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Environmental Groups Give Governor Priority List for 2017

Agricultural runoff flows into the lakes and rivers from which hundreds of towns draw their water. (usgs.gov)
Agricultural runoff flows into the lakes and rivers from which hundreds of towns draw their water. (usgs.gov)
January 19, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana has a new governor, and environmental groups say they've let him know what they'd like to see happen this year.

Eric Holcomb took over the governor's office from Vice President-elect Mike Pence this month. Hoosier Environmental Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda says he's encouraged because Holcomb's transition team asked for input from conservation groups.

"We submitted 50 recommendations to the governor's transition team that we do hope will be sincerely taken into account by the governor's office, by IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management), by DNR, to achieve a much greater level of environmental protection," Kharbanda relates.

Kharbanda hopes Indiana's leaders work to enhance the quality of life for residents by putting a greater emphasis on environmental protections.

Kharbanda says Holcomb has committed to improving Indiana's economy and he hopes the governor sees that goes hand in hand with protecting the state's natural resources.

"Places that have better green amenities, whether that's parks or trails or cleaner waterways or ones that are going to attract more investment and more talent," he states.

Kharbanda says a big priority this year should be funding for IDEM, which has had a quarter of its budget cut over the last eight years.

"And what that translates to is a slowdown in efforts to clean up our dirtiest parts of our state, which are critical to getting communities to economically bounce back to create the kind of investment that ultimately creates jobs and prosperity for communities," he stresses.

Kharbanda says he'd also like to see an increase in funding for mass transit in Indiana, and more funding for programs that work to clean up rivers in the state that are polluted by agricultural runoff.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN