Scrip program visit this page.
The politics of midwestern meat
The modern meat industry has always been the subject of controversy. It is rare, however, for the various parties to come together in one room face-to-face, to discuss issues including sustainability, plant working conditions, immigration, nutrition, human health, animal welfare, and contract farming. A November 2014 forum featured a panel of speakers from Indiana and beyond with diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives on these issues. They included representatives of the meat industry, labor unions, the sustainable farming movement, a state legislator, and an environmental activist. Watch video of the panel.
60 Minutes report on coal ash should alarm Hoosiers
Indianapolis Star: Were you alarmed after watching "60 Minutes" investigative report on the lack of regulations and massive ecological risks associated with coal-ash ponds? If you live in Indiana, you should be especially concerned. Indiana leads the nation in coal-ash ponds, and environmental groups say the state has experienced a troubling number of spills. Check out The Star's reporting on this issue from earlier this year. You might be surprised just how close coal-ash ponds are to Downtown Indianapolis and neighborhoods.
Get depleted uranium out of Jefferson Proving Grounds
Madison Courier: The U.S. government needs to be told in no uncertain terms that anything short of removing all of the depleted uranium from Jefferson Proving Ground is unacceptable. Read the editorial here.
Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General
Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year. Read more in the New York Times.
State: Dust? What Dust?
Indianapolis Star: A fine layer of gray dust coats nearly every surface in the parts of this Southwest Indiana town nearest the Bear Run Mine, the largest surface coal mine east of the Mississippi. Porches need frequent power-washing to clean away footprints in the powder. A day or two after washing a car, there's enough dust on its paint job to write "wash me." On particularly dusty nights, the beam from a flashlight looks as if it's penetrating fog. Read more here.
Churches save energy - and seek sun power
Many pastors urge their flocks to look to the heavens for spiritual power. Now, three Fort Wayne congregations will also look there for electrical power. Read about this in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.
Tea Party leader advocates for solar energy
Debbie Dooley, who co-founded the Atlanta Tea Party is spearheading a national push to challenge laws that provide monopoly control over electricity sales by regulated utilities. Dooley recently launched “Conservatives for Energy Freedom” in Florida. She is also working with the coalition of advocates aligned with the “Green Tea Coalition” principles in Virginia. Learn more about her efforts here.
Old growth forest will soon be open to the public
Phil Meltzer’s forest at first seems like any other — birds chirp, squirrels scurry, leaves rustle. But then you come to this crazy bur oak tree, an ancient, a giant at 100 feet tall, whereas your average big oak tree is in the 50-foot range. The caps on the acorns of Meltzer’s bur oak are nearly the size of jiggers. Tree experts figure the tree is 400 years old. Which means it was a good-size tree when the American colonists were fighting the British... Read this article from the Indianapolis Star. (Kudos to the Central Indiana Land Trust).
Reward money to speak out against farm animal abuse
Whistleblowers in Indiana could earn a reward of up to $5,000 if their tip leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the abuse of farm animals. The Humane Society of the United States has just launched a national tip line where callers can report animal abuse at farms, slaughterhouses or livestock auctions. Read more here.
Columnist: Pence too hasty in rejecting EPA clean water rules
Indianapolis Star columnist, Erica Smith, took Governor Pence to task for his knee-jerk reaction to proposed EPA clean water guidelines. She writes: "Because here’s the truth: We need the EPA to demand more from us because we have a problem with clean water in Indiana. While Pence is busy doing a lot of fear-mongering about the EPA wanting new ways to control every “drop of water” that “touches the Earth,” our waterways are a mess under existing EPA rules. You can read the column here.
What may replace Indiana’s energy efficiency program?
After Indiana’s energy efficiency program Energizing Indiana is eliminated at the end of the year, lawmakers plan to consider whether to implement an alternative program or continue without a state mandate. Read more here.
Carmel mayor, city honored for sustainability efforts
Sustainable Indiana 2016 and the Indiana Bicentennial Commission presented Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and the city of Carmel its esteemed Bicentennial Green Legacy Community Award recently at the Sustainable Living Seminar hosted by our partners at Carmel Green Initiative at the Carmel Clay Public Library. Read more on the Carmel Green Initiative's website.
