Who's helping and who's hurting our natural world
NUVO has always believed the environment is a social justice issue: Clean air, water and soil is the right of all inhabitants of our planet. We try to be as green as possible, using 100 percent recycled content for our newspaper and operating our own building with as much energy efficiency as possible. The Hoosier Environmental Council recognized us in 2005 with a Green Business Award.
The environment is news. Whether the subject is climate change, urban sprawl, E. coli, traumatized elephants or combined sewer overflows, the community is more attuned to issues regarding our natural world — and the human impact upon it. We cover such issues on a regular basis, such as our ongoing examination of the Veolia corporation and the quality of the water we drink, or our investigations into coal mining. We consider the community’s compassion toward animals — domestic and wild — to be an environmental issue as well.
Creating an annual survey identifying environmental warriors and exploiters made sense. We received input from various environmentally-minded people, from HEC to the state government, and then an editorial board comprised of Publisher/Editor Kevin McKinney, Managing Editor Jim Poyser, News Editor Laura McPhee and NUVO environment writers Katie Engle and Anne Laker went through the recommendations and voted.
Next year, we’ll do the same. Your input will be welcome. Let’s celebrate the heroes — and encourage the zeros to do better.
Most of us know that our computer equipment and other technological appliances contain large quantities of lead, mercury and cadmium. If we don’t recycle this equipment, it leaches toxic metals into the Earth, fouling soil, groundwater, wells and streams.
The Goldsmith Group has been recycling e-scrap in Indianapolis for almost 40 years. Monitors, PCs, notebooks, printers, cell phones, audio and security equipment, medical equipment and more are taken in to be sold as used technology or stripped for materials.
“When an item is deemed scrap, we can tear it down for precious metal recovery and send those materials to companies who process it for precious metals,” says Eric Goldsmith, vice president of Goldsmith Group. “Some of these materials GGI pays to properly dispose of, due to its low recovery value and high amounts of toxins like lead, mercury or other hazardous materials; so, GGI charges for some of these items. Since monitors have 6 to 10 pounds of lead in them, they are a good example, if they are older than 2002 or aren’t working. We take them for free if they work and are newer than 2002. Whole PCs, PIII or better we buy on a per item basis.”
The Goldsmith Group is, fortunately, not alone in this endeavor; future NUVO environmental heroes in this particular e-recycling category include Indiana Recycling Coalition (www.indianarecycling.org), The Virtual Scavenger Project (917-9111 or
e-mail email@example.com), Indianapolis Department of Public Works (www.indygov.org/eGov/City/DPW) and the just-introduced drive-through escrap recycling program (www.computerexpertsindy.com): See Dispatch, pg. 11.
Hoosier Environmental Council Foundation
As a mother and a registered nurse, Lori Olivier has dedicated her personal and professional life to nurturing others. But her compassion and commitment to others extends to a type of community activism that transcends these two full-time jobs and those directly in her care to bring an improved quality of life to every Hoosier.
Olivier has been involved at every level of community activism in Indianapolis for many years. She has worked with the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, successfully bringing environmental issues such as tree preservation to the forefront of city and county agendas when few others saw natural resources as part of community activism. As co-founder of Riverview, a grass-roots organization dedicated to protecting the White River and the greater environment through arts awareness, Olivier brought together some of the city’s most environmentally-conscious artists and helped raise both awareness and much needed funds to clean up the river we all know has far too often been a receptacle for every type of corporate pollution the city, county and state has too offer.
But it is her role as the chairperson of the Hoosier Environmental Council Foundation that has been of greatest benefit to Indiana’s environment. While she describes herself as “just a fund-raiser,” her peers know just how important the ability to fund environmental causes and counter corporate bankrolls is to their success. Lori Olivier understands that it takes a lot of money to fund the effort to make our laws and governmental policies environmentally sound and to educate policy-makers, consumers, companies, educators and all Hoosiers about issues that affect our health and our prosperity. The Hoosier Environmental Council Foundation exists to assist HEC and its members and friends in maximizing the effectiveness of the dollars contributed to this mission. And Olivier has been instrumental in securing those dollars for HEC and the environmental well-being of us all.
Its purpose is to increase awareness about residential environmental issues and offer solutions. Its method is to do so one building at a time.
Ecology House of Indianapolis is a firm dedicated to green design and building principles. Green design is a method that takes the concept of sustainability and applies it to all aspects of a building’s structure — for the present and future. This process includes materials that are environmentally friendly, energy efficient and regenerative — not just sustainable, safe and good for the community.
