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Friday, July 12, 2024

Five questions Indiana’s gubernatorial candidates need to answer about energy equity

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As Indiana prepares for its upcoming gubernatorial election this November, voters need to understand where the candidates stand on crucial issues. 

Chief among those issues is our state’s transition to clean energy and the broader implications for environmental and climate justice. The next administration’s approach to cleaning up legacy energy messes and charting our course toward a renewable future will shape the lives of Indiana’s urban and rural residents, particularly disadvantaged communities who’ve long endured the effects of air and water pollution from the use of dirty energy sources across our state.

Here are five pressing questions for the candidates:

1. How will your administration ensure that everyone benefits from the transition to clean energy?

The shift toward renewable energy sources is essential, and it must be inclusive. What specific policies will you implement to guarantee that urban and rural communities, as well as Black, people of color and disadvantaged white communities, are not left behind in this transition? 

2. What steps will you take to address energy affordability and climate resiliency?

Energy affordability remains a significant concern for many households; electric bills are expected to spiral upward over the coming summer months. How will you ensure that the move to clean energy does not result in higher costs for low-income families? Additionally, as we endure more frequent and severe weather events, what measures will your administration take to enhance climate resiliency across the state, particularly in vulnerable communities?

3. How will you create jobs and training opportunities in the green energy sector?

The clean energy transition offers a unique opportunity to create new jobs and spur economic growth. What plans do you have to invest in accessible job training and education programs that prepare Indiana’s workforce for careers in the renewable energy sector and keep our state competitive with others in the region? What will you specifically do to ensure equitable access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure so all Hoosiers can benefit from the EV expansion?

4. Can you commit to establishing or prioritizing environmental justice and climate commissions?

To effectively address environmental and climate justice, dedicated bodies such as an environmental justice or climate commission are essential because they will ensure a continued focus on these issues throughout the course of your administration. Will you commit to establishing or prioritizing such commissions, and how will these bodies be empowered to bring about meaningful change?

5. What plans do you have for enhancing Indiana’s renewable energy portfolio and net metering policies?

A robust renewable energy portfolio is key to a sustainable future, but Indiana has seen dwindling ways for Hoosiers to embrace energy freedom over the past few years. How do you plan to expand Indiana’s investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind—and make it possible for everyone to access these options, not just monopoly utilities. This could mean bringing back net metering and ensuring access to independent community solar. 

As Indiana’s next governor, your leadership will steer the state toward a cleaner, more equitable future. Voters are looking for clear, actionable plans that ensure all Hoosiers can thrive in this new era. 

Your stance on these issues will not only impact the environment, but also the social and economic fabric of our state. We look forward to hearing your detailed responses and commitments to these critical questions.

Denise Abdul-Rahman is Chief Equity Officer for Black Sun Light Sustainability and the State Chair of the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee.

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