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IDEM Making Climate Plan

IDEM has laid out its plan and invites public input on the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant it is seeking "to promote sustainability, enhance our state's resiliency to environmental challenges, and safeguard our natural resources."


The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is designing "climate action plans that incorporate a variety of actions to reduce emissions from across their economies in six key sectors (electricity generation, industry, transportation, buildings, agriculture/natural and working lands, and waste management)."


Per the US EPA grant guidelines, State plans must include "near-term, high-priority, implementation-ready actions." There are two tiers of action, with Tier 1 being common notions in any State plan, like residential and commercial building energy efficiency programs and accelerating electric vehicle adoption. Tier 2 Actions have greatest greenhouse gas reduction potential based on the Indiana energy audit.


IDEM had pre-screened a list of 59 Tier 2 actions with its consulting partner ClimeCo, and they asked the public to

  • comment on the plan,

  • suggest actions,

  • identify community priorities, and

  • cite benefits or concerns.


At the November 2, 2023, public, I addressed several items from the spreadsheet of 59 actions during the Public Comment section:


Good evening, I’d like to address one Tier 1 action, and a few Tier 2 actions.


Regarding Tier 1, under the Sector "Electric Generation", one Action is to maintain, develop, and expand utlity-scale renewable energy generation.


It seems environmental justice, which has been so neglected in the past, continues to fall further down the line of priorities. One area that would address that is community solar.


There are people who want to do the right thing to change our energy trajectory away from fossil fuels, and that includes people from low-Income and disadvantaged communities who have historically been denied the right to do what’s best for their own health and well being


As far as solar installations go, many people

  • can’t afford to invest a lot of money up front

  • or can’t invest for a long time frame

  • Or maybe they rent,

  • or maybe they move after a few years

With community solar, all citizens can participate in lowering their carbon consumption while at the same time lowering their electric bill. And with less consumption comes less small particulate matter.


I would encourage you to prioritize community solar while embracing distributed energy generation. Community solar makes the grid resilient and functional.


If a group of private investors (like anyone in this room) spends their own money on community solar to build collectively a large solar array, it’s just that much less generating capacity all the rest of us ratepayers have to build to meet peak demand. And instead of peak demand being met with diesel generators or new power plants, that need is offset with clean energy.


 

Tier 2 actions are valuable because they have potential co-benefits, again, such as public health impacts and environmental justice.


Among the Tier 2 strategies, under the sector R&C Buildings, is Action #29, to “increase residential and commercial building energy efficiency," with a strategy of “LED retrofits [of] buildings and roads.”


Here’s where you can get much more bang for your buck than just energy efficiency. You can greatly impact an entire pollution category—namely, the scourge of light pollution.


Light pollution denies cultures the heritage of the night sky (a dark sky which is still there behind the sheen of sky glow, waiting for us to reclaim it). Over millennia, we have evolved to thrive where half of our lives is from sunset to sunrise. That now-missing darkness serves human health and the entire animal kingdom in part by regulating our circadian system, which suppresses certain cancers and other health concerns.


LEDs can be full cutoff and can reduce glare, thus improving road safety. They can be on timers and dimmers, and the correlated color temperature (or CCT in degrees Kelvin) can be adjusted for different functions. In support of CPRG guidance, Action #29 can be near-term and is implementation-ready. Please, deploy solid state technology, such as LED light fixtures and controls.


And, to further lessen the ubiquitous light pollution, insist grant recipients follow the Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting published jointly by the International Dark-Sky Association and the Illuminating Engineering Society.


Embrace Action #29 with vigor, in buildings and roads, and and you will address multiple woes.


 

Lastly, if time permits, I discourage you from prioritizing Actions #16 and #32, which expand or increase "use of lower carbon fuel sources.”


NO, do not prioritize expanding any carbon-based fuel sources. Rather, prioritize—that is, fund—expanding non-carbon fuel sources. Interim steps will only fossilize the system further. We can’t delay; Indiana needs bold solutions for a brighter, more equitable and more sustainable future.


 

I thank you for being here tonight to hear community input, and I appreciate your service.


Through November 29, 2023, IDEM survey is receiving surveys from Hoosiers who want to weigh in on the state's environmental planning. Visit the Indiana Climate Pollution Reduction Grant presentation for details. I recommend you be specific and cite the Action number from the list (below), then address the targeted information they seek from you:

  • Comments on the plan

  • Suggestions for actions

  • Identify community priorities

  • Benefits or concerns

Thanks for supporting the future of Indiana's environment.





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