(This piece was originally published on February 8, 2017 in the Lafayette Journal & Courier.)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1963, and Liz Solberg of the League of Women Voters remembers advocating for it.
She also remembers when President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.
“I remember (William) Ruckelshaus, the first EPA head — this was not a partisan issue,” Solberg said.
Solberg helps organize the Environmental Issues Group for the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette. On Wednesday evening, the group met in the Walnut Room of the West Lafayette Public Library to hear from the Hoosier Environmental Council, also known as HEC.
Kim Ferraro, senior staff attorney for HEC, gave a presentation on Indiana Statehouse legislation pertaining to factory farms, solar energy and funding for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
“The way legislation works is, typically, legislators hear from pretty powerful lobbyists that represent really powerful industries,” Ferraro said. “There aren’t too many of us that are representing the public interest. If they don’t hear from the public interest, then the only voice that gets heard and that shapes public policy is going to be that of the industry.”
Ferraro also informed those in attendance about HEC as an organization. The group sends out action alerts, advocates for environmental causes in Indiana, litigates on behalf of communities affected by pollution and provides technical and legal advice.
HEC also holds information sessions for groups or the general public, called Greening the Community. The events grew out from a larger event called Greening the Statehouse, held annually in Indianapolis.
“Just looking at the past year, I have definitely seen an increase in Millennials wanting to be involved and make a change,” Ferraro said. “Certainly since the presidential election, we have seen a huge uptick in people getting involved throughout the state.”
To make the information more accessible, HEC began conducting the sessions in communities across the state. Interested parties can request to host their own Greening the Community sessions, where a representative of HEC will come to inform interested groups about ongoing environmental issues in Indiana.
Anyone looking for additional information, HEC events or volunteer opportunities can contact Amanda Shepherd at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the organization’s website at hecweb.org.