(This piece was originally published on December 4, 2017 by WFYI.)

The Hoosier Environmental Council wants to reach out to conservative voters to help accomplish its goals as it heads into the 2018 legislative session.

The environmental advocacy organization’s focus is centered on four areas. It wants to support solar energy, specifically creating guidelines for homeowners’ associations. The HEC will ask lawmakers to generate more resources for the state’s water infrastructure. The group also wants to protect no less than 10 percent of state forests to keep as pure “wilderness areas.” And it wants to help address health concerns for people living near contained animal feeding operations, or factory farms.

To achieve those goals, executive director Jesse Kharbanda says the group needs to better engage with conservatives.

“Whatever our ideological persuasion – we care about our children. We want to be sure they’re not exposed to air toxins or water toxins. And that’s an issue that can unite us,” Kharbanda says.

To do that, the group invited the president of the Evangelical Environmental Network joined an Indiana environmental advocacy group to share his message: the goals of pro-life Christians encompass environmental protection.

Reverend Mitch Hescox has been the president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network for 10 years. He says the group’s focus on the environment comes from “creation care” – a biblical call to Christians to protect the earth and those who live on it.

“And so, everything we try to do right now is centered around human life,” Hescox says. “And for us, it really is a pro-life value. We are pro-life from conception to natural death. And we believe in serving this whole life ethic is so important to what we do for God.”

Hescox says he wanted to speak at the Hoosier Environmental Council’s “Greening the Statehouse” event to help environmentalists better communicate with their conservative counterparts.

The group outlined its goals and strategies during its 10th annual “Greening the Statehouse” event Saturday.


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