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Indy Voters Agree: Stop Burning Coal At Harding Street

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New Poll Shows Broad Support for Clean Energy, Phasing Out Coal in Marion County
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Contact: 
Shane Levy – shane.levy@sierraclub.org, 201-679-9507

INDIANAPOLIS – In a new poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, Indianapolis voters show widespread, bipartisan support for Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) phasing out coal at its local Harding Street coal-fired power plant and increasing its reliance on clean, renewable energy. The poll, conducted on behalf of the Sierra Club, shows that nearly 7 in 10 Indianapolis voters (69%) support IPL phasing out coal entirely in Marion County and for the utility to increase their energy efficiency and their use of renewable energy like wind and solar. Support is found across the political spectrum, with 82% of self-identified Democrats, 69% of independents and 51% of Republicans agreeing that IPL should phase out coal and invest in clean energy resources.

To see the results of the survey, please click here.  

“Today’s poll results make it clear: Indianapolis residents of all stripes support moving away from coal toward cleaner air and cleaner energy in our community,” said Jodi Perras, Indiana Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Phasing out coal in Marion County is strongly supported by both Northsiders and Southsiders, by whites and African Americans, and by people of all income levels. As IPL develops its 20-year energy plan, its leaders must  listen to our community and plan to stop burning coal at Harding Street by 2020 and truly commit to clean energy for our city.”

Last week, City-County Councilors Zach Adamson (D-At Large), William “Duke” Oliver (D-10th District) and Jose Evans (R-1st District) were among eight Council members cosponsoring a bipartisan Council resolution urging IPL to commit to a plan to stop burning coal in Marion County by 2020 and to invest in greater amounts of clean, renewable energy, reducing toxic emissions at the Harding Street plant.  The Community Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the resolution on Tuesday night at 5:30 PM in the Dr. Beurt R. SerVaas Public Assembly Room on the second floor of the City-County Building, 200 E. Washington Street.

“Far too long, Indianapolis Power and Light’s Harding Street coal-fired power plant has threatened our community with toxic pollution. Moving away from coal in our community is not a partisan issue, as these results prove. Indianapolis residents from every corner of our city deserve clean air and water, and today’s poll shows that our community wants a plan from IPL to stop burning coal in Marion County and instead invest in clean, renewable energy,” said Indianapolis City-County Councilor Zach Adamson (D-At Large).

Other key findings from the poll include:

●      By nearly a three-to-one margin, Marion County voters want to invest more in renewables and energy efficiency over traditional sources like coal.

●      Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) Indianapolis voters would have a more favorable impression of an elected official who voted in favor of a resolution urging IPL to stop burning coal in Marion County and instead invest in clean energy. One-in-three voters (33%) say they would be “much more favorable” towards such an official.

●      Roughly 3 out of 4 Indianapolis voters say they find it concerning that the American Lung Association ranked the Indianapolis area as the as the sixteenth-most polluted city in the nation for short-term particle pollution.

●      Voters ranked reducing health problems from poor air quality as being the most important reason for transitioning off of coal.

“Across the country, voters are supportive of the transition toward renewable energy. Voters throughout Marion County and of all demographic types support transitioning to renewable energy and energy efficiency over traditional power sources,” said Lori Weigel, Partner, Public Opinion Strategies

The telephone poll reached a representative sample of 400 registered voters in Marion County by telephone between July 8 and 10, 2014. The poll has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.9% at the 95% confidence level.

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ABOUT THE POLLING COMPANY:

Public Opinion Strategies is a market research company specializing in corporate and public policy research, with offices in Washington and Denver. Since its founding in 1991, the firm has completed more than 14,000 research projects and interviewed more than seven million Americans. Its clients have included Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Indiana Senator Dan Coats, several Indiana Republican Congressmen and the Republican National Committee.

BACKGROUND:

Indianapolis Power & Light’s Harding Street coal-fired power plant was responsible for 88 percent of the toxic industrial pollution released in 2012 in Marion County, according to information released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to EPA’s most recent Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data, the Harding Street plant released more than 1.6 million pounds of toxic pollutants into the air, land, and water in 2012, posing real public health threats to Indianapolis residents and those upwind and downstream from the plant.

The Harding Street power plant is the largest source of dangerous soot and sulfur dioxide pollution in Marion County, contributing to Central Indiana’s failing grades for air quality announced earlier this year by the American Lung Association. In its 2014 State of the Air Report, the American Lung Association ranked the Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie area as having the 16th worst air in the nation for dangerous short-term particle pollution, also known as soot. The Indianapolis area earned a failing grade for both soot and harmful ozone pollution, or smog.

Last month, The Omaha Public Power District in Nebraska voted unanimously to phase out the North Omaha coal-fired power plant. Their decision leaves Indianapolis as the last major Midwestern city with a coal-fired power plant within city limits that's not being phased out. In recent years, utilities in cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis/St. Paul have taken steps to move beyond coal by announcing retirements of local coal-fired power plants. 

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