In this Week's Edition of "What the HEC is Happening in the Statehouse?" please:
  1. Respond to three calls to action pertaining to legislation related to solar, forests, and factory farms!
  2. Contact the Mayor of our capital city (if you live in Indianapolis) regarding the great danger that we could lose the "Crown Hill North Woods" forever!
  3. Join kindred spirits at upcoming workshops and town hall meetings!
A) Urge Your State Senator to Oppose Anti-Solar Bill
We dream of the day when our homes, offices, and schools are powered by rooftop solar. We dream of the day when Indiana sees solar energy as an immense entrepreneurial opportunity for its college graduates and its seasoned professionals alike. 

But those dreams would be seriously threatened by SB 309. SB 309 would force an arbitrary reduction in the value that our electricity grid assigns to solar energy. Multiple studies have shown that solar energy provides much more benefit to the grid than it takes from the grid. That is why policymakers have historically valued solar energy at the retail rate of electricity; the long-standing way that this works is through something called "net metering," whereby your electric meter dials backwards to the extent that your rooftop solar system feeds power back to the grid. 

SB 309 would end net metering and put in place a system where the value assigned to solar by the grid would be drastically lower, even though the above mentioned study concluded that "net metering often under-compensates solar energy system owners for the benefits they provide to all customers and to society."

Ask Your State Senator to contact Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Jim Merritt to not move SB 309 forward. "Don't put SB 309 to a vote.   Instead, call on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to do a data-driven study -- which at least ten conservative-leaning states have done -- that allows our state to carefully develop sound public policy related to solar energy."
B) Encourage Your Senator to Support a Bill to Protect Old Growth Forests
Indiana's beautiful state forests have been subjected to increased logging since 2005 - in fact, since that time, timber harvesting in these settings has increased four-fold! Despite recommendations by DNR biologists to preserve at least 10% of these areas, so far none of our state forests have been granted protection.

In a step to provide that needed protection to rare and valuable ecosystems, State Senators Bassler (R-Washington), Ford (R-Terre Haute), Smith (R-Charlestown), and Grooms (R-Jeffersonville) have filed Senate Bill 420. This bill would protect many of these areas as "old forests" that are free from logging but still available for use as recreational areas.


SB 420 will be heard at the Statehouse in the Senate Natural Resources Committee this coming Monday, February 13th at 10:00 AM in room 233. Please contact your state senator today and urge him or her to support SB 420! And if you can, please join us at the hearing this Monday!

And plan to attend a rally for the forests on February 20th! HEC's partner, the Indiana Forest Alliance, has organized this event on President's Day in order to give everyone a chance to show their support for our state forests. Learn more here!
C) Tell Key State Representatives to Say No to Bill that Weakens Protections from Factory Farms
manure runoff
The industrial hog, dairy, and chicken operations in our state produce more than 14 times the amount of feces and urine than does Indiana's human population. 

Unfortunately, there is no requirement for industrial livestock manure waste to be subject to any sanitary treatment. Instead, there are thousands of  open air, unlined manure dumps across Indiana.  None of these manure dumps are required to control the particulates, VOCs, and hydrogen sulfide that they emit.
HB 1494 would make things even worse  by doing the following:
  1. Could leave long-standing rural citizens in the dark on potential air and water quality threats under current law by eliminating the notification of neighbors if a livestock housing expansion results in more manure. 
  2. Could conceal bad actors by eliminating the disclosure of all parties involved in a factory farm.
  3. Could hide past misconduct by eliminating the requirement to report the entire history of past environmental violations. 

1. Please scroll to the bottom of  this page to find out which lawmaker you'd make the most difference in contacting. 

2. Attend the  House Environmental Affairs Committee hearing this Wednesday, February 15th at 10:30 eastern in Room 156-C of the State House.  Please continue to show your moral support for people who are hurting -- or could be hurt -- by factory farm pollution.

Protect our Capital City's Largest Old Growth Forest
On Jan. 20th, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett agreed to meet with HEC's Executive Director "soon" to discuss the great threat facing Crown Hill North Woods, the largest old growth forest in our capital city. After more than two weeks of delay, the Mayor backed away from that pledge to meet, saying that the Woods "involve the federal government." 

Before irreversible damage happens, urge the Mayor to use his bully pulpit to stand up for these precious woodlands - which contain more than 30 tree species and a diversity of animals, including foxes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers.

The Veterans Administration (VA) has purchased this very land to build a columbarium on it, even though there are very appropriate, nearby alternative locations that would not result in the destruction of natural heritage.

The Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust has offered to buy the Crown Hill North Woods from the VA and to forever protect the Woods as a nature preserve.  The VA could easily accept the Trust's proposal and place the VA's proposed project elsewhere, yet nearby.  

More is at stake than this forest: We need to send a message that when Congress and the White House take a hostile stance, on several fronts, towards the environment, the leading voice for our capital city -- our Mayor -- will stand up! 


If you are a resident of Indianapolis, please urge the Mayor to get personally involved in urging the Veterans Administration to pursue a worthy, nearby alternative for the proposed VA project

Please contact the Mayor by p hone at 317-327-3601 as well as by Facebook and by Twitter. While we also encourage you to contact your Congressional officials (as we did last week), our emphasis is on the Mayor because he is the leading voice of our capital city. The Mayor needs to do more than acknowledge the value of these woodlands, he needs to use his bully pulpit to urge the VA to choose a worthy alternative!
Get Informed - Then Get Engaged!

Learn about pressing environmental issues across the state -  check out these upcoming events to get educated and engaged!

February 15:  Sustainable Living Seminar  - Carmel Library
February 16: Greening Your Community - Goshen
February 16: Greening Your Community - Michigan City
February 18: Greening Your Community - Indianapolis
February 20: Rally for the Forests - Indianapolis
February 21: Transit Day - Indianapolis
February 22: Greening Your Community - Bloomington
February 23:  Greening Your Community  - Franklin College

You can also talk with your legislators by attending town hall meetings (called "Third House" events); these are happening across Indiana in the coming days! 

Madison County - Monday, February 13th
Bartholomew County - Monday, February 13th & Monday, February 20th
Muncie/Delaware County - Friday, February 17th
Goshen - Saturday, February 18th
Greater Lafayette - Saturday, February 18th
St. Joseph County - Friday, February 24th

If you would like to learn more about the bills moving through the legislature and talking points for conversing with your representative and senator, please visit our  Bill Watch 2017 page .

If you have any questions about any of the above events, please contact our Outreach Coordinator, Amanda Shepherd.
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