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 Lake County and Marion County. HEC seeks to reduce toxic exposures, and has made meaningful contributions to reduce harm, in particular, from Outdoor Wood Boiler smoke. We have recently received inquiries regarding our position on the proposed, controversial coal-to-diesel plant in Dale, IN.

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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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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Coal Ash Solutions

Coal ash is the material left after burning coal.

It contains heavy metals that can contaminate water. Indiana has been producing millions of tons of coal ash per year much of which is now stored in massive open-air impoundments in the floodplains of rivers or Lake Michigan.

Report Shows IN 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 since the publication of Our Waters at Risk, the regulatory framework for coal ash has changed completely with the first ever federal rule on coal ash disposal, the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule or CCR Rule. On November 12, read our 2020 report, which provides an update on what has been learned about coal ash and water in Indiana since then.

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 McKinney Family Foundation, and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

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Factory Farm Waste Solutions

Many of Indiana’s rural communities are suffering from the environmental and public health effects from the dramatic transformation of farming to big industry.

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 known as concentrated animal feeding operations (“CAFOs”) and confined feeding operations (“CFOs”). CFOs warehouse at least 300 cattle, 600 swine, or 30,000 fowl whereas CAFOs, the largest factory farms, confine at least 1,000 cattle, 2,500 swine, or 100,000 fowl. Today, more than 85% of all livestock “produced” in Indiana come from CAFOs and CFOs.

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