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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. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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