A recent report by the Northeast-Midwest Institute shows that Indiana is dead last in comparison to other midwestern states to protect vulnerable communities from air pollution. In particular, Indiana legislators have failed to pass any impactful environmental justice legislation. Most recently, lawmakers stymied the introduction of a bill that was crafted by youth climate justice activists that would have created a climate and environmental task force in the state.
It has been more than 20 years since Indiana updated its strategic plan on environmental justice. Environmental leaders in the Hoosier State believe the state should conduct an analysis that looks at all pollution in an area before approving permits for industrial plants. The Environmental Protection Agency agrees. Earlier this year the agency expressed concern over a permit that was granted to waste-to-jet fuel plant in a neighborhood in Gary already plagued with a myriad of pollution hazards.
Paula Brooks, environmental justice program manager for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said, “neighborhoods who are less able to fight back, they end up just being inundated by these entities,” According to the report, Midwestern states that have made the most progress regarding environmental justice work have done so with dedicated offices within state agencies responsible for overseeing such issues. Currently, Indiana doesn’t have an agency dedicated to environmental justice. (WBOI)