The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Campus Center will be overtaken by environmentalists today for “Greening of the Statehouse,” a day of learning and engagement about Indiana’s most pressing environmental issues. The focus of this year’s event is on agriculture and safeguarding the state’s air, water and quality of life.
Kim Ferraro with the Hoosier Environmental Council said it’s an important issue this year because of several proposed policy measures aimed at significantly weakening protections from polluting industrial livestock operations.
“Because of the massive amount of manure and waste that these facilities produce that aren’t very well regulated, we’re seeing a lot of problems,” Ferraro said. “So these bills were really aimed at eliminating the ability to hold them accountable for the harm that they cause.”
Ferraro added that the special protections would have threatened the ability of local and state policymakers to properly balance agricultural interests with the goals of environmental quality, food safety and animal well-being.
Other forum topics include clean energy and mass transit, as well as educating participants on how to safeguard a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations.
Ferraro said the most damaging proposed measure, the Right to Hunt and Fish, would amend the state constitution to create a fundamental right to engage in the commercial production of meat, poultry and dairy products, making it difficult to impose or enforce restrictions on factory farms and those practices that are damaging to public and environmental health.
“Our right to vote, freedom of religion, right to bear arms and just as an initial measure, the right to commercially produce meat doesn’t really seem on par with our very sacred constitutional rights,” she said.
If lawmakers approve the measure this year, it could appear before voters in the November 2014 election.
This is the sixth annual Greening the Statehouse and an estimated 300 people are expected to attend the gathering at the IUPUI Campus Center.