Indiana legislators have put Hoosiers in a dangerous position by refusing to listen urgently to concerns about climate change or the need for more renewable energy access.
Instead, they pursue false, dangerous, and expensive schemes for special interests.
This is not a new issue at the legislature, but the passage of time has called for more urgent action. According to the United Nations climate report, the current climate crisis has been declared code red for humanity. Purdue University says climate change is already causing more extreme rain events, less agricultural production, and more severe droughts and heatwaves to Indiana.
Confronting Climate Crisis, a high-school student-led statewide campaign, spent months gathering support to legislative climate action from public officials. This coalition of 80 organizations and Hoosiers came from all parts of Indiana. They collected nearly 20,000 signatures to a petition calling on climate legislation. They worked to get it introduced in the Senate and House by representatives from both parties. Their bills were never given a hearing.
The chair of the 21st Century Energy Policy Task Force, however, refuses to discuss climate change. But legislators are always open to hearing the special interests of fossil fuels and nuclear industry.
The 2022 legislative session has seen legislators refuse to hear:
- SB 255: A Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force would have been established.
- SCR 3: A resolution acknowledging climate change’s impacts.
- HB 1287: Created a climate change commission.
- SB 248, and HB 1304 are bills that would have restored fair credit to Hoosiers for extra electricity generated from their rooftop solar panels.
- SB 314, HB1136: Bills that would have extended Net Metering.
- SB 313 and H.B. 1250: These bills would have required monopoly utilities for the construction and provision of community solar projects.
- HB 1335/SB 412: Would have cleaned up toxic coal-ash pits that pollute groundwater and drinking water.
These bills address real climate change impacts, offer equitable actions, and offer real climate solutions for our communities.
Instead, legislative leaders are moving bills to offer false climate solutions for special interests like BP, Wabash Valley Resources and so-called “Reliable Energy” (the former Indiana Coal Council), as well as the nuclear industry.
- SB 265 & HB 1249: Give the special privilege to near-blanket immunity against any damage caused Wabash Valley Resources plan for pumping carbon dioxide emissions into ground, relieving them of important risks to nearby residents.
- HB 1209: Allows for carbon sequestration without any proven results from new industrial sources.
- SB 271: Transfers the financial burden of unproven, expensive nuclear reactors to utility customers before they are constructed and produce electricity.
- HB 1100: Restricts the ability of state agencies such as IDEM and DNR, to adopt regulatory protections that are more stringent than those at federal level.
These bills are only beneficial to special interests and the legislators who do not care about our collective futures, financial security, and health.
Legislators are equipped to tackle climate change. Hoosiers can be empowered to support climate solutions by empowering them with the following tools: Reinstate fair net Metering, reinstitute energy efficient programs, incentivize commercially-scale renewable energy, provide funds and energy policy that accelerates the transition away from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy resources
Indiana is one of the most polluted states in the U.S. and has a crucial role to play in climate solutions. We can prevent the worsening effects of climate change on our communities, and our collective futures, by creating cleaner air and water, and lower energy costs. We can create our own energy and seize power from monopoly utility companies. We can ensure that every Hoosier benefits from the energy transition, not just those who are wealthy.
Wendy Bredhold from Evansville is the senior campaign rep for the Sierra Clubs Beyond Coal Campaigns of Indiana and Kentucky.