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Ask Renee: Tell your Senators to vote yes to protect Indiana old-growth forests

Plus have them vote nay on HB 1494 and SB 309


  • Pexels
I l❤ve being able to report that SB 420 drew a packed house yesterday! Sen. Eric Bassler, the bill’s author, said, “This bill leaves 10% of state forests as nature intended.” Testimony in favor of protecting 10% of Indiana’s old-growth state forests had to be cut short, but 29 additional names were read to show the outpouring of support.

Naturally, a timber lobbyist spoke against the bill, to which Sen. Frank Mrvan said, “The forests are for the people, not for loggers.” The room erupted in applause!

What to do now: call or email your Senator with this message:

“I support SB 420 and ask that you encourage Senator Sue Glick to give SB 420 a vote on the Senate floor. When this bill comes to a vote, please VOTE YES to protect old-growth forest in Indiana.”

Indiana Forest Alliance
Stand Up for Your Forests Rally

On Wednesday, February 15, the House Environmental Affairs Committee will continue to hear testimony on HB 1494, a bill that weakens regulations on factory farms in Indiana. Last week, the bill’s author and Chairman of the House Environmental Affairs Committee, Rep. David Wolkins (District 18, Wabash County and portions of Kosciusko, Miami, and Grant Counties) started discussion of the bill by saying:

“This is not going to be a forum to bash CAFOs… I admit, these things smell, but don’t come up here and tell me about how it is smelling… If you were led to believe that you were gonna be able to come up and tell your story about living around a CAFO, I would rather just as soon not hear it. That’s not what we’re talking about.”

He concluded that his bill is intended to streamline the process between IDEM and farmers (the pork producers collaborated) so everyone understands what they’re supposed to do. Testimony by Kim Ferraro of Hoosier Environmental Council enlightened us to the ways this bill favors CAFO owners/operators.

  • It allows an owner/operator to expand their waste output without a permit.
  • It narrows the accountability by not requiring all owners and operators to be disclosed.
  • It only requires that violations from the past five years be disclosed.

Kim also plead with the committee to listen to those who attended to share their personal experiences so that we might move forward and improve existing regulations. Wolkins’ response was, “If you wanna change the regulations, then let’s have a bill that will change the regulations rather than…ok...[mumbling].”

HB 1494 will continue to be heard on Wednesday, February 15, at 10:30am. Send a message to Wolkins and/or the committee member in your district to tell them:

“I appreciate the amendment to HB 1494 clarifying the requirement of a permit for CAFO construction; however, there are still too many leniencies for potential bad actors provided by this bill. Neighbors of a factory farm have the right to know when waste output may increase, further polluting their air and water, and decreasing their property value; all parties involved in owning and operating a CAFO should be disclosed and held accountable; and a complete history is necessary to understand potential issues with a factory farm owner/operator. HB 1494 weakens protections from factory farms and I urge you to VOTE NAY.”

If I were feeling particularly snarky, I might add that Wolkins do exactly as he suggested and spend his time authoring bills that improve our environment for all Indiana residents, rather than collaborate with the pork producers to make it easier for them to pollute our air and water.

February 2 Ask Renee about HB 1494
House Environmental Affairs Committee
HEC HB 1494 Bill Watch and Committee Member email addresses

Meanwhile, in the Indiana Senate, the Utilities Committee will continue to hear SB 309 on Thursday, February 16, at 9 a.m., after lengthy testimony last week. Please continue to contact your area’s Senator and/or Senator Merritt (see last week’s Ask Renee for who to contact) with this message:

“My name is [name] and I am a constituent in [City/County]. I support solar in Indiana and, therefore, OPPOSE SB 309. Don't put SB 309 to a vote. Instead, call on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to do a data-driven study – which at least ten conservative-leaning states have done – that allows our state to carefully develop sound public policy related to solar energy. If this bill does come to a vote, please VOTE NAY to SB 309. Net metering is a benefit to the grid, all electricity consumers, and the environment.”

Piece out,


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