By Mary Kuhlman
With the 45th anniversary of Earth Day this week, some are reflecting on the progress and the missteps Indiana has made, environmentally speaking.
Jess Kharbanda, executive director with the Hoosier Environmental Council, says there have been major strides in efforts to improve air and water quality in recent years, but he says there is still a bit of complacency when it comes to the state of the environment. He says for some Hoosiers, it's out of sight, out of mind.
"We look at the sky and we see it pretty clear and we think all is well with the environment," says Kharbanda. "But environmental challenges today are often concealed. They're concealed in the form of ash-coal lagoons; we've got hundreds of these factory farms which are concealed to most people."
When it comes to the environment, Kharbanda says Hoosiers have two roles to play; first to be better stewards of the environment by recycling and conserving energy and second to be engaged as citizens in policies that protect air, water and lands.
Kharbanda says there are an array of threats to Indiana's air and water that affect both urban and rural communities including pesticides, coal mining, coal ash and factory farms.
"We anticipated this legislative session to potentially be the worst for Indiana's environment in several years," says Kharbanda. "But we were able to successfully push back against policy efforts that would have really weakened Indiana's environmental protection."
This week, personal finance website WalletHub ranked Indiana 43rd among states for environmental quality and 47th for eco-friendliness.