Environment

Environment news

 

A lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana could soon become a lead-contaminated vacant lot – and if local and federal officials can’t resolve a key dispute, it might stay that way for a long time.

That’s because the city and Environmental Protection Agency are at odds over redevelopment plans for the neighborhood.

 

From the facilities that sanitize sewage to the pipes that deliver drinking water, Indiana needs billions of dollars in urgent water infrastructure repairs. Some of that infrastructure is more than a century old.

According to Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), Indiana was wooden pipes, lead pipes, pipes that have been in the ground for 140 years.

“The best of the best utilities are on a replacement cycle of something like 140 years,” he says.

Gov. Eric Holcomb made his first visit as governor to East Chicago Friday to meet with residents and community leaders in the lead-contaminated community.

An Indiana House committee approved a bill Wednesday that tweaks the permitting process for big livestock farms – despite some public confusion and concerns about the impact of the changes.

The bill, from Rep. David Wolkins (R-Wabash), streamlines the permitting process for confined feeding operations (CFOs) and their larger counterparts, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

A bill to aid toxic cleanup efforts in the city of East Chicago, Indiana, passed unanimously out of a House committee on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago), who authored the bill, says the city will need long term assistance to combat its lead contamination crisis.

“There’s a lot of support that’s come on the national level, on the state level, and I want to make sure that this continues,” Harris says. “This is not a short term problem.”

Before leaving office, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence denied an emergency declaration request from the city of East Chicago, Indiana. But East Chicago State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. is hopeful new Gov. Eric Holcomb will still consider one.

The Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago has lead and arsenic contamination in its soil at 200 times the legal limit.

Harris says the request isn’t something the city asked for lightly.

“I didn’t know if there was a lack of understanding or what the situation was but really we need, needed, and still need more help,” Harris says.

 

Residents of a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana want a larger role in the clean up process and they’re taking an unusual step to get it.

Seven residents of the lead and arsenic–polluted neighborhood want to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s lawsuit against the companies paying for the cleanup. The residents argue neither party represents their interests, and they want more say. An attorney representing the residents, David Chizewer, says its an uncommon tactic but an important step.

 

This year, Hoosier farmers planted more than one million acres of cover crops, up from virtually none in 2004.

Farmers grow cover crops — like rye, alfalfa, or sorghum — in the winter to protect and enhance soil health. Shannon Zezula, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s state resource conservationist for Indiana, says more farmers are planting them now because they work.

 

Environmentalists around the state are gearing up for the 2017 legislative session, and some will make the case that greater environmental protection is crucial for economic development.

Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, says one priority is to get increased funding for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Since 2007, state funding for IDEM has been cut by 25 percent. Kharbanda says that means less money for the agency to enforce regulations, monitor pollution or hire personnel.

Sarah Altendorf / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarah_elizabeth_simpson/

Two of the three Clinton County Commissioners who will consider the future of the county’s wind energy ordinance Thursday won’t be in office to see it decided.

That’s because both Bert Weaver – who declined a taped interview -- and Cory Boyles – who didn’t return repeated calls seeking comment -- lost their primary races in May. They’ll be replaced at the start of the New Year.

But even if both men try to scuttle wind farm development in the county, it’s unlikely they’ll have the last word.

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