INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 30, 2023) – Today, Indiana residents and concerned Audubon members and experts from across the state gathered at the Indiana Statehouse to advocate for expanded access for renewable energy and protections for Indiana’s wetlands and other precious natural resources to protect birds, other wildlife and people.
“We have lost more than three billion birds over the past half-century, and two-thirds of North American bird species at risk of extinction due to climate change – many of them here in Indiana,” said Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director of Audubon Great Lakes. “By protecting birds, we’re also safeguarding Indiana's great natural heritage for future generations, preserving our quality of life and fostering a healthier future for all Hoosiers.”
Polling released by Audubon Great Lakes last year found that 94% of Indiana voters believe that state leaders should either strengthen or maintain Indiana’s current wetlands protections, and nearly three-quarters of voters (74%) favor expanding the use of renewable energy sources.
Currently, less than 10 percent of Indiana’s energy comes from renewable sources, which are key to reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Indiana has also lost more than 85 percent of its wetlands – important natural infrastructure that buffers communities against flooding, absorbs carbon and filters nutrient run-off in addition to providing vital habitat for vulnerable birds and other wildlife.
More than 20 Audubon members and policy experts met with more than 40 elected officials – including Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch – to share the important role that both wetlands and renewable energy play in reducing carbon emissions, contributing to economic growth, and ensuring that birds have healthy places to rest and nest.
The day also included a speaking program, headlined by Rep. Mike Speedy (IN-R-90), who shared the importance of commonsense market-driven clean energy policies. Sam Whiteleather, Assistant Division Director of Private Lands Division of Fish & Wildlife for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources shared the benefits that wetlands provide to Indiana’s wildlife and local communities.
“We can protect Indiana’s great natural resources and wildlife while creating local jobs, sparking innovation and investment, and lowering electric rates. That’s why last session I introduced legislation to advance rooftop solar in our communities,” said Rep. Speedy. “Thank you Audubon Great Lakes and Audubon members across Indiana for coming to the Statehouse today to advocate for a cleaner, stronger future for all Hoosiers.”
“When we lose wetlands, we lose the natural benefits they provide including wildlife habitat, protecting local communities from flooding and drought, and keeping Indiana’s water clean,” said Sam Whiteleather, Assistant Division Director of Private Lands Division of Fish & Wildlife for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “I’m grateful to Audubon for your conservation and advocacy efforts. Investments in conservation and wetlands protections will ensure a healthy future for all wildlife and people that depend on the Hoosier state.”
“It was a great day for conservation. We want to thank Rep. Speedy for coming today and for his leadership to advance rooftop solar in Indiana. Audubon members traveled from across the state to share their personal stories and to advocate for solutions that will protect Indiana birds and people for generations to come,” said Urso. “Policy makers have an opportunity to protect birds and communities in Indiana for generations to come if they act to expand renewable energy and protect wetlands and natural areas.”
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.