NewsPublic Affairs / March 10, 2020

Controversial Coal Bill Awaits Holcomb's Signature

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) authored the bill one year after proposing legislation that would have put renewable energy projects on hold. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) authored the bill one year after proposing legislation that would have put renewable energy projects on hold.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The state House and Senate voted to send a controversial bill on coal plant closures to the governor Tuesday. The original version of the bill aimed to keep coal plants open until Indiana could come up with a statewide energy plan. 

But the current version only requires utilities to note planned coal plant closures in their long-term energy plans called IRPs or integrated resource plans.

The only notable change in the bill since its Senate passage was to revert back to the original sunset date of May 2021. Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), who authored the bill, says that will give the 21st Century Energy Task Force time to complete its work and lawmakers one legislative session.

“There is no IRP that asks to close a plant before that date, so nobody gets hurt,” he says.

READ MORE: Bill Delaying Coal Closures Gutted, Environmentalists Still Worried

But environmentalists worry that, if signed by the governor, that sunset date could be changed in the next legislative session — preventing utilities from shutting down coal plants.

“Gov. Holcomb should stand up for everyday Hoosiers by vetoing this dangerous, unnecessary legislation. House Bill 1414 would keep Indiana burning outdated, polluting coal for generations to come, and slow down the modern clean energy investments that would build up our economy, lower our bills and protect our public health," said Wendy Bredhold of the Indiana Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, in an email statement.

The bill would also give coal miners and other workers who rely on the coal industry priority in workforce training grants. That part of the bill doesn’t have an expiration date.

Contact Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

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