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Hoosier Environmental Leaders Identify Legislative Priorities

December 5, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana mass transit is an issue taking center stage at the Hoosier Environmental Council's annual "Greening the Statehouse" forum this Saturday, December 10. Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda says 96 cents of every dollar spent by the state on transportation goes to highways and road projects.

"Our state's biggest cities dramatically underspend compared to our peer cities when it comes to public transit. And survey after survey shows that public transit is an important element of what is going to attract a young professional to a community."

Kharbanda says keynote speaker Jim Motavalli, an expert on mass transit and green car technologies, will address bi-partisan solutions for transportation issues. Water quality and clean energy are also priorities.

On those matters, Kharbanda says too many Hoosiers over-fertilize lawns, sending excess phosphorus into ditches, streams and reservoirs.

"We're needlessly fostering the conditions for algae blooms, which lead to fish kills, which leads to dirty-looking water, which degrades water quality and potentially poses risks to drinking water quality."

Kharbanda says the council would like to find a way to reduce the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizers in the state.

He says another legislative priority is to help commercial property owners in Indiana improve energy efficiency in their buildings through a program called "PACE."

"Property Assessed Clean Energy Bonds. And the funds that are generated from bonding provide low-interest loans to commercial property owners so that they can upgrade the equipment in their buildings and potentially cut energy costs by 30 to 40 percent."

Kharbanda encourages anyone interested in the environment to register and attend Saturday at Butler University from 8:30 to 3.

More information on the forum is at www.hecweb.org

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN