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EcoReport – July 30, 2015


In today’s EcoReport feature: On July 24th, the U.S. government charged two California activists with terrorism because of their involvement in releasing minks from fur farms. But private industries and the U.S. government have been active for decades trying to brand actions taken in defense of animals and the environment as criminal or terrorist acts. In September of 2012, EcoReport interviewed journalist Will Potter about his reporting on this process, which is sometimes referred to as the Green Scare.

EcoReport is a weekly program providing independent media coverage of environmental and ecological issues with a focus on local, state and regional people, issues, and events in order to foster open discussion of human relationships with nature and the Earth and to encourage you to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live. Each program features timely eco-related headline news, a feature interview or event recording, and a calendar of events of interest to the environmentally conscious.

Today’s Anchors: Linda Lightner and Glenn Lightner

This week’s news stories were written by Linda Greene, Norm Holy, Sierra Gardner, Jerrod Dill and David Murphy in partnership with Community Access Television Services. Jim Lang served as our broadcast engineer. This week’s calendar was compiled by Filiz Cicek. EcoReport is produced by Dan Young and Filiz Cicek. Executive producer is Joe Crawford.

U.S. Forest Service seeks public input on road system

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public input for a study on the road system in Hoosier National Forest.  The Travel Management Rule, adopted by the U.S. Forest Service in 2005, requires every national forest to complete a study of their road system by 2015.  The Forest Service has scheduled two open houses in Bedford at Brownstown/Supervisor’s Office at 811 Constitution Avenue for tomorrow, November 6th, and next week, November 13th from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Staff will be on hand to answer questions and gather input from the public. Forest Supervisor Michael Chaveas said,  ”The aim of this study and the public input is to help us identify a road system that serves the needs of the public and the Forest Service, at a cost we can afford to maintain over time”, according to a press release from the Forest Service.

Public input can also be made online at www.fs.usda.gov/hoosier

Alternative Voice with David Barsamian, Part 1


On April 10th in Bloomington Indiana Alternative Radio’s David Barsamian he spoke about his lifetime of work as an independent media producer, and the convergence of media, capitalism, and the environment.  Mr. Barsamian and Dr. Martha Crouch were the primary speakers and the event was recorded on location at the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center by WFHB’s Alycin Bektesh for  Standing Room Only, on WFHB.

Daily Local News – March 28, 2014


Federal regulators are hearing from Monroe County officials about the environmental perils of Interstate 69; The president of the Monroe County Public Library’s Board of Trustees expressed concern March 12th about changes to the bus routes in Bloomington; Bloomington Fire House Station Number 2 will host a groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new organic sustainable garden on Wednesday, April 2nd; Scottish Tartan Day is once again coming to Bloomington next month, hosted by the Scottish Society of Greater Bloomington; This weekend in local sports.

Petition: Land Swap Could Save B-Line Woods
Obamacare has been under much scrutiny lately, especially as the registration deadline approaches, and there aren’t as many young, healthy people signing up as was projected. Correspondent Casey Kuhn explored why this might be the case, and how to make signing up for individual healthcare as painless as possible, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

Local organizations scout the listening area for service help on Volunteer Connection, linking YOU to current volunteer opportunities in our community.

Anchors: Helen Harrell, Nick Tumino
Today’s headlines were written by Jalisa Ransom and Ruben Solis,
Along with Joe Crawford for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Casey Kuhn.
Volunteer Connection is produced by Wanda Krieger, in partnership with the city of Bloomington Volunteer Network.
Our engineer today is Drew Daudelin,
Editor is Drew Daudelin, Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Genetically Modified Organisms and the Food Supply: An informational Session


On Wednesday, February 19th the League of Women Voters hosted an informational session on Genetically Modified Organisms with three distinguished speakers. George Hageman, Professor Emeritus in Microbiology at Indiana University opened the program with an overview and some background on the history and uses of genetically modified organisms for agriculture. Then Kyle Cline, National Policy advisor for the Indiana Farm Bureau, and Marti Crouch, a plant scientist at Indiana University and advisor on issues of agriculture and technology, presented their views on the multifaceted sides of this complex issue followed by questions from the audience. This event was recorded on location at the Monroe County Public Library for Standing room only, on WFHB

Four environmental groups call for an investigation into Edwardsport coal-gasification plant

Duke Energy’s controversial coal-gasification plant in Edwardsport, Indiana is again being challenged before state regulators.

Four environmental groups, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Save the Valley, the Sierra Club and Valley Watch, have filed a motion before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission calling for an investigation into the plant’s operating problems, schedule delays and cost overruns.

Kerwin Olson is the executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition.

“Our complaints relate back to 2007,” Olson says, “Our complaints were that this is a first-of-a-kind technology. This is a science project. We predicted that there would be significant cost escalations, construction delays, and problems during testing and startup, and all of these have happened. So much so that it’s only running at 4 percent of its rated capacity.”

In 2007, when it approved the plant, the Regulatory Commission put a $1.985 billion cap on building costs that Duke could be pass on to its customers. the Commission subsequently raised that cap to $2.6 billion. Today, the cost of the still-not-quite-operational plant is around $3.5 billion and rising.

Duke is now seeking Commission approval to add another $180 million to the expense line for a plant that is years behind its projected completion date.

