Our Impact

Throughout 2018, we’re rolling out #35ways in which HEC has made a major difference for people, animals and our environment over our 35 year history. 

Our Impact Year-After-Year

HEC is proud to be a leader in the movement for positive change in Indiana – achieving victories for healthier waterways, more abundant forests, and cleaner, safer communities. HEC works constantly to:

1.) Protect fellow Hoosiers from coal ash, factory farm waste, and industrial toxins – challenges that affect citizens across Indiana.

While air and water quality have improved for most Hoosiers over the last half century, there are neighborhoods and communities that are seriously hurting from toxic exposure. We’re standing up for them in places as diverse as urban Indianapolis and East Chicago to rural Hendricks and rural Morgan County.

2.) Achieve state-level climate solutions.

We’ve been actively involved in initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions from Indiana’s three largest sources: agriculture, energy, and transportation. And we’ve been the leader in the effort to permanently safeguard a precious riparian forest, which will create a permanent and significant carbon sink along the White River.

3.) Be your year-around eyes-and-ears in the Indiana Statehouse.

It’s not unusual for HEC to be monitoring 50 to 75 bills when the Indiana legislature is in session. We’re looking after your air and water, and helping to foster a more sustainable future. And our vigilance does not end with the end of the legislative session we’re monitoring developments there every month of the year.

4.) Provide trainings & workshops that empower you to make greater impact.

We can’t transform Indiana for the better without a movement of informed and passionate advocates with us across Indiana like you. HEC hosts monthly volunteer trainings, facilitates workshops across Indiana, and is a frequent presenter at large forums.

Our Impact Over HEC’s 35 Years

HEC is celebrating our 35th Anniversary this year!   From now till the end of December, we’ll be rolling out victories that we’ve secured over the course of thirty-five years.   Here are the first few that we have announced!

Win #1: In the early ’80s, the Hoosier National Forest was vulnerable to aggressive logging and oil & gas drilling. Not sitting on our hands, HEC and our allies mobilized thousands of Hoosiers to push back against this misguided plan. And we won – with the U.S. Forest Service adopting the vast majority of our alternative plan. It was a victory that, to this day, has preserved the integrity of this ~200,000 acre national treasure (posted on 3/5/18).

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Win #2: A coalition of groups, including HEC, secured the closure of toxic coal ash dumps at the former coal plant at Harding St. in Indianapolis in 2016 (posted on 3/29/18).

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Win #3: In our first decade, HEC played a critical role in securing stronger statewide protections of our rivers & lakes, despite considerable special interest opposition (posted on 4/2/18).

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Win #4: In 2014, HEC achieved a legal victory on behalf of a Wayne County family whose drinking water well was contaminated and quality of life destroyed for nearly a decade from the constant waste dumping of a factory farm built just 500 feet and upstream of their home (posted on 4/2/18).

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Win #5:  In 2012, millions of tons of toxic steel-making waste were just 200 feet from Lake Michigan. Thanks to HEC’s legal action, the steel mill agreed to properly monitor and clean up that waste (posted on 4/26/18).

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Win #6: In 2018, HEC and our allies defeated HB 1318, which would have repealed a requirement for there to be a half-mile setback distance between landfills and residences in Gary, Indiana (posted on 5/1/18).

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Win #7: In 2017, HEC led the advocacy effort that helped result in Indianapolis adding a section to its Land Use Plan explicitly affirming principles of environmental justice, for the first-time ever, in its Land Use Plan; land use planning was historically used, across the country, as a tool for discrimination (posted on 5/9/18).

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Win #8: Our legal action last decade resulted in the Indiana Supreme Court in 2005 affirming the doctrine of associational standing under Indiana law. This decision gives small grassroots groups of all types the ability to challenge government and big business in court (posted on 5/14/18).

