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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Wetlands at stake in southside Indy industrial development

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Monday, January 8, 2024   

Residents living directly south of Indianapolis could see their water quality change with a proposed land-use project that's getting some pushback.

A 45 acre wetland on Indianapolis' south side is under consideration for an industrial park, to be developed in phases over five years - and current state law offers little protection for wetlands.

The Hoosier Environmental Council wants the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to ultimately deny a final permit for the project.

Susie McGovern - senior water policy associate with HEC - said the area at I-65 South and County Line Road has high conservation value.

"Local residents have observed wildlife on these wetlands for a number of years," said McGovern, "and one of the species that they've noticed is the Sandhill Crane, which is a state 'special concern' species in the state of Indiana. It has a known limited abundance in the state."

McGovern said she hopes a letter with nearly 3,000 signatures will persuade IDEM to hold a public hearing.

She said she wants to make sure nearby residents whose water quality could be affected, and who feel they've had no voice in the matter, are heard by the agency.

In 2023, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling greatly reduced federal protection for wetlands, so it's been up to states to step in.

Indra Frank - director of environmental health and water policy with the Hoosier Environmental Council - described wetlands as the "most cost-effective storm-water infrastructure Indiana has," helping to reduce floods and filter rainwater.

She predicted a few wetlands-related bills will come up in the new legislative session, but feels more can be done.

"We need better action to protect them," said Frank, "and this property is losing wetlands and losing them relatively easily because we have such weak policy right now. It's symptomatic of this broader problem."

A recent environmental report card on this area, known as Lower Fall Creek and Pleasant Run, found almost 82% of the land is already developed - and only 6% is made up of wetlands and other natural space.

About 11% is farmland.




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