“This plant was supposed to be purring like a kitten at 85 percent capacity on day one, according to Duke Energy,” Olson says, “In the six month period for the petition we filed it averaged 37 percent capacity, and the latest information we have from January was at 4 percent. We believe that this is a power plant that first of all never should have been approved in the first place and secondly, we have ratepayers paying a tremendous amount of money that is not useful and not serving the public interest.”

Since the time of its initial conception, various opponents have filed 12 motions to the Commission on the proposal. Seven of these are still before the courts.

In the past, the Commission has been reprimanded by the courts for have a too cozy relationship with the interests it is charged with regulating.

Yet the commission continues to add Duke’s costs to ratepayers bills, including the most recent request by Duke to recover repair and maintenance costs for a plant that is not producing much gas.

The Commission has not yet responded to the complainants petition, nor it is required to actually hold a hearing on it. The complainants are preparing for the eventuality of appealing the Commission’s response to Duke’s most recent cost recovery request.

Indiana passes bill to increase local recycling effort

A bill that will increase recycling efforts in Indiana was passed on Tuesday. Indiana State Senator Mike Stoops, who has supported House Bill 1183, talks about what spurred its creation.

“The idea is to identify recycling that is being thrown away with trash,” Stoops says, “We had a study committee that identified a significant amount of recycling in Indiana being thrown into a landfill. There was a lot of discussion about the fact that Indiana was lagging behind other states to turn that material into useful resources.”

The bill will require Indiana businesses and recycling centers to report all recycling activity to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Recyclers of municipal waste can choose to report annually or quarterly, and non-municipal waste recyclers can be report voluntarily. This will be required starting in 2015. It establishes a goal for Indiana to reduce 50 percent of municipal waste by 2019.

“Indiana had a goal like this in the past,” Stoops says, “We didn’t take any steps to get to that goal then. A couple years ago they completely eliminated the recycling goal under Mitch Daniels.”

Senator Stoops says the specific types of products Indiana will be recycling aluminum cans, and that these are beneficial to aluminum companies as well, because they don’t need a lot of processing to recycle the aluminum, don’t need to spend money on mining aluminum ore, and that aluminum doesn’t degrade, so it is always recyclable.

Both Senator Stoops and Press Secretary of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus Sean Mobley believe this bill will create thousands of jobs in Indiana.

“One estimate is that if we do a better job of getting the recycling out of the waste stream, we could be looking at 10,000 jobs,” Stoops says.

This bill will go into effect along with Senate Bill 324, which bans the disposal of mostly recyclable products.

Any product that is entirely, or almost entirely, made of paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, or plastic is not to be disposed of in a final disposal facility. Both bills will go into effect on July 1.

Senate Bill 340 passes, changing Indiana’s energy saving program


The Indiana State Senate voted 37 to 1 to pass Senate Bill 340 earlier this month, a bill that would ultimately change Indiana’s statewide energy saving program. Jodi Perras, Indiana Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, further explains what effect the bill will have.

“As it’s written now, big business can withdraw from the energy efficiency programs,” Perras says, “That means the rest of us will pay for the programs and the large facilities opting out is like us taking our two best players off the basketball floor.”

These utility programs seek to create less demand for energy, and Perras says they ultimately save everyone money. She says that passing Senate Bill 340 would benefit big industries, but hurt citizens along the way.

“We see big utilities that don’t like energy efficiency, and they have a lot of voice in the statehouse,” Perras says, “We need voters across the state to voice their opinion.”

According to Perras, utilities were forced to participate in these programs beginning in 2009, leading to energy efficiency. She says that efficiency is now under attack at the statehouse.

“People need to wake up and know that big utilities are trying to fight energy efficiency,” Perras says, “These are programs that keep our electricity rates down for schools, universities and we need to make sure these programs keep going.”

Perras says The Sierra Club stresses the importance of the public’s voice in dealing with Indiana’s environmental issues.

Dean of IU’s SPEA Testified In Support of EPA ‘Secret Science’ Bill


John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and former senior official in President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget, testified on Tuesday in support of a bill that prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, from using what backers of the legislation call ‘secret science.’

The bill, introduced by U.S. House Republicans, would prohibit the EPA from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or reproducible.

“Most of the EPA-related studies that may not satisfy the reproducibility standard are in the air quality area,” Graham said, “The environmental epidemiology field does not yet have a strong position in favor of public access to data, which is necessary for reproducibility. The transparency standard is more widely accepted.”

The measure is sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona. In discussing the bill’s future, Graham said, “There is a mid-March meeting at the National Academy of Sciences where the reproducibility issue will be discussed in more detail by multiple stakeholders. Once that meeting occurs, it will become apparent whether the scientific community will support or oppose the bill.”

Bill Would Set New Limits on Environmental Regulations


Last week a committee in the Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill that would limit the power of state legislators. The law, proposed by Republican representative David Wolkins, would make it illegal for the state to pass environmental regulations that are more strict than federal laws. For years similar measures were shot down in the statehouse, with the help of conservative Senator Beverly Gard, who became the face of the measure’s opposition. Gard retired in 2012, and this year marks the first time the bill has moved out of committee without Gard to block it. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke with Gard this afternoon for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

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