Hoosier Economy Op-Ed by Sen. Tallian: Four reasons the governor has it wrong on...

Op-Ed by Sen. Tallian: Four reasons the governor has it wrong on clean air and the Hoosier economy

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Recently, the Pence Administration issued a letter to the Obama Administration, threatening that Indiana will not abide by the Environmental Protection Agency’s updated rules under the Clean Power Plan. Governor Pence also issued a statement denouncing those policies. I believe the governor is wrong, both in his underlying philosophy and in his response to the federal plan.

#1 “Sky is falling” mentality
Americans heard this same kind of nay-saying when we passed the original Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act more than 40 years ago: “The sky is falling and it’s going to be too costly, and devastating to business and manufacturing.”

Those predictions never came to pass.

Instead, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act may be two of the most productive, socially beneficial, and job producing pieces of legislation in the 20th century. They have saved our nation and our lonely planet.

The governor’s position shows no vision for the number of jobs and innovation that might occur if we look forward to new energy policies. Consider the efforts of the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmentalists who have come together to promote good jobs, good environment, and a green economy. We could create a stronger, more innovative economy if Indiana’s leaders were not merely obstinate.

#2 File a lawsuit first approach
Indiana, again, was one of a few states to file a lawsuit against the federal government on this issue. This was recently dismissed by the courts as being premature.

This administration – chiefly Governor Pence and Attorney General Zoeller – have shown that their first response to federal policy is to file a lawsuit. Look at the wasted public money spent on the challenges to the health insurance subsidies. This administration has shown that they are willing to take Indiana‘s citizens to the Supreme Court in order to make political hay, even when it harms Hoosiers. Their reaction to these proposed standards is about adopting an extremist position in order to challenge their mainstream political opponents, and they have done it repeatedly. This is not a methodology for problem-solving.

#3: Reliance on fear mongering
The Governor’s statement adamantly threatens that these proposed rules will “force the premature retirement of existing coal plants” and kill Indiana’s coal industry.

This kind of talk is blatant political-speak, pandering to Indiana’s coal industry. He suggests that we have 26,000 coal-related jobs in Indiana; however, the Department of Natural Resources’ website indicates 2,500-3,500 jobs in 24 active operations in 10 southwestern counties. He also enacts this tactic by suggesting that Indiana’s energy prices will skyrocket.

The truth is that the proposed standards only set goals and options for how to get achieve outcomes. Indiana has the ability to come up with our own plan, using any or all of the many available options.

#4: Refusal to accept science as fact
An ever-diminishing number of the extremist right still refuse to acknowledge that climate change, smog, and pollution are man-made. Incredibly, the governor’s statement explicitly puts him among that group.

But the rest of the world has already come to different conclusions. Look at China and India today. Recall what it was like to drive through Gary, Indiana or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1960’s. Or watch the Cuyahoga River on fire. The rest of the world acknowledges what is happening.

These are the same people who wanted to teach Creationism a couple of years ago. Are we finished listening to them?

Leaders find solutions that help to advance our state. Clean air and economic vitality can coexist. The governor’s unwillingness to break away from his “world is flat” mentality solves nothing and traps Indiana in the past.

Sen. Tallian represents Senate District 4 which encompasses portions of northern Porter County and Michigan, Coolspring and New Durham townships in LaPorte County. For more information on Sen. Tallian, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s4.

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