opinion   |   oped

Indiana needs to improve environmental regulations



Arsenic, boron, cobalt, lead and radium are all elements on the periodic table. And while they may be necessary for chemical reactions, we don't want high levels of it in our drinking water. 

And yet, groundwater near coal-fired power plants in Indiana have been showing toxic levels of these chemicals. According to the IndyStar, groundwater from 14 power plants in the state have dangerous levels of pollution. 

This toxic level of pollution leads us to wonder why Indiana hasn’t developed stronger environmental policies to protect its citizens. In order to be a better place to live, Indiana needs to improve its environmental policies.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Indiana has failed with environmental policy.

In November 2017, the IndyStar reported that Indiana was 6th in the country for producing toxic chemicals.  Zinc, which was the most prevalent chemical, can have serious effects on the consumer's health. A surplus of zinc can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headaches.  

The occurring water crisis is due to coal. Indiana was one of the top four states in the nation in coal storage. Coal storage can lead to potential pollutants or be changed into coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.  

The groundwater around these power plants is showing this pollution. In Evansville, Indiana, testing of water qualities near the coal ash disposal sites revealed chemical contamination. These disposal sites are close to the Vectren coal ash disposal site.

This isn’t just a problem in Evansville, though. It’s quickly becoming a statewide issue and affects groundwater near the coal ash dumps near many of the coal-fired power plants. Indiana has the most coal ash pits of any state.

While industry officials told the IndyStar that the contamination only affects groundwater near the plants, this data is still shocking. It particularly harms those who receive their water from wells.

This information is just a larger sign Indiana has to change how we handle the environment. A Pew Research Center poll found that 52 percent of Indiana adults believe that stricter environmental policies are worth the cost. Younger adults are especially for these policies.   

While there are some Indiana residents who believe these regulations will hurt the economy, the Editorial Board believes they are the right step to take to ensure Hoosiers are getting the best environmental quality possible.  

Indiana’s natural life is beautiful. Brown County has beautiful hills. The Indiana Dunes have great hiking and wildlife, and McCormick’s Creek State Park has beautiful views. But in order to enjoy this beauty, Indiana residents have to be healthy.  

Drinking contaminated water or breathing in toxins can lead to a devastating effect on Hoosiers' health. And it’s up to the state government to properly regulate this. If not, Hoosiers are the ones that will suffer.  

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