Though Ecology House was founded in 1993, its mission was not clear until 2000. Architect Sam Miller provided inspiration to build or renovate homes in Indianapolis using green design techniques. By doing so, Ecology House is able to educate the community. It teaches by example. Ecology House has taken part in various projects, including the recent Fab for Less in Fountain Square. The goal is to obtain as much attention as possible in order to spread the word about green design. All homes are then sold in the housing market and Ecology House begins its next project.
When designing or renovating a home, Ecology House considers various aspects of the structure. Each project utilizes recycled materials that are attractive and relatively inexpensive. Designers use sustainable products such as bamboo flooring and non-toxic substances such as VOC paint in order to minimize the footprint left on the environment. Ecology House designs buildings to be energy efficient so that heating and air conditioning won’t leak outside. It also uses energy efficient appliances to decrease utility bills.
Ecology House is a not-for-profit organization aimed at bringing awareness to the community on regenerative design and sustainability.
P.O. Box 80091; 46280-0091
Have you traveled the Monon Trail lately, enjoyed the trailside murals? Jogged the Central Canal towpath? Biked the Pleasant Run Trail? Delighted in the White River? Chances are you’ve enjoyed the fruits of this organization’s efforts to create green space corridors. The scope of this organization’s reach is so broad, it finds common ground — literally — for skateboarders, birdwatchers, bicyclists and powerwalkers. It’s good for the environment, good for the city and state and its economy and good for you, too — and that’s why they received the top number of votes from NUVO’s team.
Greenways Foundation is a charitable trust working to promote the growth, enhancement and use of Central Indiana greenways. According to Greenways Foundation Board of Directors President Matt Klein, the “organization … supports government organizations that want to build trails.”
One such government organization supported by Greenways Foundation is Indy Parks Greenways, whose staff includes Peggy Boehm, Indy Greenways administrator; Jonathan Gick, manager of Town Run Trail Park; Terri Van Zant, project manager; and Annie Brown, project manager. We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the extraordinary vision of Ray Irvin, former Indy Greenways administrator and currently working for INDOT to develop a statewide trail initiative.
Klein continues, “Greenways is committed to staying here and finishing the job” of connecting a vast, interconnected web of trail space throughout the metropolitan area.
Transcending politics, Greenways Foundation organizes opportunities for all Indy citizens to participate in improving their environment; for example, on Nov. 11 a White River Cleanup session will be held (see their Web site and next week’s NUVO for details).
Greenways Foundation Board of Directors is comprised of Matthew T. Klein, Esq., president; William Watts, Ph.D., vice president; Bernie O. Paul, secretary; David Hatchett, Esq.; Susan R. Moriarty, M.D.; Brian Payne; Bryan Poynter, CCIM; Chad G. Frahm, Esq.; Mitch Barloga; Valla Ann Bolovschak. Greg Silver is chairman of the Indianapolis Greenways Development Committee.
Since its objective is to give a voice to the voiceless, NUVO wants to raise its voice to congratulate IndyFeral for its contribution to the cat community.
IndyFeral is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to minimize the number of stray cats in Central Indiana. Since 2002, it has managed to Trap-Neuter-Return over 8,000 stray and feral cats in Indiana. The goal of TNR is to reach a day when there are no more homeless pets. By sterilizing the animals, feline overpopulation has been reduced significantly.
While IndyFeral believes TNR is an acceptable answer to a serious problem, its goal is to place cats and kittens in loving homes whenever possible.
IndyFeral also believes that every life has meaning regardless of the animals’ habitat. Most feral (wild) cats are considered to be nuisances. IndyFeral strives to improve their lives and raise awareness to create more humane communities for feral cats. To do this, it has established feral colonies to provide long-term care for the animals. The cats receive health attention, food, water and shelter under the supervision of IndyFeral volunteers.
IndyFeral also works with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control to promote uniform standards for the care of free-roaming cat colonies while working to reduce cat nuisance complaints.
IndyFeral received a $20,000 grant in the spring of 2006 to complete over 800 spay and neuter surgeries on free-roaming cats.
Mitch Daniels was hired by the majority of Hoosiers in the 2004 election to bring economic recovery to our state — something few would argue we needed. It’s a safe bet, however, that few of the voters who chose Daniels for governor realized at the time that his plan for economic success was contingent upon the exploitation, if not devastation, of our natural resources in many ways.