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Win #9: Since the 1970s, Hartford Iron & Metal has grown from a junkyard nestled in a neighborhood to a multi-acre industrial site with heavy equipment. A site assessment in 2010 showed extensive PCB contamination. IDEM required a clean-up, but the clean-up process stalled. The Hoosier Environmental Council analyzed Hartford Iron’s more than 2,000-page environmental compliance record in 2015 and helped the community — with local leadership provided by Blackford County Concerned Citizens — bring their concerns with the site to IDEM’s attention, which resulted in more rapid clean-up (posted 5/29/18).
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Win #10: HEC, in partnership with Save the Valley and the Indiana Wildlife Federation, coordinated a seven year campaign in the 1990s to secure the establishment of the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge on 50,000 acres at a former munitions testing facility. Big Oaks — established in 2000 — is the largest national wildlife refuge in the lower Midwest (posted 6/18/18).
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Win #11: One of our landmark legal victories was a result of our coal ash campaign: In 2002, HEC sought review of IDEM’s renewal of a coal ash permit. The power plant owner challenged HEC’s standing to bring this case. In 2005 & 2012, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals decision that established the doctrine of associational standing under Indiana law. Such standing refers to the right of membership organizations like HEC to represent their members in legal actions (posted 6/25/18).
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Win #12: A coalition of groups — including HEC — led the advocacy push (in 2011) for the successful modernization of Indiana’s public policy pertaining to on-site renewable energy generation. That new policy opened the door for all energy users – including places of worship, businesses, and factories — to take advantage of “net metering” and also increased the size of eligible renewable energy systems 100 fold compared to previous policy (posted 7/1/18).
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Win #13: Using part of the proceeds of a successful public interest coalition lawsuit, HEC teamed up with the American Lung Association of the Midwest & other groups to launch a first-in-the-nation program that replaced the dirtiest outdoor wood boilers with zero emission solar energy & geothermal systems. Learn more at itsdoablegorenewable.org (posted 7/9/18).
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Win #14: HEC led a coalition that defeated the justly-called “Right to Harm” constitutional amendment. This would have worsened the playing field between highly industrialized approaches to agriculture and sustainable, organic, locally-oriented approaches.   Learn more here (posted 8/31/18).
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Win #15: HEC secured the support of five mayors for the proposed “Mounds Greenway,” a vision to forever protect 2,000+ acres of forests & wetlands along the White River.   More here (posted 9/16/18).
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Win #16: In the 1990s, HEC stepped up to help provide a statewide platform for tireless local activists who were seeking to safeguard the extraordinary Patoka River watershed. The combined coalition efforts resulted in the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge.   Learn more (posted 9/19/18).
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Win #17: We were a leading advocate in the formation of the Indiana Heritage Trust (now the Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust) which has, so far, forever protected 60,000 acres of endangered forests, wetlands, and grasslands in our state (posted 9/30/18).
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Win #18: HEC is watch dogging every coal ash closure plans as they are released; it’s pivotal that these plans are as protective of our waters & our health as possible, particularly as climate change increases the risks of these coal ash dumps getting ruptured by increasingly severe and unstable flooding that is anticipated ahead (posted 10/1/18).
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Win #19: We became the first organization in Indiana to invite the President of the Evangelical Environmental Network to keynote a major annual conference — and spotlight the role that Evangelicals, the biggest religious group in Indiana, can play to be a part of the climate solution (posted 10/9/18).
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Win #20: After a multi-year campaign, HEC, business & public interest allies, together achieved a major legislative victory — securing the support of the Indiana General Assembly to allow for a mass transit referendum in Central Indiana. In 2016, our coalition won that referendum, and today, Indianapolis is poised to have the first all-electric, carbon-cutting bus rapid transit system in the country (posted 10/26/18).
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Win #21: We held, in the first 10 ten months of 2018 alone, workshops and presentations in 22 cities — in every one of which we have discussed climate solutions (posted 10/31/18).
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Win #22: We defeated a proposed law that would have concealed critical information from communities threatened by factory farms (posted 11/20/18).
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Win #23: As a key member of a coalition that included news media and animal welfare groups, we secured amendments that watered down an AgGag bill to be an enhanced criminal trespass law without overtly implicating whistle-blowers (posted 11/24/18).
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Win #24: In 2014, we led a coalition of environmental, public health, small farmer, and watershed groups that defeated a measure to tie the hands of state environmental experts to do anything more protective for public health than the federal law (posted 12/4/18).
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Win #25: In May of this year, animal welfare, environmental, & wilderness conservation groups – and citizens-at-large – won a major victory when the Indiana Nat’l Resources Commission chose not to move forward with a policy to legalize a bobcat hunting season (posted 12/23/18).
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Win #26:  This year, we won a six year lawsuit that put an end to the suffering of people exposed to noxious outdoor wood boiler smoke – while setting legal precedent that will help safeguard other families (posted 12/24/18).
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Win #27: We stopped a factory farm from contaminating the air and water of 200 families (posted 12/26/18).
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Win #28: We helped to successfully convince the Senior Senator from Indiana to oppose some of the worst attacks against the Endangered Species Act (posted 12/26/18).
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Win #29: We combined forces with ten organizations to defeat, for now, a measure that would increased Ohio River pollution (posted 12/27/18).
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Win #30: For more than a decade, HEC has hosted the largest annual gathering of environmental advocates — Greening the Statehouse — bringing together diverse organizations, from across Indiana, in common cause (posted 12/27/18).
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Win #31:  HEC worked with local conservationists in Indianapolis to swiftly build a case for protection of the high quality forest habitats at Fort Benjamin Harrison on the city’s northeast side.  The community readily agreed with this idea, and at Gov. Bayh’s request, in 1996 the U.S. Army transferred these lands to Indiana for the new Ft. Harrison State Park (posted 12/28/18).
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Win #32:  To permanently increase its capacity to provide local assistance, HEC merged in 2011, for the first time in its history, with another environmental organization, the Northwest Indiana-based LEAF, which had been focused on providing pro bono assistance to victims of pollution. The combined organization now has two in-house attorneys who have helped HEC launch new related to factory farms and industrial pollution (posted 12/28/18).
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Win #33: HEC helped organize a statewide coalition which succeeded in improving the final water quality standards that were adopted in 1989 by the Indiana Water Pollution Control Board.  The effort overcame strong opposition from Indiana’s regulated industries (posted 12/29/18).
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Win #34: We won a major legal victory against a polluter whose air toxins were harming the lives of  a working class community in Northern Indiana (posted 12/30/18)
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Win #35: We defeated two bills that would have tied the hands of local officials when it comes to protecting our rivers, streams, and lakes from sediment pollution (posted 12/31/18).