The Issues

Environmental Health & Justice

As a statewide organization, we focus on environmental health challenges that are prevalent across the state; two of the most significant ones are coal ash and factory farm waste. We are keen to help empower local communities who have felt marginalized, over the decades, by their elected, civic, and business leaders with regard to environmental issues; our Environmental Justice Initiative, at the present time, is focused on Marion County. HEC seeks to reduce toxic exposures, and has made meaningful contributions to reduce harm, in particular, from lead poisoning and Outdoor Wood Boiler smoke. Read our position on the proposed, controversial coal-to-diesel plant in Dale, IN.

Coal Ash Solutions

Coal ash is the material left after burning coal.
It contains heavy metals that contaminate water. Indiana has been producing millions of tons of coal ash per year for decades, much of which is stored in the floodplains of rivers or Lake Michigan.

July 2023 - Indiana Coalition Weighs in on Rule Updates

July 17, 2023, HEC and six partner organizations submitted comments to the EPA about its proposal to update the federal coal ash rule (the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule or CCR Rule). EPA published its proposed changes to the rule in May, and a 60-day public comment period followed.  Many Indiana citizens and organizations, including HEC, testified for EPA at its in-person and online hearings.  In the written comments and testimony, we 
  • Supported EPA’s proposal to close loopholes so millions more tons of coal ash will be cleaned up 
  • Urged EPA to strengthen requirements that protect people and water from coal ash 
  • Urged EPA to fully enforce the coal ash rule to ensure that cleanups happen. 
Indiana is entirely dependent on the federal coal ash rule. During the 2023 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly passed HEC 1623 which prohibits our state from having any requirements for coal ash other than what is in the federal rule. 


2020 - Report Shows Indiana Lags Far Behind in Coal Ash Cleanup

In 2014 the Hoosier Environmental Council published Our Waters at Risk about the impact of coal ash on Indiana’s water resources. In the years that followed, a good deal more information became public. Read HEC's 2020 report, which updates what is known about coal ash and Indiana's water resources.

Download executive summary of Our Waters at Risk Park 2

The Hoosier Environmental Council's work on coal ash receives generous support from the Energy Foundation, the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, the McKinney Family Foundation, and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

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Environmental Justice

The EPA defines "Environmental Justice" as:

"The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work."

Despite EPA's goal, some Hoosier communities bear a much heavier pollution burden than others and those inequalities tend to track with economic and racial inequities, and are at the heart of the concept of “environmental injustice.”


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Toxic Exposure Reduction

Hoosiers can be exposed to toxins in their air, water, soil, or from products.

Are you looking for a reference to help you determine who to contact regarding an issue with toxic pollution you or your community is experiencing? Please check into this report from the Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health: Investigating Environmental Contamination: A Guide for Communities. This report provides technical assistance, telephone consultations, and training by experts on environmental health issues.

HEC is currently working with a group in Logansport to stop a steel waste processing facility from going in three miles from their downtown. We were successful in blocking the same company from building a facility in Muncie in 2019.

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Food System Reform

Our food system is harming Hoosiers and our environment.

Within the last few decades, the United States went from raising livestock on traditional farms owned by farm families, to "producing" livestock in highly mechanized, industrial operations controlled by a handful of giant corporations. Indiana is home to nearly 2,000 of these industrial-scale animal factories.

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