High-fence deer hunting debate may reappear in next legislative session
The stage may be set for yet another contentious legislative fight next year over high-fence hunting in Indiana. An interim study committee has recommended the state legislature in 2015 pass a law that would legalize and set standards for high-fence hunting preserves. Read more in this Indianapolis Star article.
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart spotlights the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, including our own Rep. Larry Buschon and other climate deniers with this segment on Science 101. It is humorus and depressing at the same time. Take a look here.
"I Think We Can … Reduce Carbon Pollution"
Sierra Club's Jodi Perras writes in Nuvo: "When it comes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, I wish Governor Pence and Indiana’s business community sounded more like the Little Engine That Could than Chicken Little. For those who don’t recall childhood fairy tales, the Little Engine volunteered to pull a heavy load up a large hill – a task that larger, stronger engines had refused to try. The Little Engine makes it to the top with a valiant effort and his mantra, 'I think I can, I think I can…'." Read it all here.
Indiana needs a climate action plan
Our partners at Earth Charter Indiana and Youth Power Indiana make the case for Indiana developing a climate action plan: Indiana should begin adaptation and mitigation efforts, inventory where our greenhouse gas emissions come from, then design a process to gradually reduce those greenhouse gas emissions, so as to ensure a safer future for our children and our children’s children. Read about it here.
State of Indiana sues EPA again to allow utilities to pollute
The state of Indiana has been part of legal challenges to Environmental Protection Agency rules that would reduce cross-state air pollution, limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants, and regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other large stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
State's energy efficiency program was cost effective, report says
A new report indicates the state’s energy efficiency program legislators eliminated earlier this year was cost effective, saving about $3 for every one dollar spent. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission report shows the biggest payback was in rebates given to commercial and industrial businesses that upgraded to energy efficiency equipment. Read more here.
Victory: IPL agrees to stop burning coal at its Indianapolis Harding Street plant
After more than two years of dedicated work by local groups and residents, Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) announced plans to phase out coal use at its Harding Street plant by 2016. This announcement marks the 177th coal plant retirement and the 500th coal-fired boiler to be retired in the past four years. Led by the Sierra Club, local activists assembled a strong coalition of over fifty neighborhood, faith and community organizations to persuade IPL to phase out coal burning at Harding Street because of its toxic impact on the health of residents as well as environmental reasons. Here is more information:
- Sierra Club News Release
- The Hill: IPL Says It Will Switch Harding Street Plant To Natural Gas By 2016
- Fox59: IPL announces plans to phase out coal at Harding Street facility
- NUVO: Groups celebrate no more coal at Harding St.
- Indpls Star commentary: IPL’s decision to stop burning coal is answer to residents’ pleas
- Indiana NAACP Celebrates the End of Coal Burning in Indianapolis
Mounds Lake reservoir foes back alternative plan: river trails
Several groups are proposing a system of trails to promote use of the White River in central Indiana rather than damming it for a possible seven-mile-long reservoir. “The Mounds Greenway — White River Conservation Area” project would save the free-flowing West Fork White River between Anderson and Muncie, and protect over 2,000 acres of forests and wetlands. A key feature of the Greenway will be a hiking and biking trail that runs the entire length of the corridor. Read more here.
“I’m not a tree-hugger. I’m a kid-hugger"
A fascinating article by John Rudolf, published in Notre Dame Magazine, profiles Dubois County pediatrician turned activist Norma Kreilein and the fight for healthy air in SW Indiana she found herself drawn into. “People need to know this is a crisis,” she says. “The true amount of suffering is astronomical.” Read "Trouble in the Air" here. For additional information of interest, take a look at the magazine's Editor's notes, as well as Dr. Kreilein's response on the Healthy Dubois County Facebook page (July 12th post).
Other Information of Interest to Members:
"Accomplishments" published by Chapter
A quick review of some recent accomplishments is available for online review. Click the above link for more information.
"Donor Opportunities" published by Chapter
A summary of options for financial donors is now available for online review. The fact-sheet reviews various funds that prospective donors might consider in contributing to the work of Sierra Club in Indiana. Click the above link for more information.
Why children in southwest Indiana are surrounded by toxins
There are two industries in Rockport, Indiana, that release 30 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment. A report considers the serious consequences this has on its residents, particularly children.