During this year’s Organization Day, an event where legislators meet and preview their priorities for the upcoming session, Republicans showed interest in taking up energy-related issues.
Solar panels and wind turbines are two sources of renewable energy, but they are not without their controversies. Republicans have indicated they will take up energy questions in the 2022 legislative session.Indiana doesn’t have the most impressive environmental reputation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report that the Hoosier state is the sixth largest producer of ethanol in the nation, which is a toxic chemical used to create automotive gasoline. The Clean Air Task Force said ethanol has been linked to air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion and habitat loss.
Indiana also had a recent spill at the U.S. Steel plant in Portage, whichsome Democratic legislators said was partially caused by the lack of environmental regulation bills passed by the General Assembly.
How much has Indiana increased its renewable energy usage?
The New York Times shared in a report that in 2019, less than one-tenth of Indiana’s energy came from renewables. This has slowly increased since 2008, when the state’s first wind power facility was introduced in Benton County.
Natural gas accounted for nearly 31% of the state’s electricity generation in 2019, with 59% generated by coal and a much smaller percentage from other sources, which emit greenhouse gases.
What legislation has been enacted to support renewable energy?
In April, during the 2020 session, House Bill 1381 died in the Indiana Statehouse. The bill would have established regulations and standards for wind and solar power while also removing the ability of local governments to prohibit wind power.
During this same session, another unsuccessful bill, HB 1471, would have given a tax credit incentive to taxpayers who create clean energy training positions.
Why were some against HB 1381?
The bill was opposed by those worried it was stepping into the territory of local government.
Susan Huhn, the council president of Henry County, where there has been significant controversy around renewable energy, said in anarticle that she opposed the bill.
“I am still in opposition to the state stepping into local government this way,” Huhn said. “I did speak in favor of this amendment, as it protects the hard work of our county, but it’s still a sad day because it sets a dangerous precedent.”
The Southwest Indiana Chamber said in a release that it expects to see legislation similar to HB 1381 in the upcoming 2022 session, though details are unclear.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce also recently shared a legislative preview of the 2022 session, saying one of its main objectives is to “remove certain siting barriers for renewable energy sources.”
Siting barriers put significant restrictions on the placement and availability of renewable energy source facilities.
Ashlyn Myers is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students