Science & Enviroment

Wind, Solar Focus Of Legislative Committee

Oct 6, 2017

Indiana lawmakers prompted debate at the Statehouse Thursday over potential conflicts of interest for local officials who approve large wind energy projects.

County commissions and planning boards approve wind farm developments in Indiana. Rep. Dave Ober (R-Albion) says in some cases, those commissioners have also signed lease agreements with developers and would benefit from a project’s approval.

“I see a very large issue with that and I hope we can work on that issue next year,” Ober said to start the hearing.

A legislative study committee this week will examine how a controversial law passed earlier this year that changes the affordability of solar panels affects schools.

Senate Bill 309 made changes to the state’s so-called net metering rules. Starting next year, people with new solar panels will receive less money for selling energy back to the electric grid.

The herbicide dicamba has damaged large swaths of Midwest crops in the past year. But Monsanto, one maker of the weed-killer, says it’s a small-scale problem for a powerful tool.

The agritech giant’s CTO Robb Fraley addressed the issue during a recent talk at Purdue University’s Dawn or Doom tech conference.

Fraley basically invented genetically modified crops – mainly, ones that kill pests or tolerate certain chemicals.

Ownership of beach property on Lake Michigan is in the balance in a lawsuit heard before the Indiana Supreme Court Thursday. The case centers on the question of public versus private property, and it could have far-reaching consequences.

Fewer than half of Indiana’s public school districts are participating in a free lead testing program, according to Jim McGoff, environmental programs director at the Indiana Finance Authority.

The IFA created the voluntary program after lead contamination in places such as Flint, Michigan, and East Chicago, Indiana, rose to national prominence.

Jim McGoff told a legislative study committee he has confidence the water supply itself is lead-free because of tests water utilities are required to perform.

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