The Hoosier Environmental Council said its first-ever merger should give it a better presence upstate and help it offer legal and other services to environmental activists on the community level.
Being absorbed into HEC is the Valparaiso-based Legal Environmental Aid Foundation. LEAF has helped fight numerous legal battles over the years, from getting Northern Indiana Public Service Co. to help fund cleanup studies of a landfill in which it dumped power-plant wastes to a battle at the Indiana Court of Appeals against a confined animal feeding operation.
Offering legal and technical assistance, “they’ve been very good at the local level,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of HEC.
The 28-year-old HEC is the state’s largest environmental education and advocacy group. It has focused more on statewide issues and has a presence in central Indiana, Bloomington and Lafayette. LEAF has been focused on northwestern and north central Indiana.
Joining HEC will be LEAF’s founder and executive director, Kim Ferraro, whose roles at HEC will include director of water policy. The merger will also result in the appointment of three new HEC board members who will represent northwestern Indiana.