Jesse Kharbanda

courtesy Purdue University

Purdue is set to receive almost $20 million from the National Science Foundation to run a research center studying what its leaders are calling “bridge fuels” – in other words, fuel made from gas that's trapped in underground rock. It's extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The researchers say it’ll be needed to satisfy the country’s demand for oil until renewable resources like wind and solar become dominant in the future.

But there was no mention of the “f-word” – fracking -- during a public celebration of the grant or in any of the promotional materials concerning it.

President Donald Trump called the Paris climate accord “draconian” and “onerous” when he announced the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement, but the decision’s benefits to Indiana’s energy landscape are unclear.

Countries plan for themselves how to make the effects of climate change less severe under the Paris climate agreement. Generally, countries can adopt renewable energy sources, limit carbon emissions, or do both.

 

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.

Michael Hoy / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjhoy/

Indiana environmental groups want Hoosiers to replace their pollution-emitting outdoor wood boilers, and a new grant program could help pay for people to move to renewable home energy alternatives.

The Hoosier Environmental Council has long been concerned about the effect of the roughly 8,000 outdoor wood boilers across the state.  One study posits that an outdoor wood boiler emits about as much pollution as four heavy-duty diesel trucks.  But council executive director Jesse Kharbanda stresses that the group isn’t trying to demonize outdoor wood boiler owners.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/

Environmental advocates say the most encouraging environmental bill this session would help protect drinking water from contamination. The bill deals with large above ground storage tanks near the source of a public water system.

The bill from Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, places new requirements on both owners of above ground storage tanks and the state. Owners would be required to tell the state exactly what’s in the tanks – such as hazardous chemicals.

That allows the state to prepare an emergency response plan if the tanks leak into a water source.

New Energy Efficiency Program Faces Criticism

Mar 2, 2015
Armistead Booker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/armisteadbooker/

Despite its easy approval by the Senate, legislation establishing a new energy efficiency program for the state faces heavy criticism from environmental and consumer advocacy groups.  Much of the outcry comes because of what’s known as “lost revenue recovery.”

Daniel X. O'Neil / https://www.flickr.com/photos/juggernautco/

Environmental and business groups are sounding the alarm on the need for comprehensive water policies in Indiana.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently released a report detailing the critical need for a state-driven water plan to identify resources and develop ways to deliver water to underserved areas.

Hoosier Environmental Council Executive Director Jesse Kharbanda says there are plenty of ways to help serve future water needs.

The Hoosier Environmental Council wants to help businesses reduce their energy costs. The group is hosting a workshop that also aims at green job creation.

Policy advisor Kris Wheeler hopes the online event gives business owners new resources to improve their operations. She says buildings consume about 40% of the energy we use, so finding efficiencies will save money.

“Lighting is about 30% of where your energy goes, so just using energy-efficient lighting can have a significant impact, or the business owner can do a top-to-bottom, full building retrofit.”

Hoosier Environmental Council on legislative session

Jan 23, 2013

The Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) is drawing attention to some concerns it has with several bills the General Assembly is considering.

Kim Ferraro, HEC staff attorney, says one such measure would expand the state Right to Farm Act, which limits the circumstances under which agricultural operations are subject to nuisance lawsuits. She says specifically in situations concerning confined animal feeding operations, citizens have had to take legal action to get relief from noxious odors and water pollution.

The Hoosier Environmental Council wants more voters to think “green” when they cast their ballot this November. The organization is highlighting issues, such as clean energy and natural resources, and the positions the candidates for governor are taking.

Jesse Kharbanda, executive director, says good environmental and economic policies go hand-in-hand in many instances.

"For example, clean energy is a fabulous opportunity for Indiana, where by we could improve our air and water quality, while at the same time providing jobs."