INDIANAPOLIS -- The Hoosier Environmental Council and the Legal
Environmental Aid Foundation announced Monday that the two not-for-profits
have merged and will continue operations as the Hoosier Environmental
The merged group will focus on “advocating for priorities that advance
Indiana’s environment and business climate such as clean energy, 21st
Century transportation systems and sustainable agriculture,” HEC said in a
“Through previous successful partnerships, HEC and LEAF have discovered
there is a great deal of synergy in our missions, staff, services to the
public, and reach throughout the state of Indiana,” said Jesse Kharbanda,
the Hoosier Environmental County’s executive director. “By joining forces,
our organization will be able to better educate and advocate for solutions
that better protect our air, water, and wilderness, while making our state
more economically prosperous.”
Previously, HEC focused largely on environmental policy development and
advocacy. LEAF focused on providing legal representation and assistance to
communities trying to balance economic development and environmental
The merger will enhance Hoosier Environmental Council’s reach in Northwest
and North-Central Indiana, where LEAF has predominantly worked. Kim Ferraro,
who had been LEAF’s executive director, will assume the role of water and
agricultural policy director for the merged group.
HEC will open up a third office in Valparaiso, while its headquarters will
remain in Indianapolis.
“A balanced environmental policy that promotes sustainable development and
environmental preservation is essential for improving quality of life among
Hoosiers,” said Ferraro in a statement. “Combining our strengths will expand
the capacity of our new organization to ensure public interests, not special
interests, drive environmental policy and land use decisions which will make
our state a better and safer place to live, work and play.”
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana mass transit is an issue taking center stage at the
Hoosier Environmental Council’s annual “Greening the Statehouse” forum this
Saturday, December 10. Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda says 96
cents of every dollar spent by the state on transportation goes to highways
and road projects.
“Our state’s biggest cities dramatically underspend compared to our peer
cities when it comes to public transit. And survey after survey shows that
public transit is an important element of what is going to attract a young
professional to a community.”
Kharbanda says keynote speaker Jim Motavalli, an expert on mass transit and
green car technologies, will address bi-partisan solutions for
transportation issues. Water quality and clean energy are also priorities.
On those matters, Kharbanda says too many Hoosiers over-fertilize lawns,
sending excess phosphorus into ditches, streams and reservoirs.
“We’re needlessly fostering the conditions for algae blooms, which lead to
fish kills, which leads to dirty-looking water, which degrades water quality
and potentially poses risks to drinking water quality.”
Kharbanda says the council would like to find a way to reduce the use of
phosphorus-containing fertilizers in the state.
He says another legislative priority is to help commercial property owners
in Indiana improve energy efficiency in their buildings through a program
“Property Assessed Clean Energy Bonds. And the funds that are generated from
bonding provide low-interest loans to commercial property owners so that
they can upgrade the equipment in their buildings and potentially cut energy
costs by 30 to 40 percent.”
Kharbanda encourages anyone interested in the environment to register and
attend Saturday at Butler University from 8:30 to 3.
More information on the forum is at