Until late last week, the Hoosier Environmental Council was gearing up for a fight against a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution. The amendment included language the council said protected factory farms and other controversial farming practices. But some key language was removed from the amendment before it was filed last week. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke with Kim Ferraro from the council for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
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A state law enacted in 1985 requires bi-annual electricity demand studies to be conducted and turned in to the state’s Utility Regulatory Commission. The State Utility Forecasting group has just released the latest study, and concluded that electricity demands are set to plateau and electricity rates are on the rise. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh spoke with Douglas Gotham, director of the State Utility Forecasting Group, about the results and their implications for the future of Hoosier energy, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
Cartoonist Nate Powell has become one of the most recognized names in the graphic novel industry. Born in Arkansas and eventually making his way to Bloomington, Powell makes stops in New York and other cities operating an indie record label, fronts for a combination punk band and puppet show, and
works with the developmentally disabled. His latest graphic novel, called March: Book One, is the story of civil rights pioneer and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Powell spoke with correspondent Michael Glab for this feature report, the first of a series jointly produced by WFHB and The Ryder Magazine.
Last week Bloomington City Council member Andy Ruff found himself suddenly involved with an issue that confronts the city every holiday season—burglary. Police say the incident, and the foot chase that ensued, resulted in two arrests that appear to have solved a string of east side break-ins. WFHB Assistant News Director Joe Crawford has the story for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
Today, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling that could force consumers of natural gas in Indiana to pay the long-term construction and operational costs of a private sector coal gasification plant in Southern Indiana. Back in 2010, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or the IURC, signed a contract with Leucadia National Corporation to allow the company to pass on the full costs, plus a profit margin, of construction, production, and distribution of output from its proposed coal gasification plant in Spencer County. This unprecedented deal would force the Indiana Financial Authority, or the IFA, which is the state agency that purchases natural gas from producers for distribution across the state to consumers, to purchase Leucadia’s product even if cheaper alternatives are available. This would last from the start of the operation of the proposed Spencer plant through the following thirty years. The deal, dubbed the Leucadia Tax, was met with opposition by industrial and residential consumers, as well as many public interest organizations. A coalition of citizens groups, consumer advocates, environmental groups, faith leaders, and low-income and senior advocacy organizations banded together to challenge the contract in court. In October of 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out the contract between the IFA and the Indiana subsidiary of Leucadia. The opposition coalition also lobbied the state legislators to take action to kill the Leucadia Tax. In the Spring of 2013, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 494, which would allow the IURC to review the Leucadia contract, with a view to renegotiating a contract that would better protect Indiana consumers if the Appeals Court decision was eventually upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court. One member of the coalition formed to stop the Leucadia Tax was the Indiana branch of the Sierra Club. Correspondent David Murphy spoke to Jodi Perras, Indiana Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
Last week, a man named Ian Stark was found dead at the Colonial Crest Apartment complex on the north side of Bloomington. Stark was reportedly homeless and police say he might have died from exposure to the cold weather. In response, a group gathered Friday night on the Courthouse Square to bring attention to Stark’s death and to the continuing issues with lack of shelter in Bloomington. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford has that story for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
This fall, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, issued another fatwa, or religious edict, against the Baha’i community. The Baha’is are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran. Indiana University graduate student Sudeshna Chowdhury spoke to Baha’is in Bloomington, to learn about the local Baha’i community and hear its reactions to the persecution, for today’s WFHB feature courtesy of American Student Radio.
Two studies released by Ball State University in recent weeks call into question a long-standing, and expensive, strategy that communities throughout the state have used in hopes of creating jobs. Monroe County and the city of Bloomington spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on the strategy, which involves giving local tax breaks to companies that are new to town. Those companies, in turn, are expected to create new jobs, therefore decreasing the local unemployment rate and improving the local economy. But the study out of Ball State suggests the tax breaks for business are not creating many jobs, and they’re actually increasing the tax rates for regular taxpayers. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke to one of the authors of the study, professor Michael Hicks, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.