Citizen/Community Assistance

HEC Technical Assistance Policy
The Hoosier Environmental Council will make our best efforts to assist every affected individual and/or community group (“partner”) in at least a modest way:

  • Offer a specific referral (i.e. specialized attorney, engineer, scientist or reporter)
  • Make a key policymaker aware of the issue (e.g. executive agency leader, state legislator, or locally elected officials)
  • Raise awareness of the issue with appropriate segments of our supporter base
  • Provide technical reports or other useful materials

To involve ourselves substantively in a matter, HEC senior policy staff employ the following considerations:

  • In-house capacity and resources (appropriate legal, technical knowledge)
  • Continuing time commitment from the local partner
  • Some modest financial means from partner for sustaining the project
  • In alignment with, and advancing, HEC strategic goals
  • Unaddressed by IDEM, DNR, INDOT, or local government body
  • Impact-to-staff time/financial resources consideration
  • Identifiable problem of either significant geographic scope or imminency of impact
  • Likelihood of a successful resolution
  • Conduct of professionalism and civil discourse on the part of prospective partner — refraining from ad hominem attacks, profanity, unwarranted accusations

HEC’s Legal Defense Fund
When necessary, and in accordance with our Technical Assistance Policy above, the Hoosier Environmental Council will undertake strategic environmental legal actions to reduce pollution or protect natural areas, and will support select environmental legal actions by other citizen-based organizations.

When and why was it established?
The LDF was established in 1993 to:

  • Undertake litigation to achieve HEC’s policy objectives;
  • Build a network of attorneys to provide legal representation for environmental interests in Indiana, and a roster of technical experts (biologists, economists, hydrologists) to assist them
  • Help citizens and communities affected by environmental problems find legal representation through this network

The assistance we offer to other organizations includes serving as a fiscal agent to help fund the cost of a qualifying legal proceeding.  Tax-deductible contributions to HEC LDF can be used to pay for attorneys’ fees, expert witnesses and other costs.

Why does HEC pursue legal advocacy, why can’t it just build partnerships with corporations or government?
Sometimes legal action is the only remaining option for addressing serious environmental concerns that affect people`s health and well-being. We always first try to achieve our goals through cooperation or collaboration, but if this approach is unsuccessful, and the stakes for impacting people`s livelihoods are significant, than HEC has an obligation to explore a legal remedy.

For more information on the Legal Defense Fund, contact Tim Maloney at 317-658-8800 ext 115

Working to achieve environmental justice

When political action and education fail, citizens living in impacted communities must have access to representation in court by lawyers who have expertise in environmental and land-use law. An effective strategy must include litigation, along with grassroots organizing.

HEC is dedicated to serving the needs of local residents and conservation organizations on an affordable basis. In an effort to right the power imbalance between big industry and the public, HEC provides legal services that would not otherwise be available to the community.

To learn more about our legal work, contact staff attorney Kim Ferraro.