Assessing Daniels' record on the environment

April 26, 2010
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Mitch Daniels is in his fifth year as governor, enough time to begin accumulating a record on the environment.

How’s he doing? Daniels is making progress but he could do much, much better, says Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Daniels has modernized building codes and called on utilities to aggressively invest in energy efficiency, Kharbanda notes.

But Kharbanda thinks Daniels is failing to live up to his conservative reputation on other points—and Kharbanda views them as big ones.

Pushing through a new-terrain Interstate 69 extension from Evansville to Indianapolis will cost significantly more than the alternative “common sense” route from Indianapolis to Terre Haute on I-70 and then south on U.S. 41, Kharbanda charges. The alternative route would have added only minutes to the drive but prevented a lot of environmental damage.

Daniels also is overlooking opportunities to invest in alternative energy, Kharbanda says. While some wind turbines are finding their way into the state, Kharbanda believes there’s potential for many more. Daniels and his administration seem captivated by coal, possibly the result of powerful coal and utility lobbies in the Statehouse, he says, pointing out that Indiana remains the only state in the Midwest lacking a standard for utilities to buy increasing amounts of electricity from renewable sources.

Yet another concern is how quickly Daniels is pushing regulators to make decisions on pollution permits. Haste can make waste, Kharbanda says.

“So, part of the critique of the Daniels administration is, how conservative is it, really?” Kharbanda asks.

Daniels continues to tamp down speculation he might run for president. If he does decide to jump into the race, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the country sifts his environmental record. Even if he's viewed as more brown than green, voters might turn a blind eye, reasoning a governor could be forgiven for cutting environmental corners to try to revive a sputtering Rust Belt economy.

What are your thoughts on Daniels and the environment?

  • Richie Mitch
    Daniels = EPIC FAIL on environmental issues!

    I never met a 'conservative' who was interested in 'conserving' anything except their fat little bank accounts, because of course that's all that matters to any of 'm...don't believe a thing they spout about God or Jesus, their TRUE God is the Almighty $$$$ and always will be!!!
  • I support Mitch...
    Wow. I'm a non-religious fiscal & social conservative who lives a 'green' lifestyle. I compost lawn waste, grow organic, drive a hybrid, use CFL's, support the Arbor Day Foundation, etc. etc. I do it out of respect for our living environment & our future generations though, and sincerely doubt any significant human impact on the planet's climate cycle. Oh, and I like to make money, and I like to keep it. I really wish that the media would quit stereotyping the conservative movement as a bunch of whacko religious zealots with a one track mind. Itâ??s obviously flawed. Iâ??m not alone here, that much I can assure you.

    The nonsense about I69 'common sense' route is garbage too. As a regular commuter to Evansville, I continue to call BS. I70 to US41 is virtually the same route to Evansville as I65 to I64. It takes longer (45 minutes, sometimes an hour) and adds miles.

    The HEC preferred route adds more miles & burns more fuel. Round trip (70 miles different using the preferred Bloomington route) is more than 2 gallons of fuel for my hybrid. May seem small for me, but 1)not everyone drives a hybrid & 2)commercial traffic greatly increases the waste. People really need to soak up some logic & common sense! Sorry, couldnâ??t resist feeding the troll.
    • well said JoBu
      I'm right there with you JoBu.
    • I 69 debacle
      the common sense route would likely only add a few minutes to the Indy to Evansville commute over the 'new terrain' route which is a waste of billions and an enviromental disaster in the making.

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