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Environmental bills to watch

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

A number of bills with environmental impact have been introduced in both houses of the Indiana Legislature. Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, is following bills the HEC believes have potential for movement and support in both houses and from both parties. The HEC considers what bills might further economic development in Indiana by supporting environmentally friendly practices. For example, if Indiana has lax laws regarding pollution in the drinking water supply, businesses will be less likely to have operations in Indiana, he said.

This year, the HEC has been watching bills addressing financial assurance for concentrated animal feeding operations, property-assessed clean energy bonds, and renewable energy standards. A fourth issue, the promotion of public transportation, was shelved this session because of its impact on the budget and a need to raise taxes. The HEC is also following bills addressing activities that could affect ground and surface water, including a bill to limit the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers, and coal bed methane operations.

Financial assurance

HB 1568 – Provides that a person may not start the construction of a concentrated animal feeding operation, an expansion of a CAFO that would increase animal capacity or manure containment capacity, or both without obtaining the prior approval of the Department of Environmental Management. Establishes financial assurance requirements for confined feeding operations and CAFOs. Requires the Water Pollution Control Board to adopt rules before Jan. 1, 2012, to set the amount of financial assurance – insurance that would cover the damage caused from a spill or closure of a manure storage site – that is required.

Latest Action: Referred to Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development: Jan. 20.

Coal bed methane and other oil and gas safety issues

SB 71 – Allows the Department of Natural Resources to adopt emergency rules for most aspects of oil and gas and other petroleum regulation. Provides that oil and gas statutes do not apply to methane ventilation governed under an approved federal Mine Safety and Health Administration coal mine ventilation plan. Allows the director to review certain activities that may result in waste or endangerment of the health and safety of miners. Requires the Natural Resources Commission to regulate various aspects of coal bed methane wells.

Latest Action: Approved on 3rd reading, referred to the House: Feb. 8.

Property-assessed clean energy bonds

SB 260 – Allows the legislative body of a unit (other than a township) to establish a clean energy improvement financing program to fund clean energy improvements for voluntary participants in the program. Requires financing to come from private equity or federal grants or loans. Prohibits the legislative body from issuing bonds to finance clean energy improvements. Establishes a 20-year period for the payment of special assessments on each participating property. Provides that assessments are billed, collected, and enforced in the same manner as property taxes.

Latest Action: Approved by Committee on Utilities & Technology: Feb. 7.

Similar bill: HB 1457

Latest Action: Referred to Committee on Local Government: Jan. 20.

Restrictions on fertilizer containing phosphorus

HB 1425 – Establishes restrictions on the application of fertilizer material that contains phosphorus. Provides exceptions for fertilizer material that contains less than 0.67 percent of phosphorus per weight or is used for agriculture purposes. Requires distributors and licensed commercial lawn-care applicators to prepare and provide certain consumer educational information.

Latest Action: Referred to Committee on Natural Resources: Jan. 18.

Renewable electricity standard

SB 453 – Requires an electricity supplier to provide a certain percentage of its total electricity supply from renewable energy resources. Establishes the Renewable Energy Resources Fund to receive penalties paid by electricity suppliers that fail to supply electricity from renewable energy resources. Requires the Utility Regulatory Commission to report not later than April 1, 2016, to the General Assembly on the effectiveness of and industry compliance with the renewable energy standard.

Latest Action: Referred to Committee on Utilities & Technology: Jan 12.

Clean energy standards

SB 251 – Requires the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to allow an energy utility to recover certain federally mandated costs through periodic retail rate adjustment mechanisms. Sets standards for what is clean energy. Requires the IURC to adopt rules to establish the Voluntary Clean Energy Portfolio Standard Program to provide incentives to participating electricity suppliers to provide specified percentages of electricity from clean energy sources. Establishes goals and reporting requirements.

Latest Action: Reassigned to Committee on Utilities & Technology: Feb. 7

Source: Jesse Kharbanda, Hoosier Environmental Council; Indiana General Assembly website. Action on bills current as of Feb. 14.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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