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Indiana lawmakers sidestep climate solutions conversation yet again

Two men in suits stand near a lectern. One is speaking, and they are both looking beyond the view of the camera lens.
Ben Thorp
Sen. Rick Niemeyer (R-Lowell) and Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) at a press conference last year. Niemeyer wouldn't say why the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee won't vote on the climate solutions task force bill co-authored by Alting.

Once again Indiana lawmakers have avoided a study on climate change solutions in the state. The Senate Environmental Affairs Committee adjourned without voting on Senate Bill 335 on Monday that would have created a climate solutions task force.

This is the second year youth climate activists with Confront the Climate Crisis have worked with lawmakers to craft such legislation.

"In Indiana, climate change is decreasing our crop yields which harms our agriculture industry, increasing flooding which endangers our infrastructure and public safety, and dramatically increasing extreme heat which endangers our public health and worsens the reliability of our electric grid," said Rahul Durai, the group's co-leader and a junior at West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School.

The task force would have studied topics like acquiring land for nature preserves, creating a carbon credit market, funding energy efficiency measures and expanding mass transit. The bill’s author, Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington), said many committees discuss these topics but not in the larger context of climate change.

“This is a very measured response to that desperation that I know my children feel, that my students feel, and that I know these young leaders feel. We can do this small thing," she said.

READ MORE: Youth climate activists – once again – urge the Indiana legislature to study climate solutions

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues, including this series on climate change and solutions.

The committee’s chair, Sen. Rick Niemeyer (R-Lowell) didn’t say why the committee wouldn’t vote on the bill, but told youth activists with Confront the Climate Crisis not to get discouraged.

“This is kind of the process sometimes and there’s senators sitting right up here that took two and three and four years to get piece of legislation through that they were very passionate about,” Niemeyer said.

Several people spoke in support of the bill including representatives from the United Auto Workers union, engine maker Cummins, the Indiana Catholic Conference, and Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute.

The Senate committee is not scheduled to meet again for this half of the legislative session — which means it only plans to hear bills coming from the state House until the end of session.

A similar bill in the House, HB 1453, didn’t receive a hearing — much like the two climate task force bills proposed last year.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Copyright 2023 IPB News. To see more, visit .

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