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.
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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.
McDonald’s workers nationwide are asking for an increased minimum wage, to fifteen dollars an hour. Today workers went on strike in a reported one hundred cities around the country, and many other cities, including Bloomington, held demonstrations in solidarity with the workers. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh was on hand at a demonstration this afternoon, and brings us the story for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
This Fall, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky put forth a lawsuit against the state of Indiana, regarding a recent law signed by Mike Pence, and sought an injunction against the law while the case was being heard. On November 26th Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, of the United States district court for the southern district of Indiana, finalized her decision granting the temporary injunction. This signified that Planned Parenthood, represented in court by the American civil liberties union of Indiana, has a chance of winning the suit against the state. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh has the report, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
In recent weeks the Bloomington Police Department has been sending extra officers to patrol the B-Line Trail and the downtown area, responding to what city officials said was an increase in complaints about panhandling, public intoxication, and vandalism. The new patrols were announced last month along with an anti-panhandling campaign and new surveillance cameras downtown. Celebrated by some downtown business owners, the new security has also raised concerns about who the extra police will be patrolling and arresting. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford has the story, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.
WFHB correspondent Trish Kerle’ speaks with Pat Kellar, producer of a documentary film about the life and music of native Bloomingtonian, Hoagy Carmichael, considered one of the 20th centuries greatest composers of American popular standards for today’s WFHB feature exclusive in anticipation of WFHBs birthday celebration beginning this evening.