Indiana lawmakers suspend federal environmental programs / Public News Service

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States are working to find solutions to make air and water cleaner and safer for their communities, but the path is not always clear.

A case before the Supreme Court questions whether the state is doing the best it can. The EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan requires 23 states to reduce the amount of smog produced by industrial facilities due to concerns that pollutants are contaminating neighboring states.

Indiana is one of three states asking the D.C. Circuit Court to block the plan from proceeding while the case is heard in lower courts.

David Van Gilder, senior policy and legal director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, expressed disappointment at the lack of consensus between the group and state legislators.

“Unfortunately, the state of Indiana has joined others in this unholy alliance with polluting industries to halt, cancel, or delay implementation of common sense regulations that prevent Indiana’s industries from harming those downstream.” “Republican-led states also participated,” Van Gilder noted.

The disagreement arose when the EPA rejected 21 states’ plans to keep emissions unchanged, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Van Gilder believes it is bad public policy for the Supreme Court to agree to hear the case as a matter of emergency before the lower courts have decided.

In 2021, Indiana emitted a total of 16.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Van Gilder said one of the rules in EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan requires maintaining “health-based air quality standards,” including the use of qualitative and quantitative measures necessary to protect human health. He pointed out that this is needed by the industry.

“We want to see industry across the country determined to be good neighbors, not bad neighbors. At least locally, the attorneys general in Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana seems to want it to be that way,” Van Gilder observed. “They want to be bad neighbors, not good neighbors.”

Mr. Van Gilder felt that it was problematic for industry and power plants to shift the costs of properly operating facilities onto vulnerable populations whose health could otherwise be affected. The court is expected to issue a decision by May 2026, but could decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order in the coming months.

Disclosure: The Joyce Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on climate change/air quality, the environment, and environmental justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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