The appointment of Kyle Hupfer to head the Department of Natural Resources (see David Hoppe’s column this week), a man whose credentials for the job include corporate lawyer, Daniels’ campaign worker and occasional fisherman, justifiably alarmed many environmentalists. But it was Hupfer’s decision, as one of his first acts on the job, to more than double the number of trees harvested for timber from state forests each year, increasing the harvest from less than 4 million board-feet of wood annually to between 10 and 15 million, that began the environmental backlash against the Daniels Administration in earnest.
Indiana is the sixth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the United States due to steel and coal production. And this past summer, when the EPA found 17 counties in violation of air quality standards and demanded the state form a cleanup plan for its coal production and consumption, Daniels wrote a letter opposing the violations and penalties, saying the EPA should do a better job of balancing economic growth and development with environmental safety. A few weeks later, Daniels allowed one of his biggest campaign contributors — Black Beauty Coal and its parent company Peabody Energy — to resume strip mining coal that is so dirty the state has refused to burn it for decades.
Even when Daniels claims to be a champion for the environment, Hoosiers should be suspicious. Take for example his mandate for the state’s fleet of vehicles to be “flex-fuel.” While these new vehicles could run on ethanol, it turns out that the governor doesn’t require ethanol usage. In a recent audit of fuel consumption, more than 90 percent of these ethanol capable vehicles are still running on old-fashioned gasoline.
300 N. Meridian St., Suite 1500
Indianapolis, IN 46204-1763
You would think that a company that makes dangerous chemicals would take the greatest care to handle them carefully, with public health in mind. Not Reilly Industries. As the world’s leading producer of pyridine (a coal-derived solvent used to make medicines, vitamins and insecticides), as well as DEET, the active ingredient in insect repellent products, Reilly has been polluting since 1955, when residents near its chemical plant on the Southwestside first smelled something toxic in the air.
Over the years, Reilly has been cited for numerous violations of the Clean Air Act by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the EPA. In 1987, 60,000 gallons of waste fuel were spilled, contaminating groundwater. Just this year, the EPA fined Reilly $88,468 for failing to alert government officials of a planned release of two hazardous chemicals, hydrogen cyanide and anhydrous ammonia. Yet this company’s Web site claims that it is “a voluntary participant in a chemical industry initiative to improve environmental, health and safety performance.”
No one has suffered from Reilly’s negligence and arrogance more than the neighborhood residents near its chemical plant at 1500 S. Tibbs Ave. In 1988 and 1989, residents of this low-income, industry-heavy neighborhood were three times as likely to be hospitalized with respiratory ailments than other Marion County residents, and the cancer risk from air pollution exposure is among the highest in the U.S., according to the EPA.
Thomas E. Reilly Jr. was the chair of Reilly from 1990-2003, during which Reilly paid a $2 million fine in a price-fixing case; he is now a Mitch Daniels-appointed IU trustee. Last fall, the company was sold to a New York-based investment group for $250 million. Meanwhile, since 1984, Reilly has been designated a Superfund site by the EPA, meaning it is among the most contaminated in the U.S. “Our principal objective is to delight our customers,” reads Reilly’s homepage. But last time we checked, pollution is no delight.
7929 Michigan Road, Indianapolis, 46268
The Humane Society of Indianapolis is not, as many people mistakenly believe, a “no-kill” shelter, and the animals in their care are routinely euthanized whenever it is deemed necessary. Because the term “kill shelter” is perhaps a less than desirable moniker, the Humane Society of Indianapolis calls itself an “open-admission” shelter.
Publicly, HSI does not deny that animals left in its care are routinely killed. “Animals that we cannot medically rehabilitate are humanely euthanized to prevent suffering. Animals that pose a great risk to other animals or people are humanely euthanized to prevent harm to the community” is the official policy. This policy, however, does not seem to be iron-clad.
In the past three years, NUVO has learned that large numbers of dogs and cats have been killed on a number of occasions for a variety of reasons. For example, in October 2005, hundreds of kittens and adult cats were “depopulated” after a few of the animals were found to have panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper. Claiming they did not have the resources to test every animal for the disease, the Humane Society chose instead to kill all of the felines as a precautionary measure.
This was not an isolated incident, and NUVO has received calls from two Humane Society workers in the past several months reporting similar instances of mass-euthanization.
While its name and mission seem to have the interests of lost or stray animals at heart, we believe the Humane Society of Indianapolis could and should use killing dogs and cats as a last resort, rather than as a quick answer to space and funding problems. We also believe that the general public should know that taking a lost pet to HSI is often a death sentence rather than a rescue.
1 Monument Circle
Yes, they sponsor parades, tree plantings and teacher awards. They offer rebates on energy-efficient light bulbs and a green power option to ratepayers who are willing to pay a few dollars more for imported renewable energy. But what makes Indianapolis Power and Light an environmental zero is what they aren’t doing: shifting their paradigm to renewable energy, wholeheartedly. As if stuck in the 19th century, IPL continues to invest in the dirty, expensive process of burning coal because it’s subsidized and profitable. But continuing to burn coal has sky-high costs in terms of production, public health and climate change.
Case in point: In 2004, IPL sought a permit from the Indiana DNR to fill a Perry Township floodway with 40,000 tons of coal fly ash, the waste from the coal burning process, filled with arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium, all threats to area water supplies. The Web site www.scorecard.org lists IPL as the largest polluter in Marion County, emitting over 2 million pounds of toxic releases in 2002 alone.
With the courage to embrace clean, renewable energy, IPL could leave these liabilities behind. According to a 2006 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind could generate as much as 40,000 megawatts of energy in Indiana, more than twice the total production capacity of our state today. A Texas wind farm is eyeing wind development here, whereas IPL is investing in a pittance of 20 megawatts. If IPL gets on the bandwagon, Hoosiers could buy renewable energy generated locally, and meet Gov. Daniels’ goal of powering Indiana with 10 percent renewables by 2010.
Still in coal mode, IPL recently petitioned for a deregulation of rates and charges, so they can pass on to ratepayers the cost of a new plant using a very expensive and debatably cleaner process called coal sequestration. According to the Citizens Action Coalition, this boondoggle will impact $5 billon per year in public health costs. IPL could easily be an environmental hero by investing in the right stuff — renewables — and kissing the coal era goodbye.
938 Millers Chapel Road
Goldsboro, NC 27534-7772
There is a reason that states like North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Iowa have begun to institute tougher laws regulating factory farming and even impose moratoriums on the construction of new Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).
There is also a reason why large agribusinesses like Maxwell Foods, the 10th largest pork producer in the United States, are now flocking to Indiana in record numbers: We have some of the most permissive laws and lucrative tax incentives luring them to our state under the guise of economic development.
Since Gov. Mitch Daniels took office in January 2005, 21 applications in three counties have been filed with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to build or expand factory farms to create new capacity for more than 100,000 swine. The 21 applications are the most in any year since Indiana began requiring these types of permits for factory farms in 1996.
Of these 21 applicants, Maxwell Foods has been approved to open six new CAFO facilities in Indiana, much to the dismay of concerned citizens around the state and those who stand to see the most harm.
Unfortunately for nearby communities and local water sources, manure stored in lagoons or sprayed on open fields often runs off into nearby streams or seeps into underground water supplies. The contents of this waste, including ammonia, pathogens, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, ends up in human drinking water, causing untold damage to the environment and, in many cases, human life.
For more information on how environmental heroes are working to stop the expansion of Maxwell Foods in Indiana, contact GRACE Factory Farm Project, a grass-roots organization working to oppose the spread of new factory farms and close down existing operations that adversely affect the health and well-being of communities. www.factoryfarm.org.
One way to identify polluters in your area is by going to www.planethazard.com.
This Web site mashes up Google maps and EPA statistics on pollution. Using the site is fast and easy and it not only tells you who is polluting with what kinds of emissions, it also links you to places where you can learn more about what these emissions really mean.
In addition, the site will identify the neighbors to the polluter — most importantly, schools. For example, if you go to planethazard.com and go to Indianapolis, you’ll find that one of Indy’s top 10 polluters, International Truck and Engine Corp., has five schools within a mile of its location on Brookville Road.
Friday, Nov. 3, beginning at 6 p.m.
On Friday, Nov. 3, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Harrison Center, NUVO will honor the five heroes at an event called deva-State. This proactive exhibit curated by Kyle Ragsdale is an aesthetic response to the current state of Indiana’s environment. There will be live music and food, as well as playful “activist training” where attendees can practice making signs, speaking out and taking civic action. Presented by the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Harrison Center for the Arts at the Harrison Center (1505 N. Delaware St.) from 6-9 p.m. Free